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On gobbledegook

A foreign language has been creeping into many of the presentations I hear and the memos I read. It adds nothing to a message but noise, and I want your help in stamping it out. It’s called gobbledygook. There’s no shortage of examples. Nothing seems to get finished anymore it gets “finalized.” Things don’t happen at the same time but “coincident with this action.” Believe it or not, people will talk about taking a “commitment position” and then because of the “volatility of schedule changes” they will “decommit” so that our “posture vis-à-vis some data base that needs a sizing will be able to enhance competitive positions.” That’s gobbledygook.

(Thomas Watson Jr, IBM, February 19, 1970)

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London IoT conference Dec 2,3,4: Hadoop, Cars, Insurance, Sensors, Hardware, Leather Jacket

Thingmonk is a one track, intimate, developer conference for the Internet of Things. It will have a connected car and leather jacket to program, solid tech talks on big data and messaging (2lemetry are going deep on MQTT futures). Day One is a non competitive hackday, a chance to hack with like minds on cool APIs and devices such as the Tessel (super easy Javascript with a modular hardware architecture). Salesforce’s Reid Carlberg will also bring a bunch of cool hardware to play with, including a bunch of wearables.

Day Two is technical talks, from folks like Yodit Stanton, founder of, and Alexandros Marinos, founder of, and for the Hadoop fans amongst you we’re excited to have Michael Hausenblas Chief Data Engineer from MapR talking about big data for IoT.

This year, we’re also tacking into the corporate agenda with an extra day of talks and networking about digital transformation driven by the sensor, automation and Big data revolution under the moniker Business of IoT. Aviva, the insurance giant will explain how IoT is going to fundamentally change the insurance industry, and thus society. Simon Wardley of the Leading Edge Forum is one of tech’s most engaging speakers- you can expect a cast of thousands of slides, and not a few ducks.

As with all RedMonk events expect delicious food and the very best in craft beverages.

For more information please see Thingmonk and The Business of IoT. For a ticket to both register through Thingmonk. There are also some discount codes flying around – I leave it to you, dear reader, to snuffle them out.

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Primer for Thingmonk and Business of IoT next week

With a week to go it’s all about details and the hustle. One of our partners asked for a summary of the event so I wrote this. If you don’t have a ticket you really should sign up. If you needed evidence that IoT is moving up corporate, digital transformation agendas Aviva, the insurance giant, is sponsoring us!

ThingMonk is a meeting of the tribes for the Internet of Things in Shoreditch, London on December 2nd and 3rd, for people interested in application development, design and big data in the coming world of sensors, automation, and massive digital transformation. Come and meet the software developers, designers and entrepreneurs building this new world. Day one will be a hackday with a connected car on site, and some leather wearables in the shape of a programmable David Hasselhoff jacket. Day two will be talks about the technologies and methods for building IoT services, including talks from Yodit Stanton, founder and CEO of, and Tamara Giltsoff, VP of Business Development at Product Health. We also have Reid Carlberg, the inspector gadget of IoT, and he will have the biggest suitcase of devices and wearables you have ever seen with him.

On December 4th ThingMonk joins up with The Business of IoT, to look at business models, data and scaling IoT businesses – that is, ThingMonk in a Suit. We will have Aviva talking about how IoT will redefine the insurance industry, and great talks on business mapping and digital transformation.

The Business of IOT

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Going Up the IoT Stack with ThingMonk and The Business of IOT, Shoreditch London Dec 2,3,4


Never knowingly under-ambitious I decided to build on the success of Thingmonk last year, but adding another day, dedicated to business issues and industry transformations led by the sensor/Big Data/automation IoT revolution.

So now we have a hackday, followed by a day of technical talks, followed by a day of talks for people that normally wear suits. No wonder organisations like 2lemetry, Salesforce and the Eclipse Foundation have come in as sponsors.

Many of you already know Simon Wardley of Ducks, they’re Fowl but Not by Choice fame, but did you know he is also an arch theorist of digital transformation in his role at Leading Edge Forum ? Simon will be keynoting at the Business of IoT conference on December 4th in Shoreditch, and you should come along. We’ll also have the insurance giant, and dare i say it innovator, Aviva talking about how the sensor revolution will change the insurance business, and thus our lives, in profound ways.

