Archive for the 'glue conference' Category

The Story Arc of Gluecon

April 18, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

If you talk to me long enough, you’ll hear me use the words “story arc” with regards to a conference. As if, somehow I’m “writing” actors into a drama that has an underlying tension, an arc and a resolution. Of course, that’s not the case. In truth, though, I do spend a considerable amount of time thinking through “the story” that we’re telling at a conference. By that I mean, I look at what sessions are where, get a sense of the topic spread, and try to arrange things where — as people walk through the story, there’s some sense of cohesion at the end. Silly, right?

Let’s take a look at Glue.

The earliest beginnings of the Glue story start in the prequel — Defrag.  I had been reading Brad’s blog, and saw him writing about a theme he was calling (at the time) “intelligence amplification.” A couple of conversations later, Defrag was born — where the premise of Defrag was that the fragmentation of data online was creating a need for tools that helped individuals and groups accelerate the process of insight (hence, Defrag’s tagline — “accelerating the ‘aha’ moment”).

Fast forward: After a successful initial Defrag event, I kind of looked at Brad and said, “what else are you smart guys thinking about?” He came back with this idea of “glue” — roughly, the idea that there were going to develop all of these different kinds of tools/services that sought to “glue together” things happening between web applications. I immediately flashed to the enterprise application integration problem of the late 90′s/early 00′s, and we began brainstorming (publicly) ideas around what constituted “glue.”  We knew it would deal with web platforms, but what I don’t think either of us really knew then (or even know now) was the sheer size of it all. [note: maybe Brad and Seth did, but I certainly wasn't aware.]

With that context, take a gander at the agenda.

The story begins with a point of tension; what is seen by many as a brand new “stovepipe” — Facebook. Facebook serves to open the discussion because it brings into contrast a lot of the big threads: Is it open or closed? How does integration occur? Where does identity fit? What about transferring context from Facebook to other “applications?” Can I build on this platform, or do I lock myself in? The session itself will have Facebook providing their answers, but the real “push” from it should be a whole lotta questions (hat tip to Zeppelin).

From that high ground, the story begins to draw out the “characters” in our little drama: web oriented architecture, identity, data portability and services, platforms, etc. And we do it rapidly — you’re not going to “know” the “characters” — you’re just going to meet them. And then we pause (any good story has a nice set-up pause after the opening scenes), and ask “what are we missing?” That’s where you come in.

After a break for discussion, we bring in another component of the big themes – social glue for business processes and data. And then we’re off the races — breakouts.

The breakouts are meant to begin answering questions (or, even better, begin forming new and more in-depth questions) – and there’s plenty to choose from. Your individual path through the story could have you exploring data portability, or OAuth, or cloud infrastructure, or platforms, or XMPP — but, as with all good interactive (ie, non-linear) stories – you must make choices. Those choices bring different questions your way.

At the end of day 1, the story comes to it’s midpoint, as we talk about one of the big “archetypal” themes: how to harness the cloud. And then we get intermission — where intermission is the chance to catch your breath, have a laugh, dive in more deeply, and get some sleep.

Day 2 begins, and you’d think you’ll be thrust right back into the plot, but we’re not done introducing big themes. Mitch Kapor will look out past the current confines of the story; to remind you that what we talk about in this story isn’t the story itself. And Phil Wainewright will give you a larger sense of the themes (a reset for the day, if you will). Then it’s back in the mix.

The breakouts on day 2 are even more varied, with new technologies, ideas and protocols: cloud databases, web hooks, event processing across web apps, context aware services, social networking, XRDS, etc. Yep, we’re building tension.

We coalesce again around the leveraging of APIs, dive more deeply into cloud infrastructure, hit on identity one more time, and close with a high-level discussion of what kinds of platforms open up innovation (versus closing it down).

As with any good story, there will be a sequel. After all, we haven’t really resolved anything –we’ve just fostered some emotional and intellectual attachment to the characters involved. And, most importantly, we’ve found out that the truly critical characters in the story are the participants at the conference (i.e., you).

