This is the 2nd post in a series of posts on OSCON 2019, the first is “OSCON: What it is.“.
Happy 5th Birthday to The New Stack
I tend to write a lot of articles, documentation, and all sorts of various things. It’s one of the many things I enjoy doing. A while back my friend Alex approached me and presented this new idea for a tech publication he was starting. He mentioned he’d love for me to put a few articles in if I were interested. I was, and over the next several months as the company got rolling I added a few articles to the mix!
In those early days Alex started with all sorts of ideas about things to add to the medium beyond just articles. Over these last 5 years he’s worked diligently with a team of great writers, coders, and others to make those ideas happen! Here are a few of my favorite sections of The New Stack.
Podcasts – Of course there had to be a podcast the The New Stack right! Just recently there’s been some whiz bang awesome episodes. Check these out for a wide range of interesting tech topics.
This is the first of a few articles I’m going to write over the next couple of weeks related to the O’Reilly Open Source Conference, or what is more colloquially called OSCON. Before the conference event topic let us sync up on understanding exactly what this conference has been, what it was intended to be, and what it is today and its roots in open source.
OSCON was inaugurated in 1999 with its first conference held in Portland, Oregon. The location, that generally, has been the accepted home of OSCON. There have been other OSCON events in other locations but the sentiment remains – OSCON is a Portland conference and it’s a bit rough going in other cities hosting the conference.
OSCON started as a conference centered around the open source community since day one. It’s consistently held that course even when open source was regularly lamented, insulted, and cursed by the software industry. At one point Microsoft, the biggest of big software companies in the early days of OSCON relentlessly attacked open source. Steve Ballmer stated, “Linux is a Cancer” back in 2001.
Microsoft execs weren’t the only ones, just some of the richest, prominent, and loudest about berating the licensing model. Many corporations and others attacked it as communist and in other ways. But OSCON continued onward every year with solid turnout in Portland. The community continued to grow. But considering where we are now, that might seem a bit obvious. But way back then it wasn’t so obvious that open source licenses and related open models would become the way a vast percentage of software would be developed, as it is today.
But here we are!
OSCON started around those earlier days when open source was more often maligned than celebrated. At least in the business world and in the places the vast majority of us were, or would have been employed. When it started the conference aimed high and achieved a lot of victories in bringing together key people within the industry to grow open source development from multiple angles. As time went on OSCON expanded, as did its host library of open source books, on all the tools, options, and available solutions that were being created via open source licensing and the plethora of development paradigms.
Fast forward to today and OSCON is still that stalwart conference that brings people together, from those early days, to people that have just joined the open source communities today. This cohesive gathering of minds has a very low barrier for entry with its hallway pass, all the way to standard – more expensive fare – that covers the whole conference, specific and special gatherings, presentations, demos, and related activities.
Stay tuned, subscribe to the blog, and my next post I’ll take you on a whirlwind tour of more OSCON events, The New Stack‘s birthday at the conference, and more.
I wrote about my first day of OSCON “OSCON : Day 1, Windows Just Doesn’t Do Cloud Foundry… but, there’s a fix for that…“. The rest of the week was most excellent. I caught up with friends and past coworkers. I heard about people working on some amazing new projects. Some things I will try to write up in the coming days, as I’m sure some of it will be making the tech news (if not the regular people news too).
Had some great conversations about the direction of enterprise and paas uptake. It’s great to hear that there is some movement in that space finally. As one would expect however, there is still a lot of distance for the enterprise to catch up on, but they’ll get there – or fall apart in the meantime.
There were also tons of conversation about the Indiegogo Ubuntu Edge mobile device. This device is a great looking and sounds like a solid idea. The questions arise in the fact that they’re working to make this a purely crowd funded project. This wouldn’t be a concern if they were trying to just get a few million in capital, but they’re aiming for $32 million! Overall though, with 128 GB, Dual LTE Antennas for Europe and the US, a top tier screen in quality and design, a metal body and also multiple other features that put this phone ahead of anything out there. I hope it’s successful, but I must admit my own hesitance. What’s your take on the device?
Over the course of the conference I talked to and worked with a number of other individuals playing around with Cloud Foundry and also OpenShift. The primary aspect that we worked on was strategies around deployment of these PaaS Technologies.
We also worked with Iron Foundry to extend Cloud Foundry to support .NET. If you love .NET or hate .NET, wherever in that spectrum, it has an absolutely huge user base still. Primarily because .NET spent the last decade and a few years going head to head against Java in the Enterprise, and we all know the enterprise is slow to shift anything. So for now and the foreseeable future .NET is an extremely large part of the development world. Having it work in your PaaS is fundamental to gaining significant enterprise share. Cloud Foundry is the only open source, internally usable PaaS on the market today. There are closed source options available, but that obviously doens’t come up at OSCON.
While at OSCON, I also got to discuss architecture and deployment of Riak with a number of people. The usage of Riak continues to grow and the environments, use cases and tooling that people are using Riak with and for is always an interesting space for me. I also got to discuss deployment of Cassandra and even some Neo4j, Redis and Riak side by side deployments. People have used an interesting mix of NoSQL solutions out there to pull their respective data together for their needs.
