HashiConf-EU-2019

Did you enjoy HashiConf EU 2019 just as much as I did? The 3-day conference was great from the start on Monday 8th of July until the end at Wednesday 10th. This is a recap from my personal point of view. Read on the explore why this conference was yet another great one from HashiCorp.

Location

Great conferences deserve great locations. Last year, HashiConf 2018 took place at “Lokaal Edel” in the Western part of Amsterdam. This year, the “Westergasfabriek area” (an old but renewed industrial area) also in Amsterdam West was the place to be. It proves to be an excellent location to host all of the key notes, break out sessions and sponsor area (the Hub). Take into account the sunny weather and the great options for food and drinks (welcome Food Trucks!) everyone will confirm this location was very well chosen.

The Gashouder - main conference hall

Train your brain

Amsterdam is a city of bikes, trams, metros and trains. Driving by car is slow and parking is painful. Maybe this is the reason all of the courses took place at the Hilton Hotel near the central station? 🙂

Developers, Cloud infrastructure operators and other DevSecOps enthusiasts got their mental updates by attending the courses dedicated to all of the HashiCorp products. The topics of the courses varied from Terraform to Vault to Nomad. These cloud native tools are becoming more popular every day. This is also confirmed by the people I spoke who “got their hands dirty” while being challenged during the first day.

All-in-all the courses offered a great way to get familiar with the tools mentioned above. Dedicated to just one topic – people felt the courses offered more than just “scratching the surface”. A big plus and a welcome warming up for the rest of the week.

Infrastructure as code – what else?

The last couple of years I frequently heard the question “Does anyone already use Infrastructure as Code?”. Nowadays, I don’t hear this question so many times anymore. People are adopting the principles of Infrastructure as Code very quickly. HashiCorp and a lot of customers spoke about Terraform: the tool of choice for Infrastructure As Code.

In the morning Kristin Laemmert showed us the new features of Terraform 0.12. These include:

  • The use of for-loops
  • Better error handling
  • Structured log output

It will simplify things for developers and members working in different teams. Great features to improve the collaboration within organizations to improve and speed up the adoption.

Improvements of Terraform
Source: slides HashiCorp

ABN AMRO presented their view to support multiple clouds for their – ever growing – number of workloads. One of the core components of their solution is the Terraform pipeline.

Terraform is also being used in combination with Sentinel. This is a “policy as code” tool of HashiCorp. Using both tools developers will only be able to deploy infrastructure which adheres to the policies and regulations set by the organization. Policy sets in Terraform should be available by now. Big benefits are standardization and (constant) compliance. Terraform can also be used to create Docker images. It helps to prevent a spaghetti infrastructure.

Going multi-*

Just like last year – a lot of organizations in The Netherlands and abroad showcased the usage of Hashitools in their projects. Single Cloud technology wasn’t new to them, but the shift to multi Cloud is new. Everything is going multi-*! running it for multiple clouds reveals even more power. The famous phrase “write once -run anywhere” popped up again.

Going multicloud
Source: slides HashiCorp

Things are getting complex very soon when using multiple cloud providers or multiple data centers. When combining all of these, it’s getting out of control without a proper tool. Meet Consul.

The big surprise of the keynote was the announcement of Mesh Gateway. A core feature of Mesh Gateway is to connect two Kubernetes clusters: one running in the public Cloud, the other at an on-prem data center. All encrypted. Mesh Gateway is now available for early adopters.

Consul - unify everything
Source: slides HashiCorp

As mentioned in a lot of articles on the internet, containers and microservices are here to stay. The same is true for Service Mesh. Consul connect (announced at Hashidays in 2018) and Nomad play an important role here. Nomad can orchestrate workloads based on Containers and based on traditional deployment methods (e.g. a traditional binary running as part of an application server). Big plus of Nomad is to support the orchestration of multiple Kubernetes clusters.

Vault for all your secrets

Secrets management (e.g. creating, storing, revoking all kinds of keys, tokens, etc) is getting more attention every day. It might be because the risk of data leakage is a serious threat to their credibility and reputation. It may also because companies realize secrets are being used everywhere in the software development life-cycle. So it’s very easy to loose one or more of your secrets. As more companies realize this, the adoption of tools like Vault is very much welcomed.

A lot of sessions were dedicated to Vault. Hootsuite presented their journey (Growing Vault at Hootsuite) on the usage of Vault from the very beginning to the current state.

It’s great to see a lot of companies pay so much attention to the GDPR – the EU wide laws which protect the privacy and personal integrity of its citizens. Vault also plays a major role in this topic which is presented by Capgemini Norway.

A wall of keyboards

Before I wrap up this article I would like to highlight one more session: it’s the keyboard wall created by Instruqt. Their presentation blended almost all tools from Hashicorp to orchestrate 50+ Raspberry Pis to control a giant Keyboard (key illuminated) wall. It was built “because they could” and it was great to see how they overcome major challenges with respect to their software and hardware challenges.

A keyboard wall

Closing notes

HashiConf differs from other conferences. Attendees only have to choose between two sessions at a time. The location was compact and relaxed with the central square in the middle. No registration needed for any session so no “stress” to choose upfront or wait in a long queue. Everyone was very enthusiastic and shared the same interest: “the future of cloud infrastructure automation”. Looking back, this phrase was very well expressed what HashiCorp has to offer us.

Be sure to join next year (again)!