Category: "Computers and Internet"

Startup Camp Difference

Startup Camp is a mix of traditional conference panels and an open space "unconference".

The juxtaposition of the two is a bit jarring in some ways. 'Tis somewhat like going from a warm fuzzy blanket [panels] to an exhilarating plunge into the chilly North Pacific [unconference sessions]. Actually, panels have been losing their appeal over the past few years. A good panel is a lively debate. The panelists engage each other. A good panel is both entertaining and informative. Too many panels today bring to mind an event from my college days. This is an unfair analogy but I'll tell the story anyway. &#59;)

The only diner within walking distance of the college was the S&W [or, as it was traditionally known, the "Slut & Whore" - hey, don't yell at me; it describes the area well. Think of the Tenderloin in SF on a bad night.] Anyway, after an all-night study session, or maybe a drunken game of Diplomacy, we made a visit to the S&W in the wee hours for some coffee and rice pudding. Among the other patrons were two old transients [a.k.a. hobos, stumblebums]. They were at opposite ends of the diner, but seemed to be having a loud argument on who was the greatest baseball player of all time. After a while, we realized that they weren't arguing. They were merely proclaiming in loud voices on the same subject. OK, the panels aren't that bad, but getting close.

Another problem with panels today is that most panelists blog. If you are at all interested in the subject, it's likely that you read their blogs and already know their opinions.

Ah well, onto the good part.

The unconference sessions are intimate and, as mentioned before, exhilarating.

The only problem is that there are so many great topics being discussed at the same time, that it's like being in a candy store: you don't what to grab onto, there are just too many choices.

But you can read all about what happened on the Startup Camp wiki, if the attendees upload their notes. :D Just follow the links from the Startup Camp Unconference schedule at the bottom of the page.

Tomorow will be running back and forth between Startup Camp and CommunityOne. Can't wait.

Startup Camp 2008 Sunday Morning

Today, I'm at Startup Camp, in conjunction with CommunityOne, which starts tomorrow, in conjunction with JavaOne. The schedule is online, but this is a camp, an unconference, and the rules are different.

The introduction is over, and the keynote with Jonathan Schwartz and Om Malik is going on now.

A question from the audience, essentially that there is no simple, online solution for a Java developer to just go online and develop, led to an interesting side discussion where I'm seated about what it means to be a developer. The old folk at the table, have a much broader definition of a developer, and the skills they should have, than the young'uns, who are more focused on just one language, and just code monkey banging away.

The first panel is starting up, moderated by S. Neil Vineberg, President, Vineberg Communications. The topic is branding, and how the brand comes out of the founders and the culture that they create.

One interesting point for me, is that while the panel is discussing the importance of branding, and that the brand can flow from the founders' personality and the culture, I have found that if the founders are too focused on creating a brand, and selecting their brand category, they'll fail to infuse their brand with their personality, that is, the brand can seem sterile and contrived. Branding is very important, but, to me, it must come naturally from the company if it is to truly reflect the company. Of course, sometimes you have a founder that you need to keep locked in a closet, feed caffeinated drinks and pizza, and never, ever let them talk to the customers. :>>

The use of social media is a given today, especially for startups. The use of Ning [why doesn't PeopleAggregator ever get a mention?] and the growth of social network platforms for startups [others] to grow their own social networks is a great indicator of this.

For all the talk of social media, the message of this panel seems to be that traditional methods, through PR, is still the best way to reach out and get your message across; especially outside of the technology centers like the SF Bay Area. However, it seems to me that when the panel starts talking about what's really effective, they use terms like "community" and "authentic conversations". It also seems that creating markets and driving markets is the better than pushing a product, in terms of success, and in terms of getting noticed.

The morning is done. I'm looking forward to networking and learning throughout today and tomorrow, to CommunityOne and seeing Michael Coté at Redmonk's Unconference, and a great conversation with Gianugo Rabellino at JavaOne and for supper on Thursday.

OSBC2008 Presentations Downloads

InfoWorld has made downloads available for selected presentations from this year's Open Source Business Conference. The links will take you to PDF files. But, Matt, where are your video mashups?

