With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of life across every population and industry around the globe, numerous conferences, events, and meetings have been canceled or postponed. The Linux Foundation events team has been working in overdrive negotiating to cancel or postpone events that were or are impossible to operate this year safely. The health and safety of our communities and staff is our top concern.
The good news is that for those events that can no longer safely take place in person, virtual events still offer the opportunity to connect within our communities to share valuable information and collaborate. While not as powerful as a face-to-face gathering, a variety of virtual event platforms available today offer a plethora of features that can get us as close as possible to those invaluable in-person experiences. Thanks to our community members, we’ve received suggestions for platforms and services that the events team has spent the past several weeks evaluating.
After researching a large number of possibilities over the last few weeks, the Linux Foundation has identified three virtual event platforms (and a small-scale developer meeting tool) that could serve the variety of needs within our diverse project communities. Our goal was to determine the best options that capture as much of the real-world experience as we can in a virtual environment for virtual gatherings ranging from large to small. After evaluating 86 virtual event platforms, and in the spirit of contributing back, we thought we would share what we learned.
Below is the shortlist of platforms we’ve identified for our potential use, based on which offered features that best replicate our in-person events of different sizes. We’re sharing our findings because these learnings might be a good fit for others in our community, or perhaps save you time looking at options. If you’re evaluating any platform, be prepared to spend a few weeks getting conversations started with salespeople, viewing demos, obtaining pricing, and negotiating features.
Why we chose the platforms listed
There are many virtual conferencing solutions offered in the market today. Each solution varies on price, features, scalability, and technology integration points. The list of every single platform and software solution we looked at, including open source-based solutions, can be viewed here. One of these other solutions might be a better fit for your organization’s needs.
Finding a virtual event platform, however, is also just one piece of the virtual event puzzle. How you plan, structure, and execute the virtual event will be critical to achieving a successful community engagement. We stumbled across this great Guide to Best Practices for Virtual Conferences put together by the ACM Presidential Task Force, which we thought provided some great practitioner tips for communities running virtual events.
Our goal was to find solutions for our events team that met the following three requirements:
- The ability to deliver the required content
- The ability for attendees to network and collaborate with each other
- The ability to deliver sponsor benefits in the platform for those companies supporting these events financially
Due to these requirements, we did not focus as much on web conference solutions, such as the now popular Zoom. However, if you are looking for a simple web solution, many of the typical web conferencing platforms are easy, quick options to set up a small virtual gathering. In many cases, you might not need all the features of the virtual events platforms.
There are even some wonderful open source options out there including:
- Jitsi Meet, which has some very useful features like streaming, screen sharing tabs, sharing videos, and more that are not found in other solutions.
- Open Broadcaster Software if you’re looking to record and stream session content, which can also be usefully paired with conferencing tools.
- EtherPad, which many of our communities use and it’s exciting to see that there’s also video support to connect and talk while editing.
- Big Blue Button that’s designed for teachers and students, but open source for anyone to use (and we know many of you have kids at home and might find this useful).
Linux Foundation virtual event platform shortlist
These tools are designed for medium to large events with multiple concurrent tracks, in-depth attendee networking and collaboration needs, and robust sponsor requirements. The pricing for each of these will depend on the specific event details, such as number of conference tracks, the number of chat rooms/attendee collaboration spaces, length of the event, number of attendees, and number of sponsor booths.
All of these event platforms (with the exception of QiQo Chat) have all the following standard functionality:
- Web-based (HTML5) supporting Linux desktops/browsers (and also Windows and Mac)
- Registration integrations that will comply with GDPR and privacy regulation requirements
- Webhooks or REST APIs to integrate with security systems like SSO (Auth0) and SFDC.
- Can be white labeled for your community’s event branding
- Speaker Q&A chat available within sessions
- Attendee networking capabilities
- Integrated scheduling tools and agenda builder
- Attendee analytics: booths visited, session attendance, etc.
- Gamification options to drive attendee engagement
- Pop-up notifications throughout the platform (‘Keynotes starting in 5 minutes!’, ‘Visit [Sponsor’s] booth’)
- Guaranteed uptime, redundancies and autoscaling
Best for large events with high budgets requiring a virtual conference experience with few compromises.
