Andy Piper & Troy Howard, Now Twitter is up to Something!

Twitter is up to something. I’m betting it’s something good.

In the last 2 weeks I’ve found out two fellow coders are rolling into the Twitter family. These two people are top tier talent, so I’m just assuming Twitter had their act together when they went after these two new recruits. So who are these two individuals? Andy Piper and Troy Howard, two people everybody keeps track of. Wait, you do keep track of these guys right? Hmmm, if you don’t it might be high time you need to get in gear and follow them! Here are their deets, so you’re in the loop.

Andy Piper

Andy Piper

Andy Piper @andypiper, heading over to become Developer Advocate in London. Andy has been a great advocate over at Cloud Foundry. I only assume, as many who have used the Cloud Foundry Platform, he’ll continue to be an advocate for it. I’m super excited to see the efforts Andy leads forward with in this new role with Twitter. I’ll be keeping an eye out and hopefully this year landing in London to visit for a few lines of code and a brew or two.

Troy Howard

Troy Howard

Troy Howard @thoward37 is heading over to become the Technical Documentation Super Genius (my label) to which he humbly refers to as Documentarian. He’s helped lead projects like Node PDX Conf (which he and I stumbled ourselves into 2+ years ago) and he’s since knocked out work with organizing Write the Docs,

hujs

hujs

Hujs (check out Glenn Block’s write up) and others! Besides being a mad awesome conference organizer he’s all over the Portland tech community, code space & devops world.

For other trend setters and coders that get shit done and make waves, check out my Awesome Coders category. I’ve introduced more than a few top tier amazing people over the years that I’m totally stoked to have worked along side, hacked with, coded with or otherwise been involved with in the software & hardware industry!

Summary => References =>

So begs the question, “what’s Twitter up to eh?

Is PaaS Tech Still Around? Maybe Containers Will Kill it or Bring it?

Recently a post from @Gigabarb popped up on the ole’ Twitter that started a micro-storm of twitter responses.

This got me thinking about a number of things and I started to write her an email specifically, but realized I should really just blog it. After all, the topic is actually part of what should be the public conversation. It’s about the changing world of technology, which we’re all part of…

First Topic: Usage of PaaS

Barb, just shortly after the tweet above was posted, this other tweet altered what information I might provide her. @TheSteve0 had responded with some items, which @GigaBarb then responded with

Now, not to pick on OpenShift & Red Hat (the effort @TheSteve0 is working with), because they have a great open source effort going on around this PaaS Technology, but Barb had a point. If Cloud Foundry responded with something like this, she’d still have a point. The only companies that continually sign up new companies is AWS & Beanstalk (ok, so they don’t call it PaaS, it gets you to the same place – arguably better than most of the others), a little bit at Windows Azure and a few companies pop up every once in a long while that might take Cloud Foundry or OpenShift and run with it. Most of the early adopters are already on board and most that might get on board are still mostly just waiting in the sidelines.

This fact is frustrating for those

in the space that want to see more penetration, but for those that arent’ technically in the space, it seems kind of like ASP. Oh wait, I should add context now, ASPs as in Application Service Providers. The technology from the beginning of the 21st century similar in many ways to what is dubbed SaaS now. At the time it could have been revolutionary. However at the time nobody picked it up either. This is similar to what PaaS is seeing. However…

A Hypothesis of What Will Happen to PaaS Tech

I have a theory of what will happen to PaaS Tech, it is similar to ASP Tech. PaaS will keep plundering along in odd ways, and eventually one day, it will become a mainstream tech. Right now however it will remain limited. In that same turn, by the time it becomes a common tech, it’ll be called something else.

Here’s a few reasons. One, is that many developers see PaaS and their response, especially if they’re seasoned developers with more than a few years under their belt, is to respond will immediate apprehension to the tech. It removes key elements of what they want to control. It hides things they can’t actually get to and it abstracts in ways that don’t always make sense. The result is that many senior devs stay away from pure PaaS offerings and instead use it only for prototyping, but production gets something totally different. I’ve been there more than a few times myself.

However, the result of what most senior devs end up with, when they get their continuous integration and development environments running at full tilt, is exactly what PaaS is attempting to promise. There are some companies, with senior devs, and extremely intelligent members that have taken PaaS and effectively implemented it into their continuous integration and delivery environment giving them strengths that most companies can only imagine to have.

