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Integrate All the Things. How Web and Open Source Culture are Eating The World

Integrate All The Things WS02Con from James Governor

A few weeks back I travelled to Barcelona to give a keynote talk at WSO2Conf, a user conference focused on integration middleware. The theme of my talk was that Web and Open Source culture are changing the business of IT, and thus the business of business, as disruption increases in a wide range of markets. With disruption comes fragmentation and the need for new development and integration approaches. Essentially the RedMonk stump pitch, as developers and engineers become increasingly important. But I still have NO IDEA where “Paul Andreesen” came from (watch the talk). See Mark Andreesen’s Software is Eating the World oped here.

WS02 is notable because of how well it represents many of the trends I spoke to in the keynote – a company founded in Sri Lanka, with a development presence in both the UK and the US, successfully develops and packages open source software for customers around the world. Earlier this week I blogged about the ongoing importance of the Apache Software Foundation, and WSO2 is all about offering services and support around Apache stacks. I have written before about how the ASF is contributing to the Sri Lanka economy.

WSO2 offers a full stack of integration middleware, integration bus, business process management and monitoring, registry, ID management etc, based on Apache tools. More recently it’s begun to focus on the emergent Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Internet of Things markets. One area that isn’t fully baked, but is looking very interesting, is the company’s drive to integrate complex event processing as a front end filter for internet of things data streams, integrating its own CEP platform with real time data tooling including Apache Kafka, with batch storage provided by Hadoop. I thought of the approach when I saw this tweet this morning.

Anyway – WSO2 usually moves pretty fast so I look forward to seeing the results of its Big Data work. The company is a client and paid for my T&E to the event. If you’d like to see my keynote, here it is below.

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Bluemix, CloudFoundry PaaS and Twilio: It’s all about the APIs. A Workshop next week

Ever since Pulse, when Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson stood up at an IBM event and livecoded in Node.js, deploying to IBM’s Cloudfoundry implementation, called BlueMix, its been pretty clear that popular Web APIs was a great way to make the case for the virtues of platform as a service. In case you don’t know Twilio, it finally cracked the code on turning mobile telecoms services like SMS into easy to code APIs.

Anyway, Shoreditch Works, the event space and coworking business I founded, signed a sponsorship deal with IBM, and we’ve been running a series of events with the company. Next week is a training day and meetup. It should be a great way to learn more about CloudFoundry from the UI or command line perspective, and I am really pleased that IBM persuaded Twilio, now a Shoreditch stalwart to get involved – and I know their will be some live Ruby coding.

So whether you’re building modern Java or Node apps, or Ruby, CloudFoundry is an environment you consider. Perhaps most importantly it is portable – a number of major vendors are going to support CloudFoundry deployment, whether that be GoPivotal itself, which originally built the PaaS, or HP, for example. There may be “cooler” options out there, such as Flynn, but they don’t have the enterprise support.

CloudFoundry is very easy to deploy Web apps too. Indeed- Shoreditch Works now even run a WordPress instance on it.

For IBM customers and partners, it’s a no brainer to consider it. So you should come along next week for this BlueMix day to find out more. Sign up here.

IBM is a customer, HP is a customer, GoPivotal has been a customer.

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Apache Software Considered Useful

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As the Apache Software Foundation gears up to celebrate 15 years of operations I just wanted to take the time to point out that Java’s renaissance has been underpinned and underwritten by the organisation, playing a huge part in the new and emerging Big Data ecosystems bringing together Enterprise and Web companies.

As a time when Oracle’s stewardship of Java was increasingly challenging, the ASF was a safe harbor for people building cool stuff in Java. Yes that’s right – cool stuff in Java.

Hadoop may now be too successful to be cool exactly, but Apache Giraph is (Facebook is using Giraph alongside Hadoop now). Or how about the real time stuff, contributions from LinkedIn and Twitter – Kafka and Storm?

