OpenStack Hackathon Toolkit
About OpenStack Hackathons:
The clock is ticking. One teammate whiteboards while another digs through documentation. The best idea wins, but everyone learns. OpenStack Hackathons bring together hundreds of technologists in a supportive learning environment to practice their skills with the latest cloud tools.
For team members of all roles––be it appdev, devops, UX, sysadmin, or network engineering––hackathons are a great way to rapidly learn in a fun and competitive environment.
Host an OpenStack Hackathon:
As hackathon organizer, you will lead a team of dedicated community volunteers who are inspired by learning the latest cloud skills. Hackathons are hard work to run, requiring 3-6 months of planning, but the value of a hackathon is multifold:
- Help developers build knowledge and skills for cloud-native applications
- Develop new relationships and discover new talent in your community
- Practice collaboration and working as a team across various roles
- Understand the value of open source and how to participate in the open source community
- Eat your own dogfood:test your cloud technologies and *know* if they are working
To get started planning a hackathon, contact the chairs of the Hackathon Working Group. Need more co-organizers? Contact your local users groups and ambassadors to see if they can help.
Can anyone host a Hackathon?
Yes, of course, we are a worldwide community! Hackathons are a great way to expand your community and/or improve the skills of your staff. There are two common Hackathon formats:
a.) Community (large) hackathons: Grow the cloud app development skills of your regional community. These events bring together hundreds of participants from universities, companies, governments and other open cloud supporters.
b.) Internal organization / corporate (small) hackathons: Train internal teams on OpenStack infrastructure and improve team collaboration through company-wide hackathons. Attendees will walk away with new knowledge about open infrastructure tools and cloud native applications.
How do I decide what size event to do? If you are: arranging sponsorship for a dedicated event, planning to charge for attendance, expecting more than 100 people, planning a press release or any media involvement ... plan on doing a large hackathon.
We can connect you with community members (like Victor in the video below) who have run hackathons and can provide advice and guidance:
Who attends a Hackathon?
Hackathons are for everyone! It takes a variety of roles to take a concept from ideation to production, and hackathon attendance reflects that. Common attendees are network engineers, system administrators, developer operations, application developers, and usability experts, but there’s no limit to who you might want to invite or who will attend.
How can the OpenStack Foundation help?
Once an event is approved by the Hackathon Working Group, the Foundation provides support including training videos/materials/graphics, advisory sessions, and potentially sponsorship depending on size and scope of the event. The Foundation will also help make connections and promote the event via its website, mailing lists, user groups and social media to help attract attendees and potential sponsors.
Hackathon Toolkit Outline:
- Planning Tools
- Hackathon overview for organizers
- Official Foundation agreement and sponsorship contract, including:
- Example timelines/checklist for pre-training activities
- Example volunteer roles for large hackathons
- Example floor plan for hackathon setup
- Suggested activities for company-specific/internal hackathons
- Event Steering Committee (see below)
- For large events 150+ participants plus, it is a good idea to assemble a steering committee who can help act as guides as you progress on your event. The Steering Committee should NOT be doing the hard-lifting for the event (that’s for you and your team), but they should be helping advise you so your time is well spent.
- Procuring cloud infrastructure
- A primary goal of the hackathon is making the attendee’s first experience with OpenStack positive, which is why it is critical to procure and test reliable, performant infrastructure for your event
- A best practice is to find a public cloud provider to sponsor the event, because they may also provide attendees with vouchers or discounts to continue their work after the event. The OpenStack User Committee can connect you with public cloud providers.
- Use a cloud built for the event only as a last resort - it requires significantly more effort to reach the required level of reliability. If a Public Cloud cannot be arranged, see if you can find an organisation to allow temporary access to their Private cloud instead.
