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The (Enterprise) Node Community

Ask yourself a simple question: How can we quadruple the size of the Node.js community in one year? That is the question that we are trying to answer as well at NodeSource.

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At NodeSource, we believe that by embracing the greater Node.js community of developers, operations folks and even executives in the enterprise can radically expand our community. Now, you may be asking yourself, Joe, what does a CTO have to do with my Node community? And I would say she has everything to do with it! Her experiences, her expertise and most importantly, the unique perspective she brings is incredibly valuable to the Node community.

The Power of Diversification

A good bit of research has been conducted over the past decade or so on the benefits gained from diverse perspectives in group settings.

Scott Page, a Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan wrote a book, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools & Societies. In it, Page writes about how we think in groups and how our collective wisdom exceeds the sum of its parts. Page asks the question, “why can teams of people find better solutions than brilliant individuals working alone? And why are the best group decisions and predictions those that draw upon the very qualities that make each of us unique?” According to Page and his research, the answer to these questions lie in the diversity of the members of the group and their unique talents and perspectives.

“Diversity trumps ability.” –Scott Page

More recently, Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner co-authored Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. Tetlock and Gardner conducted a multi-year study asking thousands of participants to predict all sorts of events like the price of gas in year or whether or not certain nation-state invasions would happen.

What the coauthors found was that the best groups of superforecasters were groups that were made up of the most diverse members bringing with them varying perspectives and experiences.

“It is the diversity of the perspectives that makes the magic work.” – Tetlock & Gardner

It follows that the more experiences, viewpoints, and perspectives of the members of the Node community, the better the outcome for the project itself.

To understand how we can embrace these new members of the community, namely, those developers, operations and executives in the enterprise, it is important to understand how got to where we are today.

2009 - Early Adopters

In late 2009, a highly motivated and inspired group of early Node.js adopters were a globally diverse set of people who came from various cultural backgrounds coupled with varying levels of technical acumen. On the one hand you had folks that were systems engineers and on the other you had front-end JavaScript developers. This diverse array of technical perspectives led to a number of decisions that aimed to provide the best “out-of-the-box” user experience for adopting Node.js.

2013 - Developers

After a few years, many early adopters evolved to full-time Node.js developers at many startups, digital agencies and a few large companies. Early adopter and developer-centric issues were primary drivers of innovation and improvements to the Node.js project.

2015 - Operations

In 2015, we at NodeSource have seen a lot of interest by folks in the Operations side of IT organizations. Many Node apps in production now need to scale efficiently, but also be monitored, triaged and controlled by ops folks. Their needs must be addressed to encourage them to participate in the greater Node community.

2016 - Executives

Going forward, the technical executives will all have business-specific challenges that need to be addressed to continue to invest in Node and contribute back to the community. Security, predictability, reliability and improving the user experience for customers are top of mind for many CIO, CTOs and Vice Presidents of Engineering.

Challenges Facing the Enterprise

Now that we’ve identified the three key cohorts of developers, operations and executives it is valuable in understanding and being empathetic towards their concerns.
Node developers still have a strong desire for better tooling. Debugging, profiling and testing should be turnkey. Getting access to the best practices for building node applications at scale and in large organizations is also on many a developer radar. Fortunately, there is EnterpriseJS to provide a forum for folks to share these best practices!

Node.js is, in most cases, just one of myriad technologies in IT organizations, yet there are specific needs that ops folks have to make adoption and integration of Node more effective. Operations teams need better insight and control into the node apps that are running in their data centers. Monitoring, scaling and deployment best practices for node apps are still in their early stages as well and many people have a lot to learn from those who have and are running large node.js deployments.

Technical executives on any given day are juggling a dozen issues. Yet when it comes to Node, here at NodeSource, many executives we have met with have pointed at a few common concerns:

  • Desire for Increased Developer Productivity
  • Protection for Critical Applications
  • Peak Application Performance Demands
  • Improved Customer Experiences
  • Long Term Support (LTS)

For executives to continue to invest in Node internally and externally, they need to balance the demands of the business (serving their customers) while continuing to drive down operating expenses (increased productivity) without sacrificing the security of their products and services (protection for critical applications). With Node’s new planned release cadence and Node’s first Long Term Support (LTS) version, Node 4.2 Argon, executives can actually plan multi-year projects and allocate budgets and resources for their Node initiatives.

N|Solid - Enterprise Node

At NodeSource, we are incredibly passionate about the Node community, the open source project, the Node.js foundation - pretty much all things Node! We have the most core committers to the project and our Chief Node Officer, Rod Vagg, is the Chairperson for the node.js Technical Steering Committee. NodeSource manages and issues all of the Linux distributions of Node.js and works tirelessly to recruit new members to the project.
That being said, we at NodeSource heard from our enterprise customers that there were still a number of issues that needed to be addressed for them to use and adopt Node.js into their large IT organizations. That is why we created N|Solid.

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N|Solid is in fact Node.js but with a set of additional capabilities wrapped around it explicitly targeting the needs of the enterprise - from push-button profiling and flame-graph generation to in-depth process information and even enhanced security guardrails, N|Solid aims to address the needs of enterprise node.

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The Enterprise Node Community

So how can we in fact double, triple or even quadruple the size of the Node community? The answer is easy.

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All of the aforementioned companies have self-identified, raised their hands as users, adopters and supporters of Node.js By embracing their unique perspectives and engaging with these enterprises we can dramatically increase the size of our Node community and strengthen the project like we’ve never seen.

To see my full presentation:

Youtube Video of Node Interactive Keynote

Presentation Deck