I’ve been working for RedHat as a software developer for just under 7 years, and this past weekend was my first opportunity to attend a hackathon as a RedHat sponsor. I traveled to Charleston, SC, which was also a first for me. Typically, the OpenShift marketing team leaves me at home to spend my life behind the keyboard, fixing the software bugs I’ve created, but this time I was lucky enough to tag along.
We showed up to the SPARC office at 8AM, where we were greeted by the event staff (SPARC employees). The staff met us with smiles and it was obvious they were well organized. This was their second time hosting the hackathon. There is no substitution for experience; they knew exactly how to get folks excited. SPARC put a dozen nice raffle prizes on display just past the entrance. They set up the break room with drinks and food all day, and added an open bar to top it off, the works really.
The OpenShift marketing and sales staff coordinated a flawless delivery of OpenShift swag for us to hand out throughout the day. The USB bottle openers were a big hit, followed by the freshly logo’d t-shirts. Even the big boys were impressed since we had double and triple X sizes in tote, not like some corncobs thinking everyone is 100% in the health zone.
Our OpenShift sponsor table was set up across from Microsoft and Google, and adjacent to a local Charleston start-up, TouchPoint UX. Even though some of the sponsors were working for competing companies, our interaction with one another was that of friends. One of the colleagues that I was traveling with had even attended University studies with one of the Microsoft sponsor’s colleagues. It was a very positive atmosphere.
The development teams quickly got set up in the ‘developer pit’ and shortly after they were given their programming problems, they were heads down coming up with creative ideas and cutting code. There were 30 teams that registered to compete for the $3000 first prize! I am not exaggerating when I say it was a LONG day for everyone. By 10:00pm, the developers were all set for the American Idol style judging of the applications. There were 4 judges selected from the sponsors, of which I was one.
The application developers all went through a build process to make sure there applications would build and deploy on either an iOS or android based devise. Not all the developers actually completed that step, so there were folks that had spent the entire day coding and had nothing suitable for judging; great for the other competitors, bad for the development team. Each development team gave a quick sales pitch of the application and then took everyone on a guided tour by using a microphone and displaying their application on a large flat screen television that was wired up to the mobile devices. The applications usability, professionalism, and over all quality spanned the entire spectrum of pitiful to pretty outstanding. In the end only one team walked away with the top prize of $3000. There were many other prizes given out for other category winners, such as ‘best in show’.
Throughout the day, I had the chance to meet a lot of interesting people from many industries. I’ve never pitched the idea of a Platform as a Service to so many people in one day. I met a lot of great people from SPARC and I’d like to publicly thank all of them for their southern hospitality.