Superuser Editorial Advisory Board member Mark Korondi offers these tips.


No, it is not a typo. hello is hallo, morning is morgen in German, while who is wer, and where is wo. The word “system” is quite funny to pronounce. Confused? At least let me try to make it easier for you to prepare for the next OpenStack Summit, in the hipster capital of Europe!

I’m attending the OpenStack Summit for the tenth time in a row this November, so when I was asked to write a guide, I was certain to come up with “The Best Ever OpenStack Summit, Or, Well, Any IT Conference Preparation Guide in History™” with all my accumulated knowledge and experience bringing out the most from such a big event. Then I looked at Ben Silverman’s guide to the previous conference and realized he already did the job. It’s a good compilation of general tips and tricks, so make sure that you read that, too.

In addition to his article, I’ll focus on three things that I’m looking forward to and tips that have helped me in past summits.

Set aside time for preparation

But seriously. I know, you travel a lot, you have your routine, this is your 74th conference, you still have time to look at the schedule/transportation/hotel/etc details. But you do know that there are gotchas.

  • Events start on Saturday!

Check the schedule again – although the main event kicks off on Tuesday, two events take place before it. Hacking the Edge seems like a fun event to get your hands dirty with some OpenStack hacking even on Raspberry PIs. For those who want to learn about how to contribute to the projects, The Upstream Institute’s wonderful team would help during a two-day free course. (Okay, I’m also part of that team, but it is still a wonderful team.) Both events are free but require RSVPs.

  • Some talks are already fully booked

Rooms can be limited, double check whether your talk has an RSVP button in the schedule

  • Organize your schedule

It takes a lot of time, you’re not in the mood, etc. But later you will be thankful for the discipline of your past self. If two talks that interest you overlap, no worries, add both; maybe you can’t make it to one of them, so there’s an alternative. Be nice though; don’t RSVP for parallel talks, you might take away someone else’s chance to attend.

  • Pay attention to the evening events

Free food (and drinks). A lot more to say, but you’ll still focus on the free food (and drinks).

  • Download the Summit app!

You will have an enlightening convo with some random dude in front of a room when you know you should already be running to the next talk, but have no idea where that is. The 8-core 6GB RAM supercomputer in your pocket,  a.k.a. your smartphone ,will tell you where to go in a jiffy. Just install the official OpenStack Foundation Summit app

  • Your hotel is miles away from the venue

Chances are high. The Berlin CityCube is quite far from downtown, so if your accommodation is off, you might need to calculate with a 30-60 minute ride. Berlin has great public transportation though, if you do.

  • Your room rate might not include breakfast

That’s sad, but in Europe, quite common. Might add another 20 minutes to your morning commute.

  • Which airport in Berlin are you flying to/from?

On Wikipedia, there’s a list of the many Berlin airports. As far as I know you either use TXL or SXF, but still, check it before you end up on the wrong one.

My schedule in a nutshell

I LOVE attending the keynotes. The festive atmosphere provided by the thousands of people there always reminds me that OpenStack is not just a bunch of Python files – but one of the most open, cheerful, fantastic communities that you can be part of when it comes to the IT industry. I am sure we will meet there.

As someone who is interested in security and storage-related topics while digging deep in containerization, I’m looking forward to attending talks like these:

Besides my planned schedule, I’d like to share some hacks that helped me in the past:

Pro tip #1: If you know what particular topic you’re interested in, use the schedule filters to shorten the list of talks to your taste. Storage-oriented? Apply tags Cinder, Ceph, Glance. Want to learn more about automation?  Select the track CI/CD.

Pro tip #2: A lot of talks are recorded and will be published on YouTube later – if you cannot attend two talks in conflicting time slots, go to the one that’s not recorded.

Pro tip #3: Add all the talks you are interested in to your schedule. Even if you don’t attend, don’t remove them; after the Summit, on a rainy boring Wednesday afternoon you’ll have a look at your schedule and do your research / watch the video of the missed talk.

Meet your Steve!

Traveling thousands of miles, putting yourself out of your comfort zone just to sit in an overly-air-conditioned room for whole days listening to presentations would be silly, right? The OpenStack summit is so much more than this.

I have made colleagues, business partners and good friends on these events – if you think about it the basis is clearly there: shared interests, common goals, time for brainstorming and storytelling and of course a bit of booze to bring your greatest (ehm, hopefully, the greatest) self out.

And you learn from these connections, from these people a lot  – you might be a programmer, but that sales guy’s stories are hilarious. Already a manager? It’s always cool to go nerd out for a couple hours and talk about Amigas with that engineer behind the booths.

One of my best pals there is Steve, who I might not meet for long months if there are no OpenStack events, but when we do, then we catch up from last time – for long hours. Once even missed out on our VIP invitations just to hang out with each other. No regrets.

What I guarantee: there are another thousand Steves, Janes, Bills (and of course, Marks  ?) to make friends with during the week of an OpenStack Summit. So come to Berlin and find them!

About the author

Mark Korondi is a cloud engineer, consultant, CEE Days organizer and Upstream University instructor. Find him on Twitter at @kmarc.

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