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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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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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Monki Gras 2014 – Craft Culture and Tech. A conference about Language and Making Stuff

Maurice Franklin, courtesy of Spitalfields Life

And so, dear readers, it’s been over a month since Monki Gras and I am only just getting around to writing it up. Of course writing up your own conference is always kind of odd- it’s pretty hard to be any kind of objective with something you pour so much love, energy and resources into. All I can really do is thank everyone for their help in making Monki Gras work.

Others have done a wonderful job writing up Monki Gras 2014 however.

Laura Cowen said in her excellent roundup:

“The great talks about developer culture and creating usable software, the amazing buzz and friendliness of the event, the wonderful lack of choice over which talks to go to (there’s just one track!!), and (of course) the catering:”

The one track thing is intentional. The conference is designed to be intimate. I do however want to encourage a plurality of views, one reason frankly that I love having Theo Schlossnagle at our events. Theo has very little patience for the kind of we-are-so-awesome stuff peddled at conference dominated by San Francisco companies and culture.

As Laura said:

“One of the risks of TED Talk-style talks is that if you don’t quite match up to the ‘right answers’ espoused by the speakers, you could come away from the event feeling inadequate. The friendly atmosphere of Monkigras, and the fact that some speakers directly contradicted each other, meant that this was unlikely to happen.

It was still refreshing, however, to listen to Theo Schlossnagle basically telling people to do what they find works in their context. Companies are different and different things work for different companies. Similarly, developers are people and people learn in different ways so developers learn in different ways. He focused on how to tell stories about your own failures to help people learn and to save them from having to make the same mistakes.

Again, this was refreshing to hear because speakers often tell you how you should do something and how it worked for them. They skim over the things that went wrong and end up convincing you that if only you immediately start doing things their way, you’ll have instant success. Or that inadequacy just kicks in like when you read certain people’s Facebook statuses. Theo’s point was that it’s far more useful from a learning perspective to hear about the things that went wrong for them. Not in a morbid, defeatist way (that way lies only self-pity and fear) but as a story in which things go wrong but are righted by the end. I liked that.”

Seems this theme struck a chord. AS J0nnymac, also from IBM, put it:

“Lot’s of places you go, especially to conferences, it’s very common to the hear the ‘automatically awesome’ talk. Effectively, this is the ‘we did this and it was awesome the end’. Those sorts of talks always end up making me feel either highly inadequate, or deeply suspicious. Then with a wave and a smile the speakers are promptly encased in carbonite and wheeled away, before anyone can ask them any really interesting questions. This isn’t the case with Monkigras. People here have proper stories to tell. These would be real life stories of triumph, but punctuated with real learning experiences. The model is very much a ‘Yes, we did this and it worked, but we had to learn a few lessons along the way, here are those lessons so you can learn from them too.”

Talking of lessons learned I was particularly pleased that the Kent Beck talk by Hangout worked so well. Kent now works for Facebook coaching engineers from his home.

As Josie Messa blogged:

“Working as a coach for new(ish) programmers at facebook, and doing so remotely, it of course made sense for this talk to happen via a Google Hangout. It was surprisingly successful, and this was another topic close to my heart as a new(ish) programmer myself. What did I learn? Coaching will rarely teach you technical skills, it will instead teach you how to use your time effectively, avoiding “misplaced efficiency” and how to build up confidence. I’ll be putting in an order of one miniature Kent to sit on my desk.”

One of the great things about curating a conference is that you can have Kent Beck make a warmly received appearance- he is a developer’s developer if ever there was one – but on the same program you can introduce The Gentle Author to a new audience. The anonymous author of Spitalfields Life was a huge hit, with is reading on Maurice Franklin. The Gentle Author is an important documentarist of the East End as it was, is, and will be. From another very welcome Messa post:

“This section was totally unexpected and absolutely wonderful for it. The Gentle Author is a very appropriate title for the author of the Spitafields Life blog, who graced us with a reading of one of his most popular short stories about Maurice Franklin. Once of my biggest gripes about conferences is the insistence of the attendees to constantly tweet soundbites and take photos of slides (similar sentiments towards music concerts), as I don’t believe anyone is actually paying attention to the content of a presentation. There was nothing to tweet or to photograph during the reading of this story, which meant I finally saw the majority of the audience with their heads up, listening intently to the story, giving the speaker the deserved level of attention.”

Please do read the blogs I link to above, because they capture some of the lovely talks. But also notice they are all written by IBMers. It’s pretty impressive that IBM was one of the first major companies that encouraged employee blogging, and here they all are, many years later, documenting what they learn, and sharing it. Sharing Craft- apparently it’s an IBM thing.

Which brings me to a group of folks without whom I quite literally could not create the Monki Gras experience, with £10+ a bottle craft beers (the lovely Thornbridge Hall Brown Sour) and Nobu-trained sushi chefs. I spend a terrifying amount on my attendees. So thanks to my sponsors.

IBM not only contributed cash but also encouraged many of its employees to come and engage. Hursley is now twinned with Shoreditch. But also huge thanks to Appirio, Perforce, EMC, Basho, Cloudera, Perforce, AWS and Brick Alloy. All of these companies understand the value of developer experience, and are prepared to invest accordingly.

I also need to thank all my speakers, obviously. Because they are all awesome, and every talk was hand-crafted for Monki Gras.

Narinder Singh, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer Appirio

Rafe Colburn, Manager of Data Engineering at Etsy

Sean Owen, Director of Data Science Cloudera

Ana Nelson, DexyIt founder, Brick Alloy partner

Steven Citron-Pousty, Open Shift Evangelist Red Hat

Greg Brockman, Stripe CTO

The Gentle Author, writer of Spitalfields Life

Dominic Tyler, Photographer

Kohsuke Kawaguchi, CTO CloudBees

Kent Beck, Facebook

Leisa Reichelt Head of User Research @ GDS, GOV.UK

Dawn Foster Community Manager Puppet Labs

Elaine Lennox, CMO Zend

Donnie Berkholz Analyst Redmonk

Phil Gilbert, General Manager of Design IBM

Naveed and Samiya Parvez, Founders Project Andiamo

Dave Neary, Community Gardener Red Hat

[note – I will be adding individual youtube links to all of these, but its late on Friday afternoon, so I suggest you check out the Youtube playlist here now]

Of course I went mad with the evening festivities, as per j0nnymac:

“The evenings entertainment really demonstrated that James really understands his audience. We circled the square for a while, before heading next door and to be greeted by a man who’s garb would have made the most ostentatious boxing promoter jealous. We entered and found wonderful craft beer, and sensational sushi and quite simply the biggest collection of cheese that I have, or will ever see again in my life. No bland sandwiches and stewed flask conference coffee to be found. Another triumph for Monkigras and James’ extraordinarily talented team.”

Special thanks to Dan McGeady and Kayleigh Folcarelli, and the entire team at MacIntyre Coffee.

So is Monki Gras a developer conference? I don’t know. But it is a conference about making things, and I design it for developers and practitioners, to enjoy, learn, think and make friends. I think I succeeded in that.

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Culture eats PaaS and DevOps for Breakfast. Convergence : a Hangout

Amidst all the hype around PaaS and DevOps right now is an essential truth – that just as its people that usually break things, so it is that it is people that usually fix them. Automation has its limits. Indeed, to my mind one of the best things about the DevOps movement itself is that its about using tools to augment highly skilled operators, rather than to replace them.

So during this Google Hangout, part of the ongoing Purechat series I moderate on behalf of IBM, it was great to see all the panellists come back to the same issues. Break down the silos in order to do great work. Get ops and dev in the same room. The video runs a little long, but IBM helpfully broke it into nibbles here.

So while some might say DevOps means Ansible, Chef, Puppet or SaltStack, that’s overly reductive.

Same goes for Paas – “oh yeah mean Heroku or CloudFoundry”. Apparently not. It’s fun watching me and the other panellists dance around this.

Sanjeev Sharma (@sd_architect), IBM, Worldwide Technical Sales Lead, DevOps
Brian Massey (@brym13), IBM, Senior Product Manager, PureSystems
Mark Willemse, ING, Executive IT Teamleader Customer Intelligence
Peter Philp (@Philp_Prolifics), Prolifics, Solution Director

I am really pleased how the show came out, particularly the insights from Mark Willemse at ING – consultants and product folks have useful opinions, but the voice of the customer is always very welcome. Also to note that ING is coming at PaaS from an intriguing perspective- really its just about better developer experience and better quality.

Which is a lot like this definition of DevOps last year from Jay Snyder, director of platform engineering at Aetna.

“It’s a way to make the developer experience better. How can we help developers to build better apps? it’s about putting more power in the hands of the developer via automation.

We built something we call Developer Cloud. We virtualised the client… and put in the cloud. Then we took the runtime and put it there too – so we got consistency of development across QA/dev/test and production.”

So what one customer calls DevOps another calls PaaS. But that’s OK – both definitions amount to the same thing. Better serving developers to get better results.

Enjoy the Hangout.

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Dog’s Nose is The Map of Zombies

What the Internet was made for. Two pictures shared on Twitter, one after the other. Nothing to connect them except the connection in the mind of the viewer.

Check out the dog’s nose… and compare with the brain.

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Coming Very Soon: Monki Gras 2014. Why You Should Get Involved

And so now it’s just a few weeks until my signature conference is back – Monki Gras: where craft tech meets craft beer. The theme this year is Sharing Craft, following last year’s look at Scaling Craft.

The theme came from a conversation earlier this year with Kohsuke Kawaguchi, founder of the Jenkins Continuous Integration server, on a Google Hangout about Cloud, DevOps and Continuous Integration, sponsored by IBM.

Kohsuke made a point that resonated with me really strongly.

“We really haven’t figured out how to share what people do in one context to another. We have these conferences where people come in and talk about the amazing things they have done. But for someone else to replicate that work, it’s basically all custom made from scratch.”

Blammo! We’re generally terrible at sharing knowledge within, let alone across, domains. And so the theme Sharing Craft was born.

I am really excited to say Kohsuke will be at Monki Gras 2014 to help us unpack these ideas. And given my colleague Donnie’s current research directions, he will have plenty to say on the subject.

The parallel universes of DevOps and cloud developers

When I think about people who live in that foggy world between development and operations, I can’t help being reminded of a China Miéville novel called The City & the City. It’s about two cities that literally overlap in geography, with the residents of each completely ignoring the other — and any violations, or breaches, of that separation are quickly enforced by a shadowy organization known as the Breach.

Much like people starting from development or operations, or for you San Franciscans, the Mission’s weird juxtaposition of its pre-tech and tech populations, The City & the City is a story of parallel universes coexisting in the same space. When I look at the DevOps “community” today, what I generally see is a near-total lack of overlap between people who started on the dev side and on the ops side.

The industry has tried to overcome these issues with massive uber frameworks such as SSA, Corba, ITIL, UML and so on, but these efforts generally all fail.

At Redmonk we believe in people over process, which is why we run this event series.

Monki Gras 2014 will be all about knowledge sharing and cross functional learning – with some talks from brewers, artists and historians along the way. I am really looking forward to Greg Brockman, Stripe’s CTO, talking about how the craft of Mathematics can improve software development.

We have plenty of amazing speakers including the aforementioned Kohsuke, Leisa Reichelt from GDS UK, Elaine Lennox of Zend, Theo Schlossnagle, CEO of OmniTI, Rafe Colborn from Etsy data/ops, Narinder Singh, chief troublemaker at Appirio. Ana Nelson will tell us how making documentation beautiful can help bridge semantic gaps.

Initial sponsors include Appirio, Amazon Web Services, Basho, IBM, EMC, and Perforce.