But if you prefer more geeky vibe, Thingmonk at the same venue December 2, 3 will look at data, design and developers, and how they’re going to drive the internet of things revolution. We will have learn an IoT hackday, with a connected car to hack parked out front, provided by IBM, and a Net-connected David Hasselhoff leather jacket (this is true, i will be programmable, and channeling my inner Hoff). Sadly we couldn’t combine the two and get Kitt from Knight Rider to come along, but then you can’t have anything. We’re also going to feature the lovely new Tessel pluggable devices, programmable in Javascript; they’re super easy to set up and

We don’t allow vendor pitches. I do however ensure my events have THE BEST COFFEE in london. so you should come.

See you the first week of December.

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It’s the Real (Internet of) Things- Software is Drinking The World.


I recently had a jam-packed week in San Francisco, attending Dreamforce and running IOT at Scale.

For the one or two of you that weren’t actually at Dreamforce, it’s kind of hard to sum up a conference with so much stuff going on. With that in mind it’s probably best not to try.

I will however say that the Internet of Things space in the Developer Zone was really solid. Salesforce doesn’t do things by halves, and IoT Pied Piper Reid Carlberg nailed it again. Salesforce is doubling down on wearables, which I think is pretty smart, given that at least two industries – healthcare and insurance – are going to be utterly transformed by people wearing little devices that monitor their behaviours. The old mantra you can’t manage what you can’t measure is coming to a human body near you. Everything from heart rate to blood sugar level to amount of exercise taken is going to be used by insurers and healthcare professionals in making decisions. Whether or not you see this vision as dystopic or utopic it is coming and coming soon. Here is Amanda Mackenzie, CMO of Aviva, talking about the revolution.

The technology exists to guide dietary choices and identify environmental risks to health, too. Spectrometers that scan food, walls or carpets for allergens will help relieve suffering among those with particular sensitivities, but also have the potential to help everyone keep a check on what they’re putting in their bodies. Again, insurers can track positive behaviour and reward it. Far more importantly, so too can doctors.

But one of the most interesting demos in the IoT section was from eBest, a Retail mobile services company. The demo involved putting a phone into a vending machine, using the onboard camera to track merchandising – ensuring for example that a Coca Cola supplied drink cooler in a retailer was only full of Coca-Cola Company beverages rather than competitor offerings. The app could also use image recognition to potentially ensure all drinks are properly facing forward and so on. Beyond the business implications I was struck by the development approach – the transactional services were running on, with the the image recognition on Heroku. Hai micro-services!

If I am really honest, what most excited me seems to have been a misunderstanding. The eBest rep said that “Coke had bought eBest” so I was taken aback. Wow Coca Cola now has a software-based retail services arm. Software is drinking the world, indeed. Sadly a Google search indicates that this idea was indeed a misunderstanding – Coke did not in fact like the solution so much it bought the company.

The example outlined above however does show a world beyond wearables with a very clear business case, bridging traditional enterprise transaction services with image recognition running on a PaaS. If I was Salesforce this is exactly the kind of example I would encourage, bridging as it does the and Heroku worlds. If you’re a traditional ERP company customer on the other hand, this kind of deployment would be a significant structural challenge.

Categories: cloud, data, Uncategorized.

Salesforce and the New Bucket of Bits. Phoenix, Ashes.


[second update – the strategy and product below was seemingly soft launched at Dreamforce this year, under the name BigObject.]

[update – on reflection i should have started with a use case. Without the ability to store and query billions, then trillions, of events Salesforce will not be able to deliver on its Internet of Things vision, allowing for predictive maintenance, new customer touch points, wearables for healthcare and so on. Salesforce was well set for the age of the system of record, but it needs a new architecture to support systems of engagement.]

When and Oracle announced a renewal of their vows last year I was kind of surprised. Why would Salesforce deepen its reliance on the Oracle database at a time when others across the industry were lessening their reliance on that venerable and not inexpensive platform.

To be fair Oracle database has excellent high availability features, and decades of query optimisation built in. It’s a rock solid database for traditional relational workloads.

