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History of the VMware {code} Hackathon

As many of you know, we recently wrapped up  our 5th VMworld + VMware {code} Hackathon. What many of you may not know is that the Hackathon has grown and changed in so many ways over the last five years. So, here is a brief history of the event.

2016: Chapter 1- The Beginning

Every story begins with a first chapter and in this story that chapter begins in 2016.

In 2016 Alan Renouf and William Lam spun up the idea to host the first ever Hackathon at VMworld with VMware {code}. In its earliest days, the idea behind the hackathon was to bring together strangers to learn and code together. Alan and William provided Intel NUC units that had been pre-built with vCenter/ESX and VSAN. The five teams of developers that took part at VMworld US ranged from people just learning to coding ninjas and API experts.

Participant diversity landed a diverse group of projects as well- all throughout the VMware product range. Below are the projects from the US hackathon in 2016

  • Team 1 – Worked on a project which provided community health check against the vSphere platform (vCheck Enhancements)
  • Team 2 – Worked on Autoscaling Groups for vSphere
  • Team 3 – Worked on writing vSphere DSC resources for Configuration Management
  • Team 4 – Worked on Visualizing Ops: VMware Telemetry with Snap and Grafana
  • Team 5 – Worked on Using Test Driven Development to validate NSX

Read Alan’s full blog: http://www.virtu-al.net/2016/09/14/vmworld-vmware-code-hackathon-hit-barcelona-2016/


2017:  Chapter 2- Scaling Up

2017 saw the intial hackathon scale up, tripling in size, from 5 teams to 15 teams. This year also saw an increase in offerings from the Hackathon, from giveaways to hackathon training sessions offered from topics ranging from open source, clarity, VMware’s APIs and SDKs. This was also the VMware {code} team’s first year of creating an event for itself at VMworld- VMware {code} fest, which saw four nights of sessions, presentations, and networking opportunities. The hackathon also received coverage from VMworld TV who stopped by to interview William and Alan

Read William’s full blog: https://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2017/09/vmworld-hackathon-2017-highlights.html

2018: Chapter 3- The torch is passed

In 2018, I landed at VMware, beginning my full-time job as the community manager for VMware {code} two months before VMworld. After two successful years of running the Hackathon, William and Alan handed the torch to the VMware {code} team to organize. As a newbie to the hackathon world and the VMware community, I was quite nervous at the upcoming challenge of planning a Hackathon. I had no reason to fear. William and Alan had laid the groundwork so beautifully for me that I just had to follow their structure. New themes-along with them-new trainings, and of course, giveaways. Arriving in Vegas in 2018 I was stunned to see a turnout of over 100 participants, all eager to participate. One even brought his own server with him! I was struck by the enthusiasm of this community and their eagerness to learn. The VMworld 2018 Hackathon was the first time I saw the VMware {code} motto: learn, code, connect perfectly encapsulated. I had a similar experience when I landed in Barcelona- the amount of creativity and passion that was brought to the Hackathon is enough to invigorate anyone, but seeing it in action showed me that I was in the right role.


VMworld Europe 2018














You can read my VMworld 2018 US Hackathon recap here: https://blogs.vmware.com/code/2018/09/05/vmworld-us-hackathon-recap/

Highlights from the VMworld 2018 EU Hackathon here: https://blogs.vmware.com/code/2018/12/12/vmworld-eu-hackathon-highlights-in-photos/

2019: Chapter 4- A new location, a new challenge

In 2019, VMworld made the decision to return from Vegas to San Francisco, a decision many of our community members lamented. One of the main reasons being the budget constraints that San Francisco posed over Las Vegas. As a result, a lot of the usual hackathon suspects were unable to attend, and the usual hackathon that took place in both US and Europe was cut down to just one Hackathon in US. In response to the large turnout from 2018, the VMware {code} team took a different route with the Hackathon, recruiting captains and ideas and having participants join the team captain who’s idea they enjoyed the most. On top of that, there were 5 open themes, Blockchain, Kubernetes, PowerShell and PowerCLI, Python, VMware Cloud on AWS.

Below are the ideas captains came up with for the event:

CaptainAriel Sanchez
Idea: Creating an Ansible and VMware example library.
The objective will be to identify common vSphere tasks, ranging from ESXi installation to VM management, showing them off during the Hackathon and making sure they’re available for the rest of the world!

CaptainArt van Meeteren
Idea: Create a showcase piece using VMware, AWS, and/or AI technology to manage autonomous drone flight sensor data

CaptainDan Gallagher
Idea: Customize the vCenter login screen to show a performance snapshot.
The idea behind the performance snapshot is so that administrators can see where to start looking for issues prior to even logging in. Team participation will include learning about the vSphere appliance UI backend, API experimentation and data collection.

CaptainJustin Sider
Idea: Creating an automated process around the PowerCLI community repo.
Tasks will include authoring a build pipeline, creating quality gates for deployment, and some other advanced tasks. Participants will learn PowerShell skills including unit testing and linting.

CaptainVladi Velikov
Idea: Join the journey to turn a standalone tool UI into a vSphere Client remote plugin for vSphere and VMware Cloud on AWS.
Learn how easy it is to put your favorite tool at the center of the vSphere Management UI.

The event, rivaled in timing by a Wu-Tang Clan concert coupled with the reduction in conference attendees from the decision to move the conference to San Francisco, saw a smaller group of participants. That being said, the spirit of the Hackathon was not lost as teams spent the evening collaborating and learning from each other as the trend of a variety of participants and skill sets still showed up. The results were just as intriguing and participants walked away just past midnight, commenting on how they felt like they had learned so much more from one another than they had thought.

Chapter 5: The Future

It’s 2020 and what a year it’s been! With all events virtual, this year’s VMworld is no different. And, in response to the huge turnout at our VMware {code} areas at VMworld 2019, we created a 2 day virtual VMware {code} event- #CodeConnect

From Oct 1-2nd 9AM-5PM PDT, we had two full days packed with 40+ power sessions, code on the fly sessions, a script based competition and of course, the hackathon!

This year’s Hackathon theme was “Code Wars: Ansible v. PowerShell” and the teams definitely brought their stuff. Though virtual, we had 5 teams competing, located all around the world, from the US, India, Europe and even Africa. The virtual setting allowed teams to communicate and build their project over the course of two weeks, culminating in a final night of presentations where the teams showed off their final projects.

In the end? Ansible just narrowly beat out the competition!

Although we couldn’t be together in person this year, the power of community shined strong in this year’s Hackathon competition. We can’t wait to see what next year will bring, but if the past is telling, we’ll be seeing more great projects and collaboration in the future of the VMware {code} Hackathon!



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