Red Hat Summit 2020 virtual experience

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In the last couple days, Red Hat was able to demonstrate that an online technical conference can succeed. The Summit, normally held in Boston or San Francisco, was held online thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic still gripping the world.

The fact that 80,000 people attended the online event warrants a huge applause. By comparison, last year’s in-person conference broke the record with only 8,900 attendees.

Being “there”

The experience of attending the conference was in many ways what you would expect when attending a large conference in person. There were keynotes, general sessions and breakout sessions. There were many opportunities to ask questions. And it was often difficult but necessary to choose between parallel sessions. I attended both days and was very impressed.

I also enjoyed some nostalgia about how we’ve all arrived at the places we are today with respect to Linux. It was clear that many attendees were overwhelmed by the progress that has been made just since last year. Linux, and RHEL in particular, is becoming more innovative, more clever in the ways that it can detect and respond to problems and yet in some important ways easier to manage because of the way the tools have evolved.

Announcements at the conference included Red Hat OpenShift 4.4, OpenShift virtualization and Red Hat Advanced Container Management for Kubernetes.

What was novel about attending a technical conference online was that we didn’t have to leave our home or office and that we could review sessions that we missed by selecting them later from the session layout pages. In fact, the sessions are still online and may well be for the coming year. If you didn’t participate in Red Hat Summit 2020, you can still sign up and you can still watch the sessions at your convenience. Just go to the summit site. And, did I mention, that it's free?

Catching up

Once you’re signed up, you can click on the Watch and Learn at the top of the page and choose General Sessions or Sessions and Labs. The presentations will now all be labeled On Demand though they once displayed upcoming time slots. The individuals presenting information are excellent and the material is exciting. Even if you’re not working with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, you will learn a lot about Linux in general and how open source has evolved over the decades and is still evolving in important and critical ways.

Topics covered at the conference include OpenShift, open hybrid cloud, future technologies, robotics and automation, advances on the edge and the power of open source. Red Hat Summit also includes joint sessions with both Red Hat and technology collaborators such as Ford, Verizon, Intel, Microsoft and Credit Suisse.

What’s next?

Watching the conference online at a time when I can't leave my home was informative, but also encouraging and comforting. Linux has been an important part of my life for decades. It felt good to be connected to the larger community and to sense the currents of progress through my desktop system.

While there’s no way to know at this point whether future Red Hat Summits or other Linux conferences will be held or made available online, the fact that Red Hat Summit 2020 was available online when so many of us are still huddled up at home wondering when our world will reopen was a testament not just to great technology but to the deep-seated conviction that it is critical that we work together and that open source can make that happen in ways that nothing else can.

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