One important thing to note about a new “story” like Glue: With Defrag, you’ll see that after two years, I can pretty succinctly tell you what our overall theme is (“the fragmentation of data online is creating a need for tools that helped individuals and groups accelerate the process of insight”), while I can’t do that with Glue. That’s the beauty of coming to a new conference when it’s young, and growing up with it. You get to build out that theme with everyone else there. Three years from now, I’ll sum up Glue in a sentence, and we’ll all nod and say, “yep, that was obvious.” But it wasn’t. Nothing was obvious until we gathered, argued, pushed, pulled, laughed and collectively wrote a story.

And if you don’t come, the story gets written without you.

Ahhhh…..I love the smell of Gluecon in the morning. ;-)

Playing around at Glue

April 17, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

Amidst all of the content at Glue, it can be easy to miss all of the cool technology you’ll get to play with/see/touch. Some pretty amazing stuff from people like:

Rackspace (cloud infrastructure glue)

Socialcast (social data glue)

Gnip (services glue)

Boomi (integration glue)

MindTouch (web architecture glue)

rPath (app delivery glue)

Appirio (cloud connector glue)

CoBaLU (personal cloud glue)

Linxter (messaging glue)

Mashery (API management glue)

Orchestr8 (orchestration glue)

Ping Identity (identity glue)

Verio (hosting glue)

They’re an amazing group of sponsors, and we couldn’t pull it off without them (tks guys!) — plus, you’re going to be impressed with what they’re all working on.

Be sure to join us.

Building facilitation instead of interruption

April 15, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

I ran across this blog post yesterday (“APIs are the next marketing platform”), and it’s really resonating with me. In it, Kipp Bodnar explains that while billboards, and print ads, and blogs (etc) may have been the “marketing platforms” of the past, the future of marketing platforms is the API (the application programming interface).  Quoting:

“The future of marketing is about companies developing useful applications for their customers that extend web services that the customers are already using. This replaces the current model which is to use web applications to communication with customers.  The problem with current social media marketing is the noise. A company is one of thousands, sometimes millions of users and it is easy to get lost. Developing applications via API’s provide a way for companies to break out of the crowd and at the same time create value for customers…Brands will need to become conduits that facilitate consumer communications instead or interrupters that intermittently drop in advertisements.”

I think this is right on. And I also think it’s why tech marketers (or at least their technical counterparts) and companies that are interacting with publishers NEED to come to Glue.

If you look at the Glue agenda, you might see it simply as some kind of “web services” conference. But that really couldn’t be farther from the truth. Glue is exploring the nuts and bolts that bind together web apps (and, oddly, that now includes the desktop).

When you begin to think about a world where the web is the uber-platform, the applications (and their APIs) become the necessary glue that binds together our web experience. Understanding the underpinnings is key to understanding how you can leverage a “sticky universe” — and begin to think about what it means to either A) build your own “platform” as a marketer or B) build services that marketers will use as platforms for their applications.

Any way you slice it, you shouldn’t miss Glue if you’re a tech marketer or startup that’s venturing into this new world.

Some things you may be missing about Glue

April 14, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

We’re rounding the final turn (27 days until Glue), and I’m thinking there are some things that people may have missed (some undiscovered “gems,” as it were):

1. Pam Dingle’s session on the Organizational Exoskeleton: I’ve known Pam for several years, and she is a hacker’s hacker.  What you don’t readily get from her session title is that she’s going to demonstrate how to build an “organization without a perimeter” using Microsoft’s Geneva toolset, and then turn around and build the exact same thing using open source tools. How’s that for substantive?

2. George Reese’s session on Securing Cloud Infrastructure: You may not know George by name, but you’ll know him by his mastery of a subject soon enough. George is the founder of a Minneapolis-based startup (enStratus) in the cloud space, but he’s also the author of a new book on Cloud Computing for O’Reilly. You have questions, he has answers.

3. Jeff Lindsay on “web hooks”: Have you heard of web hooks yet? Either way, you’re going to want to understand this. Check out the web hooks wiki, and then come ready to dig in.

