Jeremy chats with Ant Stanley about the history of ServerlessDays, how the serverless-focused conference has grown over the last few years, and what the global organizing team is doing to make it easier for new organizers to host an event.
Ant is a consultant and community organizer. He founded and currently runs the Serverless User Group in London, is part of the ServerlessDays London organizing team and the global ServerlessDays leadership team. Previously Ant was a co-founder of A Cloud Guru, and was responsible for organizing the first ServerlessConf event in New York in May 2016. Living in London since 2009, Ant's background before Serverless is primarily as a Solution Architect at various organisations, from managed service providers to Tier 1 telecommunications providers. He started his career in 1999 doing Y2K upgrades in his native South Africa, and then spent 5 years being paid to write VB6. His current focus is Serverless, GraphQL and Node.js.
- Twitter: @IamStan
- ServerlessDays: serverlessdays.io
- For organizer information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeremy: Hi, everyone. I'm Jeremy Daly and you're listening to Serverless Chats. This week, I'm chatting with Ant Stanley. Hi, Ant. Thanks for joining me.
Ant: Hey Jeremy. It's a pleasure to be here.
Jeremy: You're the co-founder of ServerlessDays Global. Why don't you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and what ServerlessDays is all about.
Ant: Yes, I helped co-found ServerlessDays in 2017. I've been an early member of the Serverless community. I originally was one of the co-founders of A Cloud Guru and helped get Serverless [Consults 00:00:30] off the ground. After leaving Cloud Guru, I took a year off, worked on a few side projects, then joined up with a few folks here in London, and we decided to get a community-based Serverless conference going. It was supposed to be one conference called JeffConf. Then, it took off and became a thing of its own due to the amazing community. That's pretty much, not quite how we got there, but it's the start of how we got to where we are.
Jeremy: All right. I actually want to talk to you about ServerlessDays. So I helped co-organize ServerlessDays Boston, a crazy event. I went to one in New York, and I've seen, basically, these ones all over the place now. I went to one in Milan. This is becoming a pretty big thing. So, there's all kinds of ways people can get involved. There's some really, really great speakers at these events, but I just want to talk about, really, how this got started. Let's go way back to the beginning, understand what the motivation was behind it. Then, let's talk about some of the events that are happening around the world and, then maybe, how people can get involved. Why don't we start with that? What's the history of this whole thing?
Ant: The history, it goes back to April, May 2017. There was due to be a Serverless conference in Amsterdam, run by the then organizers of the Serverless user group in Amsterdam, and it, kind of, fell apart. I think end of April, beginning of May, it got canceled. I don't think they could raise enough sponsorship funds. I think they were trying to go too big, and, at the time, that was going to be the only Serverless conference in Europe that year. So at the time, I ran the... Well, I still do... run the Serverless user group in London, which is the largest Serverless user group in the world at this point in time. I had a conversation with Paul Johnston. He used to work for AWS and he's one of the early the early Serverless bloggers or contributors, and James Thomas is a Developer Advocate for IBM, on their OpenWhisk functions platform. He's also London-based.
The three of us had a conversation via a Slack channel. I'm saying, "Well, there isn't anything happening in Europe this year. Why don't we try and organize something?" What became an idea, started to become reality, and Paul popped up, and he said, "I might have a venue that's really cheap." So I said, "Well, I've got a user group with a whole bunch of users, and we don't have anything planned in the summer because that's normally an awful time to run a user group cleanup. So, I said, "Well, let's try and run an event." We decided to call it JeffConf, based on a very bad joke, because of the name Serverless. The in-joke, at the time, was we could've called Serverless anything. We might as well have called it Jeff. So, as a joke, we decided to call this thing JeffConf.
We organized it in six weeks from the point of saying, "Yes, let's do this," to actually running the event. It was a six-week window. We didn't run a CFP. We ran on an absolute shoestring. We spoke to whoever we could. Companies jumped in to sponsor. So the first tweet we put up about it, Chris Munns, from AWS jumped all over it and said, "Hey, can we sponsor?" IBM got involved. A few other companies, local London agencies, also got involved.
