GitHub looks beyond code to collaboration

Seeks to support whole software development lifecycle

GitHub — the global service, recently acquired by Microsoft, that provides Git-based online source code repositories accessible by multiple developers — is widening its focus beyond code to offer support for the whole software development lifecycle, and for collaboration around any kind of data or document.

GitHub’s global VP of sales Paul St John — on a visit to Australia — told Computerworld that the company saw software as a key driver of innovation and was working to help streamline and accelerate the process of creating innovation from software. “The builders of the future are software developers,” he said.

“At a global level we spent a lot of time early this year thinking about how we could make developers’ lives easier when they go beyond coding,” St John said. “There is a lot more to putting out an application. There is a whole software development lifecycle: How do I set my project up to make an idea become a reality. There is building and testing and eventually deployment.

“It is that process we have put a lot of focus onto. The faster we can get code into the software development life cycle and out to production into an application the faster we get innovation in production.”

He added: “We believe developers are the architects of the future and the more they can be helped to get the right tools and the right workflows and ways to innovate the better.

“Developers and the business need to become more connected, especially in this region. Australia has great talent but it leaves. You can innovate right here.”

St John said that, as part of this focus beyond code, GitHub had earlier this year created a GitHub marketplace where developers can offer tools for sale and where others can find tools and attach these to their code.

“The network has started to adopt the tools in Marketplace and it is one of the fastest growing areas of GitHub,” he said.

However he said its future in its current form was uncertain: “Today it is called Marketplace, but I am not sure it will stay that way. We have to figure out the best way for people to access tools and it may not be a marketplace. There is a lot of discussion today about how to make the best tools available to everybody.”

St John also said that, with software becoming a key component of many more products, interest in it – and hence in GitHub — was starting to extend beyond software developers.

“In every industry, if software is important to the production team and the marketing tem, more people will get involved in GitHub to see how projects are going,” he said.

“For the first time this year we are seeing large companies with large presales teams using GitHub to share software configurations with their customers. We’ll see where that goes, but we are not modifying GitHub to be attractive to presales people — we are focussed on the developer.”

GitHub launched a regional presence for ASEAN and ANZ, in Sydney in March 2017 and GitHub’s APAC director, Sam Hunt said a key focus in the region had been promoting GitHub’s collaboration functions.

“We have worked really hard to take that collaboration approach into organisations, helping them with GitHub and other tools,” Hunt said. “That has been a key part of our focus and our engagement with the local market.”

One organisation that has made substantial use of GitHub’s collaboration functions is the University of Sydney. “The University of Sydney has rolled out a whole of campus GitHub solution for collaboration that is open to all faculty, students and postgrads,” Hunt said. “Before that there was no consistent collaboration across the whole campus, and it has been a really successful project for them. The data scientists were the ones driving it.”

Hunt said that, since March 2017 GitHub in Australia had seen 100 per cent growth in usage of GitHub Enterprise – the version of its software dedicated to one customer that can run in the cloud or a customer’s data centre, and 50 per cent growth in use of its public service GiHub.com.

“We are now seeing 1.3 million active monthly users on GitHub.com in the ANZ region,” he said. GitHub.com is presently supported from multiple data centres in the US only.

Hunt said there were no definite plans for a regional hub but added: “We definitely see the potential value of having a distributed data centre network for GitHub.com.”

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