Tag Archives: events

My next steps – joining the Cloud Foundry team

I’m very excited to announce that, from April 10th, I will be joining the Developer Relations team for Cloud Foundry at VMware.

This is a thrilling opportunity for me for a number of reasons.

  • from a technology perspective: Cloud Foundry is very, very, very cool. In my opinion, it really comes from a different set of thought processes than the other Platform-as-a-Service offerings out there, which make it unique and compelling.
    • the operating system stuff gets out of the way (why should it matter?), but multiple language runtimes and backend resources are available for easy scaling. Seriously, the first time I walked through the command-line tutorial and scaled a Ruby app to 6 load balanced instances with a single command, I was instantly impressed.
    • it is Open Source. The code is on Github. You can run your own cloud if you like. You can add support for your own languages and frameworks, much as AppFog have done for PHP, Tier 3 and Uhuru have done with .NET in Iron Foundry, and so on. This provides a huge amount of flexibility. Oh, and of course mobile and cloud go hand-in-hand, so last week’s announcement of FeedHenry providing tools to develop HTML5 apps to deploy on Cloud Foundry was really significant, too.
    • you can take your cloud with you using Micro Cloud Foundry – so the development and deployment model remains the same whether you are online or offline. I love this idea.
  • for me, personally: it’s a natural evolution of much of the work I’ve been doing over the past few years – focusing on developer communities and promoting technology adoption, as much as top-down solution selling. As my good friend James Governor is fond of saying and as his colleague Steve O’Grady wrote, developers are the new kingmakers – and with trends like mobile, cloud, and devops, nurturing those communities is more important than ever. You don’t impose technology on a community – you explain it and earn your place and reputation.
  • I’m looking forward to more speaking, more writing, more mentoring, and more online community building. These are things I’ve grown to enjoy (and in the case of the latter, appear to do naturally).
  • I’ve followed Patrick Chanezon, the Senior Director of the team, since he was setting up the developer advocacy programme back at Google – I have a lot of respect for what he’s achieved and the way he operates, so I’m delighted to have the chance to work closely with him. I’m excited to join everyone in the team, of course – I have spoken with most of the group already and I’m really looking forward to learning from their diverse range of experiences and backgrounds.

Between now and April 10th, I have a few things planned including a vacation (!), heading to EclipseCon to talk about MQTT and M2M topics, and some other speaking engagements. After I start the new role, I expect I’ll join in on the Cloud Foundry Open Tour and start to meet folks. I’ll also be on the team for the GOTO conference in Aarhus in October – exciting times ahead!

Coming up on The Lost Outpost…

I’ve fallen seriously behind on blogging, and I’m less busy with work than I have been recently, so here are some of the posts you can expect to read in the next week or three… (I’ll come back and link this post to them once they are written!). Think of this as both a trailer, and an incentive to me to get these things written!

Event reports:

  • London Green Hackathon
  • Monkigras
  • Hack to the Future
  • bcs Oxford talk on Connected Planet
  • IDEO Make-a-thon

Other “stuff”:

  • what I’m doing next (!)
  • Project Nanode
  • Using MQTT for 2-way device control
  • In defence of the Nintendo 3DS
  • Defining the Empty Room Problem

 

European WebSphere Technical Conference 2011

Although I realise that it seems as though I do little other than spin around “the conference circuit” at the moment what with the various events I’ve blogged about lately, that isn’t entirely true! However, it is just about time for another European WebSphere Technical Conference – something like a cut-down IMPACT run in Europe, a combination of the popular WebSphere and Transaction & Messing conferences we used to run – with plenty of technical content on the latest technologies.

I’ll be in Berlin next week 10th-14th October, participating in at least one panel, speaking about MQTT, and also covering the latest on IBM MQ messaging technologies as they relate to cloud and web. There’s a Lanyrd event page where I’ll try to collate information relating to the individual talks.b

I have a feeling that by this time next week there could be quite a lot to talk about… 🙂

Virtual Worlds and Technology Futures

Last week I was privileged to be invited to give the closing keynote at an event called ReLIVE 11 (Research and Learning in Virtual Environments) at the Open University. This was certainly a big deal for me as I was in the company of some brilliant academic minds and some tech celebrities – plus, the OU is an important and well-known institution (despite the fact that I heard Leo Laporte say that he’d never heard of it on the MacBreak Weekly podcast I was listening to as I drove to Milton Keynes last Tuesday evening!).

