Welcome to my first Arm Innovator Spotlight blog (read more about the Arm Innovator Program here)! In this blog series, we are celebrating one of our talented Arm Innovators each month (or two), starting with one of our newest Innovators, Ajeet Raina. The goal of this series is to celebrate and inform. We have put together a stunning list of topics and questions to talk about, so readers can get to know Arm Innovators in a new and exciting way. Explore the amazing things they are working on, find common interests, and learn about ways to collaborate and participate in a variety of initiatives, projects, events and more... Now, I am pleased to introduce Ajeet Raina!
Along with the title of Arm Innovator, Ajeet is also a Docker Captain and Docker Community Leader for Docker Bangalore, the largest Docker meetup in the world (with nearly 12,000+ members)! He founded Collabnix, a website for his blogs and co-founded IoET Planet, a platform to drive collaboration around events, projects, and a variety of other community-driven activities.
Ajeet is a prolific blogger who has written 200+ blogs around Docker, Kubernetes, and Cloud related topics, and his blogs attract roughly 14 million visitors per year (wow!). While managing multiple websites, hosting events, and frequently releasing blogs, Ajeet also runs the Collabnix Slack channel. This channel has over 4700+ community members, and does a great job at keeping the community active and engaged between these various activities.
Adding to the already impressive portfolio, while at DockerCon earlier this year, Ajeet bagged the Docker Community Award. And last year, he received “the Tip of the Captains Hat Award” for tireless dedication and sharing his expertise with the broader tech community.
We are of course honored to have Ajeet as an Arm Innovator and look forward to the amazing things we will build together! If you would like to keep up with Ajeet, and the many things he is doing, please feel free to follow him on Twitter (@ajeetsraina). You can also explore some of his projects on the Collabnix org on GitHub.
So, now let’s dive into the interview. A big thank you to Ajeet, for working with us, and allowing us to share his answers with the Arm Community!
Q: When were you first drawn to technology, and when did you decide this was the career you wanted to pursue?
“I have always had a fascination with computers and technology ever since 2002, when I joined College for Engineering. I was introduced to Open Source space for the first time via “Linux For You” (now called Open Source for You) - A leading open source magazine in India. I still remember those days in college, when I tried “XandrOS” - A fascinating Linux OS for the first time, and that motivated me to dive deeper into the open source world. Ever since I have tried almost every single operating system ISO which has shipped with this magazine for several years.
“I later completed the Red Hat Certification Exam training in 2004 and grew an interest in Ethical hacking. I still remember those crazy moments, when I joined a group of Linux enthusiasts to lock all our Linux systems in our lab and appeared in front of our Lab manager for an appeal to allow us back. A passion for computer science, an urge to innovate, and an eagerness to learn new things were a few of the reasons I got drawn towards modern technology.”
Q: Where is your favourite place to go for technical resources?
“To keep myself abreast of the latest technology, I have subscribed to both paid and free newsletters.
A few of my favourite lists include:
Q: How do your interests contribute to the things you build or do in tech?
“When technology compels you, you strive to invest your time and money into it. Docker and IoT have been two major technology areas which always kept me excited in the last six years. It was in 2014 when I came across Docker for the first time, and ever since I have been writing dozens of blog posts around it for my personal blogging site, Collabnix. Some of my blogs reached the top-most read blog of its time, hitting millions of views, and they even got listed on Docker’s official website. I earned the title of “Docker Captain” in 2017 due to this massive contribution in terms of blogging. In 2019, I was awarded the “Tip of Captain’s Hat award”, for spreading knowledge around Docker and the ecosystem. Later in 2019, I focused on community building and engagement around Docker and IoT. In just a few months’ time, I was given the Docker Community Award for the first time.
“Technologies like Docker and IoT have always fascinated me in my day-to-day activities, pushing me to try new and exciting things, and then making it visible to the world through Twitter, LinkedIn, Slack and other social media channels.”
Q: Why is community important to you?