MuleCon2008 Closing Campground

The community has been brought together for the final campground session. Rather than sing kumbaya, we've been teased with t-shirts, toys and books from O'Reilly and being treated to a demo of a hot deployment by Travis Carlson. 'Tis all drag-and-drop goodness, with dragging jar files (bundles) as connectors and apps from a MacOSX Finder into Mule and watching the results in Ohhh! Ahhh! Safaris shows Mule saying "Hello Travis, welcome to MuleCon" B) OK, I'll admit that this is pretty neat and should satisfy the most addicted user of Tibco wizards. This won't appear in Mule Enterprise Edition until after the 2008Q3 release of Mule EE 2.0.

One little aside… I was talking to an ex-TIBCO employee who said that as old as TIBCO is (grew out of a Teknecron business that was founded in 1985 and became an independent business in 1997), the user even only draws about 400 people. This is only the second MuleCon [there was a sort-of pre-MuleCon in 2006 at a bar in London, but let's not count it), which last year drew around 100 folk and this year brought in around 240. That's phenomenal growth and shows the excitement that good software can bring to its users.

Questions for the Campground from Day 1 and some new ones.

  1. AMQP is an emerging messaging protocol and is platform independent. To answer the question about dot-Net integration with Mule, this is part of the answer.
  2. BPEL & BPM? Workflow tools, such as JBPM, that don't depend on simple web services, work better with Mule. Travis has done some work with this including the JBPM plugin that is in the current distribution of Mule, and there is more on the Forge. Mule also works well with Oracle and Iona's solutions. Mule Services and Mule Events are complementary.
  3. Mule is moving to Spring2, and has MuleSource thought about the exciting things that can be done with AOP in Spring2? Not so much yet, but it is among the next thing to look at. Mule Galaxy might be one of the first areas where MuleSource would leverage AOP to create runtime governance.
  4. Can Mule Galaxy can be used to manage other artifacts? The short answer is yes.
  5. How are folk clustering Mule? The typical way is to leverage an existing clustered app server. They are seeing more where the ESB has a state itself. They're looking at things like TerraCotta for such use cases.
  6. Discussions of rules engines and routing, but much work to be done, hopefully through the MuleForge.

Dave gave some closing remarks and that's all 'til next year.

MuleCon2008 Users Day 2

This first user track session is a panel, once again moderated by Michael Coté of Redmonk with John Davies, Technical Director and Head of Research at Iona, Eugene Ciurana of Leapfrog, John Rowell, CTO of OpSource, and John Gardner, Principal Consultant at MomentumSI. My take away from this is that Mule, perhaps open source in general, allows a company to better balance their risk as they test out the potential rewards while implementing tactically against strategic goals. A great metric from Eugene is that the most wait time he has ever had with Mule for a support issue is 90 minutes from opening a ticket to getting some sort of answer, and this is what keeps selling him on Mule vs proprietary solutions. Cost is a factor in ROI, and Mule wins out on not just initial costs but also costs less in need for training, on-going support, consulting, and maintenance; but beyond this, the flexibility of Mule and ability to integrate it with the infrastructure, and the openness not just of the code but in the company and personnel also adds to the return, as does the "cool" factor.

Having now seen Coté moderate two panels now, I have to say that he's one of the better moderators I've seen.

The second session is "A Quantum Leap in Ease of Use: Introducing Mule IDE 2.0". First let me say that having a nice, GUI IDE will help with the ROI perception, in that it is often the perception that development can be quicker and more efficient if done in a nice, pretty GUI. I happen to disagree, but I'm old and like CLI and typing more than clicking. Let's see what these guy's say. Yep, yep, yep… they're showing a pretty drag-and-drop GUI configuration editor. I took the one-day training at last year's MuleCon, and found that configuration through editing XML files to be very easy, and to help with understanding what Mule was doing. There was a contingent of attendees who complained that they didn't have their Tibco Wizard. This should help placate that contingent. Ah, the Mule IDE 2 is pre-alpha, though you can get it on the Forge. The release is expected to be in 2008Q3. The demonstration of the Mule IDE 2.0 plugin for Eclipse looks good; in addition to the GUI, one can still see the underlying XML.

John Davies, Technical Director and Head of Research of Iona spoke on Financial Messaging in Mule. The concept of losing a message in an investment is literally unthinkable. One interesting tidbit is that MS Excel is the only MS products one finds in an investment bank. John went over the front/middle/back office requirements, and the place where Mule is found is in the middle where XML is heavily used, usually over MQ & JMS. Using Artix, Mule, and GigaSpaces on an Azul box, provides essentially linear scaling and throughput is so high, performance is so great, that the need for transactions and supporting transactional relational databases is eliminated, thus increased performance allows increasing performance even more.

