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Archive for February 2012

The Worm in, the early birds gets the...

Gluecon's "Super Early Bird" rate ends this coming Friday -- which means the cost of attending is about to go up.

The agenda is still completely in flux, but several things are starting to come together, and the next month will see the full bloom hit that rose. The sessions that I'm already excited about include things like:

"Scaling Mobile Services on Diverse Networks"

"Developing RESTful Android Client Apps"

"The Badass Beyond Hadoop: Percolator, Dremmel, Pregel"

"Efficient Big Data Analysis: RAID, RAM, SSD"

"Securing Your Pocket to The Cloud: OAuth and Mobile Devices"

"How to Grow A Team of Data Scientists From Scratch"

And that's just a sampling. Throw in all of the keynotes, workshops on Netflix's architecture and Cloud Foundry, a hackathon, the receptions, and 500+ engineers hanging out at a resort tucked up against the backdrop of the mountains -- and you get the recipe that is Gluecon.

I hope you'll take advantage of the rate expiring this Friday and join us.

The Flattening of IT

Today, we have a guest post from John Minnihan of Freepository. John founded Freepository in 1999, the first repository hosting service, and he's a recognized expert in development automation and repository management. Between Freepository and numerous infrastructure projects over the past 15 years, he's delivered systems that manage over 1 billion lines of code for engineers in more than 120 countries.

Last week, Eric dug into a topic that's near and dear to me in his post "The Renaissance of Enterprise Development". In that, Eric develops (pun intended) a well-reasoned & deeply insightful thesis on services convergence & the role APIs are playing in what I call a flattening of the IT space.

That's the other emerging theme here, and from my recent experience at some of the most cutting-edge enterprises on the planet, it's one that may be equally or even more important: Everything is now (or soon will be) a service. Everything. Really. EVERYTHING.

Consider what we've already seen take hold, beginning as far back as 1999 (we called them Application Service Providers): Development Environments (Sourceforge, GitHub, Freepository), Servers (AWS, Rackspace et al), Databases (nosql, hadoop, AWS et al), Email (gmail, hosted exchange), Corp Documents (Google Docs, Zoho,, Dropbox et al), and Contact Management (Gist, FullContact et al).

This trend nearly completely obviates IT across the board - these four components of legacy corp IT are being vaporized: Physical servers, Microsoft-based PCs on desks, costly 6-month-consultant-on-premises deployment of 'enterprise' applications, Human IT support personnel.

In some companies, this shift is in the rear-view mirror. In others, it is just emerging or on the horizon. *Most* enterprises are right in the middle of it. The disruption is huge and during the 'ratchet' will push many, many legacy IT individuals out of the game. What this means is the typical enterprise employee today (or of the very near-term tomorrow) will have or expect: A tablet form factor device that is always online (i.e. 3/4G connected) + portable across campus or the globe; iOS or Android powered, using few - if any - MS products; Everything is cloud based, including the desktop 'image' they receive when they login; *Significantly* reduced IT headcount, as everything is self-support or supported by cloud-based app vendors.

I had the good fortune to spend several months recently in Cupertino. This city is a hotbed of creative, disruptive enterprises, no doubt about it - and not just Apple, folks. Just by being here and observing, I picked up a ton about IT trends inside organizations based here and in adjacent Sunnyvale. At Apple, it's no surprise that everyone is carrying either a Macbook Air or an iPad. Walking between buildings across a very spread out campus, it was obvious most of these folks were still online (i.e. typing on keyboards while waiting at crosswalks). Even in nearby restaurants, too - I saw this every single day. Over the course of 6 months, I saw hundreds of iPhones, dozens of Android phones (if I didn't recognize it, I'd ask) and maybe half a dozen Blackberries.

