Jason Lopez: Yeah. It's really interesting how we're in the middle of seeing a thing, becoming a practice rather than just an idea. And now we're starting to see it to the point where we have coursework that people can pursue in order to become competent in this area. What are some of the classes that are offered in this Nanodegree program?
Sarah Whitlock: Yeah. So let me tell you a little bit about the overarching nanodegree program. First, I want to describe it as more than just the courses. So it starts with a free online course that introduces some basic skills to develop and deploy cloud native applications. So that's where it begins, but then there's also this full online nanodegree program. That's three additional courses. Each of them comes with projects where you get hands-on practice using the concepts that you learn, but a really important part of the whole nanodegree experience is also a community for the learners. Think of it as like scaffolding, extra support that offers some extended learning opportunities, some mentorship, some fellowship as you go through the program. I think we all learn better when we're able to bounce ideas off of others and go through experiences together. So it's more than just the courses. It's that scaffolding as well. The whole program consists of four courses and a capstone project. And like I said, each course has a project that goes with it. First course is cloud native fundamentals. This is where you simply learn to structure and package and release an application to a Kubernetes cluster and then use an automated CICB pipeline. So kind of some basic stuff, second course is on message passing. And this is where the students actually learn how to refactor the monolithic application into microservices and then learn how to have those microservices communicate with each other, via message passing. Then the third course is on observability. So this, this is a really important part about any distributed application knowing how to monitor and respond to the health and the performance of the app that's running on these Kubernetes clusters is, is quite key. So students are gonna learn how to collect system performance using pre-media still collect app tracing data using Jaeger, and the note visualize results using they'll build a dashboard using Grafana. And then the final course is on microservices security. And so this is where the students will learn about threat modeling. They'll explore what the attack surfaces look like in a microservices architecture. And then they'll use some industry standard, open source tooling to learn how to monitor the application. So they'll ultimately deploy a runtime security monitoring service so that they can look for security signals and learn how to respond to any issues there. And then finally at the end of it, there's a capstone project. It kind of brings everything together. So the students will refactor an e-commerce online shop and they'll deploy it on Kubernetes. And so basically they just, they're taking all the things that they've learned and applying them to this real world example problem. And so at the end of this whole experience, you know, this multi-month experience, they'll actually have a portfolio of projects that they can show to their current employers or prospective employers to say, look, this is what I know how to do. So it's actually pretty cold. It's pretty comprehensive in that regard.
Jason Lopez: Does this form the basis of an ongoing curriculum? You're going to build on this in the future?
Sarah Whitlock: I'm not sure that's a great question. I don't know, but I do know this, this is just the beginning of the journey for someone who is stepping into cloud native and we've done what we've done here is we tried to, to put the focus on the developer aspect of this because you know, about a, about a year ago when we were embarking on this project with you Udacity we, we set out to, to fill a void in the current landscape of cloud native educational resources. And that was the focus on the developer. So, this program puts the focus on what developers need to know to take full advantage of all of the great things that microservices, containers and Kubernetes bring to modern application delivery. But at the same time also introduces a fair amount of complexity for developers. I hope that this is the first of many of these kinds of initiatives that we'll do, but I don't know yet how successful this one will be.
Jason Lopez: You know you've had a career as an engineer, you're still an educator. What’s the story of your educational path?
Sarah Whitlock: Yeah. I was thinking about this the other day, my first real professional ambition. I'll, I'll ignore the part when I was a kid and I wanted to be an astronaut. And then I quickly, I quickly learned that my
Jason Lopez: That's actually a pretty cool fact.
Sarah Whitlock: Yeah. It was neat. My propensity toward motion sickness kind of eliminated that as a viable job alternative for me. Although at one point I did actually work at NASA, so that was fun, but not certainly not as a test subject as an astronaut, but yeah, my first real professional ambition was to be an engineering professor. I went through my bachelor's master's and Ph.D. courses without having a single female professor in any subject. And I thought that it might be a good idea for me to contribute to the critical mass of women in academia. Plus I grew up in a college town where most of my friends, parents were professors. So I thought I knew what that job was. So I went down that path for a little while. I went to Stanford, you know, started on my Ph.D., but as the time came closer to actually realizing that career ambition, there started to be this coalition between the romantic notion of what it meant to be a professor in a research environment and the realities of the job. So I realized I didn't want to spend 80% of my time writing research grants and essentially begging for money to do my work. And I actually really enjoyed teaching. And what I could see around me was professors were deferring a lot of their teaching responsibilities to graduate students so that they could focus on bringing in more research money. So I ended up jumping ship to high tech and I, you know, I happened to be living in Silicon valley and I was, I was in the Bay Area at the time when the dot-com bubble was expanding, expanding, expanding, and I, I was quite timely and that I joined the.com train the bubble, whatever right at the moment before it, when it burst. So I was in one of those startup companies that was a shooting star for a moment until it wasn't. And then, you know, we pivoted and that sort of thing, but I, you know, I quickly became one of those engineers, I was an application developer and I became one of those engineers. I was recognized as one who could talk so I could explain things to people. And so I pretty quickly pivoted into training roles and sales engineer type roles and technical evangelism type roles. So the kinds of things where you, your core focus is to essentially flatten the learning curve for people to help them understand what this new or different thing is and why it might be valuable to them and then help them be able to embrace it. So if I've had multiple jobs in high tech I think I've never had the same job twice, but there's always been this kind of red thread of education or simplifying or making things accessible to people that were previously not accessible to them.
Jason Lopez: Well, it sounds like SUSE has the right person involved with this Udacity program.
Sarah Whitlock: Yeah, I sure hope so. And we're really excited to be working on this. I couldn't be happier with the partnership that we have with Udacity.
Jason Lopez: Well, thank you, Sarah, for joining us today to talk about this Nanodegree. It was really fun.
Sarah Whitlock: Yes. Thank you. I appreciate the time
Jason Lopez: Sarah Whitlock is the global head of the SUSE and Rancher community. The SUSE and Rancher community is a place specifically for aspiring and accomplished cloud native practitioners. It's at community.suse.com. And you can find out more about the Udacity nanodegree program, cloud native application architecture. At www.udacity.com. This is Tech Barometer Cloud Coverage. I'm Jason Lopez, check out more podcasts and stories at www.theforecastbynutanix.com