Monday Jul 20, 2009

Zembly.com

At JavaOne I attended an interesting session around a new service called Zembly. It is a developer service build on the Sun Cloud and as a beta is available free to developers. They described Zembly as:

  • A browser based, social IDE
  • REST service mashup platform
  • Massively scalable app hosting cloud

Or put another way Development as a Service and Platform as a Service. The development tools themselves are delivered entirely within the browser (I think using AJAX and HTML but they did talk about using JavaFX in the future) and provide click and include access to a large number of REST based web services that are available today on the next. The tools support a number of scripting languages (PHP, Python, JavaScript and Ruby). From the demonstration it looked pretty easy to quickly mash up some quite compelling web applications and then deploy them to the cloud. This means as a developer you can experiment with new web services (development and deployment) without the need to make any investment over and above the laptop and browser that you have today to access the net. At the moment (at least while the service is in beta) it is free to use.

By deploying to the cloud you can start your deployment as small as you want and scale as quickly or as slowly as you want. If your service does not take off you can just turn it off and try another one. This seems to me like the perfect way to stimulate the next wave of web based innovation.


Wednesday Jun 03, 2009

JavaOne - Day 2

Sony Ericsson had the opening keynote today. I have known Christopher David virtually since first joining Sun in 1995 and have a huge respect for him personally and professionally. Having said that it just pained me more to see this keynote. I still have NO idea what the message was that they were trying to get across. Discussing with other delegates I found out that I was not alone. In fact I could not find anyone willing to speculate on what they thought they might have been trying to say.

They evening keynote was from the Consumer and Embedded software engineering team at Sun responsible for all the sub desktop Java Platforms (Java ME, JavaCard, WTK, etc). This is always a MUST for any fans of geek gadgets. This year was no exception. The main focus was JavaFX Mobile and how this can deliver common applications, user experience and look and field across "all the screens of your life". JavaFX demos were shown running on laptops, various mobile phones and TVs. I have to say as a user of multiple connected gadgets to story was very appealing. Let's how it will reach us as consumers sometime soon. JavaOne has a long history of showing demos that are based on simulating people to think of the just about possible rather than what is reality today which then takes a period of time from 6 months to 4 years to fall into the hands of the average consumer.

One of the most interesting sessions that I attended today was by Ericsson Labs who have taken the MLPK20 code based on project wonderland and extended it to provide a Java Mobile client running on a mobile phone as well as a few other extensions. The mobile client was a 2D plan view of the 3D world and did rather have me asking - WHY? The only sensible answer I could find was - because we wanted to see if we could. Performance was acceptable but more interesting were some of the extensions that they had added for virtual and physical world integration such as the whiteboard integration. Project Wonderland is built on the Project Darkstar server which has been designed originally for enabling networked multi player games. For anyone not familiar with project wonderland it is development kit for building virtual worlds and for MLPK20 think Second Life comes to the enterprise. Personally I find this whole are of applying Web 2.0 consumer technology to the enterprise a fascinating emerging area offering almost unlimited scope for creative thinking.

One other thing struck me today. For a conference that is titled JavaOne there seemed to me more than 50% of the technical sessions discussing interesting but NOT Java technologies such as various scripting languages and cloud computing. Cloud is everywhere at this JavaOne. Different clouds, tools for clouds, deploying on clouds, designing for clouds, testing on clouds, etc.

Tuesday Jun 02, 2009

JavaOne - Day One

I am not going to cover the content from todays key note. You can find the playback here. What was far more interesting for me was the general them and emotions surrounding the key note. As I mentioned in my JavaOne prologue I did not come here expecting a whole slew of future announcements from Sun and certainly the key note did not present any surprises from that perspective. The only exception being the announcement of the Java store. Sun has often been criticised but the business community and analysts for developing great technology in Java but failing to build a business model around it to monetize the technology. As if to prove the point the one thing still missing from the beta version of the Java store is the billing system!

Much of the general session was devoted to looking back over the history of JavaOne and great news James Gosling was back on stage with his catapult launching T-shirts into the audience. Something missing from last years event. Finally Scott McNealy came on stage to close out the session. He finally announced that he wanted to address "the big pink elephant in the room" and proceeded to introduce Larry Ellison. It was at this point that I finally realised that this would be the last JavaOne hosted by Sun Microsystems Inc. I was also at Sun world 1995 where Java was launched (often mistakenly called the first JavaOne - indeed this was repeated today multiple times by Scott, Jonathan and James). This means that I was at the first and last JavaOne! Scott struggled to get his last few sentences out before he left the stage with the emotion of knowing it was his last JavaOne. For those of us who have been a long time at Sun it was quite an emotional event.

