DevNation Federal

On June 27th, Red Hat will not only be hosting one of the best technical gatherings of 2019, but it will be doing so in Washington D.C. — not San Francisco, Seattle, or <insert tech hub here>. DevNation Federal conference will bring together industry experts and key maintainers of popular open source projects in a one-day immersive conference for federal developers.

In this article, I'll share some observations of how we got here. After making a tough decision to leave civil service in 2013, I started looking for my next career opportunity. After weighing several offers, I joined the Red Hat Public Sector team because I thought this was where I could have the biggest impact— helping federal agencies adopt modern technologies, methodologies, and practices.

At the time (and somewhat still to this day), there felt like a large dichotomy between industry trends in major tech hubs and the reality faced by the federal government in adopting new tools and methodologies. Many startup companies have a complete tabula rasa where they can adopt the latest languages/frameworks, implement DevOps practices, and often even experiment or build their own tools in house. The reality is that the federal government has a mountain of challenges in adopting cloud computing, AI/ML, or even methodologies like Agile and DevOps.

First, federal agencies have a very high percentage of existing legacy applications that were built in some cases decades ago. These systems cannot easily be rewritten. In some places, just “keeping the lights on” is a major challenge. Second, the U.S. Government has laws, such as FISMA, that govern the risk management framework that systems must go through before they can process federal data (Shameless plug: I did a lightning talk on this at KubeCon). Finally, most agencies outsource a large part of their software lifecycle to third parties, which can lead to a high noise environment.

Despite all this, we are moving forward. The U.S. Government has some incredibly smart engineers, product managers, and leaders. Every agency I’ve ever visited has people acting as catalysts for positive change. People are motivated. They know they can make a difference right now.

Enter DevNation Federal. To help close this dichotomy between high-flying tech companies and federal agencies, the Red Hat Public Sector team decided to help organize an event that would bring catalysts for change in both ecosystems together to share ideas, collaborate, and move the ball forward. We wanted this to be an inclusive environment by making it free for all to attend, removing sales pitches, and even inviting companies with competing interests. To make this event as accessible as possible, we decided to bring it to Washington D.C.

This year will be our fourth year of DevNation Federal, and to accommodate the growth in interest, we will be moving to a new (and stunning) location at the InterContinental Hotel–The Wharf. This year's main stage speakers will include industry leaders such as Julia Ferriaoli (Google), Jun Rao (Confluent), Jibby Ayo-Ani (Welkin Health), Laura Thomson (Mozilla), Christian Posta (Solo), Dan Walsh (Red Hat), Jimmy Ray (Capital One) as well as leaders in the federal government such as Simmons Lough (USPTO) and Nic Chaillan (Air Force). We will also feature compelling lightning talks and high-value breakout sessions that help people solve real-world problems.

DevNation Federal is now less than two months away, and we’re not even done with announcements of amazing content; check out the conference website to learn more. If you have any questions, reach out to me on Twitter John Osborne or on LinkedIn.

This event is complimentary but space is limited, so register today to secure your space for the most innovative developer event D.C. has to offer for the public sector.

Last updated: February 6, 2024