Or the new coolness from Twitter, AirBnB, Mesosphere etc- Apache Mesos (an OS for the cloud, etc, turning machines into One Big Machine, doing for compute what Hadoop did for batch counting). Meanwhile Google’s Kubernetes platform, which is designed to fulfil similar goals, was also recently open sourced under an Apache license.

ASF is now the go to governance organisation for West Coast code, and the Web Companies there are building a ton of interesting stuff. Apache may seem boring and consensual but those are often virtues when creating standards.

So while it was trendy for a while to decry Java and the ASF, clearly they have plenty of runway ahead of them.

If you think Java is dead, then clearly you haven’t been paying attention.

Here is to another 15 years.

associated links – Happy Birthday Apache (10 years in)

disclosure: the ASF is currently not a client, but we’ve worked with the organisation for many years, and been advocates most of that time.

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Red Hat’s entirely rational position on OpenStack

So recently some folks in and around the OpenStack ecosystem got angry when Red Hat said it had no plans to support other vendors’ OpenStack implementations.

OpenStack, in case you hadn’t heard, is an open source set of building blocks for cloud infrastructures – compute, storage etc – which maps roughly to Amazon Web Services (AWS) proprietary stack. Initially founded by NASA and Rackspace, the OpenStack community now includes pretty much every vendor in enterprise IT.

The argument seemed to be that Red Hat as an open source company, should support everyone else’s stacks too.

Ben Kepes, in his Forbes.com post on the story, argued that Red Hat Plays Dirty To Lock Its Customers In – So Much For Caring-Sharing Open Source.

Open source is caring and sharing? Sometimes – but it can also be nasty, brutish and short. Red Hat wasn’t founded on altruism- it was founded on pragmatism, doing the best job of packaging Linux for the enterprise, making it certifiable and above all trusted as a deployment platform for enterprise apps. As such Red Hat supports a range of third party apps – Oracle, SAP etc – that run on Linux, but doesn’t support other Linux distributions per se. Latterly Red Hat has changed positioning somewhat, responding to the rising importance of developers and bottom-up adoption with its embrace of CentOS.

i have written before about OpenStack’s community before: it’s so big and inclusive that it is unwieldy. Different components are evolving at different speeds, and forking is an issue. That combinatorials at Open Stack are hard to manage, and therefore even harder to support.

This statement from Red Hat seems reasonable.

100% of Red Hat’s offerings are open source, meaning users can deploy and run them anywhere they choose. To meet our customers’ stringent mission-critical requirements in a cost-effective manner, and balance the nearly infinite combination of operating systems, hypervisors, cloud platforms, Red Hat fully certifies and supports many specific Red Hat Enterprise Linux footprints on its own and other vendors’ platforms. Where customers have deployed third-party software, drivers and/or uncertified hardware/hypervisors, the longstanding practice of our Global Support Services team has been to work with customers to diagnose the root cause, and when that root cause is the result of an unsupported hardware or software component, we help the customer connect to the provider for support and get back to a working state. Red Hat has sophisticated, proven mechanisms for certifying supportable hardware and software, and we encourage customers to work within supported configurations for optimum customer experience. This is a big part of the subscription value that customers pay Red Hat for, along with automatically distributing patches to Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers. This provides the highest level of assurance that patches work, are secure, and don’t create unwanted side effects. That policy is noted here: http://red.ht/1gwPdJj.

So Red Hat’s move is entirely rational, but it does have significant implications. IBM and HP for example, which both walked Red Hat into their enterprise customers over the years, are both deeply unhappy, giving a shot in the arm to enterprise Ubuntu (which note, now runs on IBM POWER). Mirantis and Canonical have been playing the open card.

Other vendors have been emboldened by Red Hat’s move, but customers are the ones that will decide. It’s not so long ago that Microsoft didn’t support VMware as a production environment. But if customers anoint another OpenStack distro chances are high Red Hat will change its mind.

oh hai disclosure: Canonical, HP, IBM, and Red Hat, are all clients.

