Interview with the Ubuntu Community Team's Jorge Castro on the Juju Charm Championship

Canonical recently announced the Juju Charm Championship, a contest with $60,000 USD in prizes on the line. We talked with Jorge Castro from the Ubuntu Community Team to find out what developers need to do to win the big bucks.

Rikki: What inspired you all to do this contest?

Jorge: We've set out to solve "infrastructure gunk". These days as deployments get more complex having things solved at a higher level becomes more important. People have already solved "How do I install and configure MongoDB?". We think the next step isn't just about installing and configuring things at the machine level. Companies don't need to just install and configure a database; they need an entire stack of services that span multiple machines (or even multiple datacenters). It's more than just packaging software—it's about the interaction of these things over multiple nodes. We know people are putting together stacks with high availability, logging, monitoring, and multiple databases of every kind.

People are solving these problems at scale every day—so the idea is, why not leverage that community of expertise and allow people to share and improve on these bundles of services and give those to people? Someone out there has a crazy awesome way to deploy a MongoDB cluster with all the goodies. So the contest is to see what things people are assembling with the hope that the next person who needs to deploy a stack of services doesn't have to do it by hand.

Rikki: What role does Netflix play in the contest?

Jorge: Our contest is inspired by the Netflix Cloud Prize. I think it's a cool format. Here's some code, go do something interesting, win a prize. I suspect we won't be the only ones running developer contests in this manner. Adrian Cockroft (Netflix cloud architect) has been gracious enough to also be a judge in our contest; he will be judging the media category. The contests aren't related outside of that. I think there are interesting ways a contestant can use Juju and Ubuntu to do interesting submissions for the Netflix contest, I hope they run one again in the future.

Rikki: How did Canonical select the judges, and what will they be looking for?

Jorge: We looked at our categories and reached out to people who would be interested. We were looking for established people in those categories who could look at a submitted bundle and know right away what problems it can solve. We plan on firing up all the entries we receive on real clouds, and then the judges will pick apart the stack and look for interesting ways that the contestants put the stack together.

Rikki: If the judges can't decide on a winner unanimously, will there be a Charm Contest showdown?

Jorge: We'll pick winners. Even the bundles that don't win will be available for anyone to improve and deploy, so in that way the biggest winners will be the people consuming all these bundles.

Rikki: If you were judging the contest, what kind of charms would you want to see?

Jorge: I would want to see things that are hard or annoying to deploy over and over again at scale. Even if they're not complex, just annoyingly hard to automate. I hate when I attend a conference and I hear someone say, "I just deployed this database in a master-master configuration and it was annoying." If it's so annoying, let's make it so we can ship those configurations out of the box with the OS. We can fix our out of the box experience to reflect what devops are deploying today to make their lives easier.

Rikki: Anything else contestants should know to help them bring home the big bucks?

Jorge: Solve a real problem! We want to see deployments that you're using today so that the next person who wants to deploy a stack doesn't have to reinvent the wheel.

To learn more about Juju, charms, and the Charm Championship, visit: