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IoT@Scale: a RedMonk event with SAP

I made this video preview for IoT@Scale is an event we’re running with SAP, in Palo Alto on October 16/17th. We want to bring developers to bear on Industrial scale IoT issues. It’s a chance to enjoy the RedMonk experience on the West Coast. Let’s just say there will be great talks, company and of course tremendous craft beers. Day one will be hacks, day two talks.

As my esteemed colleague Juliane Leary puts it:

“During IoT at Scale, we will get under the skin of the emerging IoT disruption. We are celebrating Web, Developer and Maker culture as their influence grows in the enterprise, delivering better apps and services to users. This is not an event about stuff that won’t ever make it into production, but rather a look at future production systems.

Web scale is going to look small in comparison to IoT scale for automation, analytics, data management, and at every layer of the stack. We’re going to bridge high scale architectures and infrastructures with the kind of business issues that face SAP customers and prospects every day.

Talks will be technical in nature, aimed at developers, architects and digital innovators.”

You should sign up here.

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How To Get Girls Into Coding: quite simply the best tweet ever

I am really looking forward to seeing Soledad Penadés, the author of this fantastic tweet, talk at One Shot London this Saturday (some tickets still available here).

“Just turn it into a node module,” and other mantras Edna taught me.

The story of leaving behind a random mix of Python + php + bash + makefile + Scons scripts to totally embrace using Node, modules, standard callbacks, browserify, and friends to build toys that bleep and bloop with MIDI, WebGL and Web Audio.

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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

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 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:

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.


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


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.


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.


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