Yeah, We managed to get off the ground. We had some great speakers. We had Simon [Woodley 00:04:01], that I've been trying to get into my user group for ages. I managed to convince him to come to London for the day, and he gave our opening keynote. We basically managed to cobble together a great among of local, predominately, London/UK-based speakers to come speak, and it worked. We had about 170 people attend, which wasn't bad for such a short period of time. We somehow made a tiny profit on it because we managed to get a venue, which was the St John's Church in Hoxton, 196-year-old church, where Paul was friends with the pastor who runs it. So we ran it in a 196-year-old church in the middle of Hoxton Shoreditch area, which is the heart of London's tech scene. We had some great speakers and basically had a beautiful day, and it was a great day out.
That was the first JeffConf, and we didn't really think we would go further than that, at that point in time.
Jeremy: But it is sort of fitting that the first ServerlessDays was in a church because Serverless is, kind of, a religion, if you think about it, to some people.
Ant: Oh, yeah. Yeah, it definitely is a religion for a lot of people. Yeah, it is, kind of, fitting, and we've made jokes about Serverless dogma and religion, but it is fitting. Ironically, part of the reason it did take off is, when we announced that two Italians got on a plane and helped us out. Alex Calaboni and .... They came over and helped us out. Then, Alex, at the end of it, said, "Hey, I want to run this in Milan." So, it's like, "Well, we didn't have any plans beyond running once, so yeah, you can go ahead. If you want to run it in Milan, go for it."
Two and a half months later, it was the end of August. So first ServerlessDays was in first week of July, first Serverless JeffConf. Then, it was in September of 2017, Alex ran JeffConf from Milan, copied by my awful, awful website that I'd designed. It was a point where I thought rolling my own single-page app framework was a good idea. It's being used for sum total of three websites, which is more than it ever needed to be. So, he put that together. I think he had about 150, or so, attendees the first one. He had a whole month extra to organize it and that was a great event.
Then, Soenke from Hamburg, was one of the speakers of that ServerlessDays at that JeffConf. He approached Justin and says, "Hey, he wants to run this in Hamburg." So, at that point, he said, "Well, if you want to do it, and you want to put the effort in, we'll help you." So, Soenke decided, with some of his colleagues, at the company he'd just co-founded, to run a JeffConf in Hamburg. That turned out to be the last JeffConf because, in the process of organizing this, we all stopped, myself, Paul, James, Alex, Soenke. We all said, "Maybe there's something in this.
Just organically, without trying, we managed to get three of these events in a six-month period. That's when we decided to rebrand, and we spent a lot of time trying to think about what the name should be, and how we should rebrand, and that. Yeah, we announced ServerlessDays as the last talk of JeffConf Hamburg. So, JeffConf Hamburg was the end of JeffConf, and the start of ServerlessDays, as we know it.
Jeremy: So, why ServerlessDays? What was the reasoning behind that?
Ant: We thought about 101 names, because we knew the JeffConf name wouldn't expand. It was an in-joke, and it was too open to misinterpretation. One of the core tenets of every single ServerlessDays is it needs to be representative of the community. JeffConf is very representative of people named Jeff. So we needed a name that didn't exclude a large proportion of the population. Hence, we decided to rename it. Ironically, the actual name... I'm debating... It didn't come to me. It came up when I was having lunch with James Governor, the Monkchips from Twitter. He's a friend of mine. I have lunch with him couple of times a month, and it was debating, "What should we call this thing?" James was like, "Stop mucking it about. Just call it what it is, and call it ServerlessDays.
So, we decided to stop trying to be too clever. Stop trying to cover up with a funny, clever name that some people market. Call it what it is, and that's exactly what it is. It's ServerlessDays. It a day to learn about serverless technology and to engage an expansion on the [inaudible 00:09:20]. That's where the name came from. It was basically telling us to stop being clever and just call it what it is.