What was surprising was the number of non-Apple employees (i.e. those entering / exiting other visibly-marked company facilities) who were also carrying around the same gear, behaving identically. Now, it's easy to assume that these folks were all connected to secure campus wifi rather than any particular cloud "service", but still - it's clear that the enterprise worker is no longer strictly attached to a physical desk in a physical office, anchored to a physical PC that is attached to physical wires running under the floor to a down-the-hall on-premise server room, where some guy you rarely see is trying to sort out whether the latest service packs should installed.

No single vendor is the clear winner, at least yet. Apple, Google and Amazon are huge players with billions at stake. I won't count out Microsoft, who also have billions at stake, from becoming dominant in at least one of these service markets. My best bet (and arguably it's a safe one) is that we'll see a stabilization of the cloud services market with these primary players and dozens of smaller, niche companies that solve a single problem very, very well. In other words, a bit like what we have today. The vendors who are at most at risk in this scenario? Oracle, IBM, HP and Dell.

The enterprise dev who rides this disruption into the sunset - who learns + champions big data tools like Hadoop, understands that everything can be decomposed to an API or service endpoint, and then actually *uses* this to propel the organization forward - will be the winner.

Boulder/Denver Big Data Meetup

If you're in the Boulder/Denver area, and into (or getting into) "big data," you're going to want to check out the Big Data meetup, next Wednesday, February 22nd, at 6pm in Westminster.

The reason? They've got Milind Bhandarkar coming to speak. Milind is one of the founding team members at Yahoo! that took Apache Hadoop from a 20 node proto-type to full-scale (as in "web scale") production quality release. In short, he's an authority on Hadoop.

So, get your big data butt down to the meetup, and tell 'em that gluecon sent you. ;-)

The Renaissance of Enterprise Development

I've been trying to wrap my head around something lately, and I'm not quite there - yet...but I'm getting closer. In short: I think we're witnessing a renaissance in enterprise development.

This is not to say that "enterprise development" ever went away, it didn't. But for a time there --and I'm still working on the why's and timeframe of this -- enterprise development took a back seat to packages, suites and integration. I think we're now reversing that trend. I think that the next *decade* sees an explosion of development within the enterprise.

Why? The intersection and emergence of the trends represented by today's hottest buzzwords: cloud, mobile, big data.

"Cloud Computing" as a buzzword is now so overplayed that it'll be dead and gone in less than 24 months (mark my words), but the development trends that it represents: the ability to spin up, manage, monitor, secure and develop upon computing resources -- and then spin them down - on a usage, off-premise basis is such a powerful shift that it has to be seen as the tectonic plate in this intersection.

"Big Data" is a confluence of the ever-cheapening cost of storage and processing and the sheer *leverage* that cloud computing is bringing to the resource-constrained world of enterprise development. And, make no mistake, big data is big. Whatever the opportunity was for tool-sets and enablers PRE-visual studio days, big data is twice that big. The thirst for knowledge around the broad array of big data toolsets (NoSQL, processing, analytics, visualization) is nearly overwhelming. Simultaneously, the application of big data tech is horizontal in the broadest sense. Pick a problem-set: social media, finance, manufacturing, HR, anything -- I can find big data applicability.

"Mobile" is the usage wave in this equation. Just the sheer form factor alone demands massive development on the enterprise side, but when you throw in the need for legacy integration so that the end-user gets what they need from enterprise big data served up by the cloud -- stand back.

Amidst these three mega-trends sits a lynchpin. The developers know it because they're building. The buzzword maniacs haven't caught it yet, and they may never (we can only hope), but it's there. That lynchpin: APIs. APIs tie together the mega-trends in a fundamental and unalterable way. APIs are the lingua franca of the new wave of enterprise development.

So, as these three mega trends (and our super top-secret, don't tell the marketers, lynchpin) converge, we're seeing one overriding trend: the opportunity, means and necessity for the developer (engineer, architect) to play the central role in building and rolling out new enterprise IT capabilities.

