Loading...

Apps for Humanity Challenge

Hey innovators! Have an idea to solve a humanitarian issue? Can it be built using our open source tools? Submit your ideas to win $20k. Read Overview...
Total Prize Amount
$20,000
Overview

Do you have an idea to solve a humanitarian issue? Think technology might help make that idea a reality? Submit your ideas for a chance to win $20,000 USD!

Who is the competition open to? The challenge is open to individuals and teams with OR without a technical background. (To be eligible to compete, you must comply with the Challenge terms as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.)

The Challenge

Submit a proposal describing your idea that aims to solve some humanitarian issue by answering the questions set out below. All questions must be answered to qualify for the Challenge. 

Why? We want innovative technology solutions to become commonplace in the nonprofit world, helping to solve issues that affect humanity.

About the CoreTech Foundation: CoreTech Foundation helps nonprofits use technology for social good. Thanks to the open source movement, we're placing traditionally expensive and sophisticated technology in the hands of the nonprofit world, so they can implement virtually any software-driven solution using our scaling platform and consulting services. To that end, CoreTech built an application platform called CORE, to help build solutions capable of impacting lives around the world, like this, this, and this

What is CORE? Learn about CORE in Question #3 below, here, and in the last two sections of the FAQs

Challenge Questions / Judging Criteria

 

1. What is the problem that your idea aims to solve? (10 points)

  • Who is affected by the problem?
  • What is currently being done about it?

2. What is the potential impact of your solution? (20 points)

  • Who would it help? Where? How?

3. How would the CoreTech Foundation's software tools help make your idea a reality? (30 points) (Note: for those looking for a more technical description of CORE, please refer to FAQs for details.) 

  • CoreTech's CORE software (an open-source suite of tools) allows you to: 
    • collect, analyze, and manage data of any size, securely
    • develop high performance mobile applications 
    • develop engaging web platforms 
    • monitor and report on progress and events
    • enable mobile transactions via SMS CoreTech's CORE
  • The key benefits of CORE are:
    • high performance
    • high availability (which means there can be many users without the application/system going down) 
    • redundancy (which means that if a system fails, there will be a backup)
    • scalability (which means it can accomodate many users and a large amount of information, transactions, etc.)
    • security 
    • integrity (which means that information can only be accessed or modified by those authorized to do so, so that unauthorized people can't change that information)

4. What makes your solution different from existing solutions that aim to address this problem? (20 points)

  • If it's a novel idea, what makes it novel?
  • If it builds on/adapts an existing idea, how does it add to that idea? 

5. Describe the practical usability of your solution. (10 points)

  • How can it be used by specific users to achieve the goals you've identified? 

6. How complex is your solution? (10 points) 

  • Note: It's not a bad thing if your solution is complex. We just want to see how you've worked the solution out in your head: how difficult do you think it would be to build? 
  • For techy folks, will your idea challenge our platform? 

 

Rules

Who can participate: As mentioned above, the Challenge is open to individuals and teams. To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the Challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

Selection of Winner: Based on the winning criteria, one prize will be awarded for a total of $20,000 USD. In case of a tie, the winner will be selected at the discretion of the Judging Panel.

Voting: All votes are subject to review. Any competitor using unfair methods to solicit votes will be automatically disqualified from the challenge.

Registration and Submissions: All submission materials must be submitted online on or before July 7, 2016 at 8pm PST. No submissions will be accepted after this time. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted. All submissions must be received online, via the Challenge website, and all uploads can be in PDF format only. Submission reporting requirements are detailed in Judging.

Challenge Guidelines are subject to change. Registered competitors will receive notification when changes are made, however, we highly encourage you to visit the Challenge Site often to review updates.

Timeline
Updates (32)
Forum (10)
Community
FAQ

The Challenge is open to individuals and teams, with OR without a technical background. To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the Challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

Submissions can be made in teams or individually. 

Absolutely, with the caveat that all final submissions must be original and cite any components that are not your own. 

Core Technology Foundation, Inc. (CoreTech). We are a public benefit corporation that builds technology for nonprofits. With years of experience in managing software development, we've seen how a key set of software tools can change the game for organizations by cutting costs, increasing efficiency, and achieving results. Our mission is to place this toolbox in the hands of nonprofits, so they can reap the same benefits of technology as the for-profit world. We call this toolbox CORE (Central, Open, Reusable, Easy). 

