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Mi3M episode 4 making significant progress. airports and web scale renewables

Last week a few things caught my eye in the world of renewable energy – we’re making so much rapid progress in that respect there is real cause of optimism. An Indian airport running 100% on solar, Portugal making all the running as a global post Carbon leader, and new commitments from Microsoft to renewable energy.

On the other hand I was waxing on this stuff back in 2009, so progress is slower than needed.

It seems to that we’re facing an economy of scale problem here- and frankly if Goog and M$ didn’t know energy was an issue they wouldn’t be building on rivers, and investing in wind farms

Economies of scale come with a direct measurable cost – Apple’s data investment in Ireland, is projected to potentially increase the country’s energy consumption by 8%. It will be up Ireland to work with Apple to ensure investments in renewable energy to support the country’s new requirements.

Meanwhile on the minus side – it’s too damn hot. Last Friday India recorded its hottest temperature ever.

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MOAR VIDEO: on moving Swiftlang forward and wearables, with explosions, charts and GIFs

In case you hadn’t noticed we’ve been stepping up our velocity of video production and packaging at RedMonk lately.

It turns out you can really have fun when you start using a green screen. We hit a new high point in production values and story telling with my last video about Swift lang – including charts, third party tweets, and an appearance from Taylor Swift.


It’s a pretty good show. But we just topped it, at least in timing and comedy with this take on Wearables, Nearables and Hearables – where I riff on building headless context-driven apps.

We’ve also developed a bit of a line in animated GIFs.









And some real time trolling

The Opinionated Infrastructure series is sponsored by IBM, and I give full production credit to Benny Crime and his brother Jack Heatseek.

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I’m Satoshi


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Monkchips in 3 Minutes Episode 2: Panama Papers, Gorilla, Financials.

The new format.

In which I talk about how The Panama Papers site, which is a great piece of work. You’ve read the news story, now check out the actual source material, which is powered by Neo4j.

I also talk about the morning paper by Adrian Colyer, in particular his take a scientific paper on Facebook’s absurd scale time series database Gorilla – it stores one trillion events per day in memory, as an in memory cache for Facebook’s logs for troubleshooting, then archived in HBase. Gorilla is optimised for writes and high availability.

Then filthy lucre – recent financial news from Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. Today the 4 Comma club is about trillions of events. One of these cloud companies however is going to be valued at over a trillion dollars at some point, possibly soon.

Anyway – hope you like Mi3M. Let me know what you think, and please do subscribe on Youtube.


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Dockerize vs Containerize. All the things.


Of course Google Trends search volume comparisons are not exactly scientific, but they can be interesting and create useful data points. Thus is it with this search, showing how the containers conversation today is all about Docker.

Back in 2005 Solaris Zones was getting a fair bit of interest and containerize was performing in terms of Google Search volume. Has Solaris Turned the Corner? – nope, it never did. But the core technology idea was certainly relevant, which explains why and how Joyent and in particular Bryan Cantrill have become everpresents on the Docker conference scene – they’ve been doing containers since before they were a thing.

But Docker is at this point the name that really matters in containers – see The Docker Pattern. It’s the environment in which people are competing.

Docker is a client.

Feel free to point all the different searches I should have done. Like I say, present imperfect.

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Financials, Cloud, Catchup: It’s Monkchips in 3 minutes!

So we thought we’d try a new video youtube format, something snappy, hopefully informative and easy to watch. It’s called Monkchips in 3 minutes – which is kind of self-explanatory. We’ve been doing a lot of fun stuff in video, trying to more accessible and well packaged. this is part of that.

This week’s episode is about the recent run of financial results from the enterprise software vendors, and that was before Apple turned in some disappointing numbers this week too. My premise – the cloud isn’t just hurting sales of compute and storage any more, it’s an across the board phenomenon which is making life harder for companies with broad portfolios as much as narrow ones. Cloud’s even hurting outsourcing. Check out the show!

Regarding news of our new hire Stephen wrote up a a welcome post I am sure Rachel Stephens will make the role her own.