And here's the key: previously, enterprise development basically equated to cost inefficiency. The emergence of cloud, big data tech and mobile are about to flip that equation on its head. The customized, cloud-based, big data processing, get it on any device you need it on, IT environment of the here-now-future will find suites and packages (and their endless integration and tweaking) to be the truly cost-ineffective implementation model. In short, developers rule (Sidenote: I've been saying "enterprise developer," but in truth I mean this across the broad spectrum of all companies.) Software is eating the world, and those that can leverage the cloud foundation, the big data tools and the mobile wave to quickly and efficiently deliver the necessary information via IT resources are the kingmakers.

All of which leads me to the completely obvious, self-promotional point: Sure there are "cloud" conferences, and "big data" conferences, and "mobile development" conferences -- but the really important stuff here is about one thing alone: developers and the intersection of these three mega-trends. And the only place you can get that is gluecon.

Join us.

AWS, Colorado and Silly Laws

Have you ever wondered why you don't see speakers from Amazon on the gluecon agenda?

This issue surfaced for me again the other day. I was reading Stephen O'Grady's excellent write-up of Amazon's DynamoDB release. I know that the space around DynamoDB is important, so I reached out to Jeff Barr over at AWS and asked if either he could speak or someone else from Amazon could speak about DynamoDB.

What I had forgotten was this: Colorado's silly laws on internet sales taxes are not fully reversed. And because of that, Amazon employees are not allowed to come to or speak in the State of Colorado (it might create "nexus" issues in their ongoing court cases).

I'm sure I'll get hate mail on this one, but I'm with Amazon on this. And it's a shame that communities like Gluecon have to suffer because of laws that don't make any sense. Bottom-line: Amazon is behaving like the rational economic player in this equation.

Oh, by the way, I'll still be getting *someone* to talk about DynamoDB. Maybe I'll hit up Mr. O'Grady himself...

Wanted: Gluecon Topics

I've been working away on the first draft of the Gluecon agenda (which should be posted here within a matter of minutes). As such, I've got a couple of notes to relay:

1. It's a first draft, and a LOT will change in the next month or so. Basically, anytime that you see a session title without a name attached to it, that's my "research placeholder" - where I'm reminding myself to dig into a topic more.

2. The agenda is a collaborative process - on several fronts. I have several trusted "advisor types" that I send the agenda out to in order to get a read on technical depth, topics I'm missing, etc. I then ask other technical folks that I know to send me reading materials. I'd love for you to do the same thing. If there's a topic that is cutting edge/technical that you'd like to learn more about - please send it my way (notice: if it's something you want to learn about you'll always get my attention more than if it's something you want to present about).

3. That said, there are four broad areas where I'm actively looking for proposals. What I don't want are repackaged proposals of talks that you've given elsewhere - this should be fresh content. What I do want are proposals that are sufficiently technical and deep that they are necessarily a) limited in scope (they accomplish or "build" a discrete thing in one 30-45minute block) and b) grounded in praxis not theory (*do* something in your session). Take us out into an area that's not sufficiently understood yet, and *show* us how to use a technology to do something in a better way. Do not send me anything about the "business case for big data/cloud/mobile/APIs" -gluecon attendees are engineers.

4. The four broad topic areas are: Hadoop (specifically, sessions that do concrete things involving Pig, Hive, Zookeeper, MapReduce and HDFS), Mobile app development (TONS of space for suggestions here; stay technical), APIs (I've got a lot of documentation and monetization stuff; I want technical API sessions), and Node.js (specifically around how Node.js is changing the way developers interact with, architect and code around the concept of middleware).

Shoot ideas to enorlin AT Normally, a session title and paragraph is enough. If I have questions, I'll be in touch. And look for the next big agenda update to come next week....

Oh, and be sure to register for gluecon. ;-)

Cloud Foundry Workshop at Gluecon

One of the new things that we're doing at Gluecon this year is folding in some longer workshop sessions in the body of the agenda. The reason is pretty simple: everyone keeps wanting more and more technical content -- and we're going to answer that call. So, this year, some workshops -- roughly four hours in length, with seriously deep dives into a specific content area.