I’d previously explained to the organisers that I hadn’t spent so much time exploring virtual worlds lately as I was doing three or four years ago at the height of IBM’s involvement with platforms such as Second Life and our own internal Metaverse. Having said that, I have spent more time with gaming platforms such as XBox and the Nintendo 3DS since then, and more recently also Minecraft. Naturally I did have that business perspective and story to share… and, as the closing keynote I had the interesting task of pulling together the threads we’d covered during the breakout sessions at the conference, as well as attempting to look ahead to what trends might be important in the future.

The video is online via the Open University website and the talk with Q&A lasted for about an hour. More coverage of ReLIVE 11 is aggregated on Lanyrd.

Summary

As I noted in the opening and closing sections of the talk – predictions of the future are a hit-and-miss affair. We may now have tablet computers arguably even cooler than the Star Trek padds and communicators, but I’m still waiting on my hoverboard. Nevertheless, I tried to frame the story of IBM’s exploration of virtual worlds and 3D environments with some discussion of trends. It also gave me an excuse to talk about Back to the Future, and a cool ad that Nike recently released tying back in to the movie.

I want to reiterate (as it may not have been clear from tweets that emerged during the event) that these were very much my own thoughts and not the views of my employer – in fact, I was attending the event in a personal capacity. So, per the presentation, my thoughts on trends to watch in the next five years:

  1. 3D Printing: I’ve seen RepRap and other 3D printers more often in the past couple of months than ever before, and it is clear that prototyping and fabrication are coming within financial and technical reach of more than just the early adopting minority. That’s not to say this is something I see going “mainstream” – but as access opens up, expect to see many more interesting things happening here.
  2. Social broadcast: I think “TV” is rapidly giving way to a more generalised broadcast media that is being consumed across multiple devices, remixed, shared, etc. I also think that social streams are adding to the experience of how these media are being consumed, as evidenced by hashtags broadcast on BBC programmes, and the ways in which conversations form online around events and video streams.  A nod to my friend Roo Reynolds too, a man constantly way ahead of his time…
  3. Touch and Gesture: we already know that the ways in which we interact with technology is evolving fast. Watch any child approach a large screen and attempt to press the screen, expecting their cartoon hero to become interactive. This is not going to stop – Microsoft have some amazing technology in this space with Kinect and we should get used to and embrace the changes as they happen if we want to evolve.
  4. Big Data: a nod to my own organisation’s Smarter Planet story, and an acknowledgement that every one of the major tech firms is investing in ways to store, mine, slice and analyse the increasing amounts of data flowing in from the environment and our personal signals. This is just a continuing story, but we’re at a point where it is a red hot topic. It would have been a good point to mention Watson, if I’d thought on my feet quickly enough!
  5. Identity: this is not so much something where we will see technical progress necessarily, as an area I think will be a threat, and difficult to resolve. The nymwars of Google+ are one edge of the issue. I believe that there is a real tension between the freewheeling days of the earlier Internet, the desire of individuals to make their own choices about identity (often for valid social reasons, other times for vanity), and corporations and political entities that want to close this situation down. This is going to be a tricky one.

So what of virtual worlds? Three words: Not Gone Away. They may have morphed, lost their early shine, the bubble burst – but we have a range of immersive experiences (and social, but not necessarily immersive ones) through which we interact. I mentioned Minecraft and how that is being used for teaching. I talked through IBM’s work with serious gaming. I spoke about the IBM Virtual Center briefly, and that’s online and used today – in fact Jack Mason just posted a nice deck on that which carries some statistics, if you want to learn more.

