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DevCentral team fosters tech community magic

What’s it take to bring together over a quarter of a million strangers in cyberspace to share F5 tech knowledge?

“Unicorns,” says Tony Hynes, Sr. Manager of Online Community & Strategy for F5. “It is tricky to find the right type of individual to work on the DevCentral team,” he explains. “The brains of Einstein, the charisma of George Clooney, and the passion of Mother Teresa …”

That’s one smart, dreamy, saintly tech team.

“OK,” admits Hynes, “maybe that is a bit much, but the bar is definitely very high.”

Hynes has assembled his team of unicorns in John Wagnon, Chase Abbott, Jason Rahm, and Peter Silva. They’re self-described supergeeks who are proud of making DevCentral an essential gathering spot for the F5 coder community.

“DevCentral is by far the best online technical community in existence today,” says Wagnon, a former cyber threat analyst.

And the bond between DevCentral team experts and the community they’ve fostered runs deep.

According to Abbott that’s because they’ve been there, coded that.

“All of us on the F5 DevCentral team are from the trenches of IT Operations and understand what our members go through on a day-to-day basis,” he explains.

Silva, a 13-year F5 veteran with a background in professional theater, agrees the connection is strong.

“It’s our little society of like-minded technologists,” he says, “and while it is a job, we’re emotionally attached and passionate about our community.”

For his part, Rahm is amazed at the number of F5 enthusiasts who participate when there’s no cash or fame on the line. 

“OK, maybe a little for the notoriety,” he acknowledges, but mainly they do it “because they love F5 technology and enjoy equipping others with the knowledge they already possess.”

While DevCentral’s 250,000+ members are certainly its heart and soul, there’s more going on than just iRules discussions and code sharing.

“They certainly see the value in our DevCentral community,” Wagnon says of F5 leadership, “and they allow us the freedom to do what we need to do.”

That creative freedom—looking to tell complicated stories in an engaging, unique way—led to the Lightboard Lessons, one of the site’s most popular and instructive features. The video series guides viewers on everything from Nagle’s algorithm to BIG-IP Pool Priority. There are now over two dozen episodes in the can. Not bad for a DIY team effort, where high meets low with a low-iron starphire lightboard suspended with clamps designed for a shower door. 

You can take Hynes at his word or see how his unicorns actually write backwards in Behind the Scenes.