InXpo Intrado has robust hosting capabilities and uses hyper-scale cloud providers for its infrastructure to provide highly reliable and resilient performance. The company uses its own platform for session broadcast and integrates with third-party CRM and registration platforms. It offers 3D virtual environments throughout the platform as well as robust attendee networking options and sponsor benefits, including virtual booths.
- Extremely customizable, very immersive event experience. 3D environments & virtual booths (VR representation of physical world exhibit hall that looks like a video game)
- A good user interface for attendees to access all content
- No limit on concurrent sessions or live sessions so you will not have to worry about maxing out session/attendee capacities on this platform
- The solution provider uses its own network infrastructure backbone that is fault-tolerant enough to support 98% of 911 call centers in the US
- Real-time translation and closed captioning capabilities without requiring third-party platforms or plugins
- Works from within China — used by Chinese companies to run in-country virtual events
- Extra layer of attendee privacy protection with optional ‘pop up’ message for attendees to confirm before sponsors can gather any information about the attendee
- One of the most expensive platforms we evaluated
- Potential longer turnaround time needed for event onboarding and setup
- Sponsor booth templates are customizable for a fee
- Does not allow you to plug in your own open source video streaming/video conferencing solution
Best for any size event where attendee networking tools are a priority and sponsor ‘booths’ aren’t required.
This platform can accommodate events of all sizes but does not have a 3D virtual exhibit hall/booth capability. That said, the sponsor benefits built into this platform are robust, and they have excellent attendee networking capabilities. You can use Meeting Play’s own integrated video conferencing solution for content delivery, or use your own.
- Heavy focus on “attendee” experience
- AI-driven content, chat room and attendee suggestions — based on initial questions you can customize and ask of all participants
- Allow for gated content with in-app registration upgrade options (freemium model) similar to offering a free “hall pass” and then requiring a higher registration to attend sessions
- Sponsor pages are very robust offering sponsors the ability to chat 1:1 with attendees, show videos/demos, sharing resources, and more
- Option to use MeetingPlay integrated video streaming solution, or the one of your choice via your own account
- Works from within China — they support a number of customers in China and have virtual machines in-country that they use to test before going live for an event
- No 3D virtual exhibit hall or booth — sponsors receive a dynamic page that allows for real-time chat with attendees, downloadable resources, and a video player for demos or welcome videos
- Looks more like a website rather than a virtual event
- Only 2 concurrent live sessions at a time w/out additional fee. They recommend pre-recording most sessions and playing “simulive” (meaning it is played at a specific time, and speakers join real-time to do a text-based Q&A.) The platform has a limit of 8 concurrent live sessions at any one time
- Collaboration spaces (used for sponsor booths, attendee ‘meeting rooms’ and any live sessions that have multiple speakers or require a two-way communication) are charged by the hour and by the number of attendees, which makes using these freely a bit difficult
QiQo is best for smaller technical gatherings that don’t need all the bells and whistles of an industry event focus. This is a great option for a focus on small group collaboration, such as developer meetings and hackathons.
QiQo acts as a Zoom wrapper for attendees collaboration and session broadcasting and is ideally suited for smaller events that have a more narrow focus, where communication and collaboration needs are more back and forth, versus one-way delivery. One unique feature of QiQo is it offers the ability to collaborate on Google Docs and Etherpad as both are both integrated into QiQo’s interface.
- An affordable option for small meetings that only need an elevated video conferencing option for collaboration. Each live event on Qiqo comes with 10 Zoom breakout rooms by default
- Great for small group collaboration in multiple workspaces – as a Zoom wrapper, it creates more of a virtual environment around an event with multiple breakout rooms for discussions
- Includes a large number of built-in integrated tools for collaboration and productivity: Slack, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Etherpad
- While Zoom is their default, their support team will work with you to set this up with Jitsi or another video conferencing solution of your choice
- Works from within China depending on webcasting platform availability
- Simple Zoom wrapper to add collaboration features on top of Zoom – can be used with other video conferencing tools as well
- Very limited sponsor elements
- A little more challenging interface and workflow than other options — a lot of options, but definitely let ‘out of the box’
- Minimalistic approach for collaboration
Conferencing platform feature comparison
With over 40 events remaining this year under the Linux Foundation umbrella of events, we have several conferences that might go virtual. Each of these will have different requirements, so to support our diverse communities, we needed a range of options and features. We do think that this portfolio of options together meets most of our various community needs, and we hope you find value in us sharing them, along with the list of all the other platforms we examined.
