Tuesday Mar 24, 2009

Community One East

I had the good fortune to present, along with my colleague Prashant, at the Community One event in New York last week. We talked about all of the testing work that we have been doing with Ruby on Rails on OpenSolaris these last 2 months and gave some pointers on what stack components to use and how to scale both vertically and horizontally. Got to see some of the sessions, although I spent a lot of the time in the speaker room on the first day. It was interesting to hear Dave Douglas talking about Kutiman, well actually it was more weird than interesting :o) I've listened to Kutiman quite a bit over the last couple of years, but had missed the Youtube Mashup thing that he's done. If you are interested check out http://thru-you.com/

In the same Keynote, Dave Douglas re-purposed Sun's 25 year old vision: "The network is the computer" for the Cloud and announced the Sun Open Cloud Platform. Dave believes (and I tend to agree) that there will be many clouds, some public, some private, some internal, some internal, geographic based clouds, market based clouds and so on. The Sun Open Cloud Platform will provide the infrastructure for powering these clouds, starting with the Sun Cloud. The Sun Cloud is currently manifested as a RESTful API which you can sign up for at http://kenai.com (it comes out of an internal project called Kenai and from QLayer), the API is published under Creative Commons which is cool. Other bits will follow later this year, Sun Cloud Compute Service and Sun Cloud Storage Service, which all I know about is limited to the press release. Now all we need to do is get the word out about what we are doing and then listen to the people who use it, who want to use it and who used it and didn't like it, and make it the best Cloud possible.

I didn't get a chance to see Simon Phipps' talk on The 3rd wave of Open Source live as I was talking at the time. I have watched the recording since and it's pretty interesting. I like the mention of Open Source as the Firmware for the Systems group at Sun (where I work), for example the Sun Storage 7000 series has OpenSolaris and ZFS as it's 'firmware', that these software components are fundamental parts of these systems and that no additional software and software licenses are required to make them work. Indeed Open Source really is now at the core of Sun Microsystems. Something else he said half jokingly, he used the word "victims" to describe the users of closed source, proprietary software, not sure why that gels so well with me. "More and more procurement driven projects are ending in failure" and the alternative is an adoption led process, where there's a lose specification of requirements, prototyping and several iterations that lead into a pilot that will either succeed or 'fail early' and that's fine, better to fail early than to fail after spending lots of money on licenses, professional services and support contracts.

Anyway, rather than give a commentary on the talks I saw you can see video of the main track and pick up the slides for the others at: http://www.sun.com/events/communityone/index.jsp

I had the pleasure to meet Dave Pascoe and Mark Niedzielski from OurStage who attended our talk. I think I learned more from them than they did from me :o)   If you are at all interested in new music you should check them out. Anyway, they use Rails big time and they use OpenSolaris for storage. The kind of scaling that they do is something that given the limited opportunities for access to equipment, I could only ever dream about. It was thought provoking to say the least. Mark showed me a software monitoring tool called Rails Performance Monitor from a company called New Relic. It's the kind of app that anyone involved in managing and monitoring performance long for and tells you pretty much everything about how your Rails app is performing and where it's spending it's time. I've been using the Lite version for the last couple of days.

The second day of Community One was reserved for Deep Dives and I decided to attend the MySQL sessions (dev in the morning, dba in the afternoon) and see if I could pick up some useful tips. We spent a little too long looking at the online docs, but apart from that they were good sessions. If nothing else, finding out that I could log queries that didn't use an index made the whole thing worth while.

NYC was it's usual self:  expensive, noisy, bustling and full of character. I had a 1.5 hour tour of Manhattan on my way from the airport on the Shuttle bus and took the E line subway in the rush hour on the return trip.

Oh and some people were talking about IBM, something about an outrageous plot to take over the world...




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