And of course the catering and craft beer will be amazing. Plenty of surprises in store…. A new evening magical mystery tour, and food created by a chef from one of London’s top restaurants. Belgian beers, and a celebration of the Sour.

If you work in software development, and want to understand the latest thinking in how to do it right, you should come. If you’re a software vendor that wants to be part of a conversation with people building and defining the future you should come along too, and sponsor us of course. Even if you just find craft interesting there will be plenty to enjoy in the two day conference, hosted at the venue I co-founded, the Village Hall, Shoreditch.

This is not the biggest software development event, but we optimise for quality, not size. We’ll create a Dunbar-sized village for two days, and it will rock. All talks will also be videoed, though we won’t be streaming.

You should buy a ticket here.

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ThingMonk: Some Notes on a Successful IoT Event

Last month I ran an Internet of Things conference for the first time. It went really well. We had amazing talks, great hallway conversations, fab food, and… a power cut.


That’s right, you’re working towards the Internet of Things when suddenly the lights go off. What impressed me however was that people just kept right on working by the light of their laptop screens, and the few auxiliary ceiling lights. Most of the hardware being hacked had batteries, so everything just worked. Distributed Internet of self-powered things indeed.

I had given myself a tough deadline, putting together the entire event in less than three months, but I pulled it off reasonably well I think. Day one was a hackday – meet the IoT APIs, as it were – while day two was all about talks on a range of related subjects.

IoT touches so many areas that it can be hard to build a program around, so I went with some key themes- next generation industrial automation, hardware hacking, big data, the rise of Javascript for automation, and perhaps most importantly, Design for acceptance.

My speakers all did a phenomenal job, so thanks again Rick Bullotta, Dom Guinard, Malcom Sparks, Yodit Stanton, Paul Tanner, Jon Collins, Haiyan Zhang, Claire Rowlands, Matt Webb, Alex Deschamps-Sonsino, Patrick Bergel, Nuno Job, Darach Ennis, Tom Taylor, Peter Elger, Andy Piper and Reid Carlberg, Nick O’Leary, Morten Bagai, Seema Jethani, Tom Raftery, Ian Skerrett and Usman Haque.

As ever at RedMonk events we went hardcore on the catering – people are still talking about the charcuterie on day one. At which point I should also thank my sponsors, which help pay for all the lovely victuals and beverages- ARM, IBM, ThingWorx, The Eclipse Foundation,, Ubiquiti, Typesafe, 2lemetry and Datastax.

But of course its the program that folks come along for.

There are some great roundup posts about the event – such as one this one by ThingWorx.

“ThingMonk lived up to its theme of “Unpacking the Internet of Things”, where several players from diverse backgrounds came together to share their vision and insight on the Internet of Things”

Some great posts, and photos and video, came from the IBM Hursley crowd, which came along mob-handed, demonstrating IBM’s strengthening commitment to developer-led adoption. We brought Hursley to Shoreditch!

Laura Cowen sums things up in this post, summarising some of the talks, and celebrating impact.

“It seems Nick and colleagues, Dave C-J and Andy S-C, won over many of the hackday attendees to the view that IBM’s MQTT and NodeRED are the coolest things known to developerkind right now. So many people mentioned one or both of them throughout the day. One developer told me he didn’t know why he’d not tried MQTT 4 years ago. He also seemed interested in playing with NodeRED, just as soon as the shock that IBM produces cool things for developers had worn off.”

It’s true. NodeRED was the belle of the ball. After a hackday on day one, everybody on day two was talking about NodeRed, a node.js based IoT integration tool built by an IBMer.


Finally I just wanted to close the coffee loop. Before the conference I used this Youtube video to explain the IoT in terms of coffee machines.

And we did it! Check out this video of flying a nodecopter by pouring a coffee!


Reid, Darach and Mikeil For The Win.

So that was ThingMonk, another RedMonk conference. I hope my delegates enjoyed it as much as I did, but now I am working on Monki Gras, my craft conference!

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