“I strongly believe in “Individually We Specialize, Together We Transform”. Community is strength. Being in the open source space for decades now, I have benefited in a number of ways. For one, I run a Docker Bangalore community of around 10,200+ members. This community is one of the largest Docker communities in the world, and it has given me the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals, organize online virtual events, hear from industry experts, as well as getting feedback to improve my projects. Additionally, I run my own Collabnix Slack channel which holds close to 4700 community members (as of this writing). When you have such a massive community of your own, you can expect a great deal of information to flow, making it easier to organize conferences, hear from industry-wide speakers, and work with top contributors. These are some very popular initiatives which I built with my community members:
“Great innovations are usually born from the meeting of different perspectives on a given problem from your community members.”
Q: How do you view tech communities, what do you think is great about them, and what do you think could be made better?
“Getting involved in the tech community allows you to develop, grow and hone skills. Even doing something as simple as presenting a lightning talk during an online virtual event can be used as skill development. With the advent of new tools and technologies frequently emerging at a faster pace and hence being a community leader, I always get a chance to spend a considerable amount of time collaborating with community members, and then encouraging them to talk about said engagements in meetups and conferences. It allows me to interact freely with community members, get feedback, and improve my presentation skills.
“Tech communities allow you to build your network, and networking is more than just meeting new people. It’s a way of exchanging information, creating long-term relationships that bring mutual benefits, and finding new opportunities to grow your career. This is why I feel it should be at the core of everyone’s professional career – and the tech industry is certainly no exception. When talking with technical community members in your field, you can tell how much you already know about the tech industry, and how much you still need to learn. The insights you gain from others will help you expand your knowledge base and position as an expert.
“One of the most common misconceptions about the tech industry is that it's full of introverted geeks, who would rather spend more time glued to the screen instead of meeting new people. I think every IT company should encourage its developers to focus 15% of their time on networking. Undoubtedly, there’s no better source of insider knowledge than your personal and professional network.”
Q: How important is collaboration to you?
“The word “Collabnix” is a conglomerate of “Collaboration” and “LiNuX”. Hence, collaboration has been very important to me since the first day of my career.
“If you want to turn your career into a success story, it is high time you foster a collaborative spirit within yourself. Collaboration challenges how people think, articulate, and receive clarity about their competencies. The only reason why Collabnix Slack has grown to 4700+ members is due to collaboration. The reason why Collabnix community has been successful in conducting online conferences like OSCONF 2020, IoET Conference, etc. is due to collaboration. Today, Docker Bangalore community crossed 10,200+ members because of effective communication and collaboration.”
Q: How have you collaborated with people, companies and other innovators in the past?
“Slack is one of the best collaborative platforms which I have been using for the last three years. It allows me to connect to other contributors instantly. GitHub is the second most used platform where I spend most of my time merging pull requests from community members. Bevy and meetups for conducting virtual events and webinars and getting connected to the community members to organize events.”
Q: When did you first hear about Arm?
“I heard about Arm for the first time in the year 2012 when I bought the Samsung Galaxy S2.”
Q: Can you remember your first Arm device? What did you do with that device?
“Raspberry Pi was the first Arm device I played around with in 2016. I tried installing Docker 1.12.1 on the Raspberry Pi 3, and it was an amazing experience. I wrote a blog post which was the most Read blog of 2016 announced by Docker Inc. in their official blogging site. Soon after this blog post, I tried compiling Docker on OpenSUSE which required a lot of tweaks. I tried to run dozens of containerized applications on top of a Raspberry Pi and blogged around it in my personal blogging site.”
Q: What does innovation mean to you?
“For me, innovation is all about building a totally new solution to a problem that improves its efficiency, productivity, and outcome. I see innovation, essentially as an invitation to collaboratively think differently about something.”
Q: Could you give an example of something innovative you have done in the past?
“I want to talk about two innovative projects which I worked on in the past, both of which gained a lot of popularity among the open source community. The first one is OpenUSM and the other one is Pico Project.
“OpenUSM is a modern approach to server management, insight logs analytics and machine learning solutions integrated with monitoring and logging pipelines using Docker, Redfish, Prometheus & ELK Stack. This project is available on GitHub. OpenUSM uses the unique "Container-Per-Server (CPS)" model. For each server management task, there are Python-scripts, which when executed builds and runs Docker containers, uses Redfish API to communicate directly with Dell “iDRAC, collects iDRAC/LC logs, and pushes it to ELK(Elasticsearch, Logstash & Kibana) stack for further log analytics. For n-number of Dell Servers, the overall iDRAC/LC logs get collected to a centralized ELK stack, which again runs as Microservices inside Docker containers. It allows users to easily see iDRAC logs under Kibana UI. OpenUSM uses Prometheus stack for monitoring system components like GPU/CPU monitoring using NVIDIA-DOCKER & Node Exporter.