Jeremy: Well, yeah. JSConf and DevOpsDays, they're very descriptive of what they are all about. So, yeah, I think that works well.
Ant: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Jeremy: All right. So, now you've go three of these in the books. You changed the name to ServerlessDays. Then, it started taking off even more than that.
Ant: Yeah, massively. Our MVP for ServiceDays, so to speak, is another badly-cobbled-together website, which still has not changed, since I put it together. serverlessdays@io. I think I actually pushed it live about two minutes before I went onstage at JeffConf Hamburg and announced it. So, the MVP was the website, and on the website was a link to an email address. It said, basically, "Email us us if you want to run a ServerlessDays." That was, pretty much, it. We have a Slack Journal, where we have a bunch of people who can support and help, and we've got a bunch of documentation from all the various ServerlessDays that we share with new ServerlessDays organizers, sponsored templates, sponsored contract templates, artwork. We basically, through the website, we've got a whole bunch of characters designed to try and give it a bit more of a feel to it and put an email address up. That was enough to get it going and take it international, take it beyond something that got set up by people who had been to a previous one. That's how we got it outside of Europe, essentially.
Jeremy: Yeah, because there's been Portland. There's been Austin. There's been Atlanta, Boston, New York. There's one coming up in Nashville, and across the world, there's two in Japan, this year, I think.
Ant: Yeah. Tokyo was the 22nd of October, and Fukuoka is coming up on the 14th. Yeah, it's after that.
Jeremy: I think you're right. I think it's...
Ant: Yeah, 14th.
Ant: So, this year, there's going to be 19 ServerlessDays. So, we've gone from two in 2017 to 19 in 2019. Conservatively, I think we'll go over 30 ServerlessDays in 2020. Don't hold me to that, but I think we will go to 30. With the amount of inquiries we get, I think we should get to 30.
Jeremy: Well, I think there's 10 in the first quarter, or something like. Right?
Ant: Yeah, there's 10 in the first quarter. I have about approximately a six- seven-month view of what else is being organized. Typically, the runway to organize a server if there's some people starting to organize the actual running is about four months. We don't recommend doing six weeks. We say a minimum four months, ideally, six months. We've had teams that have been working on this for over a year. We do expect a bit of a ramp up.
Then, you've got the teams in Japan that just absolutely hit the ground running. They started to speak to us in July. They ran their first one 22nd of October. They had 450 people added to that.
Jeremy: That's crazy.
Ant: Yeah, so yeah, I think 30 could be achievable this year, which is good growth.
Jeremy: So, a couple of things. Let's talk about just the main goal of ServerlessDays. Obviously, it's to get people to learn about serverless technologies. It's not necessarily any one specific cloud provider. We always have a lot of diversity at these events, from different providers, as well as really trying to have a diversity of speakers and a diverse audience, as well.
Ant: Yeah, that's the core aim of ServerlessDays, is to grow the serverless community. It's to create a community, grow it, and nurture it. It's not an opportunity for vendors to pitch. We actually almost have to coach some of the vendors in terms of what talks they submit to CFP. It's not pay for play, and if you sponsor, you're not guaranteed at all. You still have to go through the CFP. I did have a conversation, once, with a senior individual at a certain card vendor to explain why none of their talks got accepted, and it wasn't their fault. It wasn't. Yeah, the main aim is it's about growing the community and it's not just about growing a community for one sector of the population. We want these... as I said before, one of the core [inaudible 00:14:12] needs to be representative of the community that exists, beyond tech.
So, basically, being blunt, having a room of white guys with a bunch of white guys talking to him doesn't further the aims of ServerlessDays, and it's definitely not what we want. I think we're getting there and achieving our aim, but we can always do more.
Jeremy: Absolutely, and I know that your team has done some work as well, reaching out to other people to try to get things like diversity and inclusion and really pushing those.
