Blue Medorathon 14: Integration Innovation

by Nate Coppinger on June 12, 2019

The Day

It’s that time of the quarter again, and the 14th Blue Medorathon has come and gone, and once again those here at Blue Medora have shown up with their A game, bringing their passion projects to life while having a ton of fun at the same time. I was especially excited for this event since it was my first ever Blue Medorathon and even my first hackathon. For those of you who are in my boat and are not very familiar with what a hackathon is, let me run you through a quick explanation. A hackathon is a day (16 hours at Blue Medora) that encourages innovation, allowing everyone to work on something different than usual. Everyone who is participating in the event, drops everything they are doing in their day-to-day work and picks a project that they have been wanting to work on, whether it has been something in their backlog that they’ve wanted to work on for a while, a feature they think would add a lot of benefit to the business, or even just a cool passion project related to the overall business that they wouldn’t get to work on otherwise.

Blue Medorathon 14
(Source)

Here at Blue Medorathon, everyone has a chance to come up with their own project or join a team that already had a great project put together but needed more coders on the project. This event isn’t just for coders however, anyone who has a project they want to work on can join the fun. I was able to get a good start on a new project of mine without any interruptions for the better part of 16 hours, we also had a small team working on a fun podcast for the event (but it will probably never see the light of day).  Boy, did I think 16 hours was a long day, when I heard some of our teams had been working for 24 hours straight, it blew my mind! But once I saw the projects presented at the end of the night, it was amazing to see what they were able to produce in such a short period of time, running on no sleep and gallons of coffee and energy drinks.

The People

This year’s Blue Medorathon brought a variety of players to the table. Veterans and newcomers alike came ready to give it their all! We decided that we wanted to get a take on everyone’s experience in the event, as well as get a feel for the projects they were working on, along with what they were most excited about. When asked what makes a good Blue Medorathon project, we received a few different answers. One of our interns stated that he believes that your project should mean something to you, and you should be excited about getting to work on it. Others believe a good project is something you don’t usually have the time to during your normal work, you should learn something, and it still rolls into the overall work of the company and benefits everyone else.

Blue Medorathon 14: The interview
The Blue Medorathon podcast team hard at work

Some chose projects that make their daily lives easier and help open up new opportunities for the company that there isn’t usually enough manpower to work on in a normal day. The logs team here was asked what their favorite tradition from the event has been, they brought up the presentations at the end of it, especially for the interns, being a very valuable opportunity to show off their skills. Another favorite Blue Medorathon tradition are the moments that everyone takes a break and gets together to talk about what everyone is working on, and how everything is going.

The Projects

During each Blue Medorathon, we allot time at the end of the night for everyone to come together and present the projects they have been working on to the rest of the company. This year we had 8 presentations split up into two groups, the SE team presented their work first, with the rest of the teams following up an hour after. While all of the projects that were presented by the teams were great, I wanted to dive into a couple of the projects that personally caught my attention. One Project from the VMBU that caught my eye was, the team took the VMware vRealize Operations (vROps), and built a lab for customers at VMworld. Customers will be able to get into the lab and click through it as if they were an administrator and they will be able to install the solution and even be able to customize the solution. Being able to do this will allow customers to see what success using the vROps manager will look like and give them beneficial knowledge that they can bring back and use in their business.

Another Project I would like to highlight was done by our very talented logs team.  They wanted to start collecting metrics and create a dashboard for the Logs service. These new metrics would give the team a better idea of how many logs are being sent, the kinds of logs being sent, and installation data. Additionally, they wanted to collect metrics on how well our cloud services are performing so they have immediate visibility if something goes wrong. And finally, they set up a system to collect how many pull requests are open on our repos which will help them keep track of how well we are keeping up with code reviews.

Blue Medorathon: Logs dashboard
An example of the new logs dashboard prototype

When asked how they went about accomplishing this task they set out for themselves, their response was, “Since the logs we collect don’t go through BindPlane, collecting statistics on the logs being streamed is more difficult than what we do for metrics. We had to collect them in the agent, then send them back up to BindPlane to be analyzed. Similarly, for environmental information, we built a service that periodically collects that, and then sends it to our metric service. Finally, we put it all together into a dashboard”. Those were just two of the many awesome projects born from Blue Medorathon 14 and we can’t wait to see what Blue Medorathon 15 brings us!

The Fun

While it was a long day of hard work, it was also a day of great fun and tradition. Every year Blue Medorathon is the host to some great tournaments. The house favorite tournament is the foosball tournament. We have some hardcore “foosys” in the office, so it was a great turnout that provided some intense competition as everyone duked it out for the top spot. We also host a Blue Medorathon Rocket League competition that brought new and experienced players to the field for some fun matchups. I had the fortunate chance to participate in the Rocket League tournament, only to be knocked out in the first round. I was thoroughly disappointed in our devastating first-round loss, until the team that beat us went on to win the whole thing, proving that we weren’t that bad, they were just the best (or so my ego tells me).

Blue Medorathon fun

Along with all of the gaming fun, as is tradition, we were treated to some great Thai food from the local favorite “Thai Chef” for lunch, and some fresh “Jet’s Pizza” for dinner to keep us all sustained during our long day.

The Next Blue Medorathon

With the fun of Blue Medorathon 14 over, we can now look forward to all of the amazing things our team will accomplish the next Quarter. People are already starting to brainstorm their next passion project that they hope to complete, and I think I may and join a team next time. Now all I need to do is polish my Rocket League skills if I hope to take home the trophy next time!

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