Developers Can Lead Change In Their Organization
Three great developers agree: keep learning and evolving to maintain your passion for development and making a positive impact.
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I had the opportunity to speak with Alex Salazar, VP Products, Nate Barbettini, Sr. Developer Evangelist, and Randall Degges, Sr. Developer Evangelist at Okta Iterate 2018. I also had plenty of opportunities to meet with the two hundred developers that attended the conference.
Alex, Nate, and Randall all worked together at StormPath prior to its acquisition by Okta. Their vision for Iterate 2018 was to provide developers with a different experience than they received at other conferences - have a vendor-neutral conference that provides information of value that helps developers professionally and personally.
Based on the conversations I had with developers, they were successful. The conference opened with a keynote by Jeff Atwood focusing on how developers can help end users make the right choice. This was followed by two tracks - one on "building" and one on "evolving."
According to Alex, by 2020 there will be over 20 billion connected devices. Tech is on a relentless march forward. Developers need to invest in themselves and their teams. He encouraged developers to take the same iterative approach to people that they take with applications. He also emphasized the importance of giving back to the community and how it's more important than what we’re doing today by encouraging the attendees to contribute time or money to the Open Collective, which has already raised more than $3 million for open source projects in need.
The vision for Iterate is to help people become better developers, better people, and better team members by investing in skills, self, and teams and giving back to the open source community
Nate's perspective on the message from Iterate is that it's never a bad time to learn something new. It doesn’t require herculean efforts. You can learn something in 45 minutes that will help your career. Focus on incremental improvements. Developers know how fast things are changing if they're in a small company. Developers in big companies with complex requirements may be less aware at the pace of change outside their organization; however, it's still relevant to them and their career.
Randall's vision for iterate was to inspire developers to be motivated and excited to build cool stuff. If you’ve been a developer for a while you find keeping up with the trends takes a lot of energy and time. People expect developers to have deep knowledge. The tedium of needing to keep up will all of the changes eats away at passion. Stay passionate, be productive, make teammates be productive. The key to becoming a 10X developer is making everyone in your organization more productive. One person can have a ton of impact. When Stormpath joined Okta, Okta became a developer-focused company. It only takes one or two people to bring the DNA into a culture. Okta is now an iconic developer company providing tools and services for every developer in the world.
While security wasn't mentioned during the conference, I still wanted to get Okta's point of view on the state of security in the developer community today. There was a consensus that neither developers nor companies have security down. Developers have little to no relationship with security and have the attitude that security is not my job.
Okta believes in building security in from the beginning. Security is hard, detailed and not sexy; however, there's an opportunity to improve the focus on security with the proper rewards and incentives. If lead engineers aren’t emphasizing security it will fall through the cracks. There is a trend in the developer community to use more frameworks rather than building from scratch. This bodes well for more secure applications because if you use a modern framework those are hardened against the OWASP Top 10. In addition, more developers are assembling components rather than writing from scratch.
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