We Built a Thing: the Virtual Design Master 2019 Hackathon Result

There have been a number of times in my life and career where I have decided to share an idea with the world hoping that it may work and entirely willing to ride the results, whether it’s to success or to failure.  And by failure, I really mean to a profound learning experience.  This past Friday (August 9th) proved to be the former.  The Virtual Design Master virtual Hackathon was a success by my measurement. Let’s see what happened

Build Year = Learning Year

Virtual Design Master has been around for 6 full years now in one form or another.  We have seen a growth in the community supporting and participating in the events and we have given out well over 10,000$ in prizes while providing what we hope to be valuable to our community peers.  When this year’s organizing meetings started, I decided to flip the script.

Moving from the traditional architect-focused program was not something I took lightly.  What drove my desire to shift into a hackathon focus came from many interactions I’ve had over the past few years where many of my ops-origin friends and community peers shared that joining a hackathon is not easy to do unless you’re a developer.  I want to change that.  This article gives a good indication of the challenge.

Small Team, Big Result

The hackathon event was designed to change the approach of a hackathon while still ensuring we tested with an actively engaged audience.  This was a broadcasted signup with folks who knew they had to commit to 24 hours of availability, but we were up front in saying that this was not a full-out 24 hour straight coding exercise.

After a 4-part education series on what a hackathon looks like, we had a handful of folks jump in as either participants or volunteers.  It was good enough to test the method. Then the day arrived and we found that life happens to us all and our numbers dropped to four participants.  This is how we learn.

The pitch was to create. product that would allow algorithmic matching of people based on personality and skills in order to better match mentors with potential mentees.  The result, after a lot of testing, site building, and collaboration, was a working system that is able to programmatically match people based on a few criteria and a simple web application to  collect that information.  This was the basic proof-of-concept which will be evolved into an actual product thanks to the testing and work that was done by the team (Joe Houghes, Angelo Luciani, Al Rasheed, and Me).

Lots of Content to Watch and Explore

The lead up to the event included a 4-part educational series presented as live webinars and each of those are available on demand here:

Episode 1 – The Idea

Episode 2 – Building the Team

Episode 3 – Product Management for Hackathons

Episode 4 – Getting Ready and Test Pitching

We live streamed a significant portion of the interactions as well which are all here in sections:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5 – Finale and Demo

The Product and Presentation

All of the code and documentation from the event was created and shared on GitHub under the Virtual Design Master account.  You can check out all the links which will also evolve as more documentation and updates happen beyond the hackathon.

Project page: https://github.com/VirtualDesignMaster/Hackathon-Team-BusOne

Wiki: https://github.com/VirtualDesignMaster/Hackathon-Team-BusOne/wiki

Presentation: https://github.com/VirtualDesignMaster/Hackathon-Team-BusOne/blob/master/rapidmatter.pdf

Hackathon for Ops – How Virtual Design Master is Lowering the Barrier to more Inclusive Hackathons


Episode 1 – The Idea: Watch On-Demand

Episode 2 – Building the Team Watch On-Demand

Episode 3 – Product Management for Hackathons Watch On-Demand

Episode 4 – Watch Live 7/25 here: https://www.youtube.com/c/EricWrightDiscoPosse/live

Have you ever thought about joining in on a Hackathon but you didn’t because you don’t know your Foo from your Bar?  The reality is that most hackathons are aimed at developers which can put up a barrier to entry for folks who come from the operations and IT architecture background.  I’ve written about this in the past here and the response was incredibly positive.  So, now it’s time to put that idea into practice!

This is your chance to join in something special that has a lot of excitement building among the technology community.  This is the chance to move from scripting out your simple tasks to participating in the building of a product and project with a team of folks who will bring diverse backgrounds and ideas to the event.  There are few opportunities to do something as meaningful as creating and nurturing both new connections and potentially a product that has an even bigger future!

Hackathon for Ops – The Virtual Design Master 2019 Event

Hosting a hackathon is just one part of the overall experience.  We are featuring a 4-part webinar series leading up to the online (yes…virtual Hackathon from anywhere in the world) event that will be happening in August.   This is where the fun and learning begins.

This is something that we at the Virtual Design Master creative team really feel is needed and the feedback has already been positive.


What can you expect to get out of being a part of the Virtual Design Master Hackathon Event?

  • Learn the skills you need as you join and plan for a hackathon event
  • Get past any worries that you don’t have coding experience
  • Seriously, you don’t need experience to join a properly inclusive hackathon
  • Discover how to find peers and mentors in the tech community to help you through the process
  • Have fun while doing all of these things!

The goal for people attending is to also take the confidence and skills you have built through the Virtual Design Master program to take even further by joining an in-person hackathon event such as those coming up at VMworld, Microsoft Ignite, and AWS re:Invent.