- Location is key
- Add in key venue items
- Registration, promotion and feedback
- Registration Questionnaire
- Sample Registration Template Process from Guadalajara Hackathon
- Post-event survey question examples
- Taiwan event organiser feedback reflection board
- Mexico feedback session with team mentor-helpers
- Social media coverage examples
- The Foundation will manage the Eventbrite registration process
- Sample sponsorship prospectus for Public Clouds
- Sample sponsorship prospectus for Enterprises
- Sample sponsorship agreement contract (venues/in-kind)
- Community partnership agreement (joint advertising)
- Financial advice from organizers
- Pre-event training guides
- Cloud App Labs for SDKs
- Sample email from Lead Mentor to prepare participants for hackathon on C/PaaS
- Safety/Code of Conduct
- Hackathon branding collateral
- Design files
- Swag store: https://www.openstack.org/store/
- Sample giveaways:
- Camping tents
- Towels & soap
- Supply the leads, judges, mentors, and staff with different color t-shirts so they are easily recognized by attendees
- Slide templates
- Sample Opening Ceremony Slides from Guadalajara
- Sample Opening Ceremony from Taiwan
- Sample Closing Ceremony Slides from Taiwan
- Sample Voting Process Slides from Mexico
- Hackathon Website
- Each Hackathon organizer is responsible for setting up the Hackathon website
- The Foundation and Steering committee is here to support you by providing sample templates of other Hackathon websites
- Guadalajara website example: http://hackathon.openstackgdl.org
- Sydney website example: xx
- OpenStack logo and trademark: The hackathon logo and digital assets were created by the talented Guadalajara community. The Foundation will customize each logo to include the location or your event. To request your official OpenStack Hackathon logo and branding kit, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Openstack Brand Policy: https://www.openstack.org/brand/
- OpenStack Trademark Policy: https://www.openstack.org/brand/openstack-trademark-policy/
See appendices of examples below:
Hackathon website and social media:
Email (campaign) invitation formatting:
Eventbrite ticket registration:
On-site event registration and help desk:
Event Organising team:
Hackathon mentor, helpers and volunteers:
Winning team prize:
Team based pre-training:
Hackathon teams at the international OpenStack Summit (5k people in audience)
Hackathon tweets and social media:
Sample event steering agenda:
Proposed (month-by-month) agenda items for Event Steering Committee:
- Who is going to be on the steering committee? Who is going to be the chair of the steering committee and work with the event manager to ask the right questions, without interfering with the event management. Which committee members can help invite sponsors / prizes? Who can invite large groups of participants? Who can encourage mentors, judges and other people to support the event on the day?
- What is the overall theme of the hackathon going to be? What is the high level tag line for explaining what is going to be achieved at the hackathon(e.g. “infrastructure for scaling ideas”) and what are the specific prizes under the overall theme going to be (Health App Prize, Innovation Prize, Drone Prize, etc).
- Who is going to provide the infrastructure for the event? Which cloud features will all participants be encouraged to use, i.e. SDKs, APIs, C/PaaS, etc.
- Who is going to launch/market the website and build the event registration? What are the timings going to be for opening up registrations? Who is going to help do the marketing and promotion of the event? How can the steering committee provide contacts to help invite people to attend?
- Where is the event going to be? Who is going to host the event and provide a room large enough for participants to all be in the same space?
- What are the prizes going to be? Who is going to sponsor those prizes? Whose going to be the judges? How will the judges be audited to make sure it is fair?
- What training is going to be made available to participanting teams so they know how to use the technology? Is the training going to be pre-recorded screencast videos on online training events / webinars?
- Crunch time: core hackathon organisers should be having daily ‘stand-up’ meetings (via slack or other) to confirm final details and get invites out. Note that most people sign-up to hackathons 2-3 weeks before it starts.
- Confirm all the things ;-) Agree when and where everyone is going to be and what roles they are going to play. Hackathons are fun and they never go exactly to plan so have fun!
Sample email invitation to mentors preparing them for event:
Thanks for volunteering to be a mentor at the OpenStack Hacking Up the Stack Hackathon in Sydney on the 3rd to the 5th of November hosted at the Doltone House in the Australian Technology Park.
Please be sure to register at http://hackathon.openstack.org.au/buy-tickets/ by October 20th and use the promotion code:
As you know, the Hackathon runs for 40 hours straight, so the next step will be to put together a schedule so we have good coverage of mentors and skills throughout the event. I’ll be in touch with each of you as we get closer to the event to begin scheduling our mentors into shifts, but in the meantime, here’s our current plan.
Schedule and Meeting your Team
We have a section on the Hackathon event website (http://hackathon.openstack.org.au) where your mentor’s profile will be posted. This will help participants to identify mentors before the Hackathon that can bring experience/knowledge that fits their needs to build cloud applications.
