NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has achieved a lot of firsts: First flyby of Mars. First interplanetary spacecraft. And first selfie on another planet, to name a few.
They got there by staying at the forefront of technology, said Tom Soderstrom, JPL’s chief technology and innovation officer—who also likes to call himself chief toy officer.
To keep innovating, change how you work
With this legacy of firsts, how will JPL get to the next firsts? In his session titled “Innovation is everywhere: Opportunities in a changing world,” Soderstrom said JPL has to change the way they work.
Once every IT decade (that’s 3 years for you and me) JPL looks at what key disruptors are coming and embraces them. What’s coming now? Innovation in the consumer space. There, innovation happens rapidly, unlike in the enterprise where innovation happens at a glacial speed.
The enterprise space could learn a thing or 2 from the consumer space. So JPL researched human behavior as it relates to IT. They discovered that if engineers and scientists can get tools quicker and see what IT disruptors are coming, they’ll be more productive. And that will help all of humanity.
Now JPL practices what Soderstrom calls E4: Engage and enable everyone and everything. It’s about the power of participation (which just happens to be this year’s Red Hat Summit theme).
Nathan Seidle, founder and CEO of SparkFun Electronics, believes open source is not only good for humanity, but also good for business. SparkFun is a successful online retailer that sells the parts people need to build electronics projects.
He started his talk by describing some of the “crazy” (his word, not mine) things some of his customers have made with SparkFun products:
One customer used SparkFun cell phone modules and solar cells to track falcon migration across North America.
Another put a SparkFun sensor under a trampoline and connected it to the valve (and flame) on a propane tank. The idea was, the harder you jump, the bigger the flame.
And my favorite: A customer used a SparkFun motion sensor, a microcontroller, and a blender to create the “blender defender.” The purpose? To keep cats off kitchen counters.
I mean, really? If you haven’t heard: The craziest thing went down today at Red Hat Summit. It’s probably a first ever for a tech conference and that’s not even the amazing part. We married some amazing people. To each other. They hitched without a hitch. It was beautiful, romantic, geeky, exciting, punny, and absolutely heart-warming.
I wouldn’t trade the experience of seeing these two wonderful people commit to each other for anything. See what I did there? Commit. Get it? Anyway…
Paul Cormier, Red Hat EVP and president of Products and Technologies, presided over the wedding while Jim Whitehurst, our fearless leader, acted as ring bearer.
Some call it digital transformation. Others say it’s the evolution from traditional to modern, or from mode 1 to mode 2. Paul Cormier, Red Hat president of Products and Technologies, sees it as an evolutionary approach to architecture, processes, and platforms. In his keynote at the 2016 Red Hat Summit, he explores how these shifting landscapes affect both infrastructure and applications, as well as developers and operations.
To start, Cormier looks at infrastructure and app development through the lens of architecture, processes, and platforms.
Infrastructure architecture is moving from proprietary to open source development, and from single footprints to a combination of physical, virtual, private, and public resources. These changes necessitate accessible software-based storage and networking, as well as common management and consistent applications. Without all the pieces working in harmony, infrastructure can become inefficient and complex–and that isn’t sustainable.
With all the changes to infrastructure, processes must change to match. More automation, better tools, and common management can help, but streamlined processes must infiltrate the entire organization to make increasingly complex infrastructure sustainable.
Similarly, the host platform must be utterly stable across the entire stack. Platform consistency is where Red Hat Enterprise Linux has made its mark–our customers can use the same foundation across physical, virtual, private, and public environments.
The best demos are live demos. They’re intense, fast-paced, and full of excitement–for the audience, of course. The presenters never want excitement. They want everything to work as expected. And the keynote demo this morning delivered all of that and more.
“Think of this as our flying trapeze act.”
Burr Sutter, Red Hat’s director of developer experience, gave a demo that spoke to the core of Red Hat Summit: The developers. The operations teams. Those that do. This demo built on the concepts that Paul Cormier addressed earlier in the morning. Developers feel many pains in their day-to-day lives and need resources to make apps work, then into production. Even getting their environment set up properly can be a chore. File tickets. Wait. Hope. Get resources. Code. Rise and repeat.
On the other side, operations teams are constantly getting barraged with requests from developers. Ticket after ticket comes in requesting resources. But developers don’t understand all that ops have to deal with. Dependencies, requests, patches, updates, more tickets, more requests, more updates. It’s impossible to keep up with.
DevOps to the rescue
The power of DevOps is that these teams can be linked together in culture, processes, and tools. What if you had a way to automate all of this? A single place for everyone to work together and cast aside the madness. A way to get to production faster, using containers, and continuously integrating and delivering. And what if you could see it live at the Red Hat Summit? Yeah, that’d be cool…
Elwin Loomis isn’t your everyday Director of Engineering. In fact, he’s not the Director of Engineering. He’s Target‘s Senior Director, Store of the Future. This unique title is important to him, because it symbolizes doing things differently. And Loomis is all about doing things differently.
Elwin is an engineer, a creator, a doer. But he’s no longer just hacking code—he’s hacking culture. Doers like Elwin get to ask the questions that he was asking the Summit 2016 crowd:
“What does your ideal workplace look like? What is the work that you do? Who do you want to work with, mentor, and be mentored by? What causes do you support?”
How business used to be
In the past, if you wanted your business to grow large, it took considerable investment in physical and digital resources. Infrastructure was the barrier to entry that kept the competition at bay. For a retail business like Target, these barriers included the supply chain, real estate, and relationships with manufacturers.
Today, these barriers are breaking down. The internet and other technologies bring improvements to manufacturing, creating, and funding businesses that make it possible to start up cheaply. And the amplification effect—how Loomis describes the ability of small teams to behave like big teams through repeatable processes, self-service, and automation—lets even tiny organizations appear quite large. If big companies cannot match these nimble upstarts, they will die.
If you missed the Red Hat middleware keynote on Tuesday, you missed a demo that you have to see to believe. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the demo from Cian Clarke on the Red Hat Mobile team, and watch the entire middleware demo, too.