Thursday, April 24, 2008

Windows Live Dev : Introducing Live Mesh

Very nice, very interesting stuff. This is in line with a lot of what I've been thinking about. Too bad your stuff has to go onto *their* servers and is tied to a very proprietary company. Imagine doing the same thing in an open source model.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Paul Graham's Business Strategy: Be Good

"Being good is a particularly useful strategy for making decisions in complex situations because it's stateless... it's the only algorithm that works on [a large] scale." Great article.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Seeped in MySQL

This is day three of the MySQL conference for me - usually when people hit burn-out, in my experience. And I'm definitely getting there - I left the Sun party early, my tongue and ears tired of talking and listening.

I have met a lot of great folks here - I was on booth duty a lot and people just kept coming by. This includes saying hello to our new colleagues from MySQL, hello to my old buddies in the database group, and also hello to very good old friends from my Sybase days.

Just as an example, I ran into Robert Hodges, who I used to sit near in the B-Treeum (our building next to the Atrium) in Emeryville. He was the lead on the message queue product, and I led the app server team. Now he's the CTO of Continuent.

Hi, Robert!

Robert Hodges, old friend and CTO of Confluence

I also ran into Wen Hu. I worked for him when he was the lead architect for a massively parallel database engine Sybase was working on with Teradata called Navigation Server. Haven't heard of it? Oh well. Then he moved on to implement the partitioning and parallel query support for the Sybase database kernel. I think MySQL is just now implementing something like that. Now Wen is the CTO for ScaleDB. Sorry, no photo of Wen.

Both of these guys are working on scalability solutions for databases. That is the one theme that repeated here over and over: scalability. All these web properties are encountering scalability requirements that actually go way beyond enterprise scale requirements. You basically need to be able to scale, well, infinitely, and linearly. It's amazing to me that this tiny database engine originally built for quick departmental web apps is now having to address requirements that go way beyond anything Oracle or its peers from the 1980s was built for.

And all the folks I talk to agree, standard transactional/relational approaches just ain't gonna cut it. Something has to give. There's even an acronym for this that I just learned at this conference: CAPS - Consistency, Availability, Performance, Scalability[1].

As Robert explained it at his talk, these are four qualities, and you can't have all of them at once. Something has to give. For a lot of folks, what they are most ready to let go of is consistency. For example, if I write something, I want to see it show up right away. But another reader may not see it for a while (we're talking on the order of seconds, maybe a minute). And that's fine. You get this if, for example, you do asynchronous replication to multiple nodes/sites, rather than trying to do consistent, synchronous replication. And as you can imagine, asynchronous replication scales much better than synchronous replication.

This is the model Amazon has taken, to great success, and I believe it's time for this to spread to the mainstream. The important thing (again, thanks to Robert for crystallizing this for me) is that the levels of consistency need to be clearly defined and guaranteed, like the transaction isolation levels.

I talked to some MySQL folks, and they seem to be looking very seriously at this issue of CAPS, and at these alternate storage solutions like Hadoop/BigTable, SimpleDB and CouchDB. So I look forward to seeing if and how the MySQL folks address this growing need.

[1] I have searched for a reference to CAPS on Google, and can find nothing, so it must be something new. If anyone has a link, please let me know.

Phanfare, S3 and Google Apps

I'm looking very seriously at moving to Phanfare as a replacement for Flickr and YouTube for my photos and videos. Their video quality is much better, and I can use it for video archival as well as display. My friends and family can even download the videos at DVD quality and play them offline or even burn them to DVD. Now that's cool.

The cost: $59 a month. Worth it in my book, and since I'm paying up front I'm pretty sure I don't have to worry about advertising polluting my content. Hey, waddya know, a different business model than free-with-ads, which I am so tired of.

I also like it that they're on S3.

They also have a good blog. I particularly liked their analysis of the benefits of the Amazon Web Services over Google Apps. I think they provide a great testimonial for the value of following open standards - something Sun has always believed in.

Friday, April 11, 2008

This just in: Google Docs offline

I was putzing around with a meeting agenda on Google Docs and noticed an "Offline - New!" link at the top right.

Sure enough, it prompts you to download Google Gears and you can work with your documents offline.

Killer feature. Ouch to Microsoft.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I can see clearly now...

Well, a computer career and age have finally gotten the better of me.

The odd thing has been that people haven't really noticed. I was at three different meetings yesterday in the office and each time I had to mention my glasses and then people would say "I thought there was something different about you!"

For me, a huge change, these things always sitting in front of my face, I can't believe people don't even notice. But there you go...

Dooth Booty at MySQL Conference next week

Off to the MySQL conference next week. I still have to remind myself that MySQL is now part of Sun - it's so easy to think of "them" as a separate company that we're just partnering with. It really is something that takes a while to get your head around.

I'll be doing a ton of dooth booty, um booth duty, on Tuesday and Wednesday. Come to the NetBeans booth in the morning and I'll be there, and maybe I can get you a T-Shirt. XXXL of course :)

We'll be showing off what you can do with NetBeans and MySQL, and I also would love to talk to folks about what you want for database tooling in an IDE (and what you don't want).

I'm looking forward to hearing from Mårten Mickos and Jonathan Schwårtz. It should be very interesting to see where these guys see MySQL going next. And then there is Werner Vogels, my "hero" of eventual consistency. Should be good.

I also hope to meet a number of my colleagues from MySQL as well as dear old friends from the Java DB, PostgreSQL and HADB teams (which are now part of the New Database Team).

It should be a time of good information, good friends, and good cheer.

Who is the Dick on My Site? - Dick Hardt

I am just noting one of the best talk titles I have heard in a while. This one is by Dick Hardt on web identity. I'm going just to hear this person who has the cojones and sense of humor to publish such a title for a keynote.