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Developer Advocate Wars / Arms Race

While I’m not a huge fan of an unique amongst open source foundations by having involvement from all the major cloud providers so I have an interesting vantage point in seeing a trend amongst them in ramping up developer advocacy hiring over the last couple of years. Furthermore, this hiring blitz is even more evident for me given the last couple of weeks have been conference crazy in the cloud native space with CloudNativeCon/KubeCon, MSBuild, Google IO and Red Hat Summit happening.

So what is happening with developer advocacy and the hyperscale cloud providers?

Note: If you aren’t familiar with the term developer advocate, I highly recommend this presentation by Patrick Chanzenon and blog from Ashley McNamara as an introduction to the profession.


Google historically has been one of the early proponents of developer advocacy/relations and has invested in it since 2006 (see this excellent presentation for a historical perspective). A cursory search on LinkedIn shows a few hundred developer advocates employed at Google covering a variety of technologies from browsers to cloud. They also recently hired some heavy hitters like Sam Ramji and even Adam Seligman of Salesforce fame to help further build out their developer relations organization which was a smart move:

Anyways, I consider Google a leader in developer relations and with folks like Kelsey Hightower on staff, they are ahead of the curve.

I expect them to continue hiring like crazy to onboard more people onto their cloud offerings given their position in the market.


I used to work with Jeff Sandquist at Twitter and was delighted to hear he went back to Microsoft to build a developer advocacy focused organization. MS isn’t new at this game as some of us who are old enough and did MFC programming back in the day may remember Microsoft and their Channel9 advocacy program. Microsoft has been investing heavily in developer relations by making key hires (e.g., Ashley McNamara, Bridget Kromhout) and have rebooted their investment in open source to become one of the largest open source contributors in the industry. I’m not the first person to notice this trend by far, my friends at RedMonk noticed last year also. Searching the Microsoft job site, I see them hiring a handful of developer advocates mostly focused on cloud but they already have a large established roster of folks. It’s hard to get an exact count through the inexact science of flipping through LinkedIn search results, but I’d peg it 50-100 people currently employed doing developer relations.

Amazon (AWS)

In late 2016, Amazon started to expand their open source credibility by hiring folks like Adrian Cockroft, Zaheda Borat and Arun Gupta.

Using ancedata from my own experience being at events the last few years, Amazon has been aggressively speaking at conferences popular in the open source community. They have started to open source more examples and work with the community to improve them (e.g.,

It’s hard to get an exact number of people employed doing developer relations at AWS but going through the inexact science of LinkedIn search results, it looks to be in the 25-50 range which seems lower than I expected, but it’s hard as developer advocate is a fluid title (some people call themselves evangelists). In terms of hiring, searching the AWS jobs site I came across a couple of handful of developer advocate focused jobs so they seem to be aggressively hiring in this space. Also on a related note, I’m forever a fan of AWS for their execution and open discussion about hiring older engineers.


IBM traditionally has a strong position with their interactions with the open source community and even built a formal open source program within the company (I was also a fan of their DeveloperWorks initiative and even wrote technical articles for them in the past). They have also showed how making early bets on open source initiatives like Linux and Eclipse can reshape markets. In terms of developer advocacy, it seems about a year ago hired Jonas Jacobi to focus on developer relations from what I’ve been able to ascertain. They recently hosted an open source developer event in San Francisco called IBM Index which signals a desire to build developer communities outside the traditional IBM enterprise events like Think.

From a cursory LinkedIn search, IBM has 100+ developer advocates working on things from AI to Cloud. In terms of hiring, I’ve only found a handful of job descriptions currently open that are focused on developer advocacy. However, there were many job descriptions that were labeled software engineering that seemed to heavily focus on developer advocacy, for example, the folks that work on something called the IBM Cloud Garage seem to be a developer relations style job.


Oracle has a burgeoning cloud business and according to some news sources, Oracle is actively trying to hire a new executive to run developer relations. A cursory job search shows that Oracle is ramping up their hiring, I see dozens of developer advocate positions open along with some more senior director level positions. I continue to expect Oracle to invest heavily in developer relations as this is an area they aren’t known for but has become table stakes in the public cloud business in my opinion.

