Today we are very excited to introduce our newest KubeCon + Cloud NativeCon co-chair, Jasmine James! She is an Engineering Manager within the Engineering Effectiveness organization at Twitter and is specifically focused on the internal developer experience. Developer experience has always been a passion for Jasmine along with diversity in the open source community and helping others get started in open source. Jasmine will officially begin her co-chair duties at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2021 but will be working closely with our current co-chairs, Constance Caramanolis and Stephen Augustus, to make KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU Virtual 2021 a huge success.  

We chatted with Jasmine to learn more about her experience, her thoughts on the cloud native community, and what she has planned for her co-chair experience.

What are you most looking forward to with being a KubeCon + CloudNativeCon co-chair?

I am most looking forward to the process of engaging with the program team behind the scenes. It’s really exciting to have a first-hand look at the topics that will emerge as themes throughout the CFP process. Having this view gives great insight into the pulse of the cloud native community and of where cloud native is headed through examining both the stories of the maintainers and end users. Being that I was first exposed to cloud native projects as an end user, I’m really keen on hearing the new technical challenges being faced since the landscape has matured so much over the past couple of years. I am also looking forward to working with individuals in the community directly and providing guidance on how to get started in the cloud native community, especially related to contributing. 

You mentioned you are passionate about developer experience. What does it take to create a positive developer experience, and what can the community do to ensure this is happening? 

Developer experience is really becoming an important topic of conversation as many of the cloud native projects reach new levels of maturity. It’s now time to think about how we can create an easy and streamlined process for adopting these great technologies. 

The first step towards a great developer experience is a low barrier of entry. What this means is, “How quickly can a developer with little to no knowledge about this technology get ramped up to use it?” I think that by creating a low barrier of entry (bonus points for fantastic documentation), developers achieve a huge morale boost with the quick wins realized through a self-service process.  

Another aspect of a great developer experience is a strong community that has an established feedback loop with a special focus on continuous improvement, much like CNCF. As projects are developed, they are providing meaningful features for members of the community. But by creating multiple channels for feedback and actioning on the most impactful improvements, the community can ensure that the product is truly serving the user’s needs. Ultimately, I believe that the all-encompassing theme to a great developer experience is removing the friction often found throughout the development and contribution processes. The steps above can remove some of those speed bumps. 

Another passion of yours is diversity. What steps can the community take to ensure that KubeCon events are accessible and welcoming to all? How can we work together to make the community more diverse?

Diversity and inclusion is absolutely a passion that I have because I think that representation in technology should mirror the unique perspectives and backgrounds we have represented in the world today. When I look back at my experience with open source and specifically in the cloud native landscape, it was mostly enabled through company experience. I was very fortunate to have the support and autonomy to engage in the community as a part of my job, which allowed me to ramp up very quickly through vendors we engaged with and connecting to the community by going to conferences like KubeCon. 

The reality is that there are individuals that do not have the same opportunities. Although they would like to engage and learn the CN landscape, their day-to-day jobs do not incorporate these concepts, so the learning and engagement have to happen on personal time. 

I think that the KubeCon events have done a great job of ensuring that there are opportunities for underrepresented groups to attend conferences by offering diversity and need-based scholarships. As new contributors become interested in CNCF projects, it’s important to support and cultivate their interest in these projects by encouraging participation in events like KubeCon. 

As members of the cloud native community, there is an opportunity for individuals to become allies to those looking to participate (especially from underrepresented groups). This means that as relationships are created, contribute your expertise to support individuals that may not have the same level of experience or may come from a non-traditional background. 

In my opinion, there are a couple of ways to do this. When a person reaches out for support, be an ally by assisting or redirecting them to another member of the community that might be a better contact. Next, if you know of a person, especially from an underrepresented group that has a great story related to cloud native, encourage them to share it and support them in the process. 

Presenting one’s perspective can be daunting, especially as an individual that may not have had the opportunity to share before. In the age of virtual everything, it can be difficult to connect the dots on the best contact for certain topics. To take it a step further, as a participant now from a co-chair perspective, being an advocate for individuals from underrepresented groups is a priority for me because the community benefits as a whole by hearing diverse perspectives. 

Open source software can be overwhelming for those just starting out. How can end user organizations empower their employees to take advantage of these technologies and contribute back in a meaningful way? 

I have read about some great companies that really invest in providing a clear path to utilizing open source technologies. These companies are doing great work in understanding the topology of their applications and, subsequently, what they are leveraging in their environment. Once there is a clear picture of how open source is being leveraged, these companies are then investing in internal ownership strategies so that there is a clear direction on how contributions should be made. 

In my experience, I have found that there are usually a few (or more) like-minded individuals that contribute to open source as it relates to their day-to-day. Companies should encourage engaging in the open source community by supporting those drivers that are already contributing. The end user organization wins in multiple ways, including faster innovation as more people engage within the open source community and adopt new functionality. The community wins by bringing in new perspectives with potentially new use cases that can drive new functionality and additional robustness. As end user organizations continue to leverage open source, it’s incredibly important to invest in contributing back not only because it’s the right thing to do but also because they are making technology a more equitable landscape. 

Thank you, Jasmine, for taking the time to chat with us! We are looking forward to seeing you there!

If you haven’t already, be sure to register for KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU Virtual, coming up on May 4-7. Also, mark your calendars for our first-ever hybrid KubeCon + CloudNativeCon NA. It will take place October 12-15 with both in-person in Los Angeles and virtual elements! The CFP is open now through May 23.