Preamble: my content It has been a while since I’ve written a general “what I’m working on” post, so I’m fixing that now. It has been a busy year — I last published a newsletter in March 2021, and I didn’t get back to writing — primarily technical writing– until … Continue reading What I’ve been doing in 2022 (so far)
On Saturday, I attended the Unite for Europe March in London.
It was the first time I’ve ever taken part in an organised protest or march, and it was probably also the first time I’ve ever felt strongly enough about an issue to feel motivated to do so.
As I walked from the Tube to the meeting point at the start of the route, I was thinking about all we’ll lose as we head into this coming week, towards Mrs May’s intended date for triggering Article 50 and starting the two years of exit negotiations.
My father was born into a world that within weeks, was plunged into the Second World War. My grandparents must have spent some time hiding in shelters with their children, my father and uncle, the fear and uncertainty something I cannot imagine. My mother was born into the hesitant peace that came immediately after that conflict, and the years of austerity, rationing and rebuilding that followed, as borders closed and dangers loomed in the east.
And then came the Treaty of Rome, and the start of 60 years of peace, cooperation and (relative) economic stability, in a continent previously torn by wars and economic rivalries.
By contrast to my parents, I was born into a nation that was by then already a member of the EU. I’ve held the rights of an EU citizen since 1993 when those rights were established by treaty. So, for my entire working life I’ve enjoyed the benefits of freedom of movement, freedom from discrimination based on my nationality within the EU, and rights to consular protection abroad (among others). It makes me incredibly sad that the rising tides of nationalism in individual member states are starting to dilute these feelings of freedom and partnership that have been hard-won through (initially) post-war negotiation, and then expanded through the end of the Cold War to our neighbours further across the continent.
It’s fairly clear that in the nine months since the referendum took place, every one of the main planks of the groups advocating that Britain should leave the EU have been thoroughly dismantled or proven as falsehoods — most famously the £350 million per week we’d get back to put into the NHS, which was a claim withdrawn on day 1 after the result. Given that many of the staff of the NHS choose to live and work in the UK but come from outside, we can also guess that things will become even further strained as the Government refuses to guarantee the rights of existing EU citizens. There may be a large fee of billions to pay to get out, but we just don’t know yet, and probably will not through the coming (doubtless even more uncertain) two years ahead. Some of the UK regions and industries significantly dependent on EU grants and funding have started to realise the austerity they face in the future. Immigration has yet to be proven a failed policy, and our terrorists have consistently been home-grown.
Not only that, but those in favour of the exit appear intent on trampling on genuinely useful rules agreed across the EU, such as protecting wildlife habitats and regulating drug trials. My mind boggles as to what comes after our EU rights are stripped and businesses are given free reign to profit in any ways they choose… there’s nothing to fear in the past, but a leap into the dark unknown ahead.
I’m appalled that a minority voting outcome for an advisory process to Parliament has led us down this sad path, and it is largely those under 40 who will pay the price for this in the coming decades.
The march on Saturday was glorious, with a far larger turnout than the organisers expected, and with people coming to London from across the country to join together to speak for Europe. A source of joy and love.
For the moment, I’m proud to be a European citizen. I celebrate all of my friends and colleagues who decided to come to the UK to work and live here, and long (I hope) may they do so. The EU is far from perfect, and could do with many structural reforms and revisions, but I applaud what it has brought to this continent of ours for the past 60 years — peace, freedom, friendship, greater understanding, opportunity, and prosperity.
Happy birthday, EU!
(originally posted on Medium)
2014, looking back… a little bit of a year in review. What I’ve been up to at Twitter, in Open Source, and in life.
My boss and mentor, James Watters, just blogged about the launch of what we’ve been working on since before Pivotal was formed earlier this year – Pivotal One, powered by Pivotal CF (based on Cloud Foundry).
Pivotal is bringing together a number of key technology assets – our Open Source cloud platform (Cloud Foundry), agile development frameworks like Spring, Groovy and Grails, a messaging fabric (RabbitMQ), and big, fast data assets like Pivotal HD.
