Just because we can’t go out, doesn’t mean we can’t be a community

The first #OpenDigital Meetup took place on Wednesday, 25 March – and due to the current COVID-19 situation in South Africa, the call was made to take the event to a digital platform instead of cancelling or postponing it. Knowing about the current lockdown situation, we went ahead anyway and used this as an opportunity to learn and adapt how to engage with the community. ‘Pleasantly surprised’ is a complete understatement.

Elastic APM – Tim Brophy (Elastic)

Tim is the new man on the ground for Elastic in South Africa and can be found running between customers all over the country. With Elastic’s stronger focus on Observability, their Application Performance Management use case was the perfect fit for our community who manage a variety of applications of their own in their normal course of business. The session turned into an interactive demo with the community asking questions on the ideas sparked as the presentation went along. The Elastic Stack is completely Open Source and can give a view into your application to reveal hidden insights and much tighter control over issues encountered during normal operations. You can watch Tim’s full presentation below:

Navigating Containers – Andrew ‘Mac’ McIver & Andrie Swart (LSD)

The idea behind #OpenDigital was to cross-pollinate communities to share ideas and new ways of building solutions. From a survey to our community a couple of weeks before the event, we could see there was a need to see content based on the world containers and microservices – LSD’s specialty. Being container rockstars, Mac and Andrie prepared a great presentation that caused a ton of figurative light bulbs to go off, even sparking ideas for the next Meetup (more on that soon). The presentation focused on explaining containers from the ground up, taking the audience through what it is to how to manage them. Watch the full presentation below to learn more about the world of containerisation.

What we learned from hosting a digital Meetup for the first time

Initially we were worried that the social and networking component of the Meetup would be lost, but that didn’t happen at all. In fact, the digital event ended up being more interactive because of the conversations happening in the chat window running concurrently to the presentations. The flow of the presentations had the community engaging verbally all the way through the Zoom call, and was the opposite of the expected chaos. The attendance strangely didn’t differ much from the stats of a physical event – 50% of the RSVPs showed up, just like in real life. 31 people showed up for the call, but we expected a low turnout due to our current circumstances and being this close to lockdown. It ended up being a perfect sandbox for us to try out hosting something like this.

Going forward, the situation in the country will determine how the #OpenDigital Meetup goes ahead, but from a digital perspective, this is definitely worth hosting. Feedback we got from the community is that it was a welcome escape from the world around us, and had a forum/panel-like discussion feel to it. That’s obvious value to us, and the community – which means we’ll work on another one of these sessions as soon as possible. Expect some more news on this soon!

We’d like to thank you to our partners Elastic and Tim Brophy for the time in preparing and presenting the APM demo – thank you for playing a part in #OpenDigital. A big thank you to our very own Mac and Andrie who jumped onto this opportunity despite being super busy with work. To everyone who attended the event, thank you for spending your time with us. These events are about you, and your input and participation helps to build a vibrant community. If you get value out of these events, there will be more.

We’ll be back with another #OpenDigital Meetup soon!