Daugherty Passion Projects: Giving Back via Open Source

Kevin Brockhoff wanted to give back.

As a solutions architect at Daugherty Business Solutions, he relies on hundreds of open-source libraries and systems to do his job. So he had it on his bucket list to participate in an open-source community.

Several years ago, the opportunity presented itself with OpenTelemetry.

Kevin was working for a client that needed more observability in their platform: As computer systems become more distributed, they require observability – logs, metrics and tracing – to track how a request flows through various components of the system.

Kevin started regularly attending meetings and submitting pull requests, writing some of the first integrations with Amazon Web Services. As OpenTelemetry components became available, he led incorporation into the client’s systems, which provided real-world feedback to the OpenTelemetry project. He has been involved ever since.

In that time, he has helped develop specifications, Software Development Kits (SDKs) for many popular languages and the OpenTelemetry Collector, which provides further telemetry data processing and exporters to most widely used observability platforms.

Because the code is publicly accessible, “you have to build cred in the community to get listened to,” Kevin said.

The project has afforded Kevin the chance to see the inner workings of some of the largest cloud provider organizations – Amazon Web Services, Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Alibaba Cloud. In the spring of 2020, for example, Google decided to have all its summer interns work on open source, with Amazon Web Services following suit. Kevin found himself mentoring some of the top computer science students via pull request code reviews.

By giving back in this way, Kevin has received many benefits:

  • He’s gotten to work with people all over the world – on every continent except Antarctica.
  • He’s picked up new ideas that he wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • Because all the major cloud providers are incorporating this software into their infrastructure, it means every single person in the world will end up running code Kevin wrote.

“Open source is a great way to make the world a better place in an area where you have some expertise and can really make a difference,” Kevin said.