 

 





 

CORE TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATION, INC.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1    Background

2    Today’s challenges    

2.1    The journey to the cloud    

2.2    Service Management today and tomorrow    

2.3    Existing versus required skillsets and roles    

3    What is CORE?    

3.1    Why do we need CORE and what is its goal?    

3.2    What are the components of CORE?    

  1. Background

CoreTech is a self-sustaining nonprofit organization, seeking to apply the next generation IT systems, solutions and methodologies to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. CoreTech specifically works on laying the groundwork for innovations that will empower developing nations to create effective systems to power government, education, agriculture, energy, security, and a range of other sectors. CoreTech is founded on the principle that technical innovation occurs when innovators are freed to focus on the problem at hand and not be crippled by the cost and complexity of the plumbing underneath (data centers, infrastructure, platforms, integration costs, scalability and reliability, etc). To that end, CoreTech is sourcing and releasing systems and tools that compose the essential underpinnings of most applications that need to be developed in the emerging economies of the world, and working with institutions within those communities to collaborate on the outcomes. CoreTech will fund an initial set of solutions that utilize these capabilities to prove out the model and pave the way for an ecosystem of developers in several pilot communities to follow suit.

CoreTech’s underpinning building block is developed in the CORE project. CORE is an acronym for “Central, Open, Reusable, and Easy“ services, meaning that those base-services will drive rapid, inexpensive software development that can run on multiple infrastructure abstraction layers: i.e. any hypervisor, any infrastructure, any PaaS platform. Unlike today’s methods that price many necessary projects out of the market, CORE services are meant to open new pathways for low cost innovation. By providing building blocks into the global community at no cost, students and experienced developers alike can more quickly solve problems and deploy them into the community. Just as the desktop publishing revolution sparked creativity around the world, so too will CoreTech’s CORE services spark technical innovators to try new things at minimal cost.

As CoreTech’s building blocks will drive towards the next generation of a true ITaaS (IT as a service) implementation, not only the needed technology components are of relevance, but also the aspects of skills, processes, governance, service definition and delivery, financial transparency and security. As the target audience of CoreTech’s enabling building blocks are developers, nonprofit organizations, and enterprises of any size, who in particular can drive impactful change for rolling out and/or enabling CoreTech’s end-to-end solutions, it is important to also provide a framework under which existing ITSM (IT Service Management) and ITIL (Information Technology Infrstructure Library) implementations can be adjusted to make use of the new and dramatically improved versions when making use of CoreTech’s CORE services.

 

  1. Today’s Challenge

2.1 The journey to the cloud

Cloud Computing is one of the core drivers and enablers of the 3rd platform. Profit- and Non-profit organizations have been on their journey to make use of the economics of cloud, as laid out in the previous chapter. Additionally, cloud is very often necessary to react on the other megatrends of the 3rd platform. E. g.: Implementing a big data environment to solve a one-time problem for an enterprise in its own data-center, is very often cost-prohibitive, while subscribing to infrastructure in the cloud makes this a feasible approach. Another example is that without efficient multi-tenancy answers it will be hard to react on the end-consumerization phenomenon.

All of that being taken into account, the journey into the cloud and hence its effective and efficient adoption, is a long and sometimes very rough one. Here are some of the big obstacles:

  • Application readiness: An application has to be written in a cloud-ready-way, such that it actually can leverage its economy of scale. A single-tenant application will not become multi-tenant by just being move to the cloud. A packaged application will not automatically scale just because of IaaS (infrastructure as a service) brought by the cloud. Writing cloud-ready application very often requires new skillsets.

  • Budget constraints: According to Microsoft and others, enterprises are spending today approx. 90% of their IT budgets just to “keep the lights on”, meaning focusing on existing applications, infrastructure and the maintenance thereof. So only 10% of the budget would actually be available for new applications, including cloud ready ones.

  • Legacy landscape: Integrating cloud based services, no matter which nature, into the existing landscape is not a simple task. Combining oAuth-authentication for public cloud services with Active Directory based internal authentication is one example. The same is true for logging and monitoring services, chargeback services, holistic security management etc. Integration is one of the biggest obstacles.

  • Governance/Legal/Compliance: Very often, governance aspects prevent from the journey to the cloud. Regulations may require a certain geography where compute and data has to be located, or may even prevent to leave the organisation’s domain at all. Private clouds try to circumvent this, but obviously do not generate as much of TCO saving potentials and still leave the other obstacles very often unaddressed.

2.2 Service Management today and tomorrow

Most organisations today use an ITSM (IT Service Management)/ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) based approach for service management. ITIL defines best practices for IT service management in order to ensure reliable and continuously improving services as a result.

However, cloud computing paradigms and ITIL as it is applied by most organizations today, do not necessarily fit together smoothly. ITIL application has neither been designed for the pace of the cloud, nor the amount of changes nor the supplier management approach the cloud is asking for. ITIL processes today are often designed for availability of components, the cloud age and the 3rd platform are requiring the reliability and quality of services which leads to a big change in processes for organizations.

