Slack, Teams, Jitsi: How do SUSE developers coordinate?

In the field of IT, it is moving towards distributed teams: SUSE has long been working with globally distributed and international development teams – according to the company, the company employs more than 2,000 people in more than 30 countries. Therefore, team communication is essentially virtual. In an interview, longtime employees Andreas Jaeger and Dirk Müller explain what communication at SUSE is and what tools are used.

Andreas Jaeger is SUSE’s senior product manager for SUSE products that help SAP customers. As an open source enthusiast, he has worked on projects such as the GNU C library, the Linux port for x86-64, openSUSE, OpenStack, and Kubernetes.

Dirk Müller works as an exclusive SUSE engineer with SUSE Linux Enterprise and openSUSE distributions. Working in an open source environment for more than 25 years, he has been involved in projects such as KDE and OpenStack.

This interview is an excerpt from an in-depth discussion of Tool Time with SUSE in the current version of the iX 6/2022, which is available today from a wealth of magazine stores and magazines. available at the Heise store is.

Let’s start with communication: what tools do SUSE developers use for internal coordination?

Dirk Müller (DM): When communicating with developers, we at SUSE use a variety of communication tools, many of which are open to communities: email. mailing and address lists, internal and external IRCs, and different instances of Slack. Since the end of last year, we have also been using SUSE for internal departmental communication. Much of the voting communication takes place in problem-tracking tools that are cross-cutting, inclusive and, in many cases, open to communities. In doing so, we take into account the needs and requirements of communities, external partners and our open source projects and, where possible, work with the tools requested by the partner concerned.

Andreas Jaeger (AJ): We typically use Microsoft Teams for our meetings. Ad hoc, I often meet Dirk during our own gathering in Slack. As a development team, we are very flexible and use the openSUSE Jitsi infrastructure, for example, to discuss with external communities.

SUSE developers distribute worldwide. Do you notice differences in the choice of tools used between individual geographical jobs?

DM: This is an interesting question. I think there are geographically attributable settings for certain tools. For example, priorities for the protection of personal data vary in intensity. In my opinion, the real choice of tool depends less on the region and more on the role and requirements of the team and staff.

Developers use different tools than vendors or non-tech workers. This is one of the reasons why we use a combination of different tools. The second reason is openness and adaptability, as we work with many community projects and with different partners and clients. Of course, this also means that we often use their tools.

However, face-to-face meetings have advantages, especially among people. Are there dates when everyone has to come back?

AJ: Due to the pandemic, I only had one or two meetings last year where at least team members from Germany were physically in the office. Colleagues from other countries had to participate by video conference. Depending on the product or team, we organize seminars with developers, product management, sometimes marketing and sales, discuss and work according to a fixed program. There are also plenty of places to explore.

DM: At least once a year, a three- or five-day initial workshop is organized for each project group or line to maximize collaboration for the next edition of the project. This often involves retrospective: what went well, what didn’t go so well, where was the feedback, what was the attitude of customers and partners, what requirements and trends did the market dictate to us? Due to the pandemic …

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