One of those companies is lucky and smart enough to have Jonathan Murray @adamalthus heading up efforts. On his team he also has Dave McCrory @mccrory and Brian McClain @brianmmclain. To boot, they are close to the Cloud Foundry team (and @wattersjames, who cuts a path when there are issues) and keep a solid effort going working with key partners such as @Tier3 (now part of CenturyLink)  and other companies that help bring together one of the most strategically and tactically relevant PaaS deployments to date.

Other PaaS deployments are questionable for various reasons, they’re trying, but they aren’t there. At least not the types of companies and efforts that Barb was looking for. So really, if there is another out there that’s hiding, but wants serious street cred. A boost to hiring serious A grade talent, and to push forward past competitors, please let us know. Let me know, let Barb know and let’s hear about what you’re doing. If a company is hiding their implementation and doesn’t want to be part of the community, then fine, they can stay hidden and not gain the benefit of the community that presses forward beyond them. But I would love to hear from those that I might have missed, that want to push forward, so ping me. Ping Barb, we’ll get word out there and get developers checking out and making sure your company is getting it done! 😉

Second Topic: PaaS on PaaS and Start Docker

PaaS is nice. If your company can get it deployed and use it effectively, the you’re going to push forward fast in many regards. Deployments, savings, code cleanliness, effective separation of concerns and abstraction at a systems level are some of the things you can expect from a good PaaS implementation. Sometimes however, as the senior devs I mentioned pointed out, you give up control and certain levels of abstraction. However almost all senior devs understand that they want the ability to abstract at the levels that PaaS enables. They want to break apart the app cleanly at the system level from the software level. No reason for an app to know where or what a hard drive is doing right? That’s a rhetorical question, onward with the topic…

Docker has entered the market with a BOOM, part of the abstraction level that enables PaaS tooling in the first place. This tool enables a team to jump into the code or to just deploy the tool to abstract at a PaaS level, but to build the elements that they need specifically. The components are able to be brought together in a composite way that provides all the advantages of PaaS, while put together specifically for the problem space that the team is attacking. For environments that don’t make cookie cutter apps that fit perfectly to PaaS tooling as it is, that needs that little bit extra control of the environment, Docker is the perfect tool to bring those pieces together.

So really, is Docker and containerization that new word (from a technically old tech! lolz), that new tech, that’s going to bring PaaS into the mainstream as the standard implementation? Is it going to make PaaS become containerization when we developers talk about it? It could very well be the next big step. It could be that last mile coverage that devs want to push environments into a PaaS Tech ecosystem and make full use of hardware, software and move to the next stage of application development. Could it? Will it?

Personally I’m ready for the next stage of the whole PaaS thing, are you?

Next up on other thought patterns, WTF are people using Oracle for still when mariadb and postgres mean their freedom to innovate, move forward and surpass their competition.

Back in the Bosh Bunker

In the last post on the topic of Bosh I put together a simple Cloud Foundry environment using the tools & repos of Stark & Wayne. Even though the bootstrap is a great way to get an environment up and started, it doesn’t explain a lot of things about Bosh. So let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with here.

Bosh – What is it?

Bosh handles deployment and upgrades of Cloud Foundry environments. However, it isn’t particularly limited to just Cloud Foundry. It’s been used to launch Riak Clusters, setup Redis, Cassandra, CouchDB and other services that don’t just fit neatly in the Cloud Foundry services design.

It is a very important tool in regards to keeping a Cloud Foundry environment up to date with the latest bits, security fixes, bugs and related elements. Bosh is broken down into several key components that work together to handle these deployment and maintenance tasks.

To put it another way, Bosh aims to give ops or devops the ability to throw together an entire stack to deploy. Bosh starts with stemcells, packages and jobs as the core concepts of how it works.

Bosh is used, within Cloud Foundry and prospectively for whatever anyone would want to use it for, to launch instances, change out the instances, change networking values, IPs and other configuration information. Overall it kind of rolls a lot of other tooling (chef, puppet) together into one tool. How well it does this is up for debate, but I’m not arguing what it is here, just going to get some definitions here.

The Pieces of BOSH

Stemcells

A stem cell or stemcell is something that is a bit hard to track down a definition for. I’m taking a stab at it with what I know a stem cell is, so if you have any corrections please comment below – I’ll be more than happy to add a correction or three. Overall I understand a stem cell to be a complete framework stack built on some sort of virtual image. It can be thought of as the recipe for building an operating systems that will act as an active member of a Cloud Foundry environment. In some situations, such as with a distributed database like Riak, it becomes not so much a member of the Cloud Foundry environment itself but an active node available to a distributed database cluster. This can then be used as a distributed database that is managed by Bosh and accessible within the Cloud Foundry ecosystem.