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Innovating the Wimbledon Fan experience, Bluemix, and a day pass to the AELTC.

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In case you missed it IBM is sponsoring the Village Hall, to help me support local communities and startups. Under the terms of the deal they get to host a number of events at the space, and one of them coming up June 11th next week promises to be fun.

IBM has managed the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s IT infrastructure for 25 years, and I am looking forward to hearing from IBM Distinguished Engineer Bill Jinks about the scale challenges, serving mobile and other channels, and all the cool analytics stuff involved. We should have some cool old photos and other good stuff, and some appropriate drinks and food. Strawberries and cream will be part of the mix.

But beyond tennis this is also the first London meetup for IBM’s BlueMix Platform as a Service, which is based on CloudFoundry, the open source platform being driven by GoPivotal. There will be some live coding demos but nothing canned. Not even the beer.

So if you’re interested in next generation IT infrastructure or a behind the scenes look at Wimbledon’s architecture you’re going to enjoy it.

I also have some ground passes to Wimbledon (though sadly not center court tickets), which attendees will be in with a chance of winning. You should sign up to event here.

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Open Source as a catalyst for Digital by Default. Public Sector ICT.

Open Source as a catalyst for Digital by Default. Public Sector ICT from James Governor

 

Yesterday I participated in a really interesting workshop run by Software AG for public sector organisations seeking to modernise their IT infrastructures and approaches. I presented on the role of open source in government, particularly its role in modernising the culture.  Open source should not be seen as a goal in itself, but as a means to end. The end, in the UK at least, being Digital by Default, as defined by the talented folks over at Government Digital Service (GDS). One of the unalloyed successes of the current UK government has been its strongly activist stance to improve public sector IT, in order to reduce transaction costs and improve services to citizens. Or put another way – how to stop wasting billions of pounds a year on IT projects that completely fail to deliver on their objectives. Well done Cabinet Office!  But the Cabinet Office can only really lead by example  – the ministries themselves need to implement the changes.

The session was excellent, although it confirmed that massive outsourcing contracts really are the biggest problem when it comes to wasting taxpayer money on IT, and many of them are not up for renewal for some time.

 

Anyway I just wanted to highlight the suggestions on my wrap up slide

Digital by Default > Open Source (open source is a means)
Service Design > Open Source (service design and the user story trump everything)
Open Source != Non-Commercial (open source doesn’t mean you don’t have a throat to choke)
Open Source != Open Standards (this confusion has been around since I joined the industry, and it’s still just as unhelpful)
Open Data (how to win friends and influence people)
New approaches to governance for IP, contract, supplier, project and portfolio management (open source does change everything)
Use Open Source to change the culture/as an organisational principle (see above)
Successful Open Source requires a technical competence (GDS is a great example. you can’t leave IT to procurement and legal people)
Impact on application development
agile, continuous deployment, microservices/APIs, TDD, DevOps, NoSQL, UX (cloud/web/doing things better)
Learn and Borrow from the Web – code, events, publications, tools
Software License fees are fair game, claim the rebate (don’t allow SIs to replace proprietary software with open source and not pass on the savings)
Build, Deploy, Iterate – quick wins. Try before you buy. (join the maker movement, it will turn you into a more effective purchaser)

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Kids Adore Ditch: quiet kids, code and good/bad robots

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Last Thursday I ran a conference called Kids Adore Ditch. It started life as a request from one of my kids.

“My son asked if he could come to work with me this half-term. So I thought why not turn that into an event? Bring Your Kids to work. That is – come along, learn a bit of code and play with robots. Or for the more craft inclined just come along and make and draw robots.”

A couple of weeks later and we had about 35 kids and 30 parents in the Village Hall playing and learning together. My friend Dan Light came along with his awesome daughter. He is one of the best writers I know, so for an excellent roundup post I recommend you check out The kids are alright (it’s the robots you want to watch out for.)

