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Stackato Evangelism: Part One Taking Cloud Native Development To New Levels



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Guest Post by, Tim Clayton, Marketing Business Services 

How many developers does it take to make one simple app for checking if the links of a website are working?

Think of a number. Double it. Double it again. Still not close…

The answer? 48,000

When many of think of IT evangelism, what probably comes to mind is an old hippie character lecturing a room of half-interested professionals in a tone that is half boring technical detail and half marketing jargon. Over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing a few proof of concept ideas from our HPE Stackato Evangelism Team that put paid to any notion that evangelism is a one-way street or a one-time training session.

In just a few months the team have set about educating and engaging with over 48,000 developers from all over the HPE organization. I’m pretty astounded when Mudasser Zaheer, or Maz for short, tells me that since coming up with their first proof of concept app in April 2016, they have already educated and engaged people to deliver four serious solutions across different industry verticals. “With so many people to reach, we have to move at a reasonable pace,” says Maz with something approaching grand understatement. “The reason that we care so much about evangelism instead of marketing to these people is that developers are smart types who can see past the marketing. They respond to people who speak their own language and who understand their pain as a developer. Our goal is to get out there and share our experience with them and help them drive large-scale cloud native and adoptions within their community.”


What is so interesting about the brand of evangelism that HPE is pushing here is that it is open, interactive, and ongoing. The team go into a local center and run training for teams of about thirty people. From there they keep contact with the best and give them more one-on-one intensive training and engagement on lighthouse projects. The aim is not to give people information and walk away, it is to keep those people on as ambassadors and have them polish their new skills working on real solutions that will hone their talents. They can then teach others and become MVPs in their local centers.

“When we say it is open, that is because everything we do is shared on an open source platform. And our door is always open. We have office hours sessions each week where we invite everyone to ask absolutely any question. At first we were the ones giving the answers but we now find that many of the people we have trained are jumping in and answering the questions of newcomers. Our students are becoming the teachers.”

How this translates into 48,000 developers working on one app is the really exciting part of the story. In April the team came up with a simple idea: a cloud-native app that would scan a website and check if the links it contains are working or not. They had no idea what the idea would become or where it would go. They called it a kitchen sink app.

“We created the app as a rite of passage for developers. The concept was that we train them in non-product-specific native cloud development, and we then ask each and every one to add something to this one app—no matter how trivial it is. Just one small thing. We wanted to create a playground for people to have fun with their new skills and our aim was to show people that the first app doesn’t need to be about functionality and features; the important thing is to show people how to do it right for the cloud. We don’t want to put any boundaries on our developers”

And so it began… What started as a simple app grew as each new trainee added something trivial or tremendous. The first person asked “Can we add a feature that lets us check if the links are working on the websites that our links lead us to?” The next person added a search history feature to see which sites are checked most often. Some impatient individual didn’t want to wait for the bulk results but wanted real-time notifications of broken links as they were found. And, of course, some subversive developer decided that the best thing to do would be to build a chaos monkey to see if the site could be broken.

Capture.PNGThat is the idea of HPE evangelism at work. It is not a lecture or a test; it is an ongoing process of development where the best people can come together and learn from one another. It is sharing experience and having fun creating some amazing things.

Over the next four weeks we will be looking at 4 different proof of concept projects that the Stackato Evangelism Team have worked on from scratch in just the last few months.  

For more about Mudasser Zaheer,  Chief Evangelist / Senior Director of Product, HPE Cloud you can follow him on Twitter or see his LinkedIn

About the Author


I manage the HPE Helion social media brand accounts promoting the enterprise cloud solutions at HPE for hybrid, public, and private clouds.I have put my toes in the ocean of cloud evangelism for the enterprise IT industry. But my expertise is in Social Media and Digital Marketing.

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