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Alex Salazar – Opening Session, Iterate 2018

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By 2020, there are going to be over 20 billion connected devices. Trends like serverless and containerization are breaking apart the monolith and forcing us to architect differently. The blockchain is going to shake up old industries and make us rethink distributed systems. With the latest advances in AI, we now stand on the doorstep of the next technological age. Tech is on a relentless march forward. That march is driven by developers like you.

And yet, the cutting edge tools and frameworks and infrastructure we all use today, they're the FORTRANS and punch cards and mainframes of tomorrow. If we want to do more than just keep up, if we want to be the people pushing tech forward, pushing the edge of what's possible, we have to invest. We have to invest in more than just the tools and infrastructure we use. We have to invest in ourselves and in our teams. But major advancement doesn't happen in one single leap. We iterate, right? 

Today, we invest tremendous resources, iterating on our projects until they become something special. Why can't we take that same iterative approach to investing in ourselves and in our teams? 

I'm Alex Salazar. I lead the developer initiatives here at Okta, where we built an authentication and user management API to help you offload security in your applications. I'm up here today to welcome you to the very first Iterate Conference.

I'll walk you through the two different tracks that we have today. I'll talk a little bit about how we can give back to the community, and from there I'll kick it over to our keynote speaker, Jeff Atwood, and then we'll open it up to the great sessions we're all here to see.

So, this is not your typical developer conference, and not just because we're starting at noon. Most developer conferences focus on a particular product or technology. We wanted to do something new, a conference focused on both the technical skills that you need but also the soft skills you need to be a great developer. We built Iterate to help you think bigger, bigger about the tech but also bigger about what you can achieve, what you can achieve for yourself and for your teams.

Iterate has two tracks. The Build track is about the latest trends in technology. The Evolve track is a non- technical track about the soft skills you need in balance with your tech skills to be that great developer we all want to be. 

Now, you're all here because average isn't good enough, right? Nobody wants to lag behind the industry. We all want to lead it. So the Build track is going to focus on getting up to speed on the latest trends today. But why does being up to speed matter? Well, it matters because it gives you new perspective. That new perspective can help you solve problems in new and more efficient ways, but it can also help you solve problems that people around you might think are unsolvable. 

Being up to speed is also important because it can help you do your job better today, right? We want to help you build better APIs, build better user interfaces, provide better scale and better security for the apps you're building, and we hope the talks today can help with that.

The other reason being up to speed matters is that we want you to stay relevant. This is a fast changing industry and nobody wants to be that guy stuck writing COBOL for 40 years on an old mainframe. 

So, in our Build track, we have exceptional speakers talking about three topics. The first is JavaScript, second is API design, and then lastly, scale. Now JavaScript is going through massive, massive growth, and that growth is creating this ever-changing landscape of tools and frameworks. Cory House is going to come and talk to us and share a perspective on all the changing and new tools and frameworks that are out there, and also share some stuff on how we can build better JavaScript that's going to last beyond just this first project.

Now, for those JavaScript applications and the mobile apps you're building and the microservices we're all building, well, they all require APIs. Every single person in this room is probably building or consuming APIs today, and yet very few developers are trained on how to build and design great APIs. So we think this topic is so important we have two talks on this. 

Our very own Nate Barbettini is going to be giving a talk called API Throwdown to help you think about how to properly design your API from the get-go, and then David Blevins going to talk about how to secure those APIs in his talk Deconstructing REST Security. 

All these applications that we're building, they're getting bigger and bigger, and so Charity Majors is going to help us think through how to figure out what the heck's happening in our applications as they scale in her talk Observability and the Glorious Future. 

Now, where the Build track is focused on pushing the edge of technology, the Evolve track is focused on pushing the edge of productivity and fulfillment for yourself and for your teams. Why does that matter? Well, it matters because being a developer is hard, right? You're under constant pressure to not just keep up to speed with the latest technology, but to also deliver more in less time and in ever more complex teams. And do all of that while also trying to balance your personal and family lives.

In our Evolve track, we're going to talk about three things. First is passion, then productivity, and finally teams. In the How to be a Passionate Programmer, Frank and Emily are going to share their thoughts with us on how to build that passion for the work that we do, through the ups and the downs, and over the long haul of your career. And hopefully we'll all have a long passionate career. And if we do, we want you to find more time in that career, more time to do the things that matter most to you. And so, Mahdi Yusuf is going to give us a talk on how we can use the skills that we already have today to optimize our lives.

But improving ourselves, it isn't enough, right? If we want to achieve great things, we have to collaborate as teams, and we're so committed to the notion of team that we have two talks on the topic. Kate is going to give us a talk on how to leverage the people around you on your teams to deliver bigger results in becoming a 10X programmer. And Craig's going to give us a talk, a pretty cool talk, called Skunkworks on how to structure your teams to drive innovations within an organization. 
All the talks today are about improving yourself, improving your teams, and improving your skills. But giving back to the community is as important if not more important than those things. And so, my team is committing 1% of their time to contributing back to open source projects that they care about, and we hope that you'll join us. 

After this session in the breaks outside, we have donation sessions and we hope that you'll come and pledge either your time to helping projects either through building new features, helping with documentation or fixing bugs, or that you pledge cash. If you decide to pledge cash to open source, we're partnering with a great organization called the Open Collective. They've raised almost $3 million to support open source projects in need, and Okta is so committed to open source that we are going to be matching any pledge up to $5,000 to Open Collective.

Without open source, without developers giving back, the industry wouldn't be where it is today, so we hope you'll be inspired to give.

Community is more than just about giving back, though. This conference took a community. It took a community of individuals and a community of partners, and so we hope you'll make time to go visit our partners who've helped make today special because not only are they committed to the developer community, but they've also done the work to create unique experiences for you at their stations. 

So, I hope you're excited. I know we are. You know, we set out to create a new kind of conference and this is the first one. This is the first Iterate focused on helping you not just be a better developer but be a better person and a better team member. We hope that you'll make the time to see sessions across both tracks to really get the full breadth of the conference. Our goal is that you leave here excited and motivated to invest, to invest in your skills, to invest in yourself and invest in your teams. And we hope that if you're compelled enough by what we're doing, you'll also consider giving back to the open source community.

Alex Salazar
Alex Salazar
VP Products, Developer and Integrations Ecosystem

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