“The Pico project is all about object detection and text analytics using Docker, Apache Kafka, IoT and Amazon Rekognition System. Imagine you are able to capture live video streams, identify objects using deep learning, and then trigger actions or notifications based on the identified objects - all using Docker containers. With Pico, you will be able to setup and run a live video capture, analysis, and alerting solution prototype. The whole solution only requires three microservices running inside Docker containers.”
Q: How has the current COVID-19 situation affected your ability to innovate and work with others?
“With the outbreak of novel coronavirus, many business sectors have been affected tremendously. Without question, this year has been one of the difficult transformations for many organizations, hence severely affecting employees too in many ways. But amidst this deadly pandemic situation, my ability to innovate remains unaffected. Thanks to video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Team and Google Meet, I am still able to connect with my community to construct, collaborate and contribute. With collaborative tools like GitHub, Slack and community forums, the world remains connected and innovation remains unaffected.”
Q: Could you offer any advice to developers on how to stay motivated in this climate?
“Everyone on this earth is well aware of the outbreak of the coronavirus which has unleashed a global crisis. With an impact spanning hundreds of countries, the virus is already impacting the global economy in a hard way. Uncertainty looms all over the world and everyone is feeling the heat of this pandemic. In this panic situation, my advice to developers is to stay calm and safe. Today, we have tools like GitHub, Slack, Zoom etc. that have matured enough to keep us connected, unaffecting our remote work and keeping us self-motivated to innovate.”
Q: Where did you start your journey as a Docker captain?
“I became Docker Captain for the first time in 2016. Docker Captain is a distinction that Docker awards select members of their community that are both experts in the field and are passionate about sharing their Docker knowledge with others. Captains are basically Docker ambassadors (not employees). I was invited to the Docker Distributed Summit in October 2016 for the first time, where I got a chance to meet Solomon Hykes, Founder of Docker, in-person. The five-minute talk with Solomon was sufficient enough to excite me to grow this amazing Docker community, and that it was the time when I expedited my blogging frequency from months to every week, writing about new releases and keeping the community excited.
“I bagged ‘The Tips of Docker Captain’s Award’ at Dockercon 2019 for an active contribution towards the Docker community. It was a rare moment of my life receiving this award from Steve Singh, ex-CEO of Docker, Inc facing an audience of over 5,000 during Dockercon, which happened in San Francisco, California, USA. I won the ‘Docker Community Award’ early this year, in 2020.”
Q: What is Collabnix, and how did you get started?
“Collabnix is a conglomerate of ‘COLLABoration’ & ‘LiNuX’. It is my personal blogging site hosted on one.com. I bought this domain back in 2014 for blogging around Linux and Open Source. I started writing about Docker in 2015 when I got introduced to the technology for the first time. The same year I contributed more than 50 blogs around Docker releases and features. Today it holds over 200+ blog posts around Docker, Kubernetes and Cloud. Every year, this site attracts millions of viewers.”
Q: What is IoET Planet and how did you get started?
“IoET Planet is a blogging site dedicated to IoT enthusiasts. I introduced this community site to the world for the first time in June 2020. The whole idea is to bring IoT enthusiasts under one roof and allow them to collaborate and innovate. We do have an IoET Slack with over 120+ community members. We conducted our first IoET Conference in July and it was a very successful virtual event.”
“As part of the Arm Innovator Program, I am working on a robotic product called “CherryBot”. It is a payload carrying robotic vehicles with GPS, NVIDIA Jetson Nano board, cameras and sensors.
“I will also be working on Pico 2.0 which will primarily be a Cloudless offering. It will be an improved version of Pico 1.0 where object detection and analysis will happen locally with no involvement of Cloud resources.
“I am also planning to conduct the IoET Conference for the second time with the help of Universities across India.”