Some good examples of what needs to be thought of are laid out in the GlobalKnowledge IT Decision Brief “How ITIL Helps Cloud Computing”:

 

  • Organizations need to question their perception of ITIL, and need to ensure they use ITIL for its intended purpose. ITIL is a reference that describes generic service management best practices. With cloud, external providers do most of the work, so cloud ops teams must shift to managing services and service providers. Existing ITIL implementation have to be examined to determine whether the internal teams are at the required level of ability. When assessing skills, the following needs to be considered:

    • Service level and supplier management transform from “nice to have” to “absolutely must have.”

    • Capacity management takes on an entirely new meaning, shifting from component (long lead time) to service (near real-time). In addition, with cloud, removing excess capacity is a critical success factor and not a task traditional IT teams are skilled in performing.

    • Event management and monitoring become critical since the cloud service masks the underlying IT infrastructure. User transactions (synthetic or live) become the basis of monitoring.

    • Incident and problem management shift from leading investigations and troubleshooting to gathering information and communicating status.

    • Strategy changes from “build or buy” to “rent” and the service portfolio requires careful attention to maximize benefits.

  • Release cycles in the 3rd platform era are highly different than they have been before. Cloud teams tend to release hourly or at least daily. So, existing release and change management, service asset and configuration management must be tuned to cope with that as well as governance, compliance and auditing need to reflect that. Also, the cloud requires to bring development and operations closer together. The so called DevOps approach provides guidance on how to implement those aspects in an ITIL compliant way.

  • Other applied frameworks (like Six Sigma or COBIT) need to be checked also whether they still keep up and hold water.

  • Service catalogues and the underlying configuration databases (CMDBs) must be often redefined or even restructured to cope with the new cloud mantras.

  • Application design patterns need to be reviewed under the light of the new CMDB/service catalogue design as well as the API-driven approaches required by the cloud.

  • Security design patterns: Security in the cloud or even in a hybrid delivery modell requires a very new approach also due to the end-consumer-focus of the service design.

2.3 Existing versus required skillsets and roles

In order to operate under the 3rd platform’s mantra, a lot of new or at least changed skillsets are required.

  • Technology: Software defined datacenters and its automation stacks are based on very different technology stacks than existing bare metal ones. Even the planning and provisioning of the software define datacenter is a new challenge, specifically when economic aspects like demand side adaptiveness are being of concern. Big data technology is a widely new field, where skillsets like data analysts are needed, which are hard to find and a rarely to be found as employees in organisations other than in the financial services vertical. NonSQL-databases like Mongo or frameworks like Kassandra are different in their application as well as when it comes to their management then well-understood stacks like Oracle or Microsoft SQL.

  • Processes/Operations: ITSM/ITIL versus Devops has been looked at in the previous chapter. This has a big impact on role definition and hence skills required. Also the sourcing strategies need to be questioned, often leading to new vendors and business models which need to be understood and brought into perspective when one’s own strategy is concerned.

  • Development: One of the core exercises to be mastered when becoming part of the 3rd platform players, is to improve speed and efficiency of creating and/or adapting one’s service portfolio and catalogue by either providing new or modifying existing services. Making use of new development frameworks and also languages, finding the right developers to do so, is a big challenge.

  • Security: Security in the cloud or even in hybrid environments is a new art, which requires very often additional, specialized skillsets. This starts from infrastructure operations, to application delivery and begins at service design and implementation.



 

  1. What is CORE?

3.1 Why do we need CORE and what is its goal?

The strategic goal of CoreTech’s CORE can be summarized as follows:

Organizations struggle on their journey to the 3rd platform, its requirements, benefits and challenges. While some companies like Amazon, Google or LinkedIn have succeeded to gather the required skills, to implement the right platforms and processes as well as sustainable business models, most organizations have not. CORE is a suite of tools using open source technologies (software and hardware designs), best practices, training and consulting models which allows non-profit as well as profit organizations to leap-frog and benefit from the learnings which the above named companies have already made. CORE also shall enable developers to start working on their services without having to worry about infrastructure or detailed enterprise/provider integration, while still being able to use existing services as part of their solution.

The reason why CoreTech decided to implement CORE, has mainly got to do that existing solutions have a lot of constraints which prevent from achieving this goal:

  • Proprietary and expensive: Many of the solutions are being provided by the companies, which have made their living based on concepts of the 1st and 2nd platform. Their business models and required margins drive price levels which prevent from wide adoption.

  • Integration aspect: Many solutions, whether proprietary or open source, focus on single elements of the problem, rather than providing a fully integrated, “out-of-the-box” solution which also reflects the legacy induced needs of organisations.

