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The Linux Foundation's First-Ever Virtual Open Source Summit

By Jack M. Germain LinuxInsider ECT News Network
Jul 13, 2020 4:00 AM PT
linux foundation first virtual event

The success of The Linux Foundation's first virtual summit may well have set the standard for new levels of open source participation.

Summit masters closed the virtual doors of the four-day joint gathering on July 2. The event hosted the Open Source Summit + Embedded Linux Conference North America 2020 and ended with more than 4,000 registrants from 109 countries.

The online attendance platform offered registrants a virtual experience that provided an immersive experience for event participants, according to The Linux Foundation (LF).

That virtual attendance feeling was as close as possible to what they would have received at a face-to-face event, Kristin O'Connell, director of event marketing at The Linux Foundation, told LinuxInsider.

One of the newcomers in technical trendsetting at this first virtual conference was the FinOps Foundation. The FinOps Foundation includes 1,500 individual members across the globe, representing more than 500 companies with more than US$1 billion in revenue each.

In the same way that DevOps revolutionized development by breaking down silos and increasing agility, FinOps increases the business value of cloud by bringing together technology, business, and finance professionals with a new cultural set, knowledge skills and technical processes, LF maintained.

"Where there is technology disruption, there is opportunity for business transformation. FinOps is exactly this and represents a shift in operations strategy, process, and culture," said Mike Dolan, vice president and general manager of Linux Foundation Projects.

"This type of disruption and transformation is also where community and industry-wide collaboration play critical roles in enabling a whole new market opportunity. We're pleased to be the place where that work can happen," Dolan added.

Virtual Experience on Many Levels

The online platform InXpo enabled participants to be part of a real immersive technical gathering. They also can view on-demand content of sponsor resources and conference sessions for one year.

The InXpo platform enabled attendees to:

  • View 250+ informative educational sessions and tutorials, across 14 different technology tracks, and participate in live Q&A;
  • Join the 'hallway track' and collaborate via topic-based networking lounges in group chats, and connect with attendees in 1:1 chats;
  • Visit the 3D virtual sponsor showcase and booths to speak directly with company representatives, view demos, download resources, view job openings and share contact info.

The summit's virtual format also provided attendees the chance to "gamify" their event experience by earning points and winning prizes for attending sessions, visiting sponsor booths, and answering trivia questions.

FinOps Gets Summit Boost

On the first day of the virtual summit, LF announced its intent to host the FinOps Foundation to increase education and best practices for the emerging FinOps discipline of cloud operations. With this announcement, LF will also be offering a new, free edX course, "Introduction to FinOps," that will be available beginning July 21.

The exposure the Open Source Summit provided to the FinOps Foundation was instrumental in advancing the organization's goals, according to J.R. Storment, FinOps Foundation's executive director.

"The keynote coverage by Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin, combined with the addition of the FinOps Certified Practitioner (FOCP) training and certification on training, has driven a spike in registrations and membership requests for the FinOps Foundation," he told LinuxInsider. The July training courses have sold out, and future ones are filling quickly, added Storment.

The FinOps community is defining cloud financial management standards and is increasing access to education and certification for this discipline across industries. Members include Atlassian, Autodesk, Bill.com, Nationwide, Nike, and Spotify.

Summit Fuels OpenPOWER Embedded Linux Deal

The OpenPOWER Foundation announced at the summit a major technology gift to the open source ecosystem. The OpenPOWER Foundation contributed the IBM A2I POWER processor core design and associated FPGA environment.

That announcement follows the opening of the POWER Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) last August. This latest announcement further enables the OpenPOWER Foundation to cultivate an ecosystem of open hardware development.

The A2I core is an in-order multi-threaded 64-bit POWER ISA core developed as a processor for customization and embedded use in System on Chip (SoC) devices. It was designed to provide high streaming throughput while balancing performance and power.

A2I is a powerful technology with a wide range of capabilities, said Mendy Furmanek, president of OpenPOWER Foundation and director of POWER Open Hardware Business Development at IBM. The goal is to see what the open-source community can do to modernize A2I with today's open POWER ISA and to adapt the technology to new markets and diverse use cases, she said.

The strong foundation of the open POWER ISA and the addition of the A2I core are accelerating the open-source hardware movement faster than ever, added James Kulina, executive director of the OpenPOWER Foundation.

"A2I gives the community a great starting point and further enables developers to take an idea from paper to silicon open source," he said.

Virtual Summit Effective

The first virtual summit experience for both the FinOps Foundation and the LF in general held some significant highlights, noted FinOps' Stormant.

For example, FinOps experts from Atlassian, LiveRamp, and Pearson all shared war stories of how to build cost awareness into the development process of engineering teams.

"Their stories highlighted a consistent theme of the challenges that cloud brings when combined with agile development: how to ensure that engineering teams can move fast and innovate quickly but also keep budgets predictable," he explained.

Stormant suggested that the overall experience could help deal with the biggest challenges facing FinOps in the upcoming year.

The biggest challenge is driving a culture of cost accountability into engineering teams who are not used to thinking of cost as a metric they need to consider during development, he added.

"Encouraging good cost behavior requires a cross-team collaboration with finance and business teams to provide real-time visibility into the impact on infrastructure choices on cloud spend, and ultimately the bottom line of the company," he said.

Developing trust between the engineering teams and their finance/business counterparts is a huge challenge, and also a critical step in the journey to the cloud, he added.

Additional Resources

The summit event platform will continue to be accessible for one year. You can also still visit sponsor booths and revisit the virtual experiences, including the LF's Slack workspace which will remain open indefinitely.

The LF will upload all of the summit sessions onto its YouTube channel in the coming weeks. These uploads will include captioning for all sessions.

You can access the platform here, and see other Linux Foundation events happening online in 2020 here.

Want the notes? Instead of sitting through replays of the presentations, you can focus on reading crowd-sourced notes of the virtual conference events here.

You can find links to other announcements made at the summit in the Virtual Press Room.


Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.


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