Alibaba (and BAT+)

Alibaba and their cloud business is growing fast worldwide even though we don’t hear much about them in North America. In my opinion, they are making smart moves in Southeast Asia, India and other markets but that’s for another article to discuss. In my quest to learn about developer advocacy at Alibaba and even the other BAT companies, it was hard pressed to find any folks individually working on this. It’s clear to me that Alibaba has developer relations folks as if you go to their Alibaba Developers site there is some great content there but it’s been difficult to find current folks employed in devrel there and what they are hiring for. I’ll chalk this up to my inability to understand how job searching works in China and maybe one of my readers can shed some light on this. My hunch is that Alibaba will aggressively start hiring developer relations people worldwide if they didn’t start already, it will be fun to watch.


So what did I learn while I wrote this article? Well first off, getting hard numbers of how many job openings out there is a terrible science, sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Indeed make it very difficult to extract data from their platforms to analyze. Second, developer relations is a nascent field and there’s no standard job description or career ladder. In many companies you have titles that range from “developer advocate” to “developer evangelist” to even “software engineer” that have primary responsibilities as developer relations. There have even been boutique communities popup to support people in the role of developer relations, see the Evangelist Collective slack as an example. Also the hiring of developer advocates isn’t just for large cloud providers or companies… you see some of the smart modern startups like Hashicorp, Turbine Labs and others hiring folks exclusively to make it easier to onboard developers to their tooling.

Finally, my prediction is that we will see cutthroat competition amongst the hyperscale cloud providers in hiring developer relations talent, especially out of the incumbents. The rest of the industry will learn from this experience that having a strong developer relations team is table stakes for any developer focused business. I’d love to write more on this topic but I’m short on time and I’m sure my friends at Redmonk can do a better job on this topic than me 🙂

Copenhagen: KubeCon and CloudNativeCon 2018 Takeaways

What a crazy week helping host our annual European community conference in Copenhagen… it’s been wild to see the community grow since the CNCF took over the stewardship of the conference (thank you Joseph Jacks, still remember those conversations we had in the early days):

I was also just blown away by the amount of CNCF ecosystem related jobs out there:

I have a few hours until I board my flight home so I figure I would share some of my take aways from the event in a series of tweets:

CNCF project adoption and the growth of the End User Community

The amount of end users I’ve bumped into at the conference was incredible, insurance companies, medical, automative, government, airlines, tax offices and more. In Dan Kohn’s keynote, he covered our official CNCF End User Community which was setup as a way to ensure End Users have a voice in CNCF governance:

CNCF has one of the largest, if not largest end user community membership of any open source foundation. I’m proud of what we built and mark my words, there will be a day when the number of official CNCF End Users will outnumber our vendors. Also, I was stoked to announce our first Top End User Award to Bloomberg showcasing one of our official end users using cloud native technology an interesting way:

If you’re using CNCF projects an interesting ways, I implore you to join our official End User Community so you have an official voice and more importantly, learn from other end users deploying CNCF projects.

May a thousand [kubernetes] operators bloom

In my opinion, one of the big themes of the conference was the rise of kubernetes operators. In Brandon Philips keynote, Red Hat (CoreOS) open sourced the Operator Framework which makes it easier to write and build operators:

At the conference itself, there were many projects and companies announcing operators for their project or product (see dotmesh, spark, NATS, vitess, etc), expect this trend to continue and explode over the next year, you can see the growing list of operators out there via awesome-operators repo.

CNCF is the center of open source serverless collaboration

The CNCF Serverless Working Group launched their first version of the CloudEvents project:

There was an incredible demo by Austen Collins showcasing the project across several cloud providers:

For an effort that started under a year ago, it’s nice to see Azure, Google, Oracle, IBM and other major cloud providers collaborate in the working group and support various open source serverless initiatives, I look forward to what they will do next:

CNCF 2020: Expanding ecosystem + Kubernetes: just run my code

Alexis Richardson gave a keynote outlining his thoughts on the future vision of CNCF which I found delightful for everyone who doesn’t attend every CNCF TOC meeting:

It’s not a surprise that I concur with a lot of these thoughts. In the bootstrapping days of CNCF, we were laying the foundation of projects required to bootstrap the ecosystem around Kubernetes and cloud native. The next step was increasing the reach of Kubernetes outside of just orchestration and focusing on technology areas as storage and security. The future of CNCF is all about increasing the mean time to developer satisfaction by improving the state of developer tooling. We need to get to the same point that developers are with Linux with Kubernetes, while super important foundational technology, developers don’t have to know the intimate details of how these systems work and instead stand on the shoulders of them to build their applications.

