Skyway Software Symposium

I recently had the privilege to speak at a Target-hosted Meetup through our Skyway Software Symposium group. If you’re not familiar with the Meetup site, take a look. Meetup is a great place to find other people and groups interested in various topics – not just technical. The Skyway Software Symposium has a technology focus around software and is a forum for discussion around new technologies, trends in various industries, and sharing experiences.

First things first: We hosted our Meetup at Target Plaza Commons (TPC,  our team member collaboration space that is as un-office as it gets. This space has tons of open seating, outdoor spaces, and team-oriented activities that include lawn bowling, basketball, air hockey, arcade games, multiple game consoles, and a weekly outdoor BBQ. This space is perfect for Meetups!

My topic was on “IT Assets in Code” to Enable Service Management but that’s secondary to the real theme of this post… The openness and surge of public participation my company that has taken shape in recent months from Target is tremendous when I look back on my almost 14 years employment with the company. I’m thrilled at the new outlook, perspective and approach to sharing and open-mindedness in growing the community, in both technical and social forums. This goes beyond the internal focus of improving our technical prowess and acumen towards new tech and trends – we’re getting more and more momentum around public venues to share our story. There’s loads of excitement across different domains within our various organizations: business and technology alike.

Target’s historical approach to sharing information has been to keep things close to the vest, which in the past had merit and value. There will always be a review process, to a degree, in what gets shared but the thickly guarded approach to protect every molecule of detail on “all of the things” we do at Target is being met with some new thought leadership. There’s more and more opportunity to share back to the community things that we’re doing in the technical space that simply needs to be, well, communal … and Target gets it. That’s one of the reasons for the Skyway Software Symposium: to connect with other technically like-minded individuals and groups and expand the conversation beyond our four walls.

There are other themes in the more public and community oriented technology leadership these days. At the recent Minneapolis DevOps Days (http://devopsdays.org/events/2014-minneapolis/) not only was Target a Gold Medal sponsor but we also had a joint keynote presentation about Devops at Target from team members Heather (@hmmickman) and Ross (@rossclanton) that detailed the story of our journey in embracing DevOps. We’re still very much on that journey but the swell of enthusiasm is exhilarating to see internally – more and more folks see a different path. Venues like DevOps Days and the Skyway Software Symposium are two ways Target is doing more in sharing the story of how we’re #making_awesome_happen. The keynote is about 33 minutes long and can be found here, including the presentation on Speaker Deck: http://devopsdays.org/events/2014-minneapolis/proposals/DevOps%20at%20Target/

Another new community oriented venture is the first public Target tech blog. Target has shared stories in the past through Target Pulse but this new blog is specific to highlighting the technology story. This is where the technologists have an opportunity to show some of the cool stuff we’re working through around infrastructure-as-code, application performance engineering, automated testing, and cloud-friendly implementations. The tech blog is headed up by our own Dan (@pmotch) with tons of work from the Target Enterprise Services team – like Aaron (@strey203).

There are more and more opportunities evolving daily in how Target approaches technology, collaboration (internal and external), and our engagement into the communities that we participate in – including technical arenas. Those opportunities continue to unfold and show brighter days for our Target technologists. I can’t wait for what the future holds.

P.S. I’d like to thank all the attendees that came out. I coordinated a mixer of two different meet-ups that I wanted to attend and, thankfully, we were able to get both groups in the same space – the DevOps Minneapolis meet-up was on the same night. The conversation on my presentation topic was great which always adds value to the investment people make in these types of meet-ups.

Post by Jason (@Thedesktophero), Engineer Consultant – Target Technology Services
Jason is currently focused on automation and performance management at Target. These two practices can sometimes be seen as two courses of differing streams of consciousness but Jason strives for “crossing the streams”.

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