Okay, those are a few of the undiscovered gems. So, you’re coming, right? Now that we know that – a few things you should keep in mind:

1. The discounted hotel room rate is STILL AVAILABLE (only as long as there is space at the hotel), and includes in-room, wired internet access -  courtesy of us. Be sure to grab your room now.

2. There are a ton of discount codes flying around (email offers, twitter, etc). Please use those NOW, as no discount codes will be accepted on-site, and the price will go up to $595 (versus $395 with a discount code).

3. Lastly, the finalized agenda will be posted in the next few hours.

4. If you’re flying in, do your best to be at the hotel by 7pm on the 11th, as that’s when the pre-conference dinners will kick off (and you’ll wanna be in on those discussions).

Gluecon, baby! ;-)

31 days and counting

April 11, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

We’re now 31 days from Glue, and ramping into the last month. I’m finalizing the agenda and putting the finishing touches on event details (okay, my wife is doing that). But, with all of that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at what it would cost for you to come to Glue. So, I ventured out to the travel sites and checked — the result? It is anywhere from $178-238 dollars for you to fly round-trip to Glue from just about anywhere in the country. What are you waiting for?

Here’s what we’ve got going on:

1. Pre-conference dinners sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark, Freepository and Gist: 3 topics, 25 people per dinner, great conversation – and you must be registered to get in. These dinners are the single best way to make some early connections prior to the “rush” of Glue.

2. An opening day agenda that includes: Josh Elman from Facebook platform group, web oriented architecture, identity, data portability, OAuth and OpenID, Microsoft’s Geneva toolset, securing cloud infrastructure, building apps on clouds, XMPP, and one great evening reception.

3. A day 2 agenda that fires off: Mitch Kapor (founder of Lotus Development Corp), Phil Wainewright (of ZDNet fame), cloud database standards, connecting data and apps across networks, the cloud security alliance, webhooks, leveraging APIs (at Best Buy), interop and integration in the cloud, context-aware services, unlocking the social graph, what the deal is with NASA and social networking, information cards, and Bob Frankston (co-creator of VisiCalc) on innovation platforms.

Yea, that’s a ton (and that’s not even all of it). All for the low, low price of $395 – which, frankly, is simply unbeatable for tech conferences today (I’m seeing 1 day, 1 track events in the Bay Area for $595, and unconferences for the same price as Glue). Plus, we’re throwing in good food, great wifi, an open bar, and a truckload of awesome people.

So, drop the 200 on airfare, book a discounted hotel room  (with wired internet in your room courtesy of us), register, and get your butt to Denver in May. You will not regret it, and 2 years from now when Glue is a mainstay of the spring tech conference season, you can say, “I was there when…” ;-)

Glue logistics

April 8, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

I just wanted to post a quick hit today about Glue logistics.

The conference is fast approaching (33 days and counting). You can check out the agenda here (the final will be posted shortly).  I promise you, you’re going to regret it if you miss this one.

With all of that in mind:

1. Register.

2. Grab your discounted hotel room rate before that expires (it includes complimentary wired internet access in your room).

3. Do your best to arrive at the hotel by 7pm on the evening of the 11th, so you can hook up with one of our great pre-conference dinners (and get a free meal!).

Time’s a wastin’…

Cycles, authenticity and John Ringling

April 3, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

I was thinking this morning that there’s a certain irony in the fact that I live relatively close to where John Ringling’s winter home (Ca d’Zan) is located. After all, in some senses, Ringling and I are in the same business, right? It’s kind of funny to think that way (and I’m certainly nowhere near as successful as Ringling), but bringing historical perspective to anything always gets me thinking about cycles.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Brad’s writing about cycles today — asking whether we’re seeing a “warm mid-winter day” or the actual “beginning of spring” based on some anecdotal tidbits that he’s seeing.

I’ve been monitoring my own anecdotal evidence as well, and I’m leaning toward “spring” – but with caveats.

