Business Cloud News

rudy rigotBusiness Cloud News talks to Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center, USA) keynote Rudy Rigot about his new software college, which opens today.

Business Cloud News: Rudy, first of all – can you introduce yourself and tell us about your new Holberton School?

Rudy Rigot: Sure! I’ve been working in tech for the past 10 years, mostly in web-related stuff. Lately, I’ve worked at Apple as a full-stack software engineer for their localization department, which I left this year to found Holberton School.

Holberton School is a 2-year community-driven and project-oriented school, training software engineers for the real world. No classes, just real-world hands-on projects designed to optimize their learning, in close contact with volunteer mentors who all work for small companies or large ones like Google, Facebook, Apple, … One of the other two co-founders is Julien Barbier, formerly the Head of Community, Marketing and Growth at Docker.

Our first batch of students started last week!

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to anticipate?

Since we’re a project-oriented school, students are mostly being graded on the code they turn in, that they push to GitHub. Some of this code is graded automatically, so we needed to be able to run each student’s code (or each team’s code) automatically in a fair and equal way.

We needed to get information on the “what” (what is returned in the console), but also on the “how”: how long does the code take to run?  How much resource is being consumed? What is the return code? Also, since Holberton students are trained on a wide variety of languages; how do you ensure you can grade a Ruby project, and later a C project, and later a JavaScript project, etc. with the same host while minimizing issues?

Finally we had to make sure that the student can commit code that is as malicious as they want, we can’t need to have a human check it before running it, it should only break their program, not the whole host.

So how on earth do you negotiate all these?

Our project-oriented training concept is new in the United States, but it’s been successful for decades in Europe, and we knew the European schools, who built their programs before containers became mainstream, typically run the code directly on a host system that has all of the software they need directly installed on the host; and then they simply run a chroot before running the student’s code. This didn’t solve all of the problem, while containers did in a very elegant way; so we took the container road!

HolbertonCloud is the solution we built to that end. It fetches a student’s code on command, then runs it based on a Dockerfile and a series of tests, and finally returns information about how that went. The information is then used to compute a score.

What’s amazing about it is that by using Docker, building the infrastructure has been trivial; the hard part has been about writing the tests, the scoring algorithm … basically the things that we actively want to be focused on!

So you’ve made use of containers. How much disruption do you expect their development to engender over the coming years?

Since I’m personally more on the “dev” end use of devops, I see how striking it is that containers restore focus on actual development for my peers. So, I’m mostly excited by the innovation that software engineers will be focusing on instead of focusing on the issues that containers are taking care of for them.

Of course, it will be very hard to measure which of those innovations were able to exist because containers are involved; but it also makes them innovations about virtually every corner of the tech industry, so that’s really exciting!

What effect do you think containers are going to have on the delivery of enterprise IT?

I think one takeaway from the very specific HolbertonCloud use case is that cases where code can be run trivially in production are getting rare, and one needs guarantees that only containers can bring efficiently.

Also, a lot of modern architectures fulfil needs with systems that are made of more and more micro-services, since we now have enough hindsight to see the positive outcomes on their resiliences. Each micro-service may have different requirements and therefore be relevant to be done each with different technologies, so managing a growing set of different software configurations is getting increasingly relevant. Considering the positive outcomes, this trend will only keep growing, making the need for containers keep growing as well.

You’re delivering a keynote at Container World. What’s the main motivation for attending?

I’m tremendously excited by the stellar line-up! We’re all going to get amazing insight from many different and relevant perspectives, that’s going to be very enlightening!

The very existence of Container World is exciting too: it’s crazy the long way containers have gone over the span of just a few years.

Click here to learn more about Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center, USA)