Another additional thing I’d like to mention that Alexis didn’t bring up formally.  One of my goals in CNCF is to ensure we build a sustainable ecosystem of projects, members and end users. As our ecosystem matures and some of our projects proverbially cross the chasm (we use the graduate parlance in CNCF)…

How do we ensure each of these parties are receiving value from their participation in the foundation? It’s something I think about on a daily basis as more CNCF projects get embedded everywhere, graduate and cross the chasm.

Kubernetes maturing and container standardization unlocks innovation

At the conference, Google open sourced gVisor as another approach to container runtimes which in my biased opinion is made possible due to OCI standardization efforts to allow this type of innovation without fear of breaking compatibility. As part of gVisor, runsc(like runc in OCI) provides an isolation boundary between the application and the host kernel and they have a ton of information in their README about the tradeoffs versus other container runtimes out there:


There are a lot more things to mention (e.g., rise of enovy and it becoming embedded everywhere, cloud native programming languages, chaos engineering) but I have to now board a flight home and get some sleep. Personally, I’m nothing but humbled by the growth of the community and conference the last few years, it’s been an honor helping build it out since the beginning. If you have any suggestions on improving the event or our community in anyway, please reach out via Twitter or shoot me an email:

We do listen to feedback and as an example, in Austin, people complained that the videos were taking too long to post and we aimed to have a quicker turn around this time and followed through with that in Copenhagen:

Thank you again for attending and see you in Shanghai and Seattle!

CNCF Annual Report for 2017 and Kubernetes Graduation

We recently published the first annual report for the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) which encompassed our community’s work in 2017:

The CNCF is technically a little over two years old and it was about time we start publishing annual reports based on our progress. This is a well treaded path by other open source foundations out there like the Eclipse Foundation and Mozilla so we thank them for inspiration to be more transparent.

Another thing that we launched this week was the Cloud Native Landscape (interactive edition) and more importantly, the Cloud Native Trailmap which guides you through the journey of becoming cloud native by adopting different projects in the foundation.

Finally, it was fantastic for Kubernetes to be the first project to graduate from the CNCF.  What does this exactly mean? This is very akin to graduation in other open source foundations such as the ASF. Graduation here is really about confidence in CNCF development processes and really a stamp from the CNCF Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) on what is a sustainable, production ready and mature open source project  you can bet your business on. As projects mature in the CNCF in terms of following solid open source governance processes and become widely adopted, expect to see more projects graduating in the future.

Cloud Native and Serverless Landscape

For the last year or so, the CNCF has been exploring the intersection of cloud native and serverless through the CNCF Serverless WG:

As the first artifacts of the working group, we are happy to announce a whitepaper and landscape to bring some clarity to this early and evolving technology space. The CNCF Serverless WG is also working on a draft specification for describing event data in a common way to ease event declaration and delivery, focused on the serverless space. The goal is to eventually present this project to the CNCF TOC to formalize it as an official CNCF project:

We’re still early days, but in my opinion, serverless is one application/programming built on cloud native technology. There are some open source efforts out there for serverless but they tend to be focused on specific projects (e.g., OpenFaaS, kubeless) versus collaboration across cloud providers and startups. The CNCF is looking to enable collaboration/projects in this space that adhere to our values. What are our values? See these from our charter:

  • Fast is better than slow. The foundation enables projects to progress at high velocity to support aggressive adoption by users.
  • Open. The foundation is open and accessible, and operates independently of specific partisan interests. The foundation accepts all contributors based on the merit of their contributions, and the foundation’s technology must be available to all according to open source values. The technical community and its decisions shall be transparent.
  • Fair. The foundation will avoid undue influence, bad behavior or “pay-to-play” decision-making.
  • Strong technical identity. The foundation will achieve and maintain a high degree of its own technical identify that is shared across the projects.
  • Clear boundaries. The foundation shall establish clear goals, and in some cases, what the non-goals of the foundation are to allow projects to effectively co-exist, and to help the ecosystem understand where to focus for new innovation.
  • Scalable. Ability to support all scales of deployment, from small developer centric environments to the scale of enterprises and service providers. This implies that in some deployments some optional components may not be deployed, but the overall design and architecture should still be applicable.
  • Platform agnostic. The specifications developed will not be platform specific such that they can be implemented on a variety of architectures and operating systems.

