By Michael Elliott, NetApp Cloud Evangelist
As a former application developer and current NetApp cloud evangelist, I participated in Integrate 2015 Hackathon as both a sponsor and a judge. Over a two-day period, 200-plus developers converged in Silicon Valley for the nation’s largest API and integration hackathon. Their mission: to create innovative and commercially viable applications. As a judge, I evaluated applications on how they fueled business innovation and addressed market needs. As a sponsor, I was interested in observing the dynamic use of cloud technologies in the development process. Both responsibilities proved illuminating.
Prize-winning teams at the Hackathon presented incredible solutions that truly meet real-world opportunities. One winning team created a policy-based, dynamic water management application that examined both state and local water allocation policies to ensure compliance by adjusting sprinkler schedules. Their solution included a live demonstration of a fountain cycled on and off based on these water policies.
Another team developed an Internet of Things (IoT) solution for traffic analysis and optimization. Pulling sensor data from simulated traffic IoT sensors, the application created dynamic route optimization for emergency response vehicles. Yet another solution used facial recognition to identify people in different parts of the world that match the user’s facial structure with the aim of highlighting commonality and providing for communications across cultures. All three of these solutions looked for effective data management, data mobility and replication capabilities and used NetApp Cloud ONTAP™ for achieving their objectives.
With two of the top three “Best of Show” awards built on NetApp cloud software, the importance of data in the cloud ecosystem was clearly demonstrated. Valuable insights on teams, culture, motivation and the development process are highlighted below:
Team, Culture and Motivation
- Developers are passionate, hard working and enthusiastic about creating applications that respond to market needs. Their investment level and passion about their work was contagious, with teams literally being escorted out of the building at closing time of the first night. They were ready to code through the night.
- Teams exemplify the open source community and collaborate at will to approach challenges. Many of the participants entered the hackathon as independent contributors highlighting their strengths as designers, coders or architects. Over coffee, they shared their passions, formed groups and left the hackathon as part of a team collaborating on future projects.
Development Process and Technology
- The development lifecycle is rapid and agile, and it consists of conceptualizing, designing, architecting and ultimately creating applications. The cloud is the perfect playground for application developers, as it provides infrastructure as a consumable service and access to a wide range of development tools and templates.
- Within a two-day span, teams focused on creating working solutions from concept to demonstrable applications. Some of these solutions piqued the interest of venture capitalists and angel investors in attendance.
- Developers use technology as an enabler for solving real-world problems. Although they tend to use the environments and languages they know, they will explore new programming languages, APIs and software technology if it speeds application development or solves complex problems. For a developer, agility and time to market are paramount.
Ultimately, NetApp cloud software-and specifically Cloud ONTAP™-provided value to hackathon developers who required data management, data mobility and enterprise-class storage efficiency in their applications. NetApp’s approach to putting enterprise-class storage software in the cloud enabled developers to build hybrid applications-applications that can live both in the cloud and in the enterprise environment, seamlessly.