First off, I’m not sure that the “conference business” is a leading indicator. I’m quite sure it’s not when it comes to big software company sponsors. Which is to say the “my industry” is going to see a lot of continued pain over the next year — as far too many conferences and expos are based on the premise that you get BigCo 1 (HP, Sun, IBM, Microsoft, etc) and BigCo 2 to be your “anchor sponsors” and go throw a big event. Tales from the floor of the Web 2.0 Expo betray that the expo model is gonna hurt for some time to come.

However, that doesn’t mean that all events will do badly. And I certainly don’t think that events (in general) are a leading indicator of the tech economy (or economy at large). In fact, I’d argue that most potential sponsor companies are being driven largely by emotion at the moment. In fact, I could chart the emotional swings and how they correlated to sponsorship sales for Glue. We had a nice up-surge (in sponsorship sales) around the inauguration that lasted for about 3 weeks following it, and then a drop off over the last month, as people seem gripped by their “wait and see” attitudes for the summer and fall. We’re fortunate that Glue’s been hitting on all cylinders, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see how the vendors are reacting.

All of which leads me back to one of Brad’s main points: “work hard all the way through each of the cycles.”

My opinions about how this cycle plays out are just that – opinions. And they’re really pretty irrelevant.

What matters is whether I can pull together a great event. And that ability starts and ends with one thing and one thing alone: authenticity.

The first question I ask myself when starting a conference (whether it is Defrag or Glue or whatever) is whether I think the topic is big and important and something I want to spend the next 3-5 years of my life devoting myself to learning about. If the answer is “no,” I don’t start the conference.

You see, I’m a “content guy” first. Sure, I love the sale (and I’m pretty good at it), but that’s not what gets me up in the morning. The “content” does. And by “content,” I don’t mean who we can get lined up to speak. I mean, the big/hairy topics that can be surfaced and explored.

So -

1. Do I think this is the beginning of an economic spring? Yes (caveat: my real worry is a strong snap-back recovery that leads to hyper-inflation).

2. Does that really matter to how I run conferences? Eh – not really. I’ll tweak things here and there, but at the end of the day, I have to really care about the topic.

And really, if you care about what you’re working on, isn’t that an implicit optimism that makes it “spring” all of the time? ;-)

P.S. If you’ve never seen Ringling’s winter home, you really should check it (and his art museum on the grounds) out some time.

Pitch Brad and Seth at Glue

April 1, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur and you’re looking for some professional, one-on-one feedback from someone who invests for a living. Maybe you’re ready for the formal pitch, or maybe you just need some substantive advice as you prepare for your real round of money-raising. Have we got a plan for you!

Brad Feld and Seth Levine (both of Foundry Group) have decided they’d like to spend an hour hearing pitches and offering feedback.

Here’s how it works:

1. Register for Glue.  (use “pitch1″ to take $100 off of the price.)

2. Shoot me [enorlin AT] (or Brad or Seth) a paragraph describing what you wanna pitch.

3. Brad and Seth will pick 6 startups.

4. Your pitch will be 5 minutes (in a room with just them; no “big stage” pressure), and 5 minutes of honest feedback from two great VCs.

5. If you register and don’t get picked, fear not — the guys have vowed to make themselves uber-available during Glue (for a hallway pitch).

You get a great conference experience, the chance to meet with other great folks, and the chance for some serious feedback from two professionals.  Join us!

The dangers of early “formalization”

March 30, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

If you’ve been watching cloud computing at all, you’ve undoubtedly seen the whole brouhaha over the Open Cloud manifesto. I won’t recount it here, mostly because – frankly – I can’t tell what’s actually going on there anymore. So and so said one thing, while thanking so and so, who declined to comment on three organizational….BLECH!

What I will say is this: Gluecon, as you all know by now, is not YACCE (yet another cloud computing event). We’ve got plenty of YACCE’s and 90% of them will be dead within 18 months (bet on it). But, cloud computing the topic is a big part of what we want to talk about at Glue (even if it’s only one part). And, now that I’ve seen several people and articles mention the idea that this whole open cloud brouhaha points to the need for a “formalization of the standards process” around cloud computing, I want to throw in my 2 cents.