Chris Richardson, the creator of Cloud Foundry, has graciously offered to come and give a workshop in that area. This is the workshop description:

Developing polyglot applications on Cloud Foundry

Modern server-side applications are developed using a mixture of languages and technologies. Developers pick the best technology for each application component thereby avoiding the Golden Hammer syndrome. For example, an application might use NodeJS and Rails for the front-end servers; Scala for the backend servers; MySQL and MongoDB for persistence; and RabbitMQ for messaging. Developing these kind of applications can be challenging since there are so many moving parts that need to be correctly installed and configured. Deployment is even more difficult.

In this workshop, you will learn how Cloud Foundry, which is modern, multi-lingual, multi-service, extensible open-source PaaS, can simplify the development and deployment of polyglot applications. We will talk about how to develop modern applications that run on Cloud Foundry and cover what’s new and different about the cloud environment. You will learn how your application can consume the various services that are provided by Cloud Foundry. We will discuss the various ways of using Cloud Foundry including the Micro Cloud that runs on a laptop as well as the hosted

An Agenda Sneak Peek

We'll be releasing the first draft of the Gluecon agenda in the next few days, but I thought I'd blog a quick sneak peek at some of the things we've got planned.

Things like confirmed keynoters that include:

  • James Governor, Redmonk
Laura Merling, Alcatel-Lucent
  • James Urquhart, enStratus
  • Chris Hoff, Juniper Networks
  • John Musser, Programmable Web
  • Ray O'Brien, CTO of IT, NASA

Sessions that include:

  • "NoSQL Smackdown 2012"
  • "How to Grow a Team of Data Scientists From Scratch"
  • "Geo-fencing Without A Server"
  • "Securing Your Pocket to The Cloud: OAuth and Mobile Devices"
  • "Lessons Learned Building a SQL Database on Hadoop"
  • "Decomposing applications for scalability and deployability"
  • "Model-Driven Deployment: The Best Practice Successor to Virtual Appliances"
  • "We Don't Need no Stinkin App Server! Building a Two-tier Mobile App"

And 4-hour long workshops that include:

  • "Constructing Cloud Architecture the Netflix Way"
  • "Building on Cloud Foundry"

Did I also mention the CloudCamp (May 22nd) and the Hackathon? And that's just the *first draft*.

We've got a boatload of aweseomesauce coming to your way at Gluecon. I hope you'll choose to take advantage of the Super Early Bird pricing (which is insanely affordable) and join us.

Demo Pod Applications

Thanks to the generous support of our community underwriter, Alcatel-Lucent, we're once again able to have demo pods at Gluecon.

If you're not familiar with the Gluecon demo pods, here's how they work: 1) startups that are in the seed/early stage submit an application by March 23rd; 2) our panel of judges (to be announced soon) votes for their 15 favorite demo pods; 3) the selected startups get a free demo pod (with signage, internet, the pod, free passes -- ie, everything but travel included) in which to show their wares; 4) attendees at gluecon vote on their favorite demo pod; 5) the winner of that delivers the closing keynote at Gluecon.

The deadline to get your submission in is March 23, 2012.

We're interested in startups working in the areas of big data, cloud computing, APIs, mobile apps,, time to spread the word, get busy, and get your applications submitted!

CloudCamp at Gluecon

Good News! On May 22nd, the day before Gluecon begins, we'll be having a CloudCamp. Actually, we'll be having workshops and a CloudCamp. You can see the details (and register - it's FREE) here. CloudCamp is free and open to the public, we just need everyone who is coming to register, so that we can keep track of when we'll sell out.

CloudCamp will be lead by Dave Nielsen -- and we're looking for sponsors to help cover the cost of drinks, etc. If you're interested in supporting the community at large, ping me (enorlin AT