Inaugural Itential Hackathon: The Results are In!

by | May 22, 2018
Inaugural Itential Hackathon: The Results are In!

Itential hosted its first company-wide Hackathon with final product demos and awards taking place on Saturday, May 19th. This Hackathon was a free-for-all for the teams involved and it resulted in a lot of great ideas!

Check out some of the exciting and practical product ideas that our team came up with in just 48 hours:

The Winner

Pronghorn Kafka Manager

Michael Ellis, Eric Zhang, and Michael Evenchick are the winners of the grand prize with their Pronghorn Kafka Manager application!

Kafka is a distributed pipeline stream/messaging bus that is commonly used for passing network and system event messages. This project explored the use cases of integrating Kafka with Pronghorn, primarily focused on:

  • Reacting to events pushed through Kafka (device performance/status)
  • Sending messages to Kafka (workflow status, Pronghorn health)
  • Redistributing Kafka messages to other systems

The winning team built a Kafka adapter and integrated that with a cog to handle events and provide exposure to workflows. The final Hackathon product was capable of sending to and receiving from Kafka, processing events through workflows, and providing final actions to other systems like ServiceNow and Napalm.

The Runners-Up

Itential App Store

Rowan Gibbs, Ankit Bhansali, and Wenduo Yang presented the future of Itential’s App Store!

The Itential’s Network Automation Platform is quickly developing a large library of applications, adapters, and workflows that can be leveraged by any Pronghorn user. But due to the library’s rapid growth, they’re becoming harder and harder to know about! With the Itential App Store this team sought to:

  • Develop a centralized system to organize our growing ecosystem
  • Notify users of product and component updates
  • Showcase other solutions applicable to existing customers

The App Store solution took the form of a JavaScript web page. The reactive App Store could be linked and authenticated from a user’s existing Pronghorn environment, or could be used to show prospective users all of our solutions. And as mentioned in the goals, the App Store could include software update notifications to ensure existing customers are up-to-date with the latest and greatest Itential software.


Andy Tuttle, Ahmed Al-Zubidy, and Alex Bird addressed a common complaint with their App-Debug submission.

Efficient debugging and troubleshooting is always a challenge and this team wanted to provide another tool in the daily debugger’s arsenal. Their primary goals were to:

  • Provide role-based access to useful debug information
  • Provide a GUI for access to debug information
  • Prioritize AuditTrail information due to information quality

The final application debugging interface resides in Pronghorn and presents an intuitive and searchable interface. Utilizing this interface also provides a benefit for traditional support teams since direct access to client logs is usually difficult to obtain. With App-Debug, internal or external support and troubleshooting is as simple as clicking the latest AuditTrail entry and searching for the appropriate text!

Pronghorn Notification Framework

Tackling a similar problem as the Kafka Adapter team, Samuel Zurita, Parth Thakker, and Juan Velasco developed a reactive Pronghorn Notification Framework.

This team asked the evident question, “What’s the best way for an external system to kick off a workflow?” From there, they developed the following goals:

  • Pronghorn should allow adapters to write notifications into Pronghorn
  • Pronghorn should be smart enough to ignore certain type of notifications
  • Pronghorn should execute actions based on certain notifications

As evidenced by the architecture image above, the Notification Framework project primarily explored those goals through EPN and SNMP. The original use case was onboarding a new device, in which EPN Manager can detect a new device on the network, Pronghorn can then hear the new device notification from EPN, and Pronghorn can automatically kick off a workflow to onboard the new device into NSO. Future iterations could include enforcing compliance through Golden Config as well as any custom requirements for Inventory Management Systems.

Pronghorn Startup Wizard

And finally, Parth Sehgal, Madison Grubb, and Joe Cairns presented the Pronghorn Setup Wizard.

This team sought to increase the speed and efficiency with which any team can install and configure Pronghorn by developing a traditional setup wizard. They discussed three primary goals:

  • Create a startup wizard to help users configure properties from a web-ui
  • Update properties in the background & restart Pronghorn with the new properties
  • Redirect users to the newly available and correctly configured Pronghorn server

This Hackathon solution was incredibly ambitious given the scope of the involved systems and properties. The team was unable to execute on their original concept, but were able to use stepzilla to create a React wizard fed with the necessary schemas. Even without the final product, this concept is something we all want to focus on in the future!

Thanks again to all of the participants, advisors, and judges! We can’t wait to host another Hackathon and see what new innovations our talented team will come up with. But for now, we’re going to get started on feeding these solutions into the product.

Daniel VanBeek

Daniel VanBeek is currently responsible for Delivery Operations at Itential, where he is focused on professional services delivery and business process optimization. With ten years of experience in IT, datacenter, and telecommunications engineering fields, Daniel is an integral part of delivering world-class services at Itential.

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