Jetstack Summer Hack

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Written by Becky Pauley

			Jetstack Summer Hack

Published on our Cloud Native Blog.
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This summer, a group of Jetstackers got together to innovate, collaborate, and have fun - all as part of our Summer Hackathon. With planning, great ideas and two days focused hacking time, we came up with six amazing projects - all with the potential to help organisations move faster and smarter with Kubernetes. This is the story of our Hack.

The lead-up

Preparation for the Hack started a few months before the event: volunteers from across Jetstack formed a working group to hatch plans and take care of things well in advance (not forgetting food and T-shirts 😉). The grand plan was a two-day, remote-first Hackathon with an entirely open theme. We wanted to encourage innovation, working together - and enjoy getting to grips with interesting technical problems!

With a rough plan in place, we created the Ideas Board. This was a place where anyone at Jetstack could suggest an idea for a Hack project - and where we could talk about other people’s ideas too! We allowed a lot of time for this phase (around a month), which gave time for ideas and discussion to develop.

One month later, and with a jam-packed Ideas Board, it was time to choose! Everyone taking part in the Hack decided on the idea they wanted to contribute to - and that gave us our teams. Our chosen projects covered a huge range of topics: network monitoring, educational Kubernetes tooling, software supply chain security, developer experience- and more!

Teams then spent some time plotting what their Hack would look like: identifying the problem they were trying to solve and getting the practicalities sorted ahead of time so they could hit the ground running on the first day of the Hack itself.

The Big Event: our two-day Hackathon

Each morning started with a virtual coffee to talk about what participants were planning to get out of the day. Then, teams were free to work on their hack ideas however they chose.

The aim was to have a working ‘MVP’ by the end of day one. Day two was for tweaks, bug-fixes and extra features - as well as preparing demos to showcase results!

Demos took place on day 3 - and everyone across the company was invited. Each team’s presentation explained the problem they’d set out to solve, the solution they’d designed, followed by a live technical demo. Our teams also gave a summary of what they’d learned over the two days- and next steps for their project so we could keep the momentum going.

It was so impressive to see the projects our teams had built in only two days - and exciting to see the possibilities for what our ideas could become in the future!

What did we learn?

  • Summer Hack was a great reminder of how much we can benefit from collaboration when solving new problems.
  • Hackathons are full of learning opportunities! Over the two days, we had the chance to learn intensely about a particular technical areas that interested us e.g. a deep-dive in Kubernetes networking. Demos also allowed us to learn from other teams’ experience during their Hacks.
  • The event gave some of us the chance to brush up on the ‘building something from scratch’ skills you only get to pick up again when building something new.
  • Bringing some existing projects into the hack with us was interesting - and different to my experience of previous innovation events. We didn’t have the requirement that hack ideas had to be ‘from scratch’. We ended up with a mix of brand new ideas, and some pre-existing ‘side projects’ we expanded on over the course of the two days. It was great to see these ideas have a real boost in development and collaboration.
  • We had fun! It was great to spend time enjoying tech and finding creative solutions to problems.

What’s next?

We achieved a lot in a short amount of time - and now the aim is to keep our projects moving. Internally, all our hack ideas are open for collaboration and contributions.

You can find our Paranoia and Binpak projects on GitHub to try out for yourself- with more exciting plans on the way!

Cover photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

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