Blockchain and its ability to “embed trust” can help elevate trust, which right now, is low, according to Sally Eaves, a chief technology officer and strategic advisor to the Forbes Technology Council, speaking at The Linux Foundation’s Open FinTech Forum in New York City.
People’s trust in business, media, government and non-government organizations (NGOs) is at a 17-year low, and businesses are suffering as a result, Eaves said.
Additionally, Eaves said, 87 percent of millennials believe business success should be measured in more than just financial performance. People want jobs with real meaning and purpose, she added.
To provide further context, Eaves noted the following urgent global challenges:
- 1.5 billion people cannot prove their identity (which has massive implications in not just banking but education as well)
- 2 billion people worldwide do not have a bank account or access to a financial institution
- Identity fraud is estimated to cost the UK millions of euros annually.
Blockchain for good
Blockchain has benefits all the way along the supply chain, she said. “Supply chains that are non-transparent, ethical or sustainable are prevalent, especially in developing nations, alongside high levels of illegal trade with no traceability or accountability.” Eaves is focusing on the transparency of blockchains and their integration with other technologies.
More needs to be done in the areas of AI development, blockchain, and cybersecurity with teams that are truly diverse and inclusive, she stressed. People also need to look at interoperability and changing the current approach of “siloed thinking.” Eaves said she doesn’t believe just in using advanced technologies but in repurposing older technology as well. “I’m all about sustainable, environmental, and economic impact.”
Mining costs, scalability, and performance are other considerations for blockchain, and some of the newer “flavors” of blockchain that Eaves is working on are “dealing with that head on,” she noted.
A particular project she mentioned is the Sustainable Asset Exchange, which addresses ethical mineral supply, ethical diamonds, food, and bamboo as a replacement for plastic, and how that can be traded fairly. Blockchain technology can be used as well as RFID and other technologies at every stage of the supply chain, she said.
All of this is geared at what Eaves called “a triple bottom line,’’ focused on sustainable development in economic, social, and environmental benefits and in bringing them together. “It doesn’t have to be an either or,” she said. “Sometimes, if we talk about one thing or another, we never look enough at how we can integrate them. And that’s what I passionately believe in.”
Headway is being made. Eaves cited research from Stanford University Business School that shows two-thirds of 193 early blockchain projects are expected to start demonstrating impact and tangible benefits in the next six months.
A three-way opportunity for change
Eaves went on to discuss opportunities from technological convergence. Another project she mentioned she is working on is in precision medicine, using blockchain security alongside machine learning to delve into pattern recognition to improve population disease management.
She predicted a rise in blockchain as a service; opportunities from science and technology pairings, such as genomics and blockchain; and opportunities to apply blockchain for social impact and to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Blockchain and evolving sustainable business models
The last segment of Eaves’s talk focused on using bamboo as a sustainable replacement for plastic in manufacturing bicycles, as well as in 3D printing and building modular homes.
“We need to make the application of advanced technology accessible to all and make it feel like this is something that is valuable and relevant to our everyday lives – not just something for the few,’’ she said. Her goal is to use blockchain to create sustainable business models that combine profit and purpose and are real-world and relevant to everyone.
We need to have a “cross-fertilization of ideas” from different aspects of the economy and addressing non-advanced technology issues, Eaves said. “You can’t have the best ideas in the world and most advanced forms of technology if we haven’t got the basic infrastructure right,’’ Eaves said. Otherwise, “we won’t get to that point of acceleration.”
