Monday, May 05, 2008

Meeting Good Friends at CommunityOne

Lots going on these days, hard to keep up. I have been particularly busy, and that's why I've been quiet. I suspect you probably don't mind too much, dear reader, because if you're like me, you probably experience information overload on a regular basis.

I was at CommunityOne today, and, as seems to be happening these days, I spent most of my time saying Hi to old and new friends catching up and sharing our thoughts and feelings about what is going on in the industry.

I ran into Ted Leung and he shared some of the work he's doing to try and get some of the powerful OpenSolaris features like DTrace working in the various dynamic language environments.

Simon Phipps was hanging out (literally, his feet dangling from the RedMonk UnConference stage during a break) and we ruminated on the fact that Sun seems to be held to a higher standard than many companies in the industry - people see us as a Good Company and so they get very upset when it looks like we're being Corporate and Just Like Everyone Else. There is a sense of betrayal and lost hope. So in a way, it's a positive reflection on Sun - we in general have been good to the community, and on the up and up, so any indication that we're Falling to the Dark Side creates a passionate response.

I bumped into Joe Keller, who was one of my first VPs at Sun when the little company I was at was acquired by Sun. Now he's working for Kapow! (now there's a name), and it's fascinating what they do. He described it, and here's how I interpret it: they're doing data integration at Web Scale. Their customers define a master database schema, look at the web pages that they're interested in (say governmental pages for each state in the USA), and define a mapping between the HTML elements on these pages and the elements in their schema. Then the Kapow! software does its magic, scraping these screens at various semantic levels (screen, HTML, through APIs, etc.), and slurping this data into their database schema. Customers then use their data warehousing solution to analyze the resulting data. As an example, one customer of Kapow! is the company Sun hires to do background checks on potential employees. Yipes!

I saw my old boss Dan Leighton, now an independent consultant, but who was instrumental in setting up the database group and defining our database strategy, working for Rich Green, which ultimately led to our involvement in Java DB, PostgreSQL, and, of course MySQL. So he was happily surprised to hear of Sun's acquisition of MySQL.

I bumped into Rob Stephens, someone else who came from the Clustra acquisition and is now in the Solaris org. He told me I should check out the new release of VirtualBox, the open source virtualization solution whose parent company, which was recently acquird by Sun. Rob's got a very strong sysadmin background, so when he says it's good, I trust him. I had tried out VirtualBox about a year ago, and he says it's really improved. Downloaded, installed, and now pulling down the first GA release of OpenSolaris and will put it in its virtual box and put it through its paces.

I ran into Francois Orsini, who is demonstrating some very interesting stuff with Java DB and Grizzly. I ran into a Sun colleague working on a big Rails project, and we talked about web platforms (Rails vs. PHP vs. Java), scalability, and the place of the relational database in a platform that needs web scale. All very interesting stuff. We'll see how the day goes tomorrow!

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