Thoughts on education

I clearly was not the most experienced individual in the room when it came to discussions about teaching and education, and I particularly enjoyed hearing different presenters at ReLIVE11 talk about how they are using OpenSim, OpenWonderland and other platforms. However – after my recent post on Raspberry Pi and my exploration of the Brighton Mini Maker Faire I’ve been thinking increasingly about Maker culture and how we could bring technology teaching back around to practical matters.  I was disappointed to read the Government’s (lack of) response to John Graham-Cumming’s recent letter on the same subject, though.

One of the things that I called out as a barrier to the adoption of immersive worlds and new technologies at work is something I’m calling The Empty Room Problem – the fact that unless you build it and then populate it, they will not necessarily come. I’ll be writing about this some more shortly, prompted by Derek Jones’ great blog post.

During the Q&A session I gave an answer to one of the questions which contained some ideas I’ve had on a possible curriculum – I’ll try to expand on those in the near future as well.

TransferSummit 2011

One of the benefits of having attended OggCamp a few weeks ago was that I became aware of another event. Steve Lee, one of the speakers at OggCamp, is also involved with TransferSummit, and he was good enough to point it out to me. I’m grateful that he did.

TransferSummit bills itself as

… a forum for business executives and members of the academic and research community to discuss requirements, challenges, and opportunities in the use, development, licensing, and future innovation in Open Source technology.

Unlike a *Camp event, this wasn’t a self-organising unconference, and was much more business-focused. The sense I had was that it was far more about “getting down to work” than the more fun Open Source-oriented events that I otherwise attend. There were a range of fantastic speakers, and with my good friend James Governor giving the opening keynote it really didn’t take me long to decide that it was something that I should get to.

Not only that, but the event was held at my alma mater Oxford, in the rather lovely surroundings of Keble College – which I don’t remember ever having visited whilst I was at university – it was red brick, comparatively far up Parks Road away from my college, in the “science area”, and as a History student I simply never had much occasion to go up there! Have to say that I was very impressed by the college, accommodation, and service from students and staff. Fantastic.

You can explore more of my TransferSummit 2011 photos on Picasa.

I really enjoyed a number of elements of TransferSummit. Firstly, whilst there were a few folks I knew from my other networks, it was largely a group of people I’d not come across before directly, so it was a great opportunity to meet some new people in this space. It wasn’t too much of an echo chamber, and as Ross Gardler said during his introduction, it wasn’t a crowd of folks who already “get it” in terms of Open Source usage and adoption – there were a fair few organisations on the edge of making choices and I felt that the talks were more about how to go about making sensible ones, putting the right governance practices in place, and learning from the successes and mistakes of others.

I couldn’t cover all three tracks of the agenda in detail, but I’ll highlight a few particularly interesting sessions I did listen to (again, there’s more complete coverage on Lanyrd):

Another nice element of the event was the “gadget playtime” Open Source (and not-so-open) Hardware area, where I spent a lot of time talking to the folks from OSHUG and other projects.

One of the things that was negatively commented on via Twitter and other discussions was that Microsoft was the Platinum sponsor of the event. I found that very interesting, particularly where the commenters weren’t present at TransferSummit itself. To reassure those who may have stayed away or otherwise expressed concerns, I’ll just say that there was very definitely no “Microsoft agenda” being pushed, that my friend Steve Lamb was there very much in “listen, learn and interact” mode, but that others who attended and who I greatly respect did express other views about some elements of their participation (and I imagine it’s not hard to track those opinions down via hashtags etc.). Either way, having been involved with various conferences now, I fully support the idea that having a wide range of sponsors willing to help fund a professional conference and make is successful is important, so I thank Microsoft, HP and all of the sponsors (and in particular to the folks from OpenDirective) for enabling it to happen.

Definitely a worthwhile way to spend a couple of days of time – a well-run, informative event with great experiences shared, and some good contacts that I look forward to maintaining. My tip: look out for similar events and make an effort to mingle with the business, academic and government communities on Open Source. You might just learn something.

Disclosure: I was (unexpectedly) generously comp’d a ticket enabling me to attend, thanks to the organisers. My employer had no involvement and I attended on my own time.