Community Day in Hyderabad
By edort on Mar 01, 2008
The Community Day that followed the two-day Sun Tech Days event in Hyderabad India was a hectic day for me but exhilarating. I sat in on a keynote by Ian Murdoch, Sun's Vice President of Developer and Community Marketing, attended a number of sessions in the University Day track of Community Day, spoke with a lot of attendees during breaks, and did two podcasts. What I found exhilarating was the enthusiasm of the attendees, most of them University students.
Community Day is a great opportunity for attendees to get "up close and personal" with Sun engineers and other Sun insiders. In fact, it's that personal angle that came across vividly in Ian Murdoch's talk. The focus of the talk was on OpenSolaris and the key role that the community plays in open source efforts like this. In fact, a significant message in the talk was that open source is changing everything in the software business. Murdoch noted that open source isn't really about source code, but rather it's about choice, flexibility, and a growing ecosystem that enables that choice and flexibility. The community is driving a lot of the innovation in this changing environment.
Murdoch observed that the open source world of today reminds him a lot of the free software world of the 1990s, something that stimulated his success in the software business. "The beauty of open source is that there are no barriers to what you can do." Murdoch is probably best known in developer circles for putting together Debian, a free distribution of the GNU/Linux operating system. Thinking back to the events that led up to his work on Debian, Murdoch recalled that when he got started he was only a 20-year old college student. "I got involved in the community. The community pulled me in. I wanted to give something back to the community. I identified a need and I threw myself into it." Encouraging students to be the next success stories in this open source world, Murdoch told them to "Find something that interests you and start using it. Clearly, it will be obvious to you how to make your mark and what your contribution will be. Then just do it. You'll be amazed at the places you can go."
Murdoch's talk ended with the announcement of the award winners in the Code for Freedom Contest. The contest, sponsored by Sun India, encouraged students in India colleges and universities to participate in open source projects. Murdoch said that 179 different contributions came out of this program across a number of different Sun open source projects.
Three grand prize winners were announced, one of whom was Angad Singh, a student at the Jaypee Institute of Information Technology in Noida outside of Delhi. Angad won the award for his contribution of a NetBeans plugin that makes it simple to include regular expressions in a program. I subsequently got a chance to interview Angad. That interview will be available as a podcast on the SDN Channel.
It's really delightful and encouraging to speak to someone like Angad. His enthusiasm, energy, and intelligence shows. I asked Angad about his experience in being a campus ambassador. He explained that Sun trains the campus ambassadors in various open source technologies like NetBeans, GlassFish, OpenSolaris, and JavaFX. In return, the campus ambassadors are supposed to introduce those open source technologies to students on campus by conducting demos and workshops. The key thing is to build a community on campus around those technologies. Although this requires some effort (Angad said the extent of that effort depends on the motivation of the campus ambassador), it's a very exciting opportunity for a techie student like himself. He went on to say that it's not only an opportunity to learn the technologies, but it's also a great opportunity to work with a company like Sun.
You can learn more about Angad's activites as a campus ambassador as well his winning entry in the Code for Freedom Contest in his blog.
I also got a chance to interview Matt Thompson, Senior Director of the Sun Developer Network and Technology Outreach. Thompson's group is responsible for providing content for the Tech Days events as well as Community Day. He said that the Tech Days event in Hyderabad was extremely successful. "We had over 4000 attendees on the Day 1 morning, which was phenomenal, and we had an extra couple hundred that showed up on Day 2 in addition to the 4000 we had on Day 1, and another 1700 in satellites [locations outside of Hyderabad], as well as another one or two thousand that showed up today for Community Day that didn't show up the previous two days." Thompson said that last year's Tech Days event in India was a bit larger, but only because there were more satellite cities. But for a single city this is the largest Tech Days event ever run in India. The only larger Tech Days event worldwide was an event held in China.
My interview with Thompson will also be available as a podcast on the SDN Channel.
Aside from the numbers, which as Thompson pointed out were terrific, this event was extremely successful because of the enthusiasm and interest of the attendees. Every technical session, every keynote, every lab was well attended. The pavilion floor, which included booths set up for various Sun and partner technologies and tools, was crammed with people. And these were not casual observers. These were interested, engaged developers with lots of questions and lots of opinions.
I think my lasting memory of this event will be doing short "man/woman on the street" interviews on the pavilion floor. I did this with Liana Vagharshakian, a member of the SDN staff. As we set up the camera, people started milling around, and within a minute we had a huge throng of people wanting to be on camera, wanting to tell us about the technologies they're using and the projects they're working on. Sun Tech Days and Community Day in Hyderabad were definitely stoked by lots of very enthusiastic people. It's this kind of enthusiasm that left me with the urge to come back to India. If I do get a chance to return to Sun Tech Days in India I definitely will.
Learn more about Sun Tech Days.