Ant: Yeah, I think success varies from region to region. We do try and push it onto the organizers and some of the organizers absolutely take it and run with it. London, we're very lucky in that diversity and inclusion is slowly becoming embedded in the tech community, there, and there are multiple groups that we can work with that are being very supportive. So, we've almost got it easy, compared to other regions where the diversity inclusion efforts are not as mature. But, it's always about improvement. You're never going to be perfect. You're never going to achieve all of our goals, as long we get better year and year. Then, maybe one day, we will get there, but just that constant improvement is what we're aiming for.
Jeremy: Right. So, speaking about the future of where this thing is going, you've recently asked me, and I have agreed because, for some reason, I can't say no to these things, to help with having a United States-based entity along with [Farah Campbell 00:15:49], to help out organize ServerlessDays in the US, and to make it easier for people to start organizing. I know, for me and for the team that I worked with when we did Boston, it wasn't easy getting started. We had to form a legal entity. We actually had one of our board members or one of the organizing members was also going to be one of the sponsors. So they fronted us some money, so that we could pay for an attorney and do some of that stuff. We were very lucky, I think same as you.
With the event space that we found, we were able to do it at the Microsoft NERD Center. Because it was a community event, they donated that space for free to us, which was very, very helpful. There were other costs. We recorded all the videos, so we had to pay for a videographer. The bill for the catering was the biggest we had, I think. We had banners printed. We had the happy hour afterwards, and things like that. So there's a lot of costs that are involved there, and I think it can be very daunting, especially for people who are busy professionals, trying to do this on the side, and help out, that they really can run into a lot of roadblocks. So, what are the plans, here, to make it easier for new organizers to come in and run these events successfully?
Ant: Yeah, I think we definitely do need to make it easier. I think, early on, we didn't really have a framework. We had a bunch of templates from previous events that we could share, a bunch of documentation we could share. When we do these onboarding calls, the typical process was myself or Alex [Castleburny 00:17:32], who runs ServerlessDays Milan, would get an email. One of us would pick it up. One of us would jump on a call with a potential organizer and one of the first things we'd always highlight immediately is, "You need to get a budget." So, give them a budget template. Fill up that budget template. "You need to figure out how much this thing's going to cost you, at a high level.
You need to go put money up to book a venue, and you need to have a legal entity that you can do the legal contracts and all the financial transactions through." Those three things created a barrier to adoption. I'd say only about 40% of people who contact us end up learning ServerlessDays. So, 60% of people don't really even get past that barrier. In some respects, it's good because you test someone's commitment to actually doing it, if they're willing to go through all of that, but the other hand, it should be we do lose events because of that, because not everyone is in a position that they, as a company, can help with cash flow up front. Not everyone is in that position to make these things happen.
So, a big element of what we're going to be doing in 2020 is creating a US entity, which enables us to essentially get a lot of the sponsor money. Particularly, the major sponsor's all US-based. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Cloudflare, IBM are all US-based and enables us to give them one company that they can pay for sponsorship for the year, and they can give us both sponsorship. And we can just handle that up front. Then, what that will enable us to do is that then gives us bootstrap funds for new ServerlessDays.
So, if you want to organize a ServerlessDays, we can help front some of that money for you, because we've already got sponsors onboard, and we can basically help give you an easier life and take that stress away because, honestly, the financial stress of planning these things is probably the biggest element of it. It's always interesting seeing the emotional journey organizers go through as they see themselves signing up to very large costs with the promise of money, without the money in the bank account. So, hopefully, we can ease that emotional journey a little bit and help them focus on the main elements.
We had a ServerlessDays that ran last year, where they spent so much time focusing on sponsorship and focusing on getting paid, they didn't spend enough time on promoting the event, and they had a mad rush in the last two weeks to try and get it [inaudible 00:20:18], and they sold a hundred tickets in the last and they didn't achieve what they wanted to, but they got to a point that it was a successful event, and what we need to do is let the organizing team focus on promoting the event. Let them focus on curating and running the CFP, and creating an event that's unique to that area, that builds a community and take away some of that financial stress, really. So that's the big part of that.