You can watch the entire presentation below:
Learn more about blockchain at the upcoming Hyperledger Global Forum. Sign up to receive updates:
With over 75 sessions, keynotes, hands-on technical workshops, social activities, evening events, and more, Hyperledger Global Forum gives you a unique opportunity to collaborate with the Hyperledger community, make new connections, learn about the latest production deployments, and further advance your blockchain skills. In addition to previously announced keynote speakers, new keynote speakers include:
- Frank Yiannas, Vice President of Food Safety, Walmart
- David Treat, Managing Director, Accenture
Session Highlights Include:
- Approaches to Consortia Governance and Access Control in Hyperledger Fabric Applications – Mark Rakhmilevich, Oracle
- Chaincode Best Practices – Sheehan Anderson, State Street
- Lessons Learned Creating a Usable, Real-world Web Application using Fabric/Composer – Waleed El Sayed & Markus Stauffiger, 4eyes GmbH
Innovation Theater Track:
- MyCuID: Blockchains, Credentials and Credit Unions – Julie Esser, CULedger
- Live Demo of Omnitude ID Utilizing Hyperledger Indy, Fabric, and Sovrin – James Worthington, Omnitude
- Giving Money Identity and Purpose – Raj Cherla, Spoole Systems Pvt Ltd
- Panel Discussion: Hyperledger in Supply Chains – Kari Korpela, Lappeenranta University of Technology; Petr Novotny, IBM Research; Yu Zhang, Huawei and moderated by Allison Clift-Jennings, Filament
- Panel Discussion: Where Are We Now with Identity? – Daniel Haudenschild, Swisscom Blockchain AG; James Worthington, Omnitude and moderated by Heather Dahl, The Sovrin Foundation
- Financial Inclusion: How DLT Provides Hope For 1.7 Billion Unbanked People – Matthew Davie, Kiva
Take a look at the full schedule!
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This post originally appeared on the Hyperledger website.
Open Source Summit & ELC + OpenIoT Summit Europe is taking place in Edinburgh, UK next week, October 22-24, 2018. Can’t make it? You’ll be missed, but you don’t have to miss out on the action. Tune into the free livestream to catch all of the keynotes live from your desktop, tablet or phone! Sign up now >>
Hear from the leading technologists in open source! Get an inside scoop on:
- An update on the Linux Kernel
- Diversity & inclusion to fuel open source growth
- How open source is changing banking
- How to build an open source culture within organizations
- Human rights & scientific collaboration
- The future of AI and Deep Learning
- The future of energy with open source
- The parallels between open source & video games
Live video streaming of the keynote sessions from Open Source Summit & ELC + OpenIoT Summit Europe will take place during the following times:
Monday, October 22
9:00 – 10:20 (BST)
Watch keynotes from Open Invention Network, LF Energy, Intel, LWN.net, and The Linux Foundation.
Tuesday, October 23
9:00 – 10:20 (BST)
Watch keynotes from Vibrant Data, Microsoft, IBM, and Human Rights Data Analysis Group.
Wednesday, October 24
9:00 – 10:00 (BST)
Watch keynotes from Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, IBM, and Mifos Initiative.
The Linux Foundation strives to make Open Source Summit one of the most inclusive tech events in a variety of ways, offering activities such as the “Women in Open Source” lunch, a diversity social, a first-time attendees get-together, and more. They have activities focused on children, too. Not only does Open Source Summit offer free on-site childcare for attendees’ children, they also sponsor a Kid’s Day.
At this year’s Kid’s Day in Vancouver, the primary goal was to introduce the kids to coding via HTML, and very little computer knowledge or experience was required to participate. “The basics, typing, browsing the Internet and minor computer operation, are all your child needs to participate,” according to the website.
For this event, The Linux Foundation collaborated with Banks Family Tech, who organized the 4-hour long workshop. This workshop was geared toward children ages 9–18 and was open to children from the community as well as those of event attendees. The kids that participated actually ranged in age from 5-13 years of age, and, many already had some coding experience. Some had tried Scratch, and others had written scripts for games.
“We are going to teach how to go from nothing and become coders,” said Phillip Banks, founder of Banks Family Tech.
The workshop focused squarely on HTML, one of the easiest computing languages. “It’s close to English and it’s not hard text and syntax to learn. It allows us to squeeze a lot of things into a day and get them excited so that they can go home and learn more,” said Banks. “After that, maybe, you can go to Python but HTML is so easy as they get a quick return by manipulating objects, text color and other things on a web-page immediately.”