Operate an Arduino-controlled robotic arm… manipulate the real world using Minecraft… steer a car with a smartphone… pilot a quadcopter using bananas. Yes, bananas. Now see your drawing digitally enhanced by Dan Matthews. Take a crash course in coding with Scratch. Program cars to win races, and spaceships to reach home planets, before watching light-sensing robots find route-one along a maze of black masking tape.

and

The first thing that strikes most people when they see a quadcopter in action is its phenomenal grace and poise. That’s because the first quadcopter most people see isn’t being piloted by young children cutting their teeth on a banana-based quadcopter guidance system.

In his post Dan documents all the activities we laid on for the kids – flying an AR drone, Code Rally, “a free, open source racing game with a twist – instead of racing around a track using a controller you write an AI (Artificial Intelligence) to race for you!”, the Liberty Car, driven by browser, the Lost in Space physics game and a robot arm (all staffed by a young super enthusiastic team from IBM’s Hursley Labs), Romilly Cocking’s splendid maze solving robots, Minecraft running on a raspberry PI, connected to sensors in the real world (thanks Neil c Ford), Learning to code with Scratch hosted by Linda Sandvik, and of course Dan Matthews’ digital art corner. And of course the lovely folks from Project Cuato, with their code learning/robot fighting game hackitzu. sworksrobot01-1024x766                     Romilly was particularly interested in the child development angles at play.

It was fascinating to see how the different age groups reacted. Four-year-olds could press the buttons, and understood the difference between the line-follower and the maze solver. Six-year olds were impressed at the way that the maze-follower’s second run on a learned maze went straight from start to goal. They quickly grasped the issues raised by the third looping path, and several of them were confident enough to demonstrate and explain the robots to other kids and/or their parents. By eight, they wanted to experiment and try out the robots in different starting positions. One came up with the idea of dynamically changing the maze with slips of white card covering the black line, and another wants to build his own robots. Everyone did well and had fun. There were slightly more girls than boys, and they were every bit as confident and competent – great to see.

I have to admit I am still feeling proud of running the event. It’s the best thing I have done in some time. Unlike most achievements, which I seem to immediately put behind me, this one really stuck. Being able to feel unambiguously like a good father, but also doing something cool at work at the same time – how often does that happen? The thing that I keep coming back to about the day was how quiet it was. Of all the things I expected, quiet certainly wasn’t one of them. The children in attendance were rapt. Wonder was written on every face. And lunch was good enough to keep everyone quietly eating. I also wanted to quickly mention the philosophy game we played, channeling Race Against The Machine – Good Robot/Bad Robot. I showed a bunch of images of robots and asked the kids whether the droids in question were good or bad. We had a tremendous discussion, and all the kids from 3-12 made a contribution. As I told them- it’s up to all of you to make sure we use Robots for good. What did I learn? Kids are perfectly willing to think of robots as having emotions, which lead them to do “bad” things. Hai the Future! Anyway, I had a fantastic time, and we’ll definitely do it again. Thanks to all volunteers and my staff at Shoreditch Works.

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The Village Hall Gets a Sponsor: IBM Comes to Shoreditch

As I am sure many of you know, I have been working hard to get Shoreditch Works, a coworking and event space business off the ground. Don’t worry, I am still 100% committed to RedMonk, this is a side business. Sadly my Shoreditch Works co-founders decided they could no longer give the company any time, but having raised money on kickstarter, and put it into the Village Hall, I felt i needed to stay the course. I raised money from you all, so i am damn well going to stay the distance, even if it is a marathon.

But London real estate is crazy expensive. Managing facilities? Ditto. We run developer events, product launches, meetups and hackathons, many of them free, but we’re very much a scrappy startup rather than a well capitalised marketing expense like Google Campus. Frankly, we needed a commercial partner looking to make an investment in supporting developers and startups in Shoreditch, which is basically London’s SOMA, if we were going to be able to run free events and so on.