Our Virtual Design Master team will be representing at all of these events and will connect and coach for building or joining a hackathon team.

Virtual Design Master Season 6 – The Webinar Series and Hackathon

Live dates for Season 6 webinars which are also completely open and free for registration and will also be available on-demand from Youtube for further viewing.

  • Episode 1 – June 27, 2019 @ 1PM Eastern Time – REGISTRATION LINK BELOW
  • Episode 2 – July 11, 2019 @ 1PM Eastern Time – REGISTRATION LINK BELOW
  • Episode 3 – July 18, 2019 @ 1PM Eastern Time – REGISTRATION LINK BELOW
  • Episode 4 – July 25, 2019 @ 1PM Eastern Time – REGISTRATION LINK BELOW

The Virtual Design Master Hackathon date is being firmed up to occur in the first half of August.  The event will be 100% online and participation from anywhere in the world means that this will truly be an incredible, and inclusive opportunity for everyone.

EPISODE 1 – The Idea

Watch On-Demand

Before you jump into the hackathon, you need an idea.  This session is going to unpack industry tips on how to come up with an idea and evaluate how you and your potential team can decide what’s the right product approach to build.  This extends beyond a hackathon into every day technology life and will feature some great experiences shared with you and make sure you’re ready to go from idea to product!

EPISODE 2 – Building the Team

Watch On-Demand

Now that you have your idea, it’s time to think about how to recruit and assemble the team.  Team building in and out of the hackathon environment requires some thought of skills matching, evaluating personality traits and strengths, mentoring, and much more.  This episode explores the world of effective team building for your hackathon including the recruitment process which is very unique in the hackathon style.  These ideas also extend to our day-to-day team and personal experiences and will be effective and usable everywhere you go in business.

EPISODE 3 – Product Management and Live Hacking Techniques –

Watch On-Demand

Product management and the art of being ruthlessly pragmatic is important enough on a long-form development project, but critically important during a hackathon.  You and your team will need to make quick decisions and carefully manage your team’s time and capabilities to deliver a working and winning product at the end of the coding window.  Using experience in product management, product marketing, and in hackathon operations and participation, our VDM team will share how you can put core techniques into play to ensure success in your hackathon experiences.

EPISODE 4 – Getting Ready for the Hackathon + Test Pitches

Register for Episode 4 here:  https://discopos.se/vdms6e4

Now that you have followed the three-part webinars you are ready to lean about the hackathon experience and to see and hear your first test pitches.  This session will feature some day-before and day-of logistics, a discussion of how the scheduling and time management go during the live event, and also feature some tea pitches to hear how to do the  product pitch and to do last-minute recruiting or finding a team to collaborate with.






Podcast Episode 77 – Virtual Design Master (@vdmchallenge) Season 6 Announcement with @angeloluciani

The Virtual Design Master (https://virtualdesignmaster.io) team is back at it with a new season featuring an entirely new approach to the event. This year we share the details from Angelo Luciani, Melissa Palmer, and Eric Wright as we move to make a truly inclusive introduction to hackathons with an informative webinar series and a 24 hour virtual hackathon in summer 2019.

Listen to the episode here: http://podcast.discoposse.com/e/ep-77-virtual-design-master-vdmchallenge-season-6-announcement-with-angeloluciani/

Listen and Subscribe on iTunes here:

Episode 77 – Virtual Design Master (@vdmchallenge) Season 6 Announcement with @angeloluciani

PODCAST LINK: http://podcast.discoposse.com/e/ep-77-virtual-design-master-vdmchallenge-season-6-announcement-with-angeloluciani/

Top vBlog Voting 2017 – Supporting Community Bloggers

Every year we are seeing more and more community contributors in the blogging ecosystem. My own work here at DiscoPosse.com and through my role at Turbonomic in the community has been so enjoyable to be a part of because of the support that I continue to receive from readers and peers in many tech communities.

Eric Siebert has been hosting the Top vBlog voting for years, and it has grown from a handful of participants to a veritable must-read list that covers every aspect of virtualization, networking, scripting, and more. This year I am honoured to be among the contributors listed and am also very proud to have Turbonomic sponsor the voting.

My blog is listed in the voting under my name (just search for DiscoPosse) and my podcast (GC ON-Demand) is also in the running for best podcast.

I would greatly appreciate a vote if you feel that I’m providing content that is valuable, and of course, please extend your votes to all of the great IT community who surrounds us all. For those who know the work that Angelo (@AngeloLuciani), Melissa (@vMiss33) and I do with Virtual Design Master, you will know that many of the participants are also in the voting.

Your support of our amazing blogger and podcast community is always appreciated.  Thank you!

Vote here for this year’s event: http://vsphere-land.com/news/voting-now-open-for-top-vblog-2017.html