Jeremy: No, I love that because I think, for the Boston team, just the procurement process... We had to fill out of these forms on people's websites and do all this kind of stuff and then you don't get paid right away. Big companies pay when they pay, and we love sponsorships, and these companies, the ones you mentioned, have been excellent sponsors, but certainly, I think, putting something into place that makes that A, easy for someone like AWS or Google to put that into their marketing budget at the beginning of the year.
We found, with a couple of sponsors we reached out to, we said, "Oh, our event is in April or March," last year, and they had said, "Oh, well, we already did our budget planning for next year." So, it's not there. Some of these events can pop up and can run fairly quickly. Four months, like you said, at a minimum, if somebody does that, then you might be out of cycle for some of these sponsors. So, being able to get some of the bigger sponsors and know that those main things are covered, I think, is really, really great. Besides financial support for organizers, you mentioned some documents and things like that. What else is the global organization doing to help organizers?
Ant: One big thing we want to do is looking at creating an organizer's guide, a one-one-one guide on how to run a ServerlessDays. Up to this stage, we've been sharing tips on that in Slack, and someone jumps in Slack and asks the question, there'll be someone who can answer it. We also point people to the organizing guides for JeffConf and DevOpsDays and [inaudible 00:22:31], and those. But those conferences all have different [inaudible 00:22:35] and different things that make them unique. So, what we want to do is actually create a organizing guide that's specific to ServerlessDays. I do remember, last year, basically, we created a URL, guide.serverlessdays.io. It's got no documentation on it, but it's there. There's an outline. So we need to populate that, and I do remember putting that URL on the ServerlessDays to organize this channel, last year. You popped out, I think it was just after the Boston one, you popped up when you say the names. It was like, "Hey, that would've been useful." So, apparently, it would be useful.
Jeremy: It would be nice to just have the checklist. That was one of the biggest things, for us, was we had a bunch of people on our committee. We had some really great people, and they had run some conferences before, or have been part of these organizing things before. I know Matt Williams had done quite a bit with DevOpsDays, and Erik Peterson, Christina Wong, a couple of others. If you had this master list, okay, you've got to call the venue. Call the venue, get the contract, sign the... Maybe it doesn't have to be that detailed, but certainly, all the incidentals like, "Oh, do you want to organize open spaces?" Well, then, you go talk to some speakers and try to get that worked out. What do you need for food, at least that kind of stuff, and videography. Things that you might not think of, like the little incidental things, t-shirts. You're printing t-shirts. You're doing conference badges, or you're doing whatever it is and just having some of those best practices in place and some checklists, I think, would be really helpful.
Ant: Yeah, that's one of our aims. Let's be a little bit more prescriptive. Let's help these teams. A lot of ServerlessDays success comes from building on the shoulders of previous communities. So, like DevOpsDays, where there's a healthy overlap of DevOpsDays organizers and ServerlessDays organizers. Also, DevOpsDays again. It's the 10-year anniversary in October, and I saw organizers from six other ServerlessDays there. So, we want to learn from them.
Bridget Kromhout, who runs DevOpsDays, came up and did a tour about how DevOpsDays grew. The first five years of DevOpsDays, they'd only grown to 15 events, and what happened during year five is they decided to create documentation on how to run DevOpsDays. There was an exponential growth after that. So, I think we're lucky. Our growth has been quite rapid, and a lot of that is because we've had people who've organized other events in the community already, and people with experience. But, we can't rely on organizers being able to pop into Slack and have someone answer their question, to help us grow.
We really need to have to standardize this and be a little bit more prescriptive and have a clear guideline on how to run these things and, sure. What do we do about food? How do we handle sponsorship? How do we handle covering travel and accommodations for speakers? What are the policies on that? Have that all covered, basically, just to make it easier.
As I said earlier, it's just about the greatest value our organizers bring is organizers are all practitioners. They're all members of the community. We don't have marketing teams running these things. It's developers, engineers, running these events. So, let's, then, focus on putting together a great event with great content, and focus on getting the right speakers in the room, and let them focus on building the community, and make all that other stuff, that has to be done to have a great event, and make that as easy as possible.