IBM is that sponsor. We recently ran a launch event explaining how and why IBM wants to get closer to practitioners and startups.

As Rob Lamb, Vice President of IBM Software Group Manufacturing & Development Europe, put it:

Our aspiration is that over the coming years, our relationships with venture capitalists will deepen and broaden—as will our investment in startups. In partnership with venture capitalists and through our investments, we will help the next generation of entrepreneurs bring innovations to market and help transform business and society. Today’s announcement is an important step forward in this mission.

We’re going to run some events in conjunction with IBM over the next few months, while I be telling you more about in short order. But the basic idea is that I will help IBM to better serve developers in the local cluster, and in the process help IBM win market permission with these practitioners and entrepreneurs. The evening after the launch event we hosted the London Node user Group. It was cool to have Mikael Rogers and @sleepyfox saying: “i didn’t even know IBM had a PaaS, let alone one that runs node.js.” about BlueMix.

One issue i am slightly concerned about is perceptions of conflict of interest. I am an industry analyst after all. But all i can do is practice full disclosure, and I will be mentioning the sponsorship alongside standard disclaimers in future publications. I hope people understand I am doing this for the right reasons, to support communities, and I needed the help. We will continue to run all kinds of events at the space, and IBM has no right of veto or anything weird like that.

Anyway – one cool thing about working with IBM is that it loves infographics. Here is the first one based on the Shoreditch Works IBM collaboration.

developers-6583-svh-post-event-infographic-page-001

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Mobile First and Last: End to End Computing and The Age of Context

Mobile First and Last: End to End Computing and the Age of Context from James Governor

A few weeks ago I flew out to Las Vegas for IBM’s Impact 2014 conference. I am working on a write up of Impact now, but in the meantime I wanted to flag this presentation I gave during the show, alongside Michael Perera Vice President, CICS, TPF & WebSphere System z. Some of you might wonder what the mainframe has to do with mobile apps, but in the end to end context transactions matter, and a lot of transactions still run on the mainframe.*

The theme of my talk is that Mobile First is a real phenomenon, and drives a number of changes that both IT and the business need to accomodate. Mobile is a catalyst for wholesale changes to development methodologies (hello agile and continuous integration, goodbye Waterfall and good riddance!), which then has a knock on effect on middleware platform choices. Customers need easy access to their back end systems of record.

Another key theme is that change in the mobile space is so rapid, that you really need to choose toolsets and frameworks that track platforms so customers don’t need to. For every developer that tells you HTML5 will dominate, another couple of business users insist that all mobile app dev should be native.

Another key theme of my talk was the Scoble and Shel’s Age of Context is a brilliant framework for understand the types of app we can now build to take advantage of all the telemetry in modern phones, mobile and wearable computers. Facial recognition for example is an extremely useful function, but today we’re increasingly going even further. Recognising a face is one thing, but now we have APIs that can identify the emotion of the user. That’s a big deal. Especially if your goal is happy customers ;-)

So mobile changes everything in a way that the last revolutions really didn’t. The user is now at the center of the experience, which means investing in design and user experience skills.

*For mainframe customers it’s also worth noting a new program and toolset IBM is currently building, whereby customers don’t need to pay the same amount for capacity driven by mobile usage. Kind of like IBM’s ZiiP and ZaaP offload engines, the idea is that SOA shouldn’t penalise the customer paying per MIP, especially when in many cases the mobile apps are effectively read only.

IBM is a client, and paid for my travel and expenses to Impact.

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Remaking Pulse, Bold, Impact: the defibrillator

ibm car

Pulse 2014 was a couple of months ago now, but given that I am on a plane to the next big IBM conference of the year, Impact 2014, I figured a quick write up of the last one would make a good preview for this one.