This Kid’s Day event had a great mix of participants. While some of the kids accompanied their parents who were attending the conference, the majority were from the local community, whose parents learned about the workshop from social networks like Facebook. Khristine Carino, Director for Communications of SCWIST (Society for Canadian Women In Science and Technology), not only brought her own kids but also invited families from underrepresented minorities in Vancouver.
In the workshop, the children learned HTML basics like font tags, how to use fonts and colors, how to add images and videos, and how choose a background for their website. They also had the opportunity to share what they created with the whole group and learn from each other.
“It’s not so much about learning to code, just to be a coder; it’s learning to understand how things work,” said Banks. You can hear more in the video below.
Check out the full list of activities coming up at Open Source Summit in Europe and sign up to receive updates:
2018 marks the year that open source disrupts yet another industry, and this time it’s financial services. The first-ever Open FinTech Forum, happening October 10-11 in New York City, focuses on the intersection of financial services and open source. It promises to provide attendees with guidance on building internal open source programs along with an in-depth look at cutting-edge technologies being deployed in the financial sector, such as AI, blockchain/distributed ledger, and Kubernetes.
Several factors make Open FinTech Forum special, but the in-depth sessions on day 1 especially stand out. The first day offers five technical tutorials, as well as four working discussions covering open source in an enterprise environment, setting up an open source program office, ensuring license compliance, and best practices for contributing to open source projects.
Enterprise open source adoption has its own set of challenges, but it becomes easier if you have a clear plan to follow. At Open FinTech, I’ll present a tutorial session called “Using Open Source: An Enterprise Guide,” which provides a detailed discussion on how to use open source. We’ll start by answering the question, “Why Open Source,” then discuss how to build an internal supporting infrastructure and look at some lessons learned from over two decades of enterprise open source experience. This session — run under the Chatham House Rule — offers a workshop-style environment that is a mix of presentation and discussion triggered by audience questions. The workshop is divided into five sections, explored below.
Why Open Source?
This question may seem trivial but it’s a very important consideration that even the most open source mature companies revisit regularly. In this part of the workshop, we’ll examine seven key reasons why enterprises should engage with open source software, regardless of industry and focus, and how they can gain incredible value from such engagements.
The Importance of Open Source Strategy
Going through the exercise of establishing an open source strategy is a great way to figure out your company’s current position and its future goals with respect to open source. These strategy discussions will usually evolve around goals you’d like to achieve, along with why and how you’d like to achieve them. In this part of the tutorial, we discuss the many questions to consider when determining your open source strategy and tie that to your product and services strategy for a path to a better ROI.
Implementing an Open Source infrastructure
Once you have identified your company’s open source strategy, you need to build infrastructure to support your open source efforts and investments. That infrastructure should act as a enabler for your efforts in using open source, complying with license, contributing to projects, and leading initiatives. In the workshop, I’ll present these various elements that together form an incredible enabling environment for your open source efforts.
Recommended Practices (17 of them)
When IBM pledged to spend $1 billion on Linux R&D back in 2000, it was a major milestone. IBM was a pioneer in the enterprise open source world, and the company had to learn a lot about working with open source software and the various communities. Other companies have since followed suit, and many more are now entering open source as it becomes the new normal of software development. The question is: How can you minimize the enterprise learning curve on your own open source journey? We’ve got you covered. In this talk, we’ll explore 17 lessons learned from nearly two decades of enterprise experience with open source software.
Beyond implementing these best practices, open source adoption requires a cultural shift from traditional software development practices to a more open and collaborative mindset. Internal company dynamics need to be favorable to open source efforts. As an open source leader inside your organization, you will face several challenges in terms of funding resources, justifying ROI, getting upstream focus, etc. These challenges often require a major shift in mindset and a lot of education up the chain. We will explore various considerations relating to culture, processes, tools, continuity, and education to ensure you are on track to open source success in your organization.
We hope to see you at Open FinTech Forum for an informative and high-value event.
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Open Networking Summit Europe is taking place in Amsterdam next week, September 25-27. Can’t make it? You’ll be missed, but you don’t have to miss out on the action. Tune into the free livestream to catch all of the keynotes live from your desktop, tablet or phone! Sign Up Now >>
Live video streaming of the keynote sessions from Open Networking Summit Europe 2018 will take place during the following times:
Tuesday, September 25
13:15 – 14:55 (CEST)
Watch keynotes from Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Red Hat, China Mobile, Intel, Orange Group Network and The Linux Foundation.
