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What I Learned from Open Source to Help Me Survive a Tough Mudder

By 2017-10-201月 25th, 2018Blog

Sunday I will partake in something I’ve never tried before: a Tough Mudder (TM).  If you’re not familiar with this event, it’s a 10-12 mile run with an obstacle about every half mile. Most people participate with a team, and it’s generally not timed.  It looks something like this:

(Electroshock Therapy – all pics from

I’ll admit I’m a little nervous. Will I be able to make it through the obstacles? What happens if I wear out and let my teammates down?

But I think I have a secret weapon. It’s not miles of running or hundreds of pull-ups and pushups. It’s not having the right gear…

It’s participating in open source.

Yep, I think that having participated in open source – specifically in the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) project where I’m on the TSC — will be the differentiator in helping me get through the Tough Mudder.  It all comes down applying what I’ve learned in open source to the obstacles along the way…

Lesson #1: You’re going to get dirty

Open source is not always a clean process.  It doesn’t run top-down like software development inside of most companies. There will be things that go wrong. People will have differences of opinion. You have to expect it and find a way to work through it. In ONAP we had to merge two different projects (OpenECOMP and Open-O) into our first release due in November. There was overlap between the projects, and (naturally) pride of ownership.  But the community made the tough decisions and did the hard work to bring the best of each project into the final product.

Knowing I’m going to get dirty, I’m now prepared for the Mud Mile…

Lesson #2:  It can be intimidating

If you’ve never worked in open source before, getting involved can be intimidating. Everyone seems so smart, what can I possibly contribute?  I’ve learned that you can start small with documentation, testing, or easy bug fixes, and as you build up your reputation, you can take on more responsibility.

Knowing that it can be intimidating, I’m now ready for the King of the Swingers.

Lesson #3: You can do things that you’ve never imagined

The great thing about open source is that it’s often tackling new and interesting problems. Many of the best new technologies today are coming from open source, and if you participate, you can say that you helped build it. In ONAP, we’re working on making the network virtualized & running it at a scale never seen, while still keeping the 100-year-old expectation that the network will always work. Big stuff.

Knowing that I can do things I never imagined, I’m ready for Funky Monkey the Revolution

(OK, maybe not… that looks really hard)

Lesson #4: If you work as a team, you can accomplish your goal

Possibly the best part about open source is how people work together for a common goal — not just a group from a single company, but people from around the globe. In the ONAP project, it’s not unusual to be on calls with people from China, India, France, Canada, and the US all at once. Some of us are even competitors. But, we know that only by working together can we build great software and make automated NFV (Network Function Virtualization) a reality.

Knowing that not just my team, but all Tough Mudders will have my back, I’m ready to tackle the Pyramid Scheme.

So, wish me luck on Sunday. If my open source lessons fail me, then I guess it means I should’ve done more pullups!

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Jason Hunt