But pretty much every business has a data challenge that can’t be easily met with traditional database licensing driving the costs up – for example call data records in telecoms. Oracle’s problem, and that of its customers, isn’t scale so much as cost and inflexibility. What is a system of record if you have to throw away most of your logs in order to keep costs down? I am using Oracle as short hand here- IBM DB2 and even the once low cost alternative Microsoft SQLServer were all designed for an era where software licenses were king. But this is a different era – whether or not you love or hate the term Web Scale, it captures something of the change.

Open source data stores are opening new opportunities for businesses to solve those data management problems they had previously parked, and creating entirely new businesses. Even the Wall Street Journal is writing about data as currency these days. We’re seeing enterprise sales across the board from open source platforms like Amazon Red Shift and SimpleDB, Cloudera, Couchbase, Hortonworks, MapR, MongoDB, Datastax, Data Bricks.

So if everyone else is zigging, why not Salesforce, given its competitive relationship with Oracle? Every customer dollar spent on Oracle is a dollar less on R&D or customer facing operations. Given that Salesforce has a really solid Postgres competence at its Heroku subsidiary that seemed a natural place to invest.

So what would a system of record for every event look like, without requiring a pre specified relational style data model? Increasingly the answer to that question is found in the wider Hadoop ecosystem. The Big Bucket of Bits is Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), with a number of technologies designed to take advantage of that data pool. See for example Spark, the new hotness is reading and processing data from Hadoop data sources. Pivotal meanwhile is putting its weight behind Tachyon for “data lakes”.

So let’s get back to Salesforce then, shall we?

Today is a system of record, somewhat constrained by the cost of relational database. Going forward however, Salesforce will increasingly offload storage to a Hadoop store, with SQL query support based on Apache Phoenix, a layer on top of Apache HBase for data that is not based its traditional business object model. A good example is a logging service for compliance, which will take advantage of Phoenix (Salesforce are core committers and project leads). In other words Oh Hai Apache.

Logging and compliance are not an accidental use case- Splunk has created a billion dollar company based on this idea, and needless to say it doesn’t run on Oracle.

Salesforce is not going to replace Oracle at the core any time soon, but it is going to use Hbase and Phoenix at the edges as a pluggable architecture to offer customers. The blob storage will make particular sense for read only data.

Salesforce needs a Big Data play for its customers and ISVs, or they’ll simply go elsewhere, particularly given the prevalence of, and innovation in, data stores, and the ability to spin up IaaS to run them so easily.

It will be interesting to see if the new architecture gets a mention today when Salesforce rolls out its new analytics architecture, codenamed Wave.

Replacing Oracle is hard, but augmenting is not. We can expect to see similar patterns in the enterprise. Just as companies still run mainframes today, Oracle database isn’t going away any time soon. But its period of outright dominance, as the status quo, is now over.

it isn’t saying so explicitly, but for Salesforce Oracle is a legacy technology. Managed decline is the order of the day. As with the mainframe, Oracle capacity will grow, but distributed data is going elsewhere.

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Gosling, Canter, Hoodie etc – awesome speakers for IOT at SCALE

The speaker lineup for IOT at SCALE, our conference this week with SAP in Palo Alto is pretty crazy.

James Gosling, the guy behind Oak, the original IoT vision that led to Java will be talking about Liquid Robotics, an amazing environmental monitoring startup.

Marc Canter is CEO of Interface, an authoring tool for IoT. He was one of the founders of MacroMind, which became Macromedia. You might not like Flash, but it was an incredible revolution when it emerged.

Peter Hoodie of Marvell, will be talking up his Kinoma Javascript framework for IoT devices.

Rick Bullotta made a successful exit selling Thingworx, an enterprise integration platform, to PTC. Smart and super opinionated, Bullotta knows developers and business.

Sarah Cooper of M2Mi, developed the first biomedical battery powered by body temperature. Need we say more? She also has a great non-FUD based approach to helping businesses understand IoT opportunities.

We also have a focus on Small Data for IoT, with Raghuram Sudhaakar talking about signal and noise and endpoints in context of the Krikkit Eclipse project, while Abdulkim Daneche from MapR gives us the Big Data story.

All of the speakers are really solid- check out the site for more details. But seriously- Gosling.


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IOT at Scale: Disruption, Planes, Cranes, Automobiles

Another teaser for the IOT AT SCALE event next week. I like the way this one came out. You should sign up here.

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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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