First, a quick caveat: I’m not an engineer. If pushed, I can stretch my limits of programming into writing one line of code for active server pages. As such, I’ve never sat on a body that writes standards. I have, however, been involved with them (I was an active member of the Liberty Alliance for some time), and have been an observer of “standards” for some time. The “standards” that inform my thoughts on this include things like RSS, XML (or more properly, XML-RPC), all of the liberty alliance specs, jabber (xmpp), OpenID, XRI and XRD (now XRDS, or something), and the mess that was/is WS-*.

That said, here’s my part-gut feel, part observer experience of it all:

“Formalizing the standards process” only ever does one thing well — SLOW DOWN ADOPTION.

That is not to say that formalized standards processes (and bodies) don’t have their place. They do. But they shouldn’t be formalized at too early a stage, as they do only one thing really well (say it with me) — SLOW DOWN ADOPTION. The reason they slow down adoption is really quite simple — if I’m an “enterprise guy” that’s looking at adopting cloud stuff, I don’t want to have to adopt things 3 or 4 times because my budgets are scarce, my time is even more scarce, and screwing up something like this will get me fired. As soon as some group of vendors says, “we’re forming a body to formalize the standards process,” my reaction as the enterprise guy is to say — “whoa, brakes time!” As it’s much easier for me to delay my adoption by 6, 12 or 18 months. And I can do so under the rational thought process of — “by waiting, I’ll ensure I adopt a standard.”

Of course, there’s not a single cloud vendor on the planet that wants to see adoption of their products slow down.

So what’s a cloud vendor to do? Realize that it’s not about “formalizing standards,” it’s about driving adoption.

RSS didn’t succeed because it was standardized. It succeeded because it was adopted. The same thing goes for XMPP. And the inverse hold true as well – organizations like the liberty alliance have ended up largely giving in to other standards because theirs weren’t being adopted in the ways they’d hoped for. Similarly, there’s an awful lot of heat around OpenID, and folks there will claim adoption — but we have yet to really see it ignite.

My point is: real “standards” come about through adoption first, and a formalized process second. Not the other way around.

Notably, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are among those absent from the open cloud manifesto. Does that pose an “adoption problem?”– oh yea.

Look, the big guys are gonna jockey for position, and I don’t care WHAT they say, they’re always going to want to preserve some sort of angle for themselves. Always. That’s the nature of the beast.

Without a “formalized standards process” will the cloud go through a proliferation of differing “standards” and a period of confusion and lock-in? Of course. But I’d still argue that going that route leads to faster adoption than formalizing the standards process too early.

Am I wrong? Well, we’re gonna find out (and you can show up at Glue and tell me so).

Afternoon 1 of Glue

March 27, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

Yesterday, I took a quick glance at what morning 1 of Glue will bring, so I thought I’d do the same for afternoon 1 of Glue (this is, by no means, all inclusive).

On afternoon 1 of Glue, you’ll find/discover things like:

1. OAuth, OpenID and how they play into web architectures and services – with Andrew Nash (of PayPal) and Danny Kolke (of etelos).

2. How to secure cloud infrastructure – presented by George Reese, who has an upcoming O’Reilly book on the subject.

3. Platforms and Clouds: how to build out web apps in the sky — Peter Coffee (from, and we’ll be adding some Azure and IBM folks as well.

4. More on data portability from Ben Metcalfe, Daniela Barbosa and Chris Saad (maybe the cloud guys should talk to the data portability guys, huh?)

5. Understanding complex event processing across web apps from Mike Clymer.

6. Overcoming integration challenges from Rick Nucci.

7. The role of XMPP (the protocol behind jabber) in web oriented architectures — from 3 XMPP bigwigs – Peter Saint-Andre, Jack Moffitt, and Seth Fitzsimmons

8. Harnessing the Cloud – Mike West of Saugatuck (one of the few, early and accurate analyst shops in the cloud space).

…and that’s not everything.

If the morning of day 1 and the afternoon of day 1 don’t exhaust you, fear not –we’ve still got the evening reception and the post-reception gatherings to keep your brain spinning. And we still have to get to day 2.