What we’re announcing today delivers on that promise and our vision – the consumer-grade enterprise, enabling organisations to create new applications with unprecedented speed. The cloud – infrastructure clouds, IaaS like Amazon EC2, VMware vSphere, OpenStack, CloudStack, etc – can be thought of as the new hardware. It’s like buying a beige server box back in the 90s – the IaaS layer gives you a bunch of CPU, network, and storage resources, and for your application to use them, you need a layer in between – an operating system, if you like. We’ve spoken of our ambition for Cloud Foundry as “the Linux of the Cloud”, and it already runs on all of those infrastructures I’ve listed above – in the future, hopefully more.
Why is that important? Why should developers care about this Platform (PaaS) layer? A development team shouldn’t have to go through an 18 month delivery cycle to deliver an app! We’re putting an end to the whole cycle of calling up the infrastructure team, having new servers commissioned, operating systems installed, databases configured etc etc just to get an application deployed and running. When you first push an application to Cloud Foundry, and can then bind data services and scale out with simple individual commands, it really is a liberating experience compared to what traditionally has been required to get your application running. We’re making it quicker and easier to get going – a friction-free, turnkey experience. You should just be able to write your code and make something amazing.
We’re also delivering choice – of runtimes and languages, data services, and also importantly, a choice of “virtual hardware”. When Comic Relief ran in the UK this year, in order to avoid any risk of hardware failure (we all know there’s a risk that Amazon might go down), the applications were deployed on Cloud Foundry running on both Amazon EC2 with geographical redundancy, and on VMware vSphere – no lock-in to any cloud provider, and the developers didn’t have to learn all of the differences of operating different infrastructures, they just pushed their code. We’re happy to know that it was a very successful year for the Comic Relief charity, and that Cloud Foundry helped.
Pivotal One also includes some amazing data technologies – Pivotal HD (a simple to manage Hadoop distribution) and Pivotal AX (analytics for the enterprise). We recognise that as well as building applications, you need to store and analyse the data, so rather than just shipping a Cloud Foundry product, we roll up both the elastic scalable runtime, cutting-edge technologies like Spring.io, and and our big data offerings. That’s different from many of the others in the same market. We’ve been running our own hosted cloud, now available at run.pivotal.io, on AWS for over a year now, so we’ve learned a lot about running systems at scale and Pivotal One can do just that.
Above all, I wanted to say just how excited I am to be part of this amazing team. It is an honour to work with some incredibly talented engineers and leaders. I’m also personally excited that our commercial and our open source ecosystems continue to grow, including large organisations like IBM, SAP, Piston … it’s a long list. We took out an ad in the Wall Street Journal to thank them. I also want to thank our community of individual contributors (the Colins, Matts, Davids, Dr Nics, Yudais… etc etc!) many of whom, coincidentally for me, are in the UK – check out the very cool Github community where some of their projects are shared.
I’m convinced that this Platform is the way forward. It’s going to be an even more exciting year ahead.
A small selection of other coverage, plenty more to read around the web:
Last month, my friends at Shoreditch Works (a pair of amazing co-working spaces in the Silicon Roundabout area) ran a Kickstarter campaign to support their goal of repurposing an empty warehouse building in the area into a “Village Hall” – a place to run events, offer community time, mentor youngsters, help startups, etc.
They crushed it with the the campaign, raising well over their original target, and ended up with funds to do things like offering free desk space to local startups, and apprenticeships in community management.
We had a small celebration towards the end of the fundraiser, a few weeks back, and I said a few words. You can hear some of them in the video below. I said some other things too that were far more emotional and gooey than I may have intended on the night, but it was off-the-cuff.
Yesterday, the team heard that it’s unlikely that the building they had originally targeted will now be available, as the lease has gone elsewhere. The hunt begins for an alternative, suitable, location.
I know this is a huge blow to all of those involved, who worked hard both on the campaign, and on all of the logistics and preparations around the creation of the new space. Of course, it is also disappointing to many of us who backed the Kickstarter and hoped for the Village Hall to be opening in the next few months.
To the team, I say this – exactly what I said on the night of the finale – I believe in you. We believe in you. This is going to happen! Shoreditch does need exactly what you had in mind, and I know we as a community can still make it happen. A setback? yes, but just a setback, nothing more.
Let’s do this thing!