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7 Things I learned at Microsoft BUILD 2016

Microsoft Build Image for facebook

  1. I don’t care about Microsoft Ink.
  2. The Ubuntu support is lit. In the keynote Microsoft only talked about bash shell, but basically Windows 10 now supports apt-get, so the Ubuntu userspace is right there. Node.js devs in particular were all excited about the news.
  3. I changed my mind about Microsoft Graph after a great talk by Qi Lu, EVP, Applications and Services Group. The graph of ActiveDirectory, Exchange, Outlook, and Skype apps is an incredible, rich sticky asset, and Microsoft’s REST, JSON, WebSockets API direction makes all the sense. One end point to rule them all, indeed.
  4. Tie that into bot frameworks with some machine learning and Cortana for voice and stuff’s going to get unreal.
  5. Hololens is incredible. Tell me a specific time and then make me wait in line for 30 minutes? Grumpchips. One hour later and I was a kid full of joy and wonder. So immerse. So wow.
  6. Microsoft’s IoT play is all about B2B scenarios. I know right – where the money is.
  7. Xamarin – was like open source, nah let’s not do that anymore, then Microsoft acquired them and it’s all like MIT licensed. And now it’s free. More Test Cloud for more Azure. CI for mobile.

Obviously this is not the most extensive write up ever. But I wanted to get a placeholder down, so here it is. The good far outweighed the bad.

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On Google’s Cloud Posture. GCP Next 2016.

A couple of weeks ago I was in SF at Google Cloud Platform Next 2016, an event designed to show Google is serious about competing in the public cloud market against Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM SoftLayer. The market and even some Googlers have been questioning the firm’s commitment to cloud as a line of business, so the company felt it needed to make a strong statement. Google duly totally over-rotated on personnel-as-proxy-of-seriousness on day one by having not just new cloud lead Diane Green, but also Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, and then for good measure Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Alphabet all keynote. The session duly considerably overran. Never good on conference chairs. Maybe better to have just Diane next year.

I actually missed the day one keynote, which may be one reason I came away with a different overall impression from many commentators, who were seemingly underwhelmed.

The Day Two keynote was serious, committed, intelligent and challenging. The structure followed a nice pattern from high level, to low level details.

Google made the clearest commitment so far by any public company, let alone major cloud vendor, to renewable energy, of which more later. But TLDR Thanks Google, I have 3 children, and if Google scale is carbon positive that’s good news for every living thing on the planet, including my little ones.

Google’s Neils Provos then went deep on its layered approach to information security, an impressive framework should pressure competitors to up their game. Google security provides an excellent set of approaches for delivering on  security in the Cloud era. The geopolitical/industrial scene isn’t getting any easier, and information governance in the cloud is going to be a defining issue of our time for governments and businesses. On the flight out to Next I read an article in the FT about military contractors moving into the enterprise security market. Frankly any enterprise that calls BAE or Raytheon before it looks to Google about how to better secure information assets in the Cloud era is doing it wrong.

The final talk by Eric Brewer – he of the ubiquitous CAP theorem that drives so much modern distributed systems design –  made it abundantly clear that Kubernetes is not just window dressing to Google’s own internal Borg architecture, but rather represents a pretty fundamental change in Google’s cloud posture – the company is finally learning to play nicely with other children, although it still has plenty of work to do in that regard. Google now leads a project that is crushing it on Github, with outside contributors, and it feels good about that. See this post from Fintan for more. It wants to build a successful ecosystem. But doing so takes time, commitment, attentiveness, listening and a degree of humbleness (this last one doesn’t come easily to Google).

There is no company more Cloud Native than Google. The company literally invented this stuff. Defining Cloud Native Brewer pointed to development that expects cloud resources to just be available, “an infinite number of machines”; other characteristics include containers for packaging and isolation, with a micro-services orientation.

But the question remains – can Google package up its experiences and platforms in ways that makes them easily consumable by enterprises and startups? The best packager in any tech wave wins.