Jeremy: Yeah. Even the finances, just understanding the financing stuff. We had Christina Wong, who was on our team, and she was the Treasurer for us. That, in and of itself, is just a huge undertaking. Then, just like space coordination, like I said, we were very lucky with Microsoft NERD Center and Simona Cotin, from Microsoft, actually got involved with our group. She's on your side of the Pond, there, but she was able to reach out and help out with our team and get us space. So we just had a lot of community support, basically, in order for us to make these things work. I think that codifying that and making it very accessible to people who want to do it, I think, would be hugely advantageous to new organizers, and existing organizers, like people who have run this in the past, and thinking, "Okay, we're going to do this again. Do I have to go through this whole process?" Maybe get their feedback and, like you said, incorporate that into the overall documentation, there.
Ant: Yeah, that's exactly what we're looking to do and potentially do some sort of documentation sprints in the New Year, and get a bunch of the organizers together and, basically, do one big data post of everything we've gone through, and what we think should happen and shouldn't happen, and get that documentation up. The [inaudible 00:27:54] is there. It's just about putting content on the [inaudible 00:27:58], which would help everyone.
The guideline thing, it's being a victim of the success of ServerlessDays because everyone who runs ServerlessDays is part-time. For everyone, it's a side project. So, because it's a part-time, side project, one's actually had the time to actually write these things. So we actually have to find a little bit of extra time to save ourselves time, later down the line, to get it done.
Jeremy: All right. Coming up, this year, we know there's a bunch of ServerlessDays that are happening. You've got Belfast. You've got Cardiff. Boston is happening again. We're just waiting on the final date for that. There is Nashville. There's a whole bunch of... Hamburg is happening again, which must be... Is this their fourth one, now, that they're running, third one or fourth one?
Ant: Yeah, this will be their fourth.
Jeremy: Their fourth one. Okay, and then Helsinki is running one. So is there any other-
Ant: I think that'll be their third.
Jeremy: Their third one. Okay.
Ant: It'll be their third.
Jeremy: Are there any places in the US, simply now because you're asking me to help with this, are there any places in the US, where we're not seeing any of these pop up? Are there some places we want to target?
Ant: The US is the trend, because coming from outside of the US, we always think of the US as one country, but the reality is it's a very large country, and it's a very diverse country and not everything is evenly distributed. So, I think, areas that are potentially underserved, like ServerlessDays Chicago, we had an organizing team there, and they basically, to the team members, moved out of Chicago. So, she stepped away. There's one person, there, who's still very keen to get it going, but needs a team to support them. So, if you're interested in getting involved in ServerlessDays Chicago, just ping us on email@example.com, and we can introduce you.
The Twin Cities in Minneapolis and Minnesota, there's a great team there that approached us last year, saying, "Hey, we want to run a... I said last year. It was this year. They approached early this year, saying, "Hey, we want to run a ServerlessDays, but we don't know what the community's like, and there wasn't a Serverless user group. So the recommendation, there, was start a Serverless user group, and they've done that, and they've been running that for six months. They're, now, starting to plan their own ServerlessDays. So it should, hopefully, happen in 2020. So, there are a couple of these.
Ant: I think the key thing is if you can get an organizing team together, it doesn't matter how big the center you live in. ServerlessDays can be 100 people. It can be 400 people, but get a team of minimum of three people together, because it's way too much to take on unless there's three or more of you. Ideally, if you're a bigger center, you want more. Just start it. It doesn't have to be big. The first one in London was 170 and, like I said, we've had smaller, and you'd be amazed, too. We'll come and speak in your area. Actually, sometimes a smaller area is actually get better attendance, because there isn't competition with other events.
Jeremy: Yeah, not the bigger events. Sure.