Wednesday, September 26
9:00 – 10:30 (CEST)
Watch keynotes from Türk Telekom, IBM, IHS/Infonetics Research, Huawei, China Mobile, and Vodafone Group.
Thursday, September 27
9:00 – 10:35 (CEST)
Watch keynotes from Deutsche Telekom AG, Imperial College London, China Mobile, AT&T, and Amdocs, Huawei, VMware and The Linux Foundation.
You have TWO days left to save $150 on your ticket to Open Source Summit Europe & ELC + OpenIoT Summit Europe.
Grab your ticket and build your schedule today! Choose from 300+ sessions, deep-dive labs, and tutorials; discover new projects & technologies in the Technical Showcase, and make new connections at the Attendee Reception, and in the Speed Networking & Mentoring Event, Developer Lounges, and Hallway Tracks.
Register now, and join 2,000+ open source professionals to collaborate, share information, and learn about cutting-edge open source technologies.
The discount ends Saturday, September 22.
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Registration includes access to Open Source Summit Europe and ELC + OpenIoT Summit Europe!
See why you need to be at Open Source Summit Europe and Embedded Linux Conference + OpenIoT Summit Europe next month! Hurry — space is going quickly. Secure your spot and register by September 22 to save $150.
Here are the Top 10 Reasons you’ll want to be at this event:
- Timely Cutting-edge Content: 300+ sessions on Linux development, embedded Linux systems, IoT, cloud native development, cloud infrastructure, AI, blockchain and open source program management & community leadership.
- Deep Dive Labs & Tutorials: An Introduction to Linux Control Groups (cgroups), Building Kubernetes Native Apps with the Operator Framework, Resilient and Fast Persistent Container Storage Leveraging Linux’s Storage Functionalities, and 10 Years of Linux Containers, are just some of the labs and tutorials included in one low registration price.
- 12 Co-located Events*: Come for OSS & ELC + OpenIoT Summit and stay for LF Energy Summit, Linux Security Summit, Cloud & Container Embedded Apprentice Linux Engineer tutorials, IoT Apprentice Linux Engineer tutorials, Hyperledger Scotland Meetup, Linux in Safety-Critical Systems Summit, and many more co-located events. (*Some co-located events may require an additional registration fee.)
- Discover New Projects & Technologies: Over 30 sponsors will be showcasing new projects and technologies in the Sponsor Showcase throughout the event, joined by our Technical Showcase at the Onsite Attendee reception showcasing Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) projects from system developers and hardware makers.
- Social Activities & Evening Events: Take a break and go on a sightseeing bus tour, join the 5K fun run or morning meditation, and meet with fellow attendees through the networking app. Collaborate with fellow attendees at the attendee reception at the National Museum of Scotland and at the Onsite Attendee Reception & Sponsor + Technical Showcase.
- Diversity Empowerment Summit: Explore ways to advance diversity and inclusion in the community and across the technology industry.
- Women in Open Source Lunch & Better Together Diversity Social: Women and non-binary members of the open source community are invited to network with each other at the lunch sponsored by Adobe, while all underrepresented minorities are welcome to attend the at the Better Together Diversity Social.
- Developer & Hallway Track Lounge: The highlight for many at this event is the ability to collaborate with the open source community. This dedicated lounge offers a space for developers to hack and collaborate throughout the event as well as plenty of seating for hallway track discussions.
- Networking Opportunities: Attend the Speed Networking & Mentoring event, OS Career Mixer, or use the networking app to expand your open source community connections by finding and meeting with attendees with similar interests.
- Hear from the Leading Technologists in Open Source: Keynote talks include a Linux Kernel update, a fireside chat with Linus Torvalds & Dirk Hohndel, a look at the future of AI and Deep Learning, a panel discussion on the future of energy with open source, a discussion on diversity & inclusion, a talk on the parallels between open source & video games, and insightful talks on how open source is changing banking, human rights and scientific collaboration
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