Packages

A package is sourec with the appropriate scripts for building it into usable binaries. Think of this as a package in the Node.js NPM, Gems (Ruby/Rails), or Nugets (.NET) worlds. It’s something that Bosh will pull in and compile on demand.

There are a few key parts to a package, referred to as package specs. These are: name, dependencies and files. Of the specs, the name and files are really the only required parts. The dependencies are an optional list of other packages this package would depend on.

Jobs

This is pretty self-descriptive. The jobs within Bosh spool up, start servers and services and other miscellaneous responsibilities as needed.

Relavent Sites, Documentation & Key Content
  • The Cloud Foundry Bosh Repo => This is the actual code repository on Github. If you’re in need of really diving into what it does, there’s always the possibility of reading the code!

  • Cloud Foundry Documentation => This has links to documentation related to Bosh that is pivotal (no pun intended).

  • Bosh Documentation => This is the Bosh documentation. It’s almost a good idea to start on the “Running Cloud Foundry” part of the documentation. This documentation can use your help (it’s super sparse at the moment), so if you get going and using Bosh, please contribute with examples and other material.

  • Stark & Wayne Repositories => I already mentioned them, but they’re likely some of the best material out there.

  • Bosh DB => This is a site & repository that Brian McClain @brianmmcclain put together to keep track of bosh stem cells and other repositories related to launching certain tools, services, servers and other things in Cloud Foundry environments via Bosh.

  • Dr Nic’s intro to Bosh => This page serves as an into and description of what’s going on in Bosh. I read this a while back for my own kick off with the Bosh Tool.

Summary

This is what I’ve found and put together as a good starting point. I still think there’s a bit of confusion around what Bosh is, how it works, how to get started with it and having it clearly defined on the web. Documentation is getting better, but still needs a lot of work (remember, you too can contribute). For systems outside of Cloud Foundry it also is a bit difficult and sometimes sketchy to use Bosh as the primary means of deployment, maintenance and upgrading. But just like the documentation that is also getting better. I’ll have more coming in the near future regarding what Bosh is, how it works, and things you can do with it – until then check out Dr Nic’s material for the most up to date how-to and related documentations and videos. He’s done some great work with the tooling and continues to knock it out of the park.

Keep reading and I’ll have more definitions, outlines of what is what, and the entire inception that Bosh is.

Thor HAMMA! OS-X Cocoa UI for Cloud Foundry

So today we’re super excited to release Thor release candidate from the furnaces of the Iron Foundry. We’ve had number of people working not he project and core Objective-C Coder Benjamin van der Veen @bvanderveen (Twitter), @bvanderveen (Github) and site tearing through tests, implementation, refactoring and UI hacking non-stop these last few weeks. I’ll admit, I think he’s slept some, but nobody knows.

With this new release, the features around…  well…  check out the video.

For a more complete list of the features check out Github, Github Issues & the Iron Foundry Blog.

SITREP – Stoking Iron Foundry, Thor Hammering & Joining… ?

What have I been up to? Here’s a quick recap. You may want to get involved with some of these projects!

Iron Foundry & Tier 3 Web Fabric

Iron FoundryBack when I left the kick ass team at Russell Investments in Seattle I stepped directly to bat as team lead at Tier 3. My job, get a PaaS built on Cloud Foundry and extending that with Iron Foundry. It was an ambitious effort that would provide the most extensive framework and language support available from any PaaS Provider on the market.

Well, we did it, thanks to the capabilities of Cloud Foundry Community, the great minds of Jared Wray @jaredwray, Luke Bakken, Eric Lee @saintgimp, Cale Hoopes & the rest of the Tier 3 Team! I was able to add this to my list of successes. We had some bumps, some collisions, a brick wall or two and other scheduling problems – ya know, the standard things that happen on a project. But in spite of it all, we got the Web Fabric released – and it continues to be the only PaaS available with such a wide framework and language support. It ranges from Ruby on Rails, Erlang, Node.js & Java to .NET! If you’d like to check out the open source PaaS of Cloud Foundry & Iron Foundry both projects are always looking for participation & contributions!

Thor Brings the Hamma!

