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Attending KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2018 was an eye-opening experience for someone like me. On paper, it was  a very product-oriented conference, with the focus of my fellow Red Hatters on product and feature offerings in OpenShift and a whole host of Kubernetes and container-oriented software. Attendees here are very much developers and operators who are here to learn about how this technology works and how they can best use this tech in their organizations.

So what was a community person like me doing in a place like this?

Red Hat has long been acknowledged as a pioneer in open source innovation. We literally wrote the book on The Open Organization. All the software on which we work starts as an open source project somewhere.

Coming to an event like this, though, was a stark reminder that the success of open source and community is not just limited to Red Hat. The software on which this event is based and all of the technology being discussed here is proof that open source and community works.

Kubernetes, after all, was originally put together as a cloud orchestration tool inside Google, based on its in-house Borg management tool. They could have kept it to themselves, as Borg had been used with great success within Google to manage the company’s vast scale of services. But Google released the open-source version of Borg, Kubernetes, in 2014, enabling orchestration for a then-new container technology called Docker.

You only have to look around and witness the 8,000 registered attendees at KubeCon, and talk to any one of the many vendors who were there alongside Red Hat, to know that the plan succeeded in ways Google may not have expected. Certainly there was a benefit to Google Compute Engine, but now there is also a vast ecosystem that has exploded around the open source project. There are now no less than 50 certified Kubernetes distributions of the project, which as of 2017 is stewarded by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

We have seen this time and again. Massive advances in technology that happen because the core technology has been open sourced. Linux, virtualization, cloud computing, containers… all these innovations have open source technologies at their heart.

There is no one right way to make communities work, but technologies like Kubernetes are solid proof that communities and collaboration around open source projects can be hugely successful.

So perhaps a community person like me had more of a home there than first expected.

About the author

Brian Proffitt is a Manager within Red Hat's Open Source Program Office, focusing on content generation, community metrics, and special projects. Brian's experience with community management includes knowledge of community onboarding, community health, and business alignment. Prior to joining Red Hat in 2014, he was a technology journalist with a focus on Linux and open source, and the author of 22 consumer technology books. 

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