It was particularly noteworthy therefore to see Google’s positioning of Kubernetes with respect to Docker during Brewer’s talk. Containers is nothing new, Google was making open source contributions as far back as 2006, in the shape of cggrounds. But Google’s tooling was designed by the best engineers on the planet for the best engineers on the planet. It works but it’s very far from being easy to use.

“Docker came along and did a better job of the packaging, it does a nice job of how you handle libraries”

Which sort of sounds like faint praise but isn’t. Docker utterly killed it with making containers a first class citizen for software development, and Google knows it. More than many other competitive vectors Google is chastened by Docker. Google wants to make sure that it benefits from The Docker Pattern as much as, if not more so, than Docker does.

That said, Google made it very clear that while it sees Docker as moving the state of the art forward with containers for development, it believes it can do a better job managing containers in production with Kubernetes. Google plans to niche Docker. The contrast was ironically enough heightened during the keynote, when Docker dropped its new Mac and PC clients, making containers even easier to use on the desktop.

Bottom line is Google wants to win those Docker workloads, but needs an ecosystem to do so. A recent Docker survey shows Amazon EC2 Container Service is already a natural target for these workloads.


While Amazon has dominated the first couple of rounds of the Cloud wars, this is going to be a long game. Enterprise workloads have only migrated to the cloud at the edges. Core transaction systems remain on prem. On that note Ron Harnick of Scalr said Next wasn’t boring enough

Where’s the bank that runs mission critical operations on GCP? Where’s the retailer that can run transactions faster on GCE than on EC2?

It’s the infrastructure, stupid. I mentioned above that many commentators were unmoved by the event. Of those I thought this post – Google’s Scalability Day – by professional curmudgeon Charles Fitzgerald was great. As so often lessons from history are particularly valuable:

In May 1997, Microsoft held a big press event dubbed Scalability Day. Microsoft was a relatively new arrival to enterprise computing and was beset by criticism it wasn’t “enterprise ready”. The goal of the event was to once and for all refute those criticisms and get the industry to accept that Microsoft would be a major factor in the enterprise (because, of course, that was what the company wanted…).

Microsoft at the time was an extremely engineering-centric company, so it processed all the criticisms through a technical lens. Soft, cultural, customer, and go-to-market issues were discarded as they did not readily compute and the broader case against Microsoft’s enterprise maturity was distilled down to the concrete and measurable issue of scalability. The company assumed some benchmarks plus updated product roadmaps would clear up any remaining “misunderstandings” about Microsoft and the enterprise.

The event was a disaster and served to underscore that all the criticism was true. It was a technical response to non-technical issues and showed that the company didn’t even know what it didn’t know about serving enterprise customers. Internally, the event served as a painful wake-up call that helped the company realize that going after the enterprise was going to be a long slog and would require lots of hard and not very exciting work. It took over a decade of very concentrated focus and investment for Microsoft to really become a credible provider to the enterprise. Enterprise credibility is not a feature set that gets delivered in a single release, but is acquired over a long time through the experience and trust built up working with customers.

I couldn’t help but think about Scalability Day while watching Google’s #GCPNext event today. After telling us for months that this event would demonstrate a step function in their ability to compete for the enterprise, it was a technology fest oblivious to the elephant in the room: does Google have any interest in or actual focus on addressing all the boring and non-product issues required to level up and serve enterprise customers?

As is their norm, Google showed amazing technology and highlighted their unrivalled infrastructure. And they have as much as admitted they’ve been living in an Ivory Tower since Google Compute Platform was announced in 2012 and “need to talk to customers more often”. Recognizing you have a problem is always the first step, but beyond throwing the word “enterprise” and related platitudes around, they did little to convince us they are committed to travelling the long and painful road to really serving enterprise customers.

So much all of this. Google doesn’t need to change its engineering. It needs to change its posture. It needs to be open and be seen to be so. It needs to give itself permission to come across as more human. Enterprises want to work with people that are like them.

The Cloud posture isn’t collegiate enough yet, although it is of course somewhat academic. Google is about the New Applied Science.

