Every year, Ellucian hosts Ellucian Live eLive, where over 10,000 partners, vendors, and customers from thousands of Universities come together to learn about Ellucian solutions, discuss industry trends and insights, and see what the future of Education Technology holds. For the past three years, ETA has partnered with the Ellucian Applied Research group to create an Innovation Lab to help attendees experience firsthand the future of education. This year, the ETA and Ellucian teams pushed the envelope and put on the most innovative showcase yet. By featuring Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and APIs, attendees were able to see how the role of technology in education is increasing at an exponential rate.

Just after I brought up my slide deck, the room exploded with squeals of laughter from Girl Scout Troop 45. I know my audience (elementary school girls), so it was no coincidence that the first slide of my talk was two internet-famous memes of cats typing furiously on computer keyboards. It worked brilliantly, but I was prepared for anything. If cat memes alone didn’t convey how much fun coding can be, I was fully prepared with a bag of robots for “show-and-tell.”

In a traditional IT environment, teams create lengthy deployment guides based on environment variables or configuration files. Often these deployments guides are out of date or require the release manager to pull the latest configuration from a SharePoint site or Excel file. I can’t tell you home many times I have been on deployment conference calls trying to debug issues only to find out that an environment or configuration variable was improperly set. These types of situations have become standard practice in all too many IT environments.

Containers are one of the hottest topics in the IT community. While containers are not a new concept in IT, they have become significantly easier to incorporate into development ecosystems with the evolution of tools like Docker. Docker is a way to package, build, and run all the components needed to deliver an application. Companies of all sizes are adopting containers to increase their velocity of delivery, security, and maintainability.

One of the hardest problems in any Docker cluster deployment (Swarm, Kubernetes, etc.) is unlocking storage for the host and exposing it to the entire cluster. For example, if you are running PostgreSQL on a node within a cluster and that node fails, or the PostgreSQL container gets rescheduled on another node you will want your data to persist. In a traditional environment, this data that was on the host will be lost. However, by using an external service we can seamlessly remount that disk to another host and continue running the service.

At Emerging Technology Advisors (ETA), we help organizations identify and apply the right modern technologies to address the specific mission need. In recent months, we have seen tremendous benefit from providing a container-based fabric that allows for rapid technological experimentation and enablement within enterprises of various scale. In some organizations, this is known as a DevOps transformation, others refer to it as embracing Shadow IT, and others still refer to it as “re-inspiring the workforce”. Regardless of the name, there is one clear sentiment – the enterprise needs to embrace modern tools and processes in order to move faster, which in turn allows them to outpace the competition, regardless of market share or industry position.

In July 2016, the 3rd annual International NodeBots Day event was held in Norfolk, VA. An estimated 140 people – including children, parents, educators, technologists, makers, tinkerers, and artists – showed up at Old Dominion University’s Constant Hall ready to learn to build and program their first NodeBot. This was my third year organizing this event with the JavaScript development user group that I co-founded, Norfolk.js.

What is the best thing that your software company can do? I believe the best thing any company can do is establish a collaborative culture. Collaboration is very important within software development. Having a culture that increases that, makes it easier to promote innovation and increase morale.

NodeBots Day is world wide event where people learn how to control the physical world with JavaScript. It is designed to break down some of the assumed barriers that traditional web developers may have when it comes to programming hardware devices. Through activities like SumoBots, attendees can go from zero experience to a fully controllable robot in as little as an hour.