Anyways, if you’re interested in this space, I highly recommend you attend the CNCF Serverless WG meetings which are public and currently happen on a weekly basis.

Starting an open source program office?

To make good on my new years resolutions of writing more, I recently wrote an article for on starting an open source program for your company:

Please check it out and let me know if you have any comments. I’d really like to see us build a future where more companies have formal open source programs, that’s a key path towards making open source sustainable for everyone.

Winding Down an Open Source Project

For 2018, I’ve made a commitment to myself to simply WRITE AND SHARE more. I used to be really good at cranking out posts but I’ve been so heads down in running and building out open source foundations that I’ve neglected sharing what I’ve learned over the years. I recently wrote a post about the process of starting an open source program for your company:

Also yesterday we posted a new open source program guide in the TODO Group about what to do when you unfortunately wind down an open source project:

While some open source foundations have well defined project lifecycles with notions of an “attic” or “archive” – many companies who open source projects generally do not.

Anyways, I hope these articles are useful to you and you learn something new 🙂

KubeCon CloudNativeCon 2017 Takeaways + 2018 Predictions

It was a crazy 2017 for me with 300,000 miles of business travel, but it was all worth it to experience every major cloud provider adopt Kubernetes in some fashion and grow our community to 14 projects total! Also, it was amazing to help host 4000+ people in Austin for KubeCon/CloudNativeCon, where it actually snowed!

I’d like to share some personal take aways I had from the conference (of course with accompanying tweets) that will serve as predictions for 2018:

Exciting Times for Boring Container Infrastructure!

One of the themes from the conference was that the Kubernetes community was working hard to make infrastructure boring. In my humble opinion, Kubernetes becomes something like “POSIX of the cloud” or “Linux of the Cloud” where Kubernetes is solidifying kernel space but the excitement should be in user space.

The Open Container Initiative (OCI) community also held a meeting where it celebrated its v1.0 release to make containers a bit more boring and standardized.

In 2018, look for the boring infrastructure pattern to continue, the OCI community is planning to make distribution a bit more boring via a proposed distribution API specification. I also predict that some of the specialized/boutique cloud providers who haven’t offered Kubernetes integration will do so finally in 2018.

CNCF + KubeCon and CloudNativeCon: Home of Open Infrastructure

CNCF has a community of independently governed projects, as of today which there are 14 of covering all parts of cloud native. There’s Prometheus which integrates beautifully with Kubernetes but also brings modern monitoring practices to environments outside of cloud native land too! There’s Envoy which is a cloud native edge and proxy, that integrates with Kubernetes through projects like Contour or Istio, however, Envoy can be used in any environment where a reverse proxy is used. gRPC is a universal RPC framework that can help you build services that run on Kubernetes or any environment for that matter! There are many other CNCF projects that have use cases outside of just purely a cloud native environment and we will see more of that usage grow over time to help companies in transition to a cloud native world.

In 2018, look for CNCF conferences continue to grow, expand locations (hello China) and truly become the main event for open source infrastructure. In Austin it was incredible to have talks and people from the Ansible to Eclipse to JVM to Openstack to Zephyr communities (and more). I can’t think of any other event that brings together open source infrastructure across all layers of the cloud native landscape.

Moving up the Stack: 2018 is Year of Service Meshes

Service meshes are fairly a new concept (I highly recommend this blog post by Matt Klein if you’re new to the concept) and will become the middleware of the cloud native world. In CNCF, we currently host Envoy and linkerd which helped poineer this space. In 2018, I expect more service mesh related projects to be open sourced along with more participation from traditional networking vendors. We will also see some of the projects in this space to mature with real production usage.

Cloud Native AI + Machine Learning: Kubeflow

In 2018, ML focused workloads and projects will find ways to integrate with Kubernetes to help scale and encourage portability of infrastructure. Just take a look at the kubeflow project which aims to make ML with Kubernetes easy, portable and scalable. Note, this doesn’t mean that AI/ML folks will have to become Kubernetes experts, all this means is that Kubernetes will be powering more AI/ML workloads (and potentially even sharing their existing cloud native infrastructure). I expect more startups to form in this space (see RiseML as an example), look to see a “cloud native” AI movement that focuses on portability of workloads.

