I was invited by Jason Langone, Nutanix Sr Director of Corporate Marketing, along with Nutanix Solutions Engineer, Richard Arsenian, to help manage the inaugural Nutanix Hackathon held at .NEXT in New Orleans last week. The goal was simple -- to bring customers and partners together to build “something cool” around three themes: Life, Work or Play. And build cool things they did!
Care was taken to set the vibe for the event: a DJ spinning music, cool lighting, comfy couches, a barista slinging shots and multiple food refueling sessions.
Each team was comprised of customers or partners with a dedicated Nutanix employee acting as a guide and coach. Some teams were from the same company, other teams were glued together that morning, but all came together and rallied cohesively during the 8 hours. Some participants were system engineers or architects, others managed the monitoring stack for their companies, while others were directly tied to application development and DevOps functions.
The majority of judges were from Nutanix including engineers, developers, technologists, as well as executives such as Ben Gibson and Sudheesh Nair. We also had several external judges to provide a unique perspective, such as Shaown Nandi from Dow Jones. Judges were split into groups and sent out to interview each team in a science fair-like fashion. Each team had 5 minutes to pitch their work.
The Three Pillars
The hacking teams were asked to choose from one of three pillars (Life, Work, or Play) and start building a solution with one of those themes in mind.
As I surveyed the playing field, I saw multiple teams creating great applications. The following applications stood out the most prominently to me:
One team, known as Virtually Amazing, focused on the life pillar. Their offering was all about using Calm blueprints to scale and shrink computational capacity over a Nutanix cluster for use during off-hours on “life-based” projects tied to the Folding@Home project. This is a great foundation and opens up possibilities for future forking to tie into our own .Heart initiatives.
Another team, Team Blue, wanted to leverage IoT (Internet of Things) functionality with their iNutanix cluster. This particular group was comprised of several individuals who are responsible for monitoring their own datacenter environments back home. Team Blue used a Phillips Hue light bulb to show a red (unhealthy) or green (healthy) cluster based on Nutanix API calls. It was great to see this team build something that directly applies to their day to day tasks in their own organization.
Nutanix heavily leverages tools like Slack to keep our employees in sync, near real time. Team Copper leveraged Slack to build a Slack Bot to interact with the Nutanix API to conduct particular operations and create an ACLI-like interface for interaction. ACLI is the command line method to interact with Prism and AHV to conduct virtual machine actions, so anyone familiar with ACLI would feel right at home using the customer Slack Bot.
Team “Not That Special” focused on serverless computing and microservices to build their framework for managing Nutanix Clusters, as well as external applications from a “single pane of glass.” For those who follow Nutanix, Prism Central is our single pane of glass control plane to expose and manage all aspects of the Nutanix software fabric no matter the underlying architecture: x86 (via SuperMicro, DELL, Lenovo, HP, or Cisco) kit or Power (via IBM Power offering). Extending the single pane of glass to interact and orchestrate with the Nutanix API, while also managing the application stack, is the next level of computing.
My favorite application, built by Team “We Did it All for the Cookies,” hyperconverged the three themes into one: Life, Work and Play. They leveraged their Apple iWatch to interact with the Nutanix API, and also deployed an application shim on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Like Nutanix, this team tried to make the infrastructure invisible by reducing complexity and automating tasks. Leveraging all of those principles -- automation, ease of use, one-click operations (via the iWatch) -- was why this team came out on top.
Code from participating teams can be found in our own hackathon Github repo, https://github.com/nutanix/hackathon. We looking forward to see how some of these projects become the base for future hackathon efforts!
Due to positive attendee feedback from our first sold-out event, Nutanix will be sponsoring Hackathon v2.0 at .NEXT Europe, 27-29 November in London. If you are planning on attending .Next Europe, start thinking about leveraging new and emerging technologies to interact with Nutanix, such as IoT (Internet of Things)!
Also stay tuned for min-Hackathons popping up during the .NEXT on Tour events beginning this fall in a city near you!