Among all these deployments, conversations regularly returned to a known topic of mine. Cloud computing and who is capable of what, where and when. AWS is still an easy leader in cloud computing, not just in customers but in technology. This also brought up the concerns and apathy that some have around OpenStack (hat tip to Ben Kepes for the write up) working more homogeneously with AWS. Whatever the case might be, the path for OpenStack needs to be clarified regularly. I imagine the next movement is going to be away from being too concerned with infrastructure and increased concern with portability of applications and development of applications.
Another growing topic of discussion was around building applications for, on and with Windows Azure. Microsoft has actually become dramatically more involved in open source in an honest and more integrity based way. I’m honestly amazed at how far they’ve come from the declaration years ago that “open source is a cancer” and the all too famous, “linux is communism“. Whatever that was supposed to mean, they didn’t seem to get it back then. Now however, they regularly contribute to open source projects on codeplex but also github and other places. Microsoft has even contributed to the Linux kernal a few months ago.
That leads me to the next topic that came up a number of times…
There’s been a lot of discussion about architecture around PaaS, containers (more on that in a moment), distributed systems in general and distributed databases. As I wrote about recently, “Architectural PaaS Cracks or Crack PaaS” the world of distributed systems and distributed databases has more than a few issues when working together in a PaaS environment. This brought up the discussion about what solutions exist today, solutions I look forward to writing and building in the coming months.
The most immediate solution to scalable data sources is still to run your operational data sources such as Neo4j, Redis, Riak or other database autonomously but residing close to your PaaS System. The current public PaaS Providers do exactly this and in some cases extend that to offer the databases and data sources as services through add-ons. These are currently great solutions, but require time, effort and custom development work when setting up internally.
This leads me to the last topic…
The Story of a Container – Docker
Well, not just Docker, but containers in general and Docker specifically. First some context about what a container is.
Container – In this particular context I’m writing about a container, or more specifically a runtime-container, that isolates resources for applications or services. Containers are common in PaaS technologies to help isolate the specific services or applications when they’re on a single physical machine or instance. For each of the respective PaaS systems that came up at OSCON we have dotCloud from the same team that created Docker, Cloud Foundry has Warden and OpenShift has gears and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OS specific containers.
I’ve studied Warden a little in the past while I was working with AppFog and Tier 3 around Cloud Foundry. Warden is a great piece of technology. However the star at OSCON was clearly Docker. I jumped into a number of conversations around Docker. This conversation would then take the direction to containers becoming the key to PaaS tooling and systems growth and increasing capabilities. That leads me back to my previous blog entry “Architectural PaaS Cracks or Crack PaaS” and one of the key solutions to the data tier issue.
Containers, A Solution for Scaling the Data Tier
One of the issues that comes up when trying to scale any distributed database in a PaaS Environment is how to provide multi-tenancy without spooling up new instances for each and every single installation of a node within that distributed database. Here’s an example diagram of the requirements behind a scalable distributed database.
In a default configuration you’d want each node to be running on a physical machine or dedicated virtual instance. This is for performance reasons as well as reasons for load balancing, security, data integrity and a host of others. This is the natural beginning state of a highly available distributed database or distributed system.
Trying to deploy something like this into a PaaS environment is tricky. Take into account that there is no such thing in application or service speak as an instance, and especially not anything such as a physical server. The real division between process and resources are containers. These containers are what actually needs to run the distributed system node. This becomes possible, if a distributed system node can be deployed to and executed from within a container.
After reviewing Docker, the capabilities around it and the requirements of a distributed database, it looks like an ideal marriage of the two technologies. Already Docker has Redis and other database technologies running on it. The Container technology around Docker looks like an ideal fit to extend distributed systems to run autonomously of a single physical machine or single instance per node. This would enable nodes to be deployed as resources are available to provide a more seamless and PaaS style deployment for systems like Cassandra, Riak and related distributed systems. Could this be the next evolution of affordable distributed systems, containers to the rescue?
I’ll be reporting back on my progress, this could be cool!
The day before yesterday was day one, for me, of OSCON. I’d been out of town on business meet on Monday, so skipped out on the intro day. However the second day, my first, was a good time. There was already a good dose of “oh dear, I can’t attend ALL of the sessions I want to – BLASTED CONCURRENCY ISSUES!” problem. I was pondering the Intro to Erlang, then the backbone.js session, but in the end settled on Dr Nic’s @drnic session on how to deploy Cloud Foundry with BOSH.
Windows Just Doesn’t Do It
The first issue we ran into was actually the issue of prerequisites. About 30% of the audience was running Windows. To clarify the Windows question, there is no PaaS Solution that meets the following requirements:
– All Services Running on Windows
– Open Source Software
– Free or Cost
For those of you running Windows, the closest thing you can get – and I might add it’s a damn good solution – is Iron Foundry. But you’ll have to accept that there will still be some Linux involved for the Cloud Foundry parts that don’t run on Windows.