Developer Experience Focus and Cloud Native Tooling

One of my favorite keynotes from KubeCon was Brendan Burns speaking about, a standard library for cloud native applications. I completely agree with his premise that we need to democratize distributed systems development. Not everyone developer needs to know about Kubernetes the same way not every developer needs to understand POSIX. In 2018, we are going to see an explosion of open source “cloud native languages” that will offer multiple approaches to democratizing distributed systems development.

Also in 2018, I expect us to see growth in cloud native development environments (IDEs) to provide better developer experience. As an example, for those that were wondering why there was an Eclipse Foundation booth at KubeCon, they were demoing a technology called Eclipse Che which is a cloud native IDE framework (your workspace is composed of docker/container images). Che is a framework that helps you build Cloud Native IDEs too, for example, is OpenShift integrated with Che to provide you a fully blown online development experience.

Finally in 2018, I expect the developer experience of installing Kubernetes applications improved, including the underlying technology for doing so. For example, the Service Catalog work and websites like showcase what is possible in making it easier for people to install Kubernetes app/integrations, we’ll see this grow significantly in 2018. Also I predict that the Helm community will grow faster than it has before.

Diversity and Inclusion

One of my favorite take aways from the conference was the focus on diversity and inclusion within our community:

We (thank you amazing diversity committee) raised $250,000 and helped over 100 diversity scholarship recipients attend KubeCon/CloudNativeCon in Austin. In 2018, I predict and truly hope some other event will match or beat this.

Anyways, after a crazy 2017, I can’t wait to grow our communities in 2018.



Cloud Native Computing Foundation 2 Years Later

A little over two years ago after five years of service at Twitter, I took the opportunity to build an open source foundation from scratch using some of the computing techniques we experimented with at Twitter:

I was initially excited about the idea because of my experience with open source foundations in previous lives, from being involved with the Eclipse Foundation, Linux Foundation, Apache Foundation plus part of the early discussions around OpenStack governance formation. I viewed this as an opportunity to learn from the lessons of other foundations and do something new and modern in the GitHub era, along with of course making our own mistakes. You really don’t get many opportunities to start an open source foundation from scratch that will impact the whole industry.

Stepping back, the original idea behind the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) was to promote a method of computing (we call it cloud native) pioneered by internet scale giants such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and so on and bring it to the rest of the industry. If you looked inside these companies, you can see they were running services at scale, packaged in containers, orchestrated by some central system.

The first mission was to provide a neutral home for every major cloud provider supporting Kubernetes natively, kubernetes is truly the lingua franca of the cloud.

We still have a long way to go within CNCF to truly making cloud native computing ubiquitous across the industry, but I’m excited to see so many companies and individuals come together under CNCF to make this happen, especially as we have our largest annual gathering this week, KubeCon/CloudNativeCon. Personally, I’m nothing but thrilled to what the future holds and truly lucky to be serving our community under the auspices of the foundation.

A special thank you to Craig McLuckie, Sarah Novotony, Todd Moore, Ken Owens, Peixin Hou, Doug Davis, Jeffrey Borek, Jonathan Donaldson, Carl Trieloff, Chris Wright and many other folks that were at that CNCF first board meeting two years ago bootstrapping the foundation.

Top 6 Public Cloud Providers in CNCF

Last week, I had the pleasure of welcoming Oracle into the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). This now marks the top 6 leading public cloud providers in the world are now part of the CNCF:

This also marks for the first time in the history of our industry that these leading cloud providers are working together in the same open source focused foundation to move the state of the art infrastructure forward.

Also last week I had the opportunity to bring in two new high quality cloud native projects into CNCFEnvoy is a high-performance open source edge and service proxy that makes the network transparent to applications. Jaeger is an open source distributed tracing system inspired by Google Dapper paper and OpenZipkin community. It can be used for tracing microservice-based architectures. Uber began deploying Jaeger internally in 2015. It is now integrated into thousands of microservices and recording thousands of traces every second.


Anyways, this is one of the reasons I enjoy working in open source today, bringing together diverse (and even competing) companies to build a better world by collaborating in the open!

Launching TODO Group Guides

In my participation with the TODO Group, we recently published a set of open source guides (under CC-BY-SA 4.0) dedicated to help companies build out open source programs:

In the last year or so, we have seen companies like AWS build out an open source program via @AWSOpen and even companies like VMWare hired their first Chief Open Source Officer.

We’ve had many organizations approach TODO Group members asking for advice on how to get started with an open source program and these guides are a reaction to that. It is our hope that these are living guides and evolve with community input over time.