So what did Larry have to say. Well it mainly boiled down to 3 things. Firstly he stated that AJAX was dead and the future was JavaFX. He also said that he wanted to see JavaFX on Android. Finally he said that he saw no reason to reduce the investment and commitment made by both companies today following the take over. He also pointed out that today with the exception of the database ALL of Oracles software is dependent on Java so it would be business suicide to not work to ensure that Java continues to excel.

One interesting aside was that throughout the whole of Scott's presentation he used the works merge, merger and merged - no mention of the word takeover. Larry was magnanimous enough not to correct him.

The most entertaining and interesting session that I attended today was a session entitled AJAX vs JavaFX delivered by two guys from Mozilla. It was from the perspective of a developer of RIAs. Apart from the fact that it seriously over ran (the AV guy eventually announce over the top of them that the session was over) it was very good. They looked at which was best from a number of perspectives and also debated the relative importance of being best in each category. Categories included performance, usability, tools and libraries, audio and video integration, image manipulation and deployment.

The most popular topic by far for the sessions is all around cloud computing. Apart from that it is RIAs and scripting.

Monday Jun 01, 2009

CommunityOne

The two main topics of the key note were Cloud Computing and the new release of Open Solaris 2009.6 (the binary distribution)

The cloud computing session include little over and above what was presented at Community One East back in March. The general availability of the storage cloud is imminent and the general availability of the compute cloud is expected soon. No precise dates were given.

One interesting fact that was slipped into the Open Solaris announcement was that the 2009.6 release will double up as the preview release for the next major release of Enterprise Solaris (ie. the replacement for Solaris 10). To understand why this is interesting you need to understand the release processor for Enterprise Solaris. At the point where a major release of Enterprise Solaris is made a snap shot of the development source tree is made and maintained separately from the development source tree. New features and bug fixes are added to the development source tree and (where possible) back ported to Enterprise Solaris as update releases or patches. The key wprds in this sentence are "where possible". The longer the time elapsed from the source code fork the greater the divergence of the two source trees and the harder it becomes to back port new features. Eventually you reach the point where back porting certain new features becomes commercially non viable or technically impossible. This all happened with Solaris 10. The development code base (Nevada), which became the Open Solaris code base and the two have been diverging to the point were an increasing number of new Solaris features are only available in Open Solaris and not in Solaris 10 (such as CrossBow, xVM and some features of ZFS). A new major release of Enterprise Solaris would bring them back in line. It would also be a milestone as the first release of Enterprise Solaris based on Open Source. So todays announcement means that a new major release is in the pipeline. No announcements were made on when it would happen but my guess is in a window 6-12 months from now.

Looking at the features of the new Open Solaris release they went back over some of the pre-existing features that have been enhanced like dTrace, ZFS and Time Slider. In looking at ZFS they covered hybrid storage pools and how they have been leveraged in the Open Storage 7000 family of products. The major new feature is Project Crossbow providing a major step forward in network virtualisatiion and network QoS management. The final thing that was of personal interest was the launch of Source Juicer for Open Solaris. This is a system for community members to contribute packages to the new IPS package repository. Back in 1998 I tried to push this idea at Sun and received a major battering from the Solaris marketing team. It is good to see that common sense has now prevailed.

Sunday May 31, 2009

Javaone and Communityone 2009

Well somehow I managed to convince my boss for the second year running to approve the funds for attending Javaone and Communityone so I am writing this from the VS019 to SFO. I will try to post daily from the show my thought s and insights. I am not entirely sure what to expect this year and how the event will be impacted by the Oracle announcement. Certainly Oracle are conspicuous by their absence from any of the key notes and the list of sponsors. For the past number of years Oracle have been a sponsor of the event and had one of the keynotes. I suspect that this has more to do with the not wanting to anything to derail the SEC filing and other regulatory filings than any real conspiracy. For the same reason I think anyone arriving at the event expecting to get any new or amazing announcements other than what has been said already will leave the event disappointed but rest assured if there is anything I pick up I will relay it.

Looking at the agenda for Communityone I think that one of the major themes will be cloud computing both from Sun and others. There also seems to be plenty of buzz again this year at Communityone and Javaone for scripting of various flavours.

One final thought is that despite years of experience of Javaone I still managed to board the plane without having installed brand new padded insoles in my shoes. Last year I went through two sets in a week. I guess I will be straight to the drug store tomorrow morning.

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