After the release of the Tier 3 Web Fabric I started the search for a wicked smart and capable OS-X / Cocoa Coder – it seems their availability is pretty limited these days! Well I finally lucked out and found Benjamin van der Veen (@bvanderveen, thanks for the intro Selena @selenamarie!) to help me get started on the Thor Projects. There’s the Cocoa Thor Project & the Windows 7 WPF Metro based Thor .NET Project that we’re wrapping up with v1 releases coming really soon. To check out more on these projects that I’ve lead & coded on check out the code bases & information, all linked on ironfoundry.org. The projects are open source, so feel free to jump in and help out or fork & submit pull requests. The team will be happy to review & discuss ASAP.

While we’re wrapping these projects up right now, I’ll actually be continuing on and supporting the projects: Thor & Thor .NET. I will continue to be involved, as I was saying, in a number of ways in the PaaS space. So don’t think I’m disappearing form that realm!

Basho Sings my Song

I’ve been keeping track of Basho for a while now. Riak caught my interest many months ago as a really well built, well thought out & advanced distributed database. As you might guess, being into the whole “cloud computing” industry, I’m just ever so slightly interested in distributed systems. The other thing that I’m a huge fan of, which Basho does, is heavily support and involve itself in the open source software community and movement. The icing on the cake, was their diverse use of systems and language use around Erlang. All things that are massive wins.

Bailey's Taproom

Bailey’s Taproom

Well during a random conversation with Eric @coderoshi at Bailey’s Tap Room & then attending the RICON 2012 Conference (article here and pictures) I spoke to some of the team and found out they were looking for some particular skill sets. Well it just happened that I was keenly interested in meeting those skill set requirements! So December 1st I’ll be joining the Basho team full time as developer advocate, evangelist, messenger or such for the northwest working with a few people you may know such as Mark Phillips @pharkmillups, Andy Gross @argv0 (thanks for the intro James @wattersjames), Eric Redmond @coderoshi, Shanley Kane @shanley, Casey Rosenthal @caseyrosenthal and many others. Simply, I’m freaking stoked.

How This Helps You Help Me Help You

Alright, so it’s great but how can I help you in your day to day? What data do you work with? Do you work with a data scientist? Are you a data scientist? Do you work with huge sets of data, many objects, large objects? I want to know about your data usage and data problems, because there’s a good chance we’ll have more than few things to discuss. Here’s some ways I can help you, help me, help you. Ping me if you’re interested in…

  • talking about your data usage at the monthly Riak user group.
  • coding, pairing & otherwise learning Erlang and the monthly Erlang group.
  • interested in coding, deploying and inventing new paradigms and patterns of data storage.
  • interested in pairing up to learn how to deploy, migrate, upgrade or otherwise use NoSQL solutions – namely Riak.
  • interested in Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Map Reduce, .NET, Java, PHP and how these things can and do work against data in everything from relational databases to the new echelon of NoSQL databases.

I hope to hear from you soon and see you at an upcoming user group, cheers!

Ways to Interact Asynchronously with C#

NOTE: All of this code is available at my Github Project “Remembering” (https://github.com/Adron/Remembering). Feel free to fork it, share it, or send me corrections or pull requests.

While working on the Thor Project there have been numerous situations where I need to fire off an asynchronous callback in C# while maintaining good responsiveness in the actual user interface. Benjamin (@bvanderveen) has been using Reactive Extensions with subscriptions to do this in the Objective-C code for the Cocoa based OS-X Thor user interface. See my previous blog entry for an example of what he’s doing.

For a good example of asynchronous calls against Cloud Foundry I setup the following project using the Iron Foundry Project VCAP Client Library. The first thing I setup was a static class with a few constants to use across the examples for the URI, username and password for the Cloud Foundry Account.

public static class YourSecrets
{
    public const string Username = "youremail@someplace.com";
    public const string Password = "AnAwesom3HardPassw0rd!";
    public const string Uri = "http://api.yourpaas.com";
}

Next step was to setup the delegate and method I’d use for calling out to the Cloud Foundry environment and retrieving data in parallel to my active console or user interface. That code snippet looked like this. I also added a private variable _finished for use in tracking when the request was completed in the begin and end invoke example below.

private bool _finished;

IEnumerable TheMethodToConnectThatWillTakeLongTime(string uri)
{
    var client = new VcapClient(uri);
    client.Login(TheSecretBits.YourSecrets.Username, TheSecretBits.YourSecrets.Password);

    _finished = false;

    return client.GetApplications();
}

delegate IEnumerable MethodDelegate(string uri);

Once I had that setup I was ready to create my baseline method that would make a synchronous call. A synchronous call is one that makes the call as if it just called the method directly. There’s no real reason to create one like I’ve done here, but I was just using it to provide a basic example of calling the delegate.

