Wondering what’s in store for Boston Summit, May 8-11? Apart from attending dozens of sessions led by professionals in the industry, meeting a ton of new people, and taking home lots of great swag, you’ll certainly bring home a great deal of thoughts and become capable of contributing more efficiently. As per reports, around 50 – 60 percent OpenStack summit attendees are first-timers. Being a grantee of the travel support program and speaker at the previous OpenStack Summit, I hope this piece conveys my enriching journey and distances you from feeling overwhelmed in the whirlwind of activity.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The every-six-month release cycle and summit gives OpenStack contributors, vendors, and users a real-time view of growth and change, making for subtle changes that can often be difficult to notice. The summit typically last four to five days. I participated in the main conference and the design summit focusing mostly on the keystone project. But before I get into my breakdown of action, I’d like to extend many thanks to all those who planned, participated, and helped to make this a tremendous event.

Pregame: I didn’t want to be stuck at the registration desk while everyone else is off to the races, so that’s the first thing I did after reaching the venue. Being a speaker I got an extra edge and in no time, I was holding my access pass along with the OpenStack Swagger T-Shirt. I then familiarized myself with the conference space using the venue map so that, I don’t get lost and reach the sessions timely. I then headed to the Pre-Summit Marketplace Mixer along with fellow Outreachy interns to mix, mingle and checkout the sponsor booths and grab some drinks and snacks. This was the first time I met my coordinator, Victoria Martínez de la Cruz and my mentor, Samuel de Medeiros Queiroz in person and my enthusiasm skyrocketed.

Diving deep into the summit schedule, I have to say that there were many tempting talks but neither it was physically possible to attend all of them, nor was it a good idea to chase everything that glittered. To tackle the issue, I planned my schedule in advance and marked the sessions I couldn’t afford to miss on the OpenStack Foundation Summit app. Thankfully, the summit organizers efficiently and timely put the videos up on youtube and the OpenStack website, which leaves only one stone unturned, ‘What talks are super important to see in real-time?’ While pin pointing the sessions, I considered both the speaker and the subject matter. Highly tactical sessions are generally useful to attend regardless of who leads them. However, sessions less directly related to one’s profession can be valuable as well if they’re led by an industry figure one is angling to meet.

On the first day, I jumped out of bed quite early to attend the Speed Mentoring session organized by the Women of OpenStack. It was a great icebreaker in getting to know experienced people in the OpenStack community. The session compromised of both career and technical mentoring. The amazing experience encouraged me to join the Women of OpenStack session the following day, where we heard lightning talks and broke into small groups to network and discuss the key lightening talk messages. A big thanks to Emily Hugenbruch, Nithya Ruff and Jessica Murillo for their valuable insights. While heading towards the Keystones session I felt overwhelmed with joy to be a part of the OpenStack community. The keynote speeches were amazing with cool demonstrations of technology, sharing great customer stories, as well as insight from vendors about what makes an OpenStack deployment successful. I then proceeded to the Marketplace for some snacks and grabbed more swag. Many companies had a “We are hiring” tag on their hoardings so, I discussed with them the ins and outs of the role as well as handed over my resume to stay in touch. Many of the sessions I attended the following days were crowded. The big takeaways were increased interest in the Identity Service and gaining practical knowledge in sessions like ‘Nailing Your Next OpenStack Job Interview‘ and ‘Effective Code Review‘. I also found ‘Pushing Your QA Upstream‘ and ‘I Found a Security Bug: What Happens Next?‘ sessions quite useful. Attending the Hands-on-Workshop on Learn to Debug OpenStack Code – with the Python Debugger and PyCharm was an unmatched experience. To wrap up, every talk I attended had something to offer, be it an intriguing or fascinating idea or a tactic that comes in handy. During design sessions, we sat together at one table and focused on the most important aspects and plans for the next OpenStack release. The topics ranged from discussions about what can be done to make code more robust and stable, to how we can make operators’ lives easier. Things ran smoothly in these sessions as everybody was in one room, focusing on a single topic. Lastly, I must plug my own foray into the conference talk schedule. I had a blast talking about OpenStack Outreachy Internships. The talk was intended for people who want to become a better community member along with those willing to start contributing or mentoring. I am deeply grateful to my co-presenters, Victoria and Samuel, whom I have known for nearly two years now.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But it’s not just the formal talks that are the best part of a conference. It’s also about meeting a new person who might be able to help you out with that sticky problem or catching up with old friends or having the opportunity to just geek out for a little while over a nice meal and maybe a drink or two with the people who once helped you submit a patch. It’s a good idea to contact those you want to meet before the conference. This way you’ll set yourself apart by engaging that person in a casual meeting which isn’t distracted by throngs of people. Not to forgot, almost all the sessions wind up by 6pm. So, utilize this time to roam around the city. You may even consider extending your trip by a day or two to visit some famous tourist destinations nearby.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Good luck to those who are applying for the Travel Support Program for Boston Summit. Still thinking? Hurry up, applications close on March 6, 2017.

Were you also there at the Barcelona Summit? Would love to hear about your experience in the comment section below. Stay tuned for more interesting updates and development in the world of OpenStack. smiley 2