VMware Sustainability Borathon



Sustainability is innovation’s new frontier. At VMware, the Office of the CTO (OCTO) is charged with driving both innovation and sustainability. There are many pathways to innovation at VMware, and one of the most loved and popular are our Borathons.

Why is an innovation event called Borathon?

What’s a Borathon, you ask? The name goes back to when engineers first created these events and wanted to evoke the magic of our earliest innovations. They decided that instead of simply calling our innovation events a hackathon, they named it after their last code repository island name: Bora Bora. Thus, the name Borathon was born.

Envroom created by Jeff Kim and Davin Nguyen [Best “environmental hack”]

Over the years, VMware’s Borathons have led to product ideas, features and solutions.  Building on this tradition, in the last week of April, we honored Earth Day with an amazingly successful Borathon event at our Palo Alto campus that focused on sustainability as the theme. This created a unique opportunity for our talented people to work collaboratively on topic that stretched their minds. The challenge was all about considering software and code from a sustainability perspective in order to develop new workflows, features, and proof-of-concepts.

The Experience  

The Borathon experience at VMware begins with signing up for the waitlist (yes, they are that popular!).  This time things were a bit different in that we held an opening ceremony on the evening of Wednesday May 25th giving our participants a chance to socialize, network and form their teams.

Building on our values around Community, we were excited to include two teams of high school students who were winners of LA Hacks III , a VMware sponsored external hackathon. These two teams presented their respective winning ideas on Robotany and Envroom.

The high-school hackers demonstrated an impressive level of ingenuity, presentation skill, and technological achievement in each of their projects. It was a great inspirational kick-off for all in attendance, especially for our VMware hackers.  And personally, gives me hope for the future seeing what these young minds can do to apply their technical skills for social impact.

The Hack

The event itself featured five different challenges, each chosen by one of the eight teams.  Our Fellows and Principal Engineers defined three of our challenges which included: “Green SDDC”, “BrokenBuild Predictor”, and “Power Usage Real-Time Monitoring”.   In collaboration with our Research team working on Blockchain, I sponsored one challenge entitled, “Enable Peer-to-Peer Power Generation and Distribution Through Microgrids Using Blockchain”. The challenges were rounded off by two concepts submitted by our participant hackers, “vSphere EasyDeploy” and “Go Green vSAN”.

Each challenge had a dedicated mentor that offered their expertise and helped their respective team of hackers to stay focused and motivated.

And the winners are…

Third Place went to EasyDeploy, led by Reanud Voltz. This project is looking into vSphere deployments in remote locations, including in areas with low internet bandwidth and unqualified IT personnel. You can imagine the social impact possibilities of this kind of solution!

Second Place went to a project led by Vikash Ruhil, who worked on BrokenBuild Predictor a tool that detects broken builds to increases efficiency of server usage.  This is just brilliant and has lots of possibility!

First Place went to Dashboard Showing Real-Time Cluster/Datacenter Power Usage, led by Ritesh Tiwari.  This project looked at an overall clusters power usage, drilling down to individual ESXi hosts and identifying which machines draw the most power. They also built a smart and geo aware App that when demonstrated – blew me away.  Super cool and super practical idea that could have immediate sustainability (power & CO2 savings).

The best thing about our well-loved hacks are that they are really a community experience.  Borathon serves not only to drive innovation by developing skills and experience, but most importantly, it fosters a spirit of community by giving engineers the opportunity to interact with, learn from, and develop relationships with our Fellows and Principal Engineers. To top off our commitment to Community and impact, in true VMware style, each one of our participants received prize in the form of a Kiva grant.  In this way, participating in Borathon is also an opportunity to pay it forward by helping to fund an eco-entrepreneur’s dream.

The great thing about Borathon is that the work doesn’t end after 37-hours and an all-nighter.  The OCTO is chartered with working closely with each of these teams to continue building on the momentum and drive innovation forward though our OCTO Innovation programs.

Follow @vmwocto for more highlights from Borathon and stay up to date with all the latest news.


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