Ant: Yeah. There's other good ones, I think. ServerlessDays Phoenix is starting to get planned. Yeah, there's a few others in the US. Then, the other interesting one is, we might to into China, this year, in 2020. There's potential for three ServerlessDays events in China, which would be huge. We've been speaking to organizers in South America.A couple have come close, but never run one yet. So, we want to see that. I'd love to see a ServerlessDays in Brazil or Argentina, or Chile or wherever. Columbia is another country we've had conversations with, before. So, we'd love to see-
Jeremy: There was just a JSConf in Columbia.
Ant: Yeah, exactly. There's development communities there that would love to have a ServerlessDays. So, it's just about finding individuals who're willing to put the effort in. Obviously, India is another one where I'd like to see a a lot of growth. We've had a lot of conversations in India, and, hopefully, 2020 is when we, hopefully, will see quite a few events there, or 2021. But, there's a lot of growth to be had and I think the key to a ServerlessDays is start small and grow from their. Don't think you have to run a four or 500-person event. 100-person is fine. Keep your budget low. Minimize any risk. We'll have an organization behind you that can, in 2020, financially back you up and support you. Hopefully, it'll grow significantly.
Jeremy: I just want to go on the record, saying that I am willing to help and attend a ServerlessDays Hawaii. If anybody is interested, I'd be more than happy to lend a hand, there. All right, great. So, while I have you here... Part of the reason why you started ServerlessDays was because you are a serverless fanatic, like many other rabid serverless fans in the serverless community. So, I'd love to get your take... I know you were just at a reinvent. I saw you out there. What's your take on where Serverless is right now? What do you see? I don't want to ask you the, "Where do you see Serverless in five years?" thing, but how do you feel about the adoption and where it's going?
Ant: I think the adoption is good. It's still strong. One of the challenges it has is for better or worse, AWS is the dominant player in the serverless world. So, if you live in the AWS world, you see serverless everywhere, but if you're using Google Cloud or Azure, or potentially you're a web developer, Serverless isn't as prevalent. Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, both, seem to have a greater preference towards containers, though they are getting more and more serverless with the container offerings, [inaudible 00:34:19] is a good example from Google Cloud. I think Serverless is in a good place. I don't think it's got great marketing behind it. It doesn't have an opensource foundation, and the core value of Serverless will probably never have an open source foundation, because it's all about the platform, and the platform benefits.
So, it's slow and steady. People are adopting it because they see the value in it. The ecosystem's building out. One of the great things I love about it that there's a solid community. It was great being at re:Invent, because got to see all the people I see every year at ServerlessDays. Now, we're all in one place. I think it's great. I actually like what the Microsoft teams are doing. They've got a 25 days of Serverless, at the moment, where they're doing those serverless challenges every day, leading up to Christmas. That's great.
Microsoft has a small team, and they're very passionate about their platform. They don't have the investment of Amazon. I know the Google teams who work on their service platforms are also very passionate about it. I think there's a lot of passion, a lot of commitment to what Serverless is and the value it can bring, and I can only see that growing because, one of the last things I do like about it is doesn't have the marketing dollars of other open-source foundations. Maybe in 2019, 300 thousand, 400 thousand is probably the total marketing spent on every single ServerlessDays, total. That's about the marketing spins of two headline slots at one CubeCon.
The marketing's been done on other cloud native technologies is magnitudes of what Serverless is, but Serverless still goes slow and stead and keeps going. It keeps going because it's got such a strong value proposition. It's so much easier than other options. There's no clusters to manage. There's none of that configuration. There's trade-offs. There's other things to manage, but it is significantly easy and you get great value, really quickly. I was seeing more of that, and that's great, and it's a lot of where that value, I see, is in the talks at ServerlessDays.
When you see Lego Group get up and tell you about how they started with one function, three years ago, and where they are now, or Liberty Mutual, very large, Boston-based insurer with a good presence in Belfast, how they talked about their improved [inaudible 00:36:58] market, their reduced costs, their better availability, and all these positive metrics when they've moved things to a serverless platform. That's where I see where that growth is. It's not just one company that's got one genius engineer who can make this thing work. It's multiple companies who are seeing that value, and it's just happening slowly and slowly. I think slow and steady is going to carry on growing, and it's definitely... It's on its own cycle. I don't think... It's not marketing-driven hop, for me, personally.