Mule or 5th Grader Who's Smarter

The final session of MuleCon2008's second morning is a panel based upon "Are you Smarter that a Fifth Grader", moderated my Michael Coté of Redmonk. The panel consisted of Dave Rosenberg, Larry Augustin, Jason Maynard and Matt Asay.

The first question was what gets these folk excited in the shower in the morning: SaaS, Web2.0 enterprise/consumer Mashups, or other newly hyped trend. SaaS and mashups seem to be joined in the answers as a way for business users to get around IT by buying what they need on a credit card and expensing back this "rogue IT" service. The question evolved into "Is open source a given?". The answer was "yes" and the discussion segued back into how all these things, SaaS, mashups, open source, allow business users to get what they need quickly. Coté then asked if this meant that there was a "work life retooling" going on that was allowing traditional IT departments to work with Rogue IT implementations. While the consensus seems to be that IT departments were indeed going through the work life retooling to allow Rogue IT implementations, such as with WiFi hot spots or open source, I have to disagree. Every IT group with which we've worked has many regulatory, compliance or responsibility issues that preclude them from allowing Rogue IT. However, if a technology shows its value, even if that value can not be quantified in simple cost-benefits analyses, that technology will be brought into the organization under the IT umbrella, one way or another.

The floor was opened to questions from the attendees.

I asked if the panel would discuss MDM being useless without SOA and vice-versa. They pretty much declined, but Jason did discuss some of his own experiences. The bottom line is that the concepts are difficult, and are only starting to be embraced by developers and companies.

Another question asked why there seems to be so little uptake of open source ERP. I would like to ask the same about OSBI, but didnt' need to do so, as Matt brought it up. At this point, open source seems to fill niches within a given enterprise, and one can build a niche OSBI solution more easily than a niche ERP solution. Larry also pointed out that many large organizations in the US have ERP implemented, and they're not going to rip it out to go open source; however, if you look at other markets, where ERP implementations didn't happen [as part of the Y2K fixes], you can find uptake of open source ERP.

Another attendee pointed out the only the oldest dinosaur can question the quality of open source, yet one still must go underground to implement ERP in most organizations. The panel discussed the difficulties of getting through procurement at a large company, and how tactical implementations [back to rogue IT] rather than strategic are often more plausible. It seems to be a matter of market education, and that takes time. Matt also talked about the post-procurement process, and how that is made easier by open source in that the risk is much less.

BPM, SOA, real-time-enterprise… This nirvana, or any other TLA, doesn't really exist in any enterprise, and many of these concepts are hard sells, whether implemented with open source solutions or not.

Mule Galaxy MuleHQ and Mule Saturn

The final session for today goes into System Management of Mule and the the additional products that mitigate risk in SOA deployments. This was definitely the most heavily attended of the user sessions.

MuleHQ is a dashboard that provides device-level management of app servers, databases and other assets. Policy driven alerts that allow management against the SLA is also provided. The server side performs auto-discovery of services and assets of which Mule is aware. Mule components, connectors, routers and endpoints are monitored by MuleHQ. MuleHQ is still Hyperic.

The presentation on Mule Saturn started with the challenges of integration, as well as supportability and maintainability of the integration solution. Mule Saturn provides a reduction in discovery of problems and recovery from them to allow meeting SLAs by "instrumenting Mule" to allow increased monitoring and proactive response through Mule Saturn and MuleHQ. Mule Saturn provides a view into the integration process and data flow for business users, whereas MuleHQ provides monitoring for the technical users. There is role based access to allow editing of the XML only by designated users.

The first use case provided was for a Supply Chain Integration. The examples considers a batch of POs containing two orders, one that succeeds and one that fails. Drill down through hyperlinks is possible. Essentially, the use case walked us through Mule Saturn.

The second use case went through the workflow of approving an employee's expense report with a similar walk-through of Mule Saturn showing a failure in the process where the manager never approved the expense resulting from an email failure to communicate. :>>

Mule Enterprise 2

Ron Park, VP of Engineering at MuleSource, gave a comparison of the Community and Enterprise editions of the Mule products starting with Mule 1.5 then Mule 1.6.

Ron also introduced Jackie, who is in charge of technical publications, and Scott Yuen, who heads support and services. These two areas are of noted improvement over last year [when neither really existed] and what is being made available today to Enterprise customers. In addition to formal documentation and support, there is a knowledgebase available to subscription customers, which contains over a thousand articles.