public void SynchronousCall()
{
    var starting = DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString();

    var delegateMethod = new MethodDelegate(TheMethodToConnectThatWillTakeLongTime);
    var returnedBits = delegateMethod(TheSecretBits.YourSecrets.Uri);

    var ending = DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString();

    Console.WriteLine(string.Format("The delegate call returned \n\n{0}\n\nstarting at {1} and

ending at {2} which takes a while of waiting.",
        returnedBits, starting, ending));

    _finished = false;
}

That gets us a baseline. If you run a synchronous call against anything with a console application or a windows app, WPF or whatever it will lock up the calling thread while it is waiting for a response. In any type of user interface that is unacceptable. One of the best options is to fire of an asynchronous callback. The way I did this, which is an ideal way to make calls with the Iron Foundry Client Library against a Cloud Foundry Environment, is shown below.

This is my asynchronous call.

public void DemoCall()
{
    Console.WriteLine("Callback:");
    var delegateMethod = new MethodDelegate(TheMethodToConnectThatWillTakeLongTime);

    var callbackDelegate = new AsyncCallback(MyAsyncCallback);

    Console.WriteLine(" starting...{0}", DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString());
    delegateMethod.BeginInvoke(TheSecretBits.YourSecrets.Uri, callbackDelegate, delegateMethod);
    Console.WriteLine(" ending...{0}", DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString());
}

Now the simple callback.

public void MyAsyncCallback(IAsyncResult ar)
{
    Console.WriteLine("Things happening, async state calling.");

    var delegateMethod = (MethodDelegate)ar.AsyncState;

    Console.WriteLine(" called...{0}", DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString());

    var returnedBits = delegateMethod.EndInvoke(ar);

    Console.WriteLine(" end invoked...{0}", DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString());

    foreach (Application application in returnedBits)
    {
        Console.WriteLine("Application {0} is in {1} state...",
            application.Name, application.State);
        Console.WriteLine(" with {0} running instances, {1} memory per instance, {2} disk allocated...",
            application.RunningInstances, application.Resources.Memory, application.Resources.Disk);
        Console.Write(" hosted at ");
        foreach (var uri in application.Uris)
        {
            Console.Write(uri + " ");
        }
        Console.WriteLine(".");
    }
}

That’ll get the call running on a parallel thread and when it is wrapped up it returns the data.

The User Interface Interaction Issue

This is all fine and dandy for the command console. But if you want to give control back to the UI thread in a UI application and make sure that the background thread can actually update a control when fired off, do the same thing as I’ve discussed here except set the control up to invoke the dispatcher, so that the “threads don’t cross” when trying to return information to a control that needs updated. In order to do this take the control that needs updated and set the Dispatcher Invoke method as shown below.

private void Write(string updateText)
{
    UpdatingTextBlock.Dispatcher.Invoke(
    System.Windows.Threading.DispatcherPriority.Normal,
        new Action(delegate
    {
        UpdatingTextBlock.Text += updateText;
    }
    ));
}

For more on the Iron Foundry Project and the library I’ve used here, check out the Iron Foundry Blog & Site. For more information on Thor and to follow or get involved check out the Thor Project Site (Hosted with Cloud Foundry at Tier 3!).

All of this code is available in my Github Project “Remembering” (https://github.com/Adron/Remembering). Feel free to fork it, share it, or send me corrections or pull requests.

In My Dreariness, I Installed Cloud Foundry and extended it with Iron Foundry

Morning!

I put together a video late last night based on setting up a Cloud Foundry instance with Iron Foundry extensions. It’s a little long, since I’ve mostly *not edited* it. The instructions have been available for a while but I thought, why not make a video and publish it. In the very near future we’re going to start laying out specifics on how to install individual elements of Cloud Foundry and Iron Foundry. We’ll also be providing deeper detail of exactly what these parts do, what is needed, and how to scale a non-micro environment.

Cloud Foundry + Iron Foundry from Adron Hall on Vimeo.

Cloud Foundry + Iron Foundry for a full framework list of options. This video shows the steps to get a Cloud Foundry Micro instance up and running, then get an Iron Foundry instance up and running, connect them and then view a full list of frameworks.

NOTE: This video is barely edited, so it is a little long because everything is mostly done in real time.

This shows how easy this really is. If you’re using any other PaaS software, especially if you’re trying to setup local development environments, I’d love to hear about your processes and also any ideas on how we could make this process easier. In the near future I want to put together a video showing Stackato too. They have a nice offering to get a similar environment setup with more UI elements, making it a bit easier to keep track of all the applications and such.