Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

June 7, 2013

Note: This post, ,”#gluecon 2013 Day 2 Recap” originally ran on the ProfitBricks blog.

Day 2 of Gluecon 2013 got deeper and wider than Day 1, with the number of topics multiplying across all the different sessions.  Google’s Tim Brayspoke about the evils of passwords and how the combination of OAuth2 and OpenID can alleviate user pain and security issues by solving this problem once and for all.  My friend Blake Yeager from HP discussed OpenStack, the benefits it brings and their specific implementation of it.  In a breakout session, database start up MemSQL inserted 430 million rows in a SQL database, which for me, as someone who is no stranger to the pitfalls of live demos, was extremely impressive.  Couchbase gave a similar demo that added multiple nodes to an existing database cluster on the fly.

O’Grady: The New Kingmakers

The highlight of the morning keynotes, though, was Stephen O’Grady’s talk entitled “The New Kingmakers”.  During the session, the Redmonk analyst walked through the history of software development to show how we got to our current state where developers have an unprecedented influence and autonomy.  As Stephen explained, even when the earliest software communities in the 1950′s were incubated by the likes of IBM, it was in the name of justifying the sale of hardware through better functioning software.  I have first hand experience with this, as I saw the last days of the HP 3000 mainframe and its free Image relational database when I started my tech career at HP in the early 1990′s.

When software did become sellable separately, it was primarily to enterprise customers and their CIOs.  ”Software was not built to be used, it was built to be bought by someone at the top,” Stephen said.  Developers had very little control over the components that made up their solutions back then, in the era roughly between 1975 and 1998.  Corporate executives and IT managers decided what was in a coders tool box based on cost, compliance, cost, manageability, cost, and a host of attributes that often had little to do with improved functionality, ease of use, or the ability to build anything cool (emphasis based on my personal experience added).

Bill Gates and George Lucas

But something changed, first in ’75 and again in ’98, that gave us the landscape of developer choice and empowerment we enjoy today: Someone noticed opportunity.  The first person to notice opportunity was Bill Gates, who had the foresight to put non-exclusivity in the IBM contract for DOS, enabling Microsoft to sell it to other companies.  Stephen very slyly compared this to George Lucas securing merchandising rights for his new movie in 1977 when 20th Century Fox wasn’t so sure that anything with “War” in its title would be a hit at the box office.  In both cases, a very smart person took advantage of status quo thinking to open a market not previously fathomed.

Welcome to the 90s

The 1990′s saw similar opportunity discovery as the open source movement and web development took root.  Stephen presented a timeline of milestones:

  • 1991: Linux
  • 1994: Netscape Navigator
  • 1995: Apache
  • 1995: MySQL
  • 1995: PHP
  • 1998: Google

That last one is significant Stephen said, because Google made money with software rather than from software.  With choices that had zero cost and the ability to alter them if they wished, developers suddenly could break away from CIO mandates and build the cool stuff they wanted.  Google lit the way for a massive wave of start ups to follow in their footsteps, exploding the choices even further.

Today’s Landscape + More in the Book

All of that culminates into the present day developer culture.  Stephen effectively argues that developers have never been more empowered than they are today, wit a wider distribution of programming languages, and a slew of educational options for more people to join the party.  He goes deeper into this phenomena in his book, The New Kingmakers, which any developer under 30 years old should definitely read.  History repeats itself and Stephen has done a great job capturing how we arrived at where we are.


#gluecon 2013 Day 1 Recap

May 31, 2013

Note: This post, ,”#gluecon 2013 Day 1 Recap” originally ran on the ProfitBricks blog.

Pretty much every developer you know was either in Broomfield, CO today for Gluecon 2013 or watching the #gluecon hashtag on Twitter.  A magnet for coders, Day 1 of Gluecon 2013 certainly didn’t disappoint with the depth of technical discussion on a wide variety of topics.  Reuse of both APIs and data was a running theme, as was the idea that cloud apps require different approaches as detailed by conference favorite, Netflix Cloud Architect Adrian Cockroft.

Enterprise as a Platform

AT&T VP of Ecosystems and Solutions Laura Merling started off the morning keynote sessions by discussing the path her company is on to exposing an ecosystem of APIs.  Reminiscent of Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) debates from the early 2000s, Laura discussed the internal governance involved in exposing programmatic functionality first to internal teams, then in a protected way to partners, and finally to anybody through public interfaces.  Aspects of readiness through quality control and discovery of what is available within a growing library of APIs are key to AT&T’s growing success in creating a platform out of their enterprise ecosystem.  Unlike the struggles that SOA was bound by, her organization has buy in from those who control the purse strings as to why this is important as an enabler for new businesses.

Better User Modeling and Sharing

Peter Biddle, GM of Intel’s Cloud Services Platform, continued this theme when discussing the work his organization is doing on user profiles.  In an attempt to tackle the problem of different vendors having the same basic information about their users while simultaneously being unable to share key attributes in specific situations to make a better user experience, Peter’s team is building an interesting model.  Basic information (name, address, phone number) is stored by one provider where additional, app-specific data gets tagged and stored wherever.  On a case by case basis, users and apps can choose to share data with other apps, like when a travel planning app could share future location data with a restaurant guide instantly giving the user food recommendations for a location they aren’t physically present at yet.

Improved Tools for Cloud Thinking

Runscope Co-Founder John Sheehan announced their toolset, which enables developers to better interact with APIs, is open for business.  He pointed out that in a different era, a developer had control over the code written, the server it ran on, and the network it communicated to the outside world with.  In the cloudy world we now live in, though, a database, a server, or the network is provided by someone else and controlled via an API that you can’t always see inside of when troubleshooting.  Runscope’s tools assist in this different world, enabling troubleshooting these modern distributed environments.

Cloud Thinking on Steriods

Speaking of distributed environments, none is more elaborate than what Adrian Crockroft runs at Netflix.  In an extremely transparent talk where he addressed the question that everyone asks him (Why run on AWS when you compete directly with Amazon Instant Streaming?) head on while epitomizing the notion of different thinking when utilizing cloud.  The most interesting segment of Adrian’s talk, though was where Netflix ISN’T using AWS with the idea that you use the cloud for some things but not necessarily for everything.

The Netflix custom caching gets the most attention, but their DNS and global load balancing needs are unique as well.  Instead of relying on one source, they use a multi-vendor approach that gives them a better performing and more available solution.

The World is Changing Here

Breakout sessions throughout the day continued these themes of different cloud thinking and exposing data or APIs in new ways.  As you may have read in Wired this month, this is the wave of the future where APIs and thinking about the world differently will significantly change how we interact with it and each other.  And it’s being planned at Gluecon 2013.  I can’t wait for Day 2!