DevNet Create Welcomes Holberton School


I am a Software Engineering Student at Holberton School, San Francisco | contact me or follow me.

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:Where Users meet Applications & Infrastructures

What is Cisco DevNet?

Approximately 3 years ago, Cisco launched DevNet, which is a developer program, providing sandboxes, labs, api’s, and a variety of other tools that help you to produce Cisco-enabled applications to sell and/or use to enhance or manage existing Cisco networks. DevNet is Cisco’s platform to support leading software development integrations with Cisco’s technology.

Cisco’s DevNet conference, DevNet Create, hosted in silicon valley, was a successful opportunity for DevNet to outreach to a new community of developers, especially those unaware that Cisco is not just a hardware provider. The first ever DevNet Create, framed as The IoT and cloud developer conference, where applications meet infrastructure supported developers to better understand and utilize the connection between the 2 large hemispheres of the cloud and infrastructure. The conference offered 2 major tracks: (1) the cloud & DevOps track and the (2) IOT & Apps track.

Since major parts of Cisco’s DevNet & the DevNet Create conference are to enhance understanding of the Cisco’s Network of developer tools, and since I am a new Software Engineer, who learned about all of these things at DevNet Create, I’m going to briefly summarize some of the power in Cisco’s DevNet program.

DevNet Specs

  • Free Membership

This enriching curriculum and support network is well organized & relevant and includes advanced technical knowledge. Many of the technologies promoted on Cisco’s DevNet are beyond my own technical experience, however, the tutorials, demos and walkthroughs have well outlined steps with clear examples that make it easy to use the tutorial to self-teach, and self direct yourself to complete some of the example projects.

Supported Technologies

  • Networking
  • Data Center
  • Cloud
  • Security
  • IoT
  • Collaboration
  • Analytics & Automation
  • Open Source
  • Mobile

Tutorials

Career Support

Environment

Community

Diversity at DevNet Create

I was excited about Cisco’s DevNet Create because of the conference organizers’ interests in supporting diverse professional environments with women in leadership positions and opportunities for diverse populations to have positions on engineering and other tech teams. Many, perhaps even the majority of the speakers at DevNet Create were women, including, Susie Wee (@susiewee), VP & CTO at Cisco DevNet Innovations, Abby Kearns (@ab415), Executive Director at Cloud Foundry Foundation, Drew Zachary (@DrewAZachary), Senior Analyst, Federal Department of Commerce. There was even a lead talk by Amanda Whaley (@mandywhaley), Director of Developer Experience at Cisco about how to support women’s interest and pursuit of STEM education and careers. Calling her presentation “DadOps” or “FamOps”, Amanda discussed how parents and family members can encourage the young girls in their family to build an engineering or scientific mindset for problem solving.

Holberton School

Probably the most personal support of diversity was that Ken Owens (twitter & github: @kenowens12), CTO Cloud Native Platforms at Cisco and one of the lead organizers of DevNet Create invited many students from my software engineering program, Holberton School.

Holberton School, is a project-based alternative to college for the next generation of software engineers. Named after Betty Holberton, one of the 6 women on the team that programmed the ENIAC, often considered the first digital computer. With an enriched and complex project based curriculum, the school comprises 40% female and 60% non-white student body.

Outstanding Key Notes

The professional enhancement of DevNet Create was also a major factor that excited me about the conference. As a new student to software engineering, I’m enthusiastic about much of the theory of software engineering such as binary trees, hash tables, scalability, connectability & sustainability across technologies. DevNet Create’s Key Note Presentations were extraordinarily helpful because they satisfied my desire for enriched theoretical computer science knowledge. Susie Wee’s Key Note focused on “where apps meet people, places, and things,” which emphasized how the connection between hardware and software is becoming increasingly more advanced and specialized. While most people in computer science fields view hardware and software entirely separate, Susie demonstrated how software needs to innovate to be able to adapt to hardware innovations with an example of her work converting analogue TV to HDTV. Susie’s talk and all the other presentations & interviews from DevNet Create can be viewed via this link.

DevOps

Damon Edwards, Co-Founder, Rundeck Inc also gave an impressive talk on the theory of DevOps. He demonstrated how “self service operations” can dramatically decrease the mean time to repair (MTTR) in the event of applications going down. Damon discussed how the better the development side prepares the operations side for fast configuration scripts and unit testing, the more MTTR decreases. Calling this a “shift left” mentality, development takes on more configuration and unit testing work in the beginning of a project, but makes up for the lost time when operations confronts problems and breakdowns.

Damon Edwards’ presentation can be viewed at slideshare.net, via this link.

Open Data

Another great discussion of the event was Cisco’s support of Open Data. As a clinical social worker, who began my work in software development using open data, this part of the event was particularly moving for me. Open Data is a new movement, similar to, but not to be confused with open source software. Open Data occurs when organizations, most often government organizations with privileged, but not confidential and private information, make their information publically accessible through easily transferred data. At DevNet Create, Drew Zachary and Radhika Bhatt from the US Department of Commerce used the US Census as an example of open data. The population of a city, percent of Hispanic decent families and number of residents per household is not sensitive or confidential information, but is privy to the Government because of their means of carrying out the census. Open data movement asks, why not let others access and use this data, and hopefully benefit society?