After the session I footed it over to the booths were a food & beer crawl of sorts was occurring, which I think might have been the first booth crawl, of two booth crawls. This was a good time, as the booth crawls usually are. It’s also fun seeing and learning about all the companies that are participating. Since everybody involved is ideally open sourced 100%, and most are at least a large percent open sourced, I always like hearing about the business models that are being used around the various products and services.
With that, this is day 1 coverage, I’ll leave you with a few photos of my first day:
…and with that, I’ll have a follow up post on the following days following this post. Cheers!
The Rails 2013 Conference kicked off for me, with a short bike ride through town to the conference center. The Portland conference center is one of the most connected conference centers I’ve seen; light rail, streetcar, bus, bicycle boulevards, trails & of course pedestrian access is all available. I personally have no idea if you can drive to it, but I hear there is parking & such for drivers.
Rails Conf however clearly places itself in the category of a conference of people that give a shit! This is evident in so many things among the community, from the inclusive nature creating one of the most diverse groups of developers to the fact they handed out 7 day transit passes upon picking up your Rails Conf Pass!
The keynote was by DHH (obviously right?). He laid out where the Rails stack is, some roadmap topics & drew out how much the community had grown. Overall, Rails is now in the state of maintain and grow the ideal. Considering its inclusive nature I hope to see it continue to grow and to increase options out there for people getting into software development.
I also met a number of people while at the conference. One person I ran into again was Travis, who lives out yonder in Jacksonville, Florida and works with Hashrocket. Travis & I, besides the pure metal, have Jacksonville as common stomping ground. Last year I’d met him while the Hash Rocket Crew were in town. We discussed Portland, where to go and how to get there, plus what Hashrocket has been up to in regards to use around Mongo, other databases and how Ruby on Rails was treating them. The conclusion, all good on the dev front!
One of these days though, the Hashrocket crew is just gonna have to move to Portland. Sorry Jacksonville, we’ll visit one day. 😉
For the later half of the conferene I actually dove out and headed down for some client discussions in the country of Southern California. Nathan Aschbacher headed up Basho attendance at the conference from this point on. Which reminds me, I’ve gotta get a sitrep with Nathan…
RICON East (May 13th & 14th)
Ok, so I didn’t actually attend RICON East (sad face), I had far too many things to handle over here in Portlandia – but I watched over 1/3rd of the talks via the 1080p live stream. The basic idea of the RICON Conferences, is a conference series focused on distributed systems. Riak is of course a distributed database, falling into that category, but RICON is by no means merely about Riak at all. At RICON the talks range from competing products to acedemic heavy hitting talks about how, where and why distributed systems are the future of computing. They may touch on things you may be familiar with such as;
PaaS (Platform as a Service)
Existing databases and how they may fit into the fabric of distributed systems (such as Postgresql)
How to scale distributed across AWS Cloud Services, Azure or other cloud providers
As the videos are posted online I’ll be providing some blog entries around the talks. It will however be extremely difficult to choose the first to review, just as RICON back in October of 2012, every single talk was far above the modicum of the median!
Two immediate two talks that stand out was Christopher Meiklejohn’s @cmeik talk, doing a bit o’ proofs and all, in realtime off the cuff and all. It was merely a 5 minute lightnight talk, but holy shit this guy can roll through and hand off intelligence via a talk so fast in blew my mind!
The other talk was Kyle’s, AKA @aphry, who went through network partitions with databases. Basically destroying any comfort you might have with your database being effective at getting reads in a partition event. Kyle knows his stuff, that is without doubt.
There are many others, so subscribe keep reading and I’ll be posting them in the coming weeks.
Node PDX 2013 (May 16th & 17th)
Holy moley we did it, again! Thanks to EVERYBODY out there in the community for helping us pull together another kick ass Node PDX event! That’s two years in a row now! My fellow cohort of Troy Howard @thoward37 and Luc Perkins @lucperkins had hustled like some crazed worker bees to get everything together and ready – as always a lot always comes together the last minute and we don’t get a wink of sleep until its all done and everybody has had a good time!
Polyglot Conference was held in Vancouver again this year, with clear intent to expand to Portland and Seattle in the coming year or two. I’m super stoked about this and will definitely be looking to help out – if you’re interested in helping let me know and I’ll get you in contact with the entire crew that’s been handling things so far!
The biggest problem with this conference, is that it’s technically only one day. I hope that we can extend it to two days for next year – and hopefully even have the Seattle and Portland branches go with an extended two day itenerary.
This year the break out sessions that that I attended included “Dev Tools”, “How to Be a Better Programmer”, “Go (Language) Noises”, other great sessions and I threw down a session of my own on “Distributed Systems”. Overall, great time and great sessions! I had a blast and am looking forward to next year.
By the way, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this at the beginning of this blog entry, but this is only THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER IN CASCADIA! I’ll have more coverage of these events and others coming up, the roadmap includes OS Bridge (where I’m also speaking) and Portland’s notorious OSCON.
Until the next conference, keep hacking on that next bad ass piece of software, cheers!