Lessons from Think 2019: co-creating to change the world

February 26, 2019 devadvin

After attending a cross-section of the wide range of sessions and events at Think 2019 conference in San Francisco last week, I came home thinking about a common theme: co-creation.

How you develop, not just what you develop

Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President, and CEO, kicked off the conference on Feb. 12 with the chairman’s address Building Cognitive Enterprises. One of the topics she highlighted was “chapter 2 of the cloud,” which centers around hybrid cloud and a multi-cloud, open, secure, and consistently managed environment.

“I have to tell you a couple of things we’ve learned. On one hand, the ‘what’ you’re doing is really important, but I think you’re going to find the ‘how’ is almost more important,” Rometty said. “This is going to be an era of co-creation.”

Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, was one of the guests who joined Rometty for that keynote talk, and his observations focused on a similar theme. “I think that one of the most extraordinary things that’s happened over the last decade is this growth of what I’ll say is user-driven innovation,” he said.

“We see that happening at scale where companies like Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Google and others have large staffs of technology people that look to solve their own problems in massive data centers, and the byproduct of that is some really interesting code in open source.” He said Red Hat recognizes that “the byproduct is a phenomenal thing, but it was never built with end use in mind.”

“Kubernetes is phenomenal. People are talking about it, but the way it was originally built, and until recently you couldn’t run a stateful application, which is 99.9 percent of all applications out there,” Whitehurst said. “So we worked together to drive into the roadmaps of Kubernetes the ability to run those applications.”

You can watch the discussion here.

We’re all in it together

At a “Shaping the Cloud Native Future” session on Feb. 13, Abby Kearns, executive director of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, encouraged companies evaluating the future not to think of transformation like a caterpillar into a butterfly, which seems to happen magically. Instead she said to think of a whitewater kayaker using mastery to navigate through waters that are constantly changing.

“I’m deeply passionate about open source, where a majority of the innovation is happening today,” she said. She encouraged developers to get involved by contributing to open source that they use, because “it does not become great without you.”

She pointed to the the history of Cloud Foundry and recommended Michael Maximilien’s blog post on the topic. And she urged developers to “build for the future” and be responsive as they navigate through a quickly changing, interating, and evolving environment.

“Look at the cloud native landscape,” Kearns said. “We’re all in it together. We’re all focusing on the horizon and all trying to stay afloat.”

Think 2019 in San Francisco

Even a panel that focused more on HR efforts than coding followed the theme of collaboration for better results. The Intersectionality, Marketplace Strategy, and the Future of Inclusion panel discussion on Feb. 14 covered how teams that actively include various perspectives and backgrounds can create optimal outcomes together.

“Everyone has a role to play,” said David Galloreese, Chief HR officer for Wells Fargo.

“We all have levels of privilege that we can use to support other people’s voices that have not been heard,” said Jennifer Brown, consultant and author of “Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace, and the Will to Change.”

The powerful panel discussion that Rometty led on Feb. 14, Open Source: The Cornerstone to Innovation and Future for Enterprise, included both the business benefits and technology benefits of open source, and centered on co-creation.

“You can’t get this pace of innovation without a collective development effort,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation.

Kearns also participated in the panel. “If you contribute the time, you get to dictate the future of the open source project,” she said. “Without contribution, the future of that technology is at risk.”

For more insights from this panel, see Think 2019 recap: Open source leaders answer top questions.

Real-world coding examples

As the cloud computing editor for IBM Developer, I sought out ways that developers are co-creating in serverlesess and cloud areas.

In his tech talk Developers Reclaim Their Time with Serverless, Carlos Santana, IBM Senior Technical Staff Member and Architect for IBM Cloud Functions, showed a serverless-computing stack with an Orchestrator built on Kubernetes, the next layer of Containers built on Knative, and the top layer of Functions built on OpenWhisk. A service mesh, built on Istio, is also part of the architecture.

Julian Friedman, an Open Source Development Lead at IBM, is the project lead for Cloud Foundy’s low-level container engine (“Garden”) and the Eirini project, which allows Kubernetes to be used as the container scheduler in Cloud Foundry. Friedman held a tech talk “Cube Your Enthusiasm: Explore bringing Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes together with Eirini,” where he described several approaches to bringing both open source projects together for developing on the cloud.

Friedman described the power of Kubernetes but alluded to the Spiderman comic books by adding “With great power comes great responsibility.” And not all developers want to spend all their time on working with Kubernetes, he said. “Instead, I think we should focus on the developer experience.”

Carl Swanson, Product Manager for IBM Cloud Foundation Services, and Gili Mendel, an IBM Senior Technical Staff Member, expressed a similar advantage to Cloud Foundry in their “Build Secure Cloud-Native Solutions Rapidly Using IBM Cloud Foundry Enterprise Environment” Think Tank session.

“As a developer, I don’t have to deal with the specifics,” Mendel said. He and Swanson described the way that Cloud Foundry Enterprise Environment is built on both the Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes open source projects. They compared using Cloud Foundry Enterprise Environment instead of working directly with Kubernetes as driving a car instead of building it. “Today I don’t carry a tool box in the back of my car anymore,” Mendel said.

For more details about the Eirini project, check out a previous blog post from Friedman. For more information about Cloud Foundry, see the Cloud Foundry page on IBM Developer and Cloud Foundry Enterprise Environment.

You have the power to change the world

The power of co-creation can help communities both recover from disasters and plan to be more resilient for future disasters.

At Think 2019, I met Pedro Cruz, who created DroneAid as part of a Puerto Rico Call for Code 2018 hackathon. This year he is collaborating with the Call for Code 2018 winning team Project OWL to incorporate his code to use drones with that project, which provides an offline communication infrastructure to connect first responders with people who need help.

One of the Project OWL team members, Bryan Knouse, joined Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation and IBM Senior Vice Present Bob Lord for the Igniting the next generation of innovation to change the world discussion on Feb. 14.

“We look at at open source as a distribution strategy,” Knouse said. “We can open our source to any developer in the world – all 20 million of them.”

Think 2019 in San Francisco

Clinton described the Clinton Global Initiative University, which brings together young people from around the world and connects them with experts to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. A new partnership with IBM Code and Response™ commits to inspiring university students to develop solutions for disaster response and resilience challenges.

“To fight this global challenge, we need a global effort, and that’s diversity from the start,” Knouse said.

IBM Senior Technical Staff Member and Master Inventor Daniel Krook, talked about putting past solutions from challenges into action in the “You Have the Power to Change the World: Code and Response” session on Feb. 13.

“When we started with Call for Code, we always wanted a long-term sustainable way to implement solutions,” Krook said. “Now the IBM Corporate Service Corps is already engaged with Code and Response.”

There are opportunities all around us to co-create. You can check out the Code and Response page and consider joining the Call for Code 2019 challenge. If you are interested in contributing content to IBM Developer about serverless or Cloud Foundry, or other cloud areas, contact me.

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