In my role as a Social Worker, I was expected to help hundreds of teenagers with vastly unique histories of trauma in all areas of Chicago connect to support services. The referral networks that the social services industry utilizes are for the most part on .pdf documents, or if digital, they lack updates, complexity, usability, and are generally withheld from the public. I created a digital solution for referrals in Chicago by compiling open data into my own database, which has far more information, usability, and practicality for social workers than any single open data instance of information. This tool, called Chicago Resource Hub, automates numerous of the necessary steps of my role as a case manager and social worker, enhances the connections of social services in Chicago and most importantly, allows for an increased youth exposure to more support services in Chicago. Chicago Resource Hub is so popular that the branding has been sold to a Chicago non-profit Peace Hub.  The app can be viewed and accessed here: www.chicagoresourcehub.com, and some of the code for that project is hosted on my github, here. This minor success of using technology to improve my efficiency & provide a support service to the community was so impressive in my life that it motivated me to make a career shift to start training as a Software Engineer.

Join the Conversation

This is not only important to me but also Cisco’s DevNet community.  DevNet invited me to share about my experiences working with open data at DevNet Create, and they invite you and anyone else interested in joining in the conversation or co-developing open services and solutions with us.  Please Join the community at developer.cisco.net.

My Spotlight

Mandy Whaley was the specific manager at Cisco that learned about my experience with open data and my path to Holberton School and asked me to share at DevNet Create. This was incredibly empowering to me as it made me feel like my work was meaningful, but even more exciting was that I was able to share more about open data and how to bring technological solutions to industries that traditionally underutilized technology.

Where Users meet Applications & Infrastructures

As I mentioned previously, DevNet Create emphasized how 2 of the major realms of the tech industry, software and hardware, meet and integrate. I would like to introduce to the discussion, a 3rd realm: the user side, and I’m not referring to UX, user experience. I mean, literally the users. The user is also expected to have a certain level of trust in, understanding of, and desire to use the hardware and software realms of technology. After all technological solutions need to meet demands and serve interested consumers.  Coming from the world of nonprofits and 501(c)(3)’s, I have commonly experienced technologically inept organizations resistant to technological solutions such as automation, machine learning, AI, and even objective research data gathered from complex computer algorithms. The main reasons for resistance are: (1) the organization is seeking upgrades but unable to implement a solution due to lack of funding, (2) the organization is unaware of the benefits of such solutions, but may have the means for upgrades, (3) the org is scared of the consequences, such as inadvertently creating a solution that renders their jobs unnecessary or creating a solution that adds too much work to manage instead of decreasing the amount of work, or (4) the org is in denial of the benefits and unwilling to use technological solutions. As a social worker, one of my main passions in life is to make the world subjectively better for each individual person, each community and society as a whole. I sincerely believe that technological solutions are an amazing way to do this, and can even make other solutions exponentially more powerful with the support of technological solutions. The more that I learn about software engineering, the more passionate I become about helping organizations better implement technology, research, big data, and open data.

DevNet Create Mini-Hack

Since, I am so interested in open data, I chose to work the mini-hack, DevNet Create Mini-Hack: Census Bureau Data. This project challenged users to create a representation of big data using US Census data or any of the other open data libraries in The Opportunity Project’s, “Build With Us” challenges, linked here. My project, Chicago Resource Hub does use open data, API’s, and parses data into an organized front end, and so I had essentially already made this. So, I added new data from the census that to Chicago Resource Hub. The open data project has information on all the grocery stores that accept government SNAP benefits, and so I chose to add all of those locations in Chicago Area to the Chicago Resource Hub. However, in my own project, I chose to use my own database with information gathered from publicly available open data, and so Chicago Resource Hub makes requests from my database.  Additionally, my solution for a database was to use an already coded project with Google Fusion Tables that integrates with google maps, and so I did not create any working system that updated live from someone else’s open database. Therefore, since I wanted to learn more about this process, I began a project coded in Python, that requests data from an API, parses it, and makes it available to be presented in HTML in a browser or another user interface. In this way, I was able to learn more about API requests, JSON, and parsing JSON data.

For this task, I began by using a started python app from Cisco DevNet, here:

import requests
from requests.auth import HTTPBasicAuth

apikey = "your_api_key"
request_url = "http://citysdk.commerce.gov"

payload = {
  'zip': '21401',
  'state': 'MD',
  'level': 'state',
  'sublevel': False,
  'api': 'acs5',
  'year': 2010,
  'variables': ['income', 'population']
}

r = r.post(request_url, auth=HTTPBasicAuth(apikey, None), json=payload)

print(response.json())

To learn more about API requests, Open Data or any of the other DevNet Create support systems, check our their blog: blog.devnetcreate.io, or follow them on twitter: @DevNetCreate and @CiscoDevNet.  Please contact DevNet create or myself to partner in helping to make open data accessible to your community.

Posted in API, code, DevNet, open data, open source and tagged , , , .