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Last week I attended OpenHack Amsterdam, and this post is my thoughts about that great event.

The event was focused on Containers and Microservices – on a high level the goal was migrating on-premise Linux and Windows workloads to Microsoft Azure cloud through Kubernetes on Azure Container Service and Azure Service Fabric. Regarding to both technologies the event hosted two special guests from engineering teams in Redmond: Mark Fussell (@mfussell) – Lead PM for Service Fabric and Gabe Monroy (@gabrtv) – Lead PM for Containers on Azure. Besides, there were many Expert Proctors from engineering teams to help attendees.

The event took place from 9th to 11th of October 2017 in Amsterdam, Netherlands in fascinating venue – De Hallen.

What is OpenHack?

This is something new in my opinion, a new quality of wide-opened events. I will start with what OpenHack is not.

So, OpenHack is not:

  • proctored labs like Hands-On Labs training or workshop;
  • product tech marketing sessions (presentation format);
  • sales engagement;
  • limited to a specific developer segment;
  • exclusively project-based end customer focused engagement;
  • a traditional Microsoft “event” like conference;
  • design and architecture workshop;
  • hackathon like competition.

And now, what is OpenHack? The OpenHack experience brings together a sizeable group of diverse Developers to learn how to implement a given scenario through immersive, structured, hands-on, FUN, challenge-based hacking. OpenHack is targeted to Developers inside and outside Microsoft ecosystem, and the activities are geared towards hands-on code-with experiences vs. formal session presentation.

Microsoft Extended Family pre-day

On Sunday, October 8th was a pre-day event designed for Microsoft employees and “extended family” like partners, MVPs, and RDs where engineering leads did technical drill down into what we’ll be focused on over the next few days.

In most cases, we know each other only from electronic communication. The event gave us an opportunity to network and socialized as well.

Hacking Teams

The whole event was split into two technologies: Service Fabric and Kubernetes. Depends on the survey on registration, attendees were assigned to teams their selected technology. Each team has four to five members, with a mix of Microsoft employees, partners, and customers and one Expert Proctor from the engineering team. At the end proportion of teams were ~25% for Service Fabric and ~75% for Kubernetes. I was the member of Service Fabric team (Greetings to the Team 3 🙂 ).

Challenge-based Hacking

During a three-day intensive event, each team has directly engaged in the challenge-based hacking activity through the same increasing difficulty challenges to accomplish. There were not any step-by-step guides, etc. – the goal was to use existing knowledge source like and examples on GitHub to find right solutions for the Challenge. After each resolved Challenge, Proctor validated it and unblocked next Challenge, so, you cannot go further without accomplished Challenge.

For the whole OpenHack were five challenges in total: three main challenges, and two extra challenges to chosen when first three has done. On high-level challenges are:

Be patient, I’ll add when I can 😉


That was not a typical contest like hackathon to win something using know technology to accomplish a task. You had to use the specific technology, even if you did not know it. The whole event had gamification model to add more “spicy” at the end 😉 Teams progress was displayed on a big screen, so everyone can saw where his or her team is and where the other teams are.

Extra stuff like Expert Talk and Code-with Pod

During event was two special activities in the agenda like Expert Talks and Code-with Pods.

Both activates driven Engineering leads, for Export Talks attendees used post-it notes (with their topic idea), and engineering leads picked popular topics and did informal talk.

Code-with Pods attendees could bring workplace project ideas to hacked with Microsoft expert. Each slot has 2 hours, and idea for this activity was first-come, first served.

Community Meetups

After the first and second day of the OpenHack were community Meetups.

First was Dutch Azure Meetup where Mark Fussell (Lead PM of Service Fabric, Microsoft) was speaking about Service Fabric, and Brian Randell (Visual Studio ALM MVP) was speaking about PowerShell for Developers.

The second was Software Circus Meetup where Gabe Monroy (Lead PM of Containers on Azure, Microsoft) was speaking about Kubernetes and the Open Service Broker API, and Pini Reznik (CTO, Container Solutions) was speaking about Adoption of Cloud Native infrastructure.

Polish presence

I am very happy because there were several people from our customers and partners (about 10) from my native country. In addition, I am proud of team No. 17 in which there were as many as 3 Poles. Why? Because this team won OpenHack! Congrats to:

Testimonial from Wiktor Zasowski (Systems Administrator, Viessmann)

I have fallen in love with the OpenHack formula. Clear learning path, entertaining challenges together with a little bit of gamification, and most crucial factor was gathering of great engineers and proctors eager to answer all problematic questions we have stumbled across.


I totally agree with Wiktor’s testimonial. I have fallen in love with the OpenHack formula too. New learning experience which I LOVE – a combination of challenge-based hacking, gamification, sharing experiences with an unknown before teammates, no step-by-step guides gave me an incredible engagement and focused on learning new things. I want more OpenHacks! 😀

Have a look at after movie 🙂


Below you can find several links to technical stuff related to OpenHack technologies.