IBM is currently undertaking a major overhaul of its conference strategy as it rethinks its software brands, in terms of audience and subject matter, a change that was particularly stark at Pulse. What used to be a conference looking at managing traditional IT infrastructure (Tivoli), and latterly using IT management frameworks to manage physical infrastructure such as buildings, wind turbines and even cities (Maximo, Tririga) has morphed into something else.

Pulse is no longer an IT management conference, it’s a cloud infrastructure conference, which means it’s no longer just about ops, but also application development. Pulse is a conference explicitly seeking to change its audience; IBM evidently wants it to be more like Amazon Reinvent going forward.

Robert Le Blanc, Senior Vice President, Software and Cloud Solutions Group, got on stage for some scene-setting, using his favourite industry, automotive, as a backdrop – featuring IBM customer Continental Tires.

“Cloud is having a profound impact on the automotive industry. The first step is fully automated driving. ”

So far so good – managing cloud, managing driverless vehicles – that’s pretty close to Tivoli business as usual. But then Le Blanc changed up. “I am here to tell you the car will join the API economy.”

“Now we’re going to talk a little bit about the developer – every innovation has a developer behind it.”

And so, just like that, one of IBM’s top executives declared the primacy of the developer at an ops conference. Le Blanc kept using the word “bold” at the keynote (it was a conference theme), and in this case the content merited it. The positioning reminded me of Paul Maritz, former VMware CEO, standing up at VMworld in 2010, to tell his core customers they were in danger of being sidelined by developer choices.

Talking of developer choices, Le Blanc then showed off IBM BlueMix, a CloudFoundry-based multilanguage (polyglot) platform as a service (PaaS). Or rather, he introduced Jeff Lawson, CEO and cofounder of Twilio to do so, with a live coding demo, writing in Node.js. Live coding at smaller conferences is of course normal, but not so much at main tent presentations at huge shows like Pulse.

Twilio has built a name for itself as one of new breed of companies showing that you can build a substantial API-driven business. It was good to see Jeff on stage at Pulse.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about BlueMix is how clearly it demonstrates a new posture from IBM – leading with sample code written in Node.js rather than Java. IBM is very serious about Node.

That said, I couldn’t help but wonder how many customers in the audience had even heard of Node before that moment (like Maritz talking about Django). Ops people aren’t exactly dedicated followers of fashion. Some Tivoli customers would have been alienated by the pitch, but IBM gave them some more traditional systems management red meat on day two – with new cloud-based monitoring and management tools, for example.

IBM is taking some bold steps, showing a willingness to challenge its customers, and a much stronger opinion about how systems should be designed and managed. The change is particularly welcome, because IBM customers need to get with the program.

The tech industry is currently rather stretched, in that enterprise customers are largely well behind both Web and Software companies in terms of how they build and manage infrastructure. But as software continues to eat the world the status quo is no longer an option. IBM needs to take its customers on a journey, the same painful journey it is making.

Le Blanc said that in product development “we’re going from 18 month development cycles to 18 week cycles.”

Making that change is hard. But IBM customers need to do the same thing. Enterprises need to reboot – to adopt agile programming, continuous deployment, DevOps, NoSQL, and so on. Cloud will be the context in which they do so. Thus the new Pulse.

It’s worth noting that while IBM Pulse is becoming less of an operations conference, Amazon Reinvent is becoming less a developer show, and more of a business and IT operations conference.

Before wrapping up I also wanted to mention IBM’s developer conference within a conference – dev@Pulse. It was a cool little show, with tasty healthy food, barista coffee on tap, and solid technical content. However it still felt a bit of a bolt on – notably because the location, Hakkasan, was a long walk through the casino from the rest of the conference. It will be interesting to see how dev@Impact compares.

Persuading developers to come to Vegas, or their employers to send them, is not easy for most vendors. We’re going to see all the tech leviathans doing more, smaller, shows, going to where the developers are. But the big shows will also need to up their game to appeal to new audiences.

Who knows – maybe this week at Impact Robert Le Blanc will do the live coding demo himself.

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