I think one obvious solution to a perceived arrogance issue is to focus more on partners. It was noticeable that Google didn’t feature partners on the main stage at least not on day two. It could have gained some kudos for example by featuring Red Hat talking about Kubernetes. We have seen a marked change at Google over the last few quarters, partly driven by infusions of new blood, but also in Google’s experiences working with outside firms – notably Red Hat. This didn’t come across quite as strongly at Next as it should have done.

But the narrative is there, waiting to be packaged. Over the next couple of years we will see Next become more about the ecosystem and less about the platform.

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“A young programmer with standing desk”

A big part of the Developer Aesthetic is humour. Today via @martinlippert I came across a great Tumblr, Classic Programmer Paintings

“Painters and Hackers: nothing in common whatsoever, but these are classical painter’s depictions of software engineering (technically, might not be all classical but hey, this is just a tumblr)”

There are plenty of good examples, but I particularly liked

But of course what really makes a good joke is sharing it, which is why this instant reply was so perfectly on point

You don’t want to miss the details though

So much this. In case you’re wondering, according to @jackwmartin that’s not a Photoshopped iPhone, it’s Cupid holding a love note. The full painting is actually called A woman standing at a virginal.

baby selfie

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Show Your Work. On Seth Godin, Google Maglev and Microsoft Sonic

After writing a post yesterday about advancing the state of the art, by taking an applied science-based approach, I found this tweet interesting

So I went to check out the post in question, and it struck a further chord. As Seth Godin says:

What works is evolving in public, with the team. Showing your work. Thinking out loud. Failing on the way to succeeding, imperfecting on your way to better than good enough.

Do people want to be stuck with the first version of the iPhone, the Ford, the Chanel dress? Do they want to read the first draft of that novel, see the rough cut of that film? Of course not.

Ship before you’re ready, because you will never be ready. Ready implies you know it’s going to work, and you can’t know that. You should ship when you’re prepared, when it’s time to show your work, but not a minute later.

The purpose isn’t to please the critics. The purpose is to make your work better.

Polish with your peers, your true fans, the market. Because when we polish together, we make better work.

This. Is how cloud computing is involving. In further related news, I also just saw this

At NSDI ‘16, we’re revealing the details of Maglev1, our software network load balancer that enables Google Compute Engine load balancing to serve a million requests per second with no pre-warming.

Google has a long history of building our own networking gear, and perhaps unsurprisingly, we build our own network load balancers as well, which have been handling most of the traffic to Google services since 2008. Unlike the custom Jupiter fabrics that carry traffic around Google’s data centers, Maglev load balancers run on ordinary servers — the same hardware that the services themselves use.

Hardware load balancers are often deployed in an active-passive configuration to provide failover, wasting at least half of the load balancing capacity. Maglev load balancers don’t run in active-passive configuration. Instead, they use Equal-Cost Multi-Path routing (ECMP) to spread incoming packets across all Maglevs, which then use consistent hashing techniques to forward packets to the correct service backend servers, no matter which Maglev receives a particular packet. All Maglevs in a cluster are active, performing useful work.

It is worth noting here that this is research paper sharing, rather than a code drop. Google of course didn’t open source Borg, but did open source an implementation of it, in the shape of Kubernetes. I am wondering whether that team will build their own implementation of Maglev which will be open sourced. Load balancers like Maglev would be beyond the scale needs of most organisations.

Google though isn’t the only one opening the kimono on Cloud network architecture. Microsoft just open sourced Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONIC), which builds on Azure Cloud Switch, a Debian-software based switch.

We’re talking about ACS publicly as we believe this approach of disaggregating the switch software from the switch hardware will continue to be a growing trend in the networking industry and we would like to contribute our insights and experiences of this journey starting here.

The challenge for traditional networking gear suppliers is going to become increasingly severe as the collaborative Applied Science approach, underpinned by cloud scale providers I described yesterday takes hold in that market. Enterprises and Web companies however are going to significantly benefit from all of this innovation, in both cost and capability.

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