  • Ease of use/focus on the benefits: Such that organizations can quickly leap-frog, they need to be able to focus on the value-creation, innovation part rather than on all the challenges when integration into existing landscapes are concerned. Hence CORE will run on any infrastructure (bare metal, IaaS) or even platform (PaaS) and will integrate with its technology micro-services into all core ITIL domains (security, authentication/authorization, configuration management, logging and monitoring, chargeback etc.)

  • Lock in: A solution has to be designed such, that ideally no lock-in is being generated. CORE’s goal is to free from the burden of technology stack lock-ins as well as to provide to ability to rewrite/overwrite/replace any part of the solution it provides.

3.2 What are the components of CORE?

CORE is composed of the following fundamental building blocks:

  • Hardware

  • Tools using open source technologies (see below)

  • Knowledge Modules

Hardware:

  • Hardware design patterns: The hardware design patterns help organisations to come up with their own “Cloud-PODs” based on lowest cost commodity hardware as provided by ODMs like Quanta, Supermicro or the like.

  • The goal is to provide lowest cost alternatives to offerings like VBlock (by VCE) or FlexPOD (by NetApp) and the like.

Open-Source-Software usage:

  • As a Service Framework: No integrate-able aaS-Framework exists today. Fragments (like PaaS solutions as provided by Cloudfoundry/Pivotal or Openshift/RedHat) exist, but no workflow integration into current IT environments are being provided.

  • Infrastructure Abstraction: Organizations are at very different stages when it comes to having achieved maturity for the 3rd platform. Hence, CORE provides a framework that allows running on bare-metal, any kind of IaaS offering (independent of being VMWare or Openstack based), or even on a PaaS layer. The above services, development framework and APIs will not change. They remain the same independent of the underlying infrastructure.

  • Out-of-the-box Microservices for:

    • Change Management

    • Config Management

    • Approvals

    • Scheduling

    • Notification

    • Logging

    • Chargeback/Metering

    • Authentication

    • Metadata

    • CMDB/Service Catalogue integration

Knowledge/Know-How (used for consulting, training and documentation):

  • CORE ITIL Integration

  • Security Design Patterns based on CORE

  • Application Design Patterns based on CORE


 

CORE FEATURES

 

 

Learn about our CORE services framework here and here

At a high level, CORE is composed of the following fundamental building blocks:

  • Hardware
  • Tools using open source technologies 
  • Knowledge Modules

Hardware:

  • Hardware design patterns: The hardware design patterns help organisations to come up with their own “Cloud-PODs” based on lowest cost commodity hardware as provided by ODMs like Quanta, Supermicro or the like.
  • The goal is to provide lowest cost alternatives to offerings like VBlock (by VCE) or FlexPOD (by NetApp) and the like.

Open-Source-Software usage:

  • As a Service Framework: No integrate-able aaS-Framework exists today. Fragments (like PaaS solutions as provided by Cloudfoundry/Pivotal or Openshift/RedHat) exist, but no workflow integration into current IT environments are being provided.
  • Infrastructure Abstraction: Organizations are at very different stages when it comes to having achieved maturity for the 3rd platform. Hence, CORE provides a framework that allows running on bare-metal, any kind of IaaS offering (independent of being VMWare or Openstack based), or even on a PaaS layer. The above services, development framework and APIs will not change. They remain the same independent of the underlying infrastructure.
  • Out-of-the-box Microservices for:
    • Change Management
    • Config Management
    • Approvals
    • Scheduling
    • Notification
      • ​bi-directional ability to send/receive emails via gmail in response to notification
      • comes from meta service instead of custom config file 
    • Logging
    • Chargeback/Metering
    • Authentication
    • Metadata
      • ​Meta supports custom properties. This allows for the meta service to be customized according to specific use cases 
      • Rest APIs have full support for CRUD operations on all resources (orgs, workspaces, environmens, etc.) 
      •  Resources in meta support role based access control 
    • CMDB/Service Catalogue integration
    • Load Balancing Services
      • metrics and reporting
    • Launcher Services
      • scale command (makes it possible to add additional workers to any service with a simple command)
      • migrate command (makes it possible to move workloads from one cluster to another)
      • blueprint support 
      • kill/delete command cleans up inventory of resources 
    • Events Service
      • includes a rest API, allowing for easy integration with applications as they no longer need a kafka library and access over standard 80/443 ports
    • Artifacts
      • deployed to a CORE artifactory instance, allowing developers to work without downloading and compiling the applications from GitHub

Knowledge/Know-How (used for consulting, training and documentation):

  • CORE ITIL Integration
  • Security Design Patterns based on CORE
    • ​Support for authorization
    • Support for RBAC in meta
    • Support for vault, enabling encryption of configuration and other important data  

Application Design Patterns based on CORE