Jeremy: Yeah, one of the things I think we saw, this year, which was very encouraging, and I think is great for pushing adoption is we started to move away. We started to move away from a lot of these toy projects that you've seen people build with them and, actually, into things, now, that are production grade. Liberty Mutual is... That's a big one obviously, what Capital One has been doing, what [LEGO's 00:38:02] doing. There's so many companies, now, that are starting to do that, and they're building really interesting... They're interesting patterns around microservices with functions and managed services and things like that. So, I'm really encouraged. I think 2020 is going to be the year where you've got a few of these vendors that are really smart, know what they're trying to do, in terms of getting this out there, and I think you've gotten that incremental adoption but, at some point, I think, someone's just going to step on the accelerator and you're going to see this explode. So, I'm excited for that.
I don't know if 2020 is the year for that, but I think we're getting closer.
Ant: Yeah, I agree. I'm not 100% sure if 2020 is the year. It's been this growth under covers but, I do think we are going to hit that. I think it'll hit when there are more and more of these companies that come out and start publicly talking about the value of it. It's been a bit of a weird one, because we know some of the very early service adopters who get such value out of it, and they see it a differentiator to what they do, where they don't actually talk about the numbers. The might go up onstage and talk about their technology, how they built this integration or how they monitored this, but they don't talk about the numbers, and they don't talk about the business value, because they don't want their competitors to find out. They don't want to understand that this thing is a bit of their secret sauce. I know a few companies who've said, "We love it. It's amazing. We'll talk about the technology. We won't talk about the numbers because we don't want people to find out." I think that, as we get more and more adopters, we'll get more and more companies, getting onstage, doing case studies, and talking about the amazing value they can get from this when they do it properly. Yeah, I think it's going to come. I don't think we're far away, whether 2020 or 2021 or 2022, but it is going to come.
Jeremy: Awesome, and I hope that anybody who's listening, if you have not been to a ServerlessDays, you should definitely go check one out because, like you said, there's a great pool of speakers and sometimes you get those absolutely amazing talks that go into the detail of how some of these companies are actually using it, as opposed to more theory, which is what my talks tend to be bout, more about patterns and things like that, but, hopefully, you can use those to build your own stuff.
Anyway, so listen. Thank you, Ant, for being here. This has been great. I'm really excited about the future of ServerlessDays. I think we've got some cool things there. If people want to get in touch with you, or find out more about ServerlessDays, how do they do that?
Ant: You can find me on Twitter @IamStan. Just a warning, most of my posts are about my dogs, because they're way prettier than me. Otherwise, just drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and that would be the English spelling of email@example.com. Maybe we should set up an alias for our American friend.
Jeremy: Probably. Switch out the S and the Z. Right?
Ant: Yeah, absolutely [crosstalk] for that.
Jeremy: And, if you want to check out all of the upcoming ServerlessDays events, serverlessdays.io, it's all listed there.
Ant: Yes, serverlessdays.io/events. They are currently not on the website, right now. I think another three will go live, by the end of January. So, yeah, go find the ServerlessDays, go look at it, look at attending. They're typically dirt cheap, ranging from 20 pounds in Cardiff to, I think, Boston, you're at $50?
Jeremy: 50, yeah.
Ant: Yeah, the price is nuts. It's so cheap. So we get good attendance and it's a day off. It's one day. Go attend a conference. Go. Spend a day learning and seeing how the companies are doing this.
Jeremy: Awesome. All right. I will get all of that in the show notes. Thanks, again, Ant.
Ant: Cool. Awesome. Been great to chat.
What is Serverless Chats?
Serverless Chats is a podcast that geeks out on everything serverless. Each week, Jeremy Daly chats with another serverless champion to explore and do a deep-dive into specific topics in the serverless space.