MuleHQ 3.1 new features include:

  • Improved mule specific statistics
  • Dashboards including patch tracking through the metadata
  • Mass deployment management
  • Local data storage of metrics

It should be noted that MuleHQ is intended for stand-alone Mule implementations, and not when Mule is embedded in other SOA tools.

Mule Saturn is included in the Enterprise edition to provide data visualization for a light-weight business activity monitoring service.

Mule Enterprise 1.6 should be out by May, 2008. Again it will include MuleHQ and Mule Saturn, as well as some premium connectors for JDBC, Apache CXF and native WebSphere MQ support.

Mule Enterprise 2.0 will have even more documentation [see Jackie] &#59;) and the major difference will be the Migration Tools for Mule Core. There will be more premium connectors, such as for FTP, and improved reconnection strategies. Improvements and architectural enhancements to Mule Saturn and MuleHQ are also part of the roadmap. MuleHQ will also have changes to the plug-in architecture, moving forward towards hot deployments.

The community version of Mule 2 is available now, but there will be maintenance releases to Mule Community edition 1.4.

There will be features that will be in Mule Enterprise that won't be in Mule Community. Hot deployments and clustering/fail-over are examples of such features. How these features will be licensed is still being investigated with the lawyers. Mule IDE is open source and available, as is Mule Galaxy for governance, but the two of the working together are an Enterprise feature add.

As MuleSource evolves, I think the differences between the Community and Enterprise editions, the licensing, and the ability of the community to add enterprise-like features to the Community edition will be very dicey. We'll have to wait and see.

OpSource at MuleCon

OpSource provides web operations for SaaS companies. They deliver about 250 on-demand applications involving billions of transactions per day. The backend is Mule. OpSource using the best solutions to their challenges, open source or proprietary, which says a good deal about Mule.

Their opportunity is DATA. By creating a canonical data model, they have a single set of SQL and XML schmas for the data model resulting in the ability to create ODS and DW. The other opportunity is SERVICES for their customers and their customers' customers.

The solutions was to implement and ESB for Integration/SOA, which resulted in a fully multi-tenant version of the Mule ESB. OpSource Connect is reliable and scalable, and fully PCI compliant.

The use of Mule led to the discovery of Mule partner U1 Technologies and their Ambrosia messaging platform.

And they're hiring.

Mule eCommerce Case Study Online Pharmacy

The second session in the first user breakout is by Craig Sutter, Technology Director of VetSource.

VetSource deals with many challenges from the multitude of partners' and manufacturers' integration points to regulatory requirements. Existing platforms don't scale, and are often in older, proprietary Java frameworks.

The objective that led to VetSource choosing open source solutions is flexibility without vendor lock-in. One reason to use Mule is the ability to use POJO based services.

[I broke away real quick to return a call to a friend from back East. He'll be in SF on the 24th, so don't bother me that day.] &#59;)

Other reasons to use Mule:

  • Ease of use, very fast to prototype as proven in their pilots
  • Standards based but without requirements to use any particular standard
  • Support is available as needed

The entire platform is OSS: Xen VM, CentOS 5, MySQL 5, Wicket, Cayenne, Spring and an open source veterinary application. This approach, and the use of Mule allows them to reuse and repurpose older web applications and legacy services. Other services are basic POJOs exposed through a RESTful API. Craig mentioned that he would like to see some changes in the way REST is implemented in Mule, and then mumbled that he'll be talking to the Mule guys later today about that. The difference between this and what might happen would a customer do the same at a BigProprietaryVendor World conference, is that the Mule guys will listen. I also wouldn't be surprised if they implement those changes over the next several weeks, or provide a way for Craig's folk to do so in a maintainable fashion.

One example of the complexity involved is that they may pass an order for a drug that has special shipping and handling requirements directly to the the manufacturer or specialized distributor via EDI using a Mule connector.

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At the beginning, The Open Source Solutions Blog was a companion to the Open Source Solutions for Business Intelligence Research Project, and book. But back in 2005, we couldn't find a publisher. As Apache Hadoop and its family of open source projects proliferated, and in many ways, took over the OSS data management and analytics world, our interests became more focused on streaming data management and analytics for IoT, the architecture for people, processes and technology required to bring value from the IoT through Sensor Analytics Ecosystems, and the maturity model organizations will need to follow to achieve SAEIoT success. OSS is very important in this world too, for DMA, API and community development.

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