It’s a big deal preparing for sponsorship of a conference. Each year, the Cloud Development team at Capgemini are proud to sponsor Devoxx UK, the leading developer conference in Britain. What does this involve? A lot more creativity than you might think!
Capgemini is a huge global company with global annual goals and missions. We are a relatively small team of 100 or so UK-based software engineers, so aligning our goals with the wider company can be something of a challenge to start with! This year, Capgemini’s purpose was a good start for us: “Unleashing human energy through technology for an inclusive and sustainable future”. The Capgemini brand platform of “Get the future you want” is also good for Devoxx - part of the reason we’re sponsoring the conference is to remind people that we’re always recruiting for new talent and can offer a great place for a software engineer to work and develop themselves.
We knew we wanted to focus on sustainability as it’s one topic close to all our hearts as well as being a Capgemini goal. But we didn’t want to make people feel depressed or personally responsible - we wanted to inspire them to make a difference. I recently attended a Capgemini “Climate Fresk” workshop, and whilst it was educational, it was mainly terrifying! The concept of a “Fresk” is that it works rather like a round table discussion, there are a number of prompt cards around environmental topics such as carbon dioxide levels, deforestation, rising sea levels, weather pattern disruption, sea water acidity levels, plant and animal diversity, CFCs, forest fires, population migration. The cards could be positioned to show which events affected which other topics, and so during the hour we built up a map of the effects of fossil fuel extraction on our planet. Most of the information I had seen before but I did learn and relearn a couple of things, for example as more CO2 is absorbed by the ocean, the pH of the sea water rises and the sea becomes more acidic. This makes it difficult for small sea creatures to form shells, because their shells are made of alkaline calcium which dissolves in more acidic waters. These tiny creatures are the base of the food chain in the sea and so depletion in their numbers has a massive effect on the population of larger sea creatures. I came out of the fresk feeling informed but scared - not an emotion we want people to associate with Capgemini! But neither do we want to shy away from the problems that burning fossil fuels are causing. Instead, we decided to focus on the positives. This year’s TechnoVision report contains some powerful and brave messages for Capgemini employees - for example, “Do more with less”. This is very often not the easy route, and for Capgemini perhaps not the most profitable route either, it takes courage to tell your clients that the best route forward is not to build any software at all! But we need to recognise that sometimes this is the right answer. Wasteful technology is something we can all do without.
Taking that as a starting point, what about useful tech? How can we make it more carbon efficient? We know that great strides have been made towards generating carbon neutral electricity, for example from renewable energy sources such as wind, waves and sun. We know that many European countries generate quantities of electricity that way when they can - but it depends on factors such as hours of sunlight, wind speed, river levels. How can we know whether the electricity our application farms are using is generated from renewable sources? Turns out there is a way. The Energy Monitor website collects data from 27 European countries (many of which host data centres for major cloud providers such as Amazon and Azure) so that you can see, for a given point in time, which country is producing the most electricity from renewables. What if you could use this information to move your applications to the data centre using the most “green” electricity? Now that’s inspiring!
A lot of what we do as Cloud developers gives us opportunities to make electricity savings by reducing the amount of compute power we use. The fantastic advantage of intrastructure-as-code is that you can safely tear down huge proportions of your infrastructure when you’re not using it - for example, only have your build pipelines running when you actually have something to build. We are contributing to a Capgemini “Green Book” of practices that we can share with our clients, to help them reduce their carbon footprints with minimal impact to their businesses.
OK so now we have a phrase to print on our stand (“Get the future you want”), and a theme. What next? We want something to give away that is useful and reusable, that isn’t plastic, that’ll remind people of meeting us. We need some cotton T-shirts! Last year we brought along 40 or so of our Capgemini / Ada Lovelace “I am a Role Model” T-shirts and they went like hot cakes. Unfortunately the million tonnes of paper notepads and sweets that we brought along didn’t go down so well - turns out devs don’t write much and are rather healthier than we’d given them credit for! So we know that T-shirts are the way to go. But what picture can we put on them, that developers attending the conference will want to wear? Recently, Capgemini opened a new “Delivery Centre” in our Holborn office. This is a step back to teams working face to face, appreciating the value of getting people together. For the centre opening, our resident artist had drawn some fantastic images of an octopus busily multi-tasking that had got a lot of attention. Octopuses have started popping up all over the delivery centre and we thought we’d get involved! So we stole an octopus for our T-shirt.
All we needed now was some text to go with it. I turned to my team to get the best octopus puns and they didn’t disappoint.
- “Be INK-redibly productive”
- “Don’t be a sucker! Develop at octo-speed”
- “8-bit computing”
- “Octo-pushing delivery forward”
- “Un-LIMB-ited potential”
- “Kraken’ on with development”
- “This is what beak performance looks like”
- “Be an octo-coder”
OK thanks guys. Enough already. We decided that the un-LIMB-ited potential slogan fitted really well with our concept of “Get the future you want”, and so our T-shirt is a wrap! Now we can start to look forward to the talks on offer at the conference and up-skilling ourselves for the year ahead. Roll on May 10th!