Despite or maybe because of being such a small country (6.8 million people approx. in 2016), Ireland “boxes above it weight” in term on technology. Color photography, Trans-Atlantic calls, the submarine and the induction coil are among some of the things invented by Irish people. This might be one reason for IT taking so a hold in the country from its early stage with many multinational companies based here, in addition to the indigenous companies. IBM is also celebrating 60 years in Ireland this year after opening its first office in 1956!
This got me thinking about OpenStack and my local area of Cork. Here I am collaborating with people all over the world on a fantastic technology that is changing the world and yet I had not encountered anyone from my region! I suddenly became fascinated when I thought that maybe my neighbor or the person walking down the road, might be interested in OpenStack? After all George Boole was the first professor of mathematics at University College Cork (UCC) and IBM also has a lab in Cork! My quest was about to begin!
To help bring this concept to as wide an audience as possible, I decided to contact it@cork. it@cork is a leading not-for-profit independent business organisation, representing the interests of the IT industry in Ireland. I worked with Annette Coburn of it@cork fame and the breakfast briefing concept was born. The remit was clear: is there an appetite for OpenStack in Cork and the surrounding Munster region?. The next step was to now develop the material for the briefing – the difficult part!
To aid in this endeavor, I decided to reach out to our IBM colleague Henry Nash. Henry is a cloud architect and a core contributor to OpenStack Keystone. Henry agreed to be a keynote presenter and also helped produce the content. The battle lines were drawn: Thursday 29th of September, 07:30 a.m. at the River Lee Hotel. Would people turn up? Is there interest for OpenStack in my locality? It was time to kick of the promotional campaign and see what happens! it@cork created a web page with all the details and promoted through its newsletter and mail to all its members. I created an OpenStack Ireland meetup and through friends promoted using the various social media.
When the day arrived, I decided to go in early (just after 07:00 a.m.) and to my surprise there were people already in the hotel conference room. Maybe this was a good omen! Over the next 45 minutes or so, people arrived gradually and I was able to chat to people while they nibbled on breakfast goodies. I downed two cups of coffees to make sure that the engine was well warmed for the 08:00 a.m. start time! Once everyone was settled, it was time to kick off.
I opened the event with a brief overview of the reason for the day’s gathering which was to provide an insight into OpenStack and how you and your colleagues can start contributing. I made reference to the fact that there was no OpenStack community in Cork and the Munster region and planted the seed in people’s mind if they would be interested to start such a group. I then introduced the agenda:
- Henry presenting on “Cloud Computing and OpenStack”
- Martin presenting on “How to Become an OpenStack Contributor”
- Questions and finish up
Henry was unfortunately unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances and I passed along his sincere regret. I informed the attendees that I would present Henry’s session in his absence. As I talked about how cloud computing and OpenStack is changing the world and how we develop software, I could sense the interest in the room. I went on to describe the size of the community and also gently show the contributions of IBM. The second presentation was an introductory talk on how companies, employees and individuals can become contributors in the community. I painted a picture along the lines of why, how and where next;from start to regular contributions.
After the presentations, it became an open forum for questions, statements and a showing of genuine interest about starting a community. In conclusion, the event seemed to be well received with 30+ attendees from a number of different companies and everyone departed for work with OpenStack in their minds!
Where to from here? Well, I have created a meet-up to cover OpenStack fundamentals. The next step is to find a suitable location where we can hold this and other meet-ups, and then a date for the event can be tied down for sometime in the October/November time frame. I am hoping that his could also interest people and companies outside Cork, for example in Munster and even further afield in Ireland.
In retrospect and from the responses received subsequently, there is a hunger for an OpenStack community in Cork.
If you need any help with getting a community started in your area, feel free to reach out to me. The slides are available as follows: Cloud Computing and OpenStack and How to Become an OpenStack Contributor.