I enjoy attending OSCON as it is a great way to immerse myself on the latest in open source projects, culture and meeting open source leaders. This year proved to be no exception and I came away excited and rejuvenated by people and ideas. There were 4 key areas that really struck out for me:
Open Source and Commercial – Can Community and Company go Hand in Hand? Some of my community friends were concerned about the larger than life booths and commercial company presence at this year’s show. Yes, there was a large commercial presence and it still takes me by surprise to see Microsoft and Amazon at the show. But the way I see it, we need both community and company for a strong open source. Companies hire developers, sponsor shows and demonstrate through use that open source works for business. It is a good balance to have both.
Open Source Offices – Building a Dedicated Point of Contact: I noticed this year that there is a strong movement in many companies to have a dedicated open source office. There were at least 2-3 discussions on the role of such an office and how they make it easy to use and contribute to open source in companies. My favorite talk was by Chris Aniszczyk (@cra) from Twitter who shared how he and his team make life easy for developers at Twitter and help recruit the best developers into Twitter. My own role at SanDisk® is to be the single point of contact for all things open source in the company and for external communities. That has helped us streamline engagement with the community and drive contributions. When we focus on something, we get it done and that is exactly what it brings to companies – focus.
InnerSource – Extending Across Teams: Open source methods were borne out of necessity. When developers are scattered across the world, don’t work for the same organization and have patches coming in all the time, certain tools and methods evolve. Tools that allow a way to view code and contribute, to do peer reviews, continuous integration, communicate openly, fork a project and document changes. These methods have been proven in hundreds of thousands of projects and millions of lines of code. Companies are now adopting these same proven methods for their internal engineering projects. PayPal shared how they are successfully using Open Source methods inside their company – also called InnerSource – to break down silos, improve time-to-market, improve code quality and mentor new developers to be productive quickly. A case study of their work is available for a free download here.
Inclusion and Diversity – Why We Need to Mentor: I attend many conferences, especially open source ones, and often find myself one of the few women at the event. This has changed noticeably in the last few years with a concerted effort by organizations like OSCON who have worked very hard to reach out to people who are new to tech or have not had the opportunity to be in this industry. This year was one of the best in the amount of diversity in attendees and on stage. The success and innovation in the industry depends on new people entering and bringing their new viewpoints and ways to solve problems. This is where mentoring comes in. Organizations like US2020 are leading the way in creating pipelines into STEM careers. SanDisk has been a founding member of US2020 to give back and encourage experienced people to become mentors. Recently our SVP of Corporate Engineering Jeff VerHeul spoke about this at the US2020 kickoff. He said “I believe we all acknowledge that there is no “one size fits all” approach to creating more opportunities for STEM in schools and in the workforce. However, what we do know, and what will be shared with you throughout this US2020 Symposium, is that active and quality mentorship is uniquely positioned to address two key barriers to pursuing STEM careers – 1) the lack of exposure to the various STEM disciplines; and 2) the lack of connections to STEM professionals. Citizen Schools and their US2020 initiative is creating the pathways we need to engage and sustain youth’s pursuit of STEM studies and STEM careers. “The best end to the conference was to glimpse into the future of tech. To hear from a young woman like 13 year old Keila Banks who realized that she can create new labels for herself such as coder, gamer, computer expert and break age-old stereotypes. More importantly, she can create lifelong success and change in the world. You can learn more about this remarkable young woman and her story on Facebook.
A Better, Open And Bright Technology Future
In just a few weeks, I’ll be attending LinuxCon, where I’ll join more talent of the Open Source community from around the world. These key takeaways will be something I’ll bring with me as we discuss, share and collaborate to build a better, open and bright technology future.
Nithya has been in the open source business since 1999 when Linux and Open Source were in their infancy. She has since introduced new support models for open source, made open a proprietary solution and led the product management and marketing function for the industry’s best embedded open source distribution.At SanDisk, she is the Director of the Open Source Strategy Office, bringing best in class open source ideas to SanDisk.Previously, has worked at companies like Wind River (Intel Subsidiary). Synopsys, Avaya, SGI, Eastman Kodak and at start-ups like Movius, Cranite and Tripwire.Nithya has an MBA from the University of Rochester, NY and an MS in Computer Science from North Dakota State University. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two daughters. She is an avid traveler, designer of beautiful jewelry and a student of life and business. She enjoys speaking both on technology issues as well as on women in technology and business.