Tag Archives: community

At the edge of history

On Saturday, I attended the Unite for Europe March in London.

Together, for now

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.

(hint: we never lost it)

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or proven as falsehoods — most famously the £350 million per week we’d get back to put into the NHS, which was a claim withdrawn on day 1 after the result.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.

Bad ideas should always be challenged — it is our democratic duty to speak out and persuade

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)

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Some random reflections on 2014

As time has moved on, I’ve lavished less attention on my blog, which is a shame… “back in the day” I enjoyed writing for it, and gained a lot of value from doing so. It’s of no particular surprise to me that I’ve spent less time writing here in 2014 than in any of the previous years; but it is a regret. I blame my schedule, a general change in the way I interact online, and a lack of inspiration. Actually, that last one isn’t quite true: I’ve often been inspired, or felt the need to blog, but have found myself mentally blocked. I need to get over that!

Anyway… 2014, looking back… a little bit of a year in review.

LEGO AndyThe major life change this year was my move to Twitter, which has been very exciting and energising. I’m thrilled to have been invited to work with a team of exceptional people under Jeff Sandquist. In particular, this year I’ve had the short-lived opportunity to work with three brilliant and talented guys I want to say “thank you” to, for making my transition to my new role such a pleasure: Taylor Singletary, Sylvain Carle and Isaac Hepworth. A special shout-out too to my close friend and colleague based in London, Romain Huet, without whom I would have found the past nine months much less fun or easy-to-navigate! The whole team has been just amazing to work with, as have all my wonderful colleagues at the Twitter office in London #gratefulpipes

The work we’re doing on the Developer and Platform Relations team at Twitter is something I’m incredibly passionate about. Connecting with the third-party community and acting as the face and voice of Twitter with those developers, listening to them and responding to their concerns, is the reason I joined the company.

I’ve been involved in the launch of a couple of APIs (most notably the Mute API), and I’m getting to work on much of the external API surface, which plays well with my background and developer experience. We’ve completely relaunched our developer-facing website and forums in the past few months, which the whole team has worked hard on. I’m happy to see the focus of discussion on the developer forums substantially improved now that we’ve moved to the Discourse platform – the user experience is far better than we had with the previous solution.

Most importantly, this past quarter we launched Fabric, our new free mobile SDK and platform for iOS and Android, and delivered a swathe of improvements to the developer experience for mobile enthusiasts. We also ran our first mobile developer conference, Flight – I was excited to be there, and I’m looking forward to seeing that experience continue in 2015.

My background in the Internet of Things and MQTT space has partly carried over into my new life at Twitter, and I’ve had the opportunity to speak at a couple of events (including Flight) about how Twitter’s platform plays into that space. However, I’ve substantially stepped back from playing a major role in the MQTT community this year; a decision in part driven by the need to refocus on my new role, partly due to some personal hostility and “burnout” with a couple of specific issues, but mostly because – I’m no longer “needed”! It has been incredibly satisfying to see the MQTT community grow over the past few years. The standardisation of the protocol at OASIS, the large number of implementations, and the ability of many other much smarter people to pick up the kinds of speaking engagements I was previously doing as a matter of course – all of these things make me immensely proud to have helped to lay the foundations for the success of that community over the past six years or so.

I’ve also been very happy to see the success of the Cloud Foundry platform and the people involved – having devoted the previous two years of my career to that nascent Open Source community, it is just fantastic to see it take off and the Foundation get started. Nice work to everyone involved.

I’ve again thoroughly enjoyed my speaking opportunities this year, and the chance to broaden my range. Obviously that has included a lot about the Twitter API and developer platform, and lots again about IoT; but I’ve also spoken on wearables, developer advocacy, and API management. I’m very happy that I got to be a part of the first Twitter Flight conference – one of my speaking career highlights.

Personally, I’ve tried to stay healthy this year (no heart scares, no falls…!); although my travel schedule has been demanding again (TripIt tells me I covered 66613 miles in the air). That did at least include a couple of trips for fun, rather than being all about business 🙂

The next year looks to be busy with more events to speak at (and organise!), and much more to do around the Twitter platform. As an historian, a sociologist and someone with a keen interest in the intersection of technology and people, I’m very excited to be a part of this wave of change.

Happy New Year – here’s to 2015!

Pivotal CF – the enterprise platform for software development

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).

As I wrote back in April

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:

Keeping the faith in Shoreditch Village Hall!

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!

 

Busy times, but let’s talk Cloud Foundry!

Users of the existing beta Cloud Foundry hosted service cloudfoundry.com were sent emails this week explaining that we are almost ready to launch version 2 of the service. If you’re a current user, or if you have signed up in the past, dig through your inbox filters for the email (mine ended up under the “Promotions” label thanks to Gmail’s auto-filing magic).

Cloud Foundry v2, sometimes known as “next-gen” or ng, is a big set of updates. I wrote about some of them in my last blog post, and also noted there that we are going to run the new version on AWS.

Some of the things worth getting excited about are:

  • custom domains (the number one thing I’ve been asked for after every talk!)
  • buildpacks – the ability to use “any” language, framework or runtime that has a buildpack, not just Java, Ruby, or node.js (Matt and Brian seem to be competing to find interesting ones!). By the way, you should totally be trying your Spring and Groovy apps on v2! 🙂
  • organisations and spaces – the ability to share apps with a team and collaborate
  • a web management console for your apps
  • a Marketplace, which we will be expanding over time, allowing you to bind third-party services in to your applications.

These are all big changes, and there are many more under the hood (Warden, a new staging process, a new router… it’s a very long list).

My colleague Nima posted a nice slide deck giving a more technical overview of some of the internal changes:

In addition, our demo ninja Dekel has shared a great video of some of the things you can expect from version 2:

Over the past 24 hours or so I’ve been doing my best to respond to questions on Twitter and elsewhere. The existing v1 version will go away on June 30th, so if you are using it now you’ll want to look at migrating apps in the next couple of weeks, and we’ll share more on that soon. The new version will have pricing attached, with a free trial period too. Of course, the code is always available on Github and you’re free to spin up your own CF instance running on AWS, OpenStack or vSphere.

I know folks will have many more questions about the specifics over the next week or so, and we will be looking out for them.

Supercharging the community

As we have grown closer to v2 release, there has been ever-increasing activity in the vcap-dev mailing list and around the community. We’ve had more and more code contributions (so much so that I recently wrote a blog post about how you can contribute to the CF core projects). Projects like the cf-vagrant-installer and cf-nise-installer are helping people get local environments running very quickly. Our friends from PistonCloud released their turtles project. Best of all, the super Dr Nic Williams recently set up a cloudfoundry-community organisation on Github to act as an umbrella for many of these community contributions (info on how to join is here).

Let’s talk! (in London)

Over the past year or so I’ve spent a lot of time out in the developer community in London, and it has become apparent that a lot of folks are interested, already contributing to the community, or in some cases, already running their own CF instances in production 🙂

So, I thought it would be a good idea to do some bridge building and bring folks together to get to know one another. A brief unscientific Twitter poll suggested that other people liked the idea, so we’ve stuck a stake in the ground (evening of July 3rd) and I set up an Eventbrite page for a meet up. If you’d like to chat with people about Cloud Foundry over a drink, do sign up and come along. I’ll sort out a venue in the next couple of weeks, but I imagine it will be “around Shoreditch” or possibly over towards Waterloo, for purely selfish reasons! Totally informal, this is just a community meet up, so I’m not planning to do slides and talks and stuff – just come and share ideas or ask questions!