Please plan to arrive on Friday, 3rd November, to register between 3pm - 5:30pm. The Opening Ceremony will begin at 5:30pm where we will welcome everyone to the Hackathon and provide introductions. At 7:30pm you will meet with your teams for your first networking session.
Mentor Shift Schedule:
- Shift #1: Fri 11pm - Sat 7:30am
- Shift #2: Sat 9:30am - Sat 7:30pm
- Shift #3: Sat 9:30pm - Sun 1am
- Shift #4: Sun 1am - Sun 7:30am
- Shift #5: Sun 9:30am - Sun 4pm
- All mentors are required to be present on Sunday, 5 November. Please plan to arrive at 1pm and join us for lunch and the final judging process and Awards Ceremony.
- You are required to be available for 2-3 of these shifts. If you have any preferences, please provide me with your first, second and third choices by Friday 20th October and we will do our best to accommodate your requests.
- We’re expecting that the night shifts will be fairly quiet, so mentors could snooze a little if their teams are resting. We encourage you to bring a tent and bedding if you’d like to sleep during this quiet time. Don’t forget a towel if you plan on showering at the venue.
- There will be three main meals provided during the day, so we’ve tried to start and finish shifts around breakfast and dinner, so everybody gets a proper meal.
- We’ll be using Slack as one of the primary communication channels before and during the event, so look out for an invitation email soon.
How to be an Amazing Mentor
Mentors set the tone for the Hackathon. Mentors are like an invisible extra team member to each team! You have to motivate your Hackathon teams when their spirit lows, give them tips and show them tricks and sometimes even jump-start the creative flow with a fresh idea.
At a Hackathon, participants learn how to turn their ideas into reality. Participants learn by doing, but Internet is not enough to teach someone how to build their first hack. This is where you come in! A good mentor can vastly improve a hacker's experience and learning, and inspire novel hackers to pursue their dreams.
To support Hackathon teams with your technical expertise. In the case where you can’t answer a question, you have to contact another mentor to support you. For example, a Hackathon team has questions about the platform they chose, but you are not sure about the answer, so, you need to identify another mentor with the experience needed, and ask them to assist the team with their issue.
- Act as a floating resource for the teams during the Hackathon, like an invisible additional team member
- Help teams answer questions, define workflow, generate relevant ideas, support during problem-solving, develop final pitches and practise presentation
- Be active and proactive
- Most importantly, be helpful and encouraging
As a mentor, you will be providing real-time assistance to the assigned Hackathon teams in the Hackathon venue during the Hackathon. Mentors should take shift in the Hackathon venue to help the teams. As a onsite mentor, you will be assigned to a team; and you will have a sit available in your team table during the Hackathon, so you can work with them very closely.
Tips for Mentors
- Listen carefully and actively. Your role is to listen, provide constructive feedback and help your mentee consider options
- You may share your own experiences or refer them to other resources
- Help identify areas for their development, coach your mentees and allow them the opportunities to practice new skills
- Ask the mentees questions to cause further exploration of ideas or to challenge their thinking
- When asked, you can provide information or ideas which the mentee can use to forge a solution
- Be encouraging and help your mentees build self-confidence. Demonstrate that you understand the nature of the difficulty by providing feedback and encouraging them when their spirit is low
Things to Avoid
- Criticizing your mentees. You want to encourage positive change, not to cause fear or hesitation to your mentees. However, you may still provide difficult feedback to your mentees. Take the time to think through how you will provide your feedback
- Giving direct advice. A mentoring relationship is not an opportunity for you to provide to your mentees how much you have learned through your experiences. Rather, its purpose is to provide a safe place for your mentee to learn from their experiences. Giving direct advice removes this opportunity.
- Solving your mentee’s problems. Provide guidance, not directions. Do not solve their problems but act as a collaborator in the problem solving process.
We recommend you familiarise yourself with the three platforms available for the Hackathon. Training resources are available for each of the platforms at:
If you have any questions, or if you think you'll be unable to commit to the event, please get in touch with me.
Thanks for your support!
Link bibliography: archive of previous examples from hackathons
Website / Social media: