Archive for May, 2010

The Friday Before

May 21, 2010     |     posted by gluecon

It’s the Friday before Gluecon (next wednesday-thursday), which means that the next time you’ll likely hear from me will be from the keynote stage at the show.

We’ve got an absolutely amazing group of sponsors, an out of this world agenda, and a list of gluecon participants that is shaping up to be the highest geek genius factor that you’re likely to find at any event this spring. The excitement is building all across the twitterverse, and between Cloud Camp, the sessions, the evening reception, the hackathon and more sessions, well — I think you’re all going to be quite pleased (if you’re coming that is).

If there’s any doubt in your mind, join us. Use the discount code “twit2″ for 10% off — but remember: discount codes are NOT valid onsite, and prices go up to $795 the day of the show. So save yourself some greenbacks and get registered for Glue!

Gluecon’s Hackathon

May 20, 2010     |     posted by gluecon

Alright, you’ve got your gluecon ticket in hand (and if you don’t — I mean, really — why not?), and you’re wondering how your day 1 will end. I have the answer for you.

After a day that’s jam-packed with awesome, participatory sessions, you’ll find yourself at the gluecon evening reception (open bar, of course). That goes until 7:15pm. At which point, the Gluecon Hackathon will begin. The hackathon is sponsored by BlankSlate, PayPal and Twilio (thanks guys!), who will be there to assist you in your quest to build the next big thing (in one evening). In addition, Mashery is stepping up and offering to buy everyone wearing a gluecon badge drinks at the hotel bar from 9:30-10:30pm that night. So, if you need a cold, frosty one to keep those engineering wheels spinning – fear not, you’re covered!

I hope all of the developers in the house will join in the hackathon. I know I’ll be curious to see what comes out it!

OpenID Connect and Gluecon

May 17, 2010     |     posted by gluecon

There’s some news floating around this morning about David Recordon’s proposal to rebuild OpenID on top of OAuth 2.0. I can’t say that I have an opinion on this yet (first off, being a non-engineering guy, I have to get David to explain it to me). I’ve been a partial critic of some OpenID things in the past, and a pretty public fan of OAuth, so at first glance, rebuilding OpenID to sit on top of OAuth sounds like a interesting idea. I’ll be curious to see how we (the community) identify any pitfalls around tying authorization and authentication closely together.

The really good news is this: Nearly all of the prime movers around this (David Recordon, Chris Messina, Brad Fitzpatrick, Dick Hardt, etc) will be at Gluecon in 9 days. So, let’s just say you wanna start sorting this out (or even working on it with David et al)….well, you know what to do.

11 Days and Counting

May 14, 2010     |     posted by gluecon

In 11 days, the “clouderati” will descend on the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colorado. People that are normally hard to pin down at all of those massive Silicon Valley tech conferences will be hanging out, having drinks, hacking apps, and talking glue stuff. Gluecon will be taking over the resort, so every where you turn, you’ll be bumping into alpha geeks.

If you’re in Colorado, I really hope you don’t miss this one. Use the code, “twit2″ to take 10% off of the registration price — but don’t wait, onsite registration is $100 bucks more than the current price (and no discounts are accepted onsite).

I’ve been running conferences for a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with how a show has come together. Gluecon is gonna knock the cover off of the ball. Join us.

Starting with the Why

May 11, 2010     |     posted by gluecon

I was going to write something this morning about how Glue’s right around the corner, and how you should come, and how great it will be. And then Brad went and posted this talk by Simon Sinek. Go watch it, I’ll wait (see you in 18 minutes).

You didn’t watch the whole thing, did you? Okay, I don’t EVER tell you to go watch videos. Seriously this is good stuff – go watch it (I’ll be here).

See? If you’re like me, your mind’s spinning on “the why.” Why do I do what I do? How do I do it? What do i do?

I don’t think I have this verbalized yet, but when the hell has lack of clarity ever stopped me from blogging something.

If you ask me about “the why,” my gut immediately comes back with 3 sides to an answer:

1. I truly believe that when people meet face to face, in the right space, with the right ingredients, something magical can happen. There are connections that get made in “meat space” that can simply never get made in “virtual space.” And those connections can not only alter an individual’s entire life, they can alter and create entire industries.

2. I’m a startup guy. Part of the reason I’m a startup guy is that I think in the right situation incentives align. That means that I believe with all of my heart and all of my soul that a small team of people running a tech conference who —  don’t take salaries, get paid based on what the conference makes, and have zero ability to “pass the buck”  – will simply put on a better experience than a team at a company that’s salaried, does 12 shows a year, and has someone else they can blame for a screw-up. Sorry — nothing against those teams of people (a lot of them are my friends); it’s not that the individuals don’t care, it’s just that the incentives aren’t aligned.

3. You start any conference with the topic. You have no idea how many conferences I’ve decided NOT to start. There was the one about podcasting, the one about disrupting the DEMO show (oh yea, I shared that idea with Arrington back in 2005), the one about this, the one that, the 1400 ideas that have been pitched to me. Why not those shows? Because it’s all about the topic.

When I make the decision to start an event, I know that I am *personally* committing (not on a financial level, on a whole person level) to spending the next 5-7 years of my life exploring this idea. In other words, I better a) think it’s a game changer and b) be completely fascinated, in love with and obsessed with exploring it. If that’s not there, there is no conference. The idea of Defrag (how data is changing everything) fascinated me from the first time Brad blogged about it. The idea of Glue (the technical underpinnings that move us past SaaS and Cloud) hooked me immediately. The idea of Blur (playing with new ways of interacting with computers) turns me into a kid again.

Contrast that with how a lot of technology conferences get started. The conversation goes like this: “Wow that X market is gonna be big.” ” Lots of money, lots of vendors.” “We should tap that market and start a conference.” Now look at some of the most successful conference of the past 25 years — Esther Dyson’s PC Forum, Tim O’Reilly’s events and TED. All started by someone who was just in LOVE with an idea. They started those events because they wanted to solve a problem and tell the world.

Okay, I’m rambling – and my “why’s” are shifting into “how’s” and “what’s,” but bottom line….

Why? To solve a problem and tell the world. Because connections in the right setting can be magical (and change lives). Because the power of a small group with incentives properly aligned can whip the ass of a large group improperly aligned every time.

Wanna see it live and in person? Come to Gluecon.

The Cloud Top 3′s

May 10, 2010     |     posted by gluecon

Rackspace’s earnings report prompted a Twitter exchange between myself and Michael DeSilver (of LTech) that seemed interesting enough to report here.

Rackspace reported year over year growth in their cloud business of 77%, and sequential growth of 13% — all on $19 million in revenue (for the cloud biz). This prompted Mike and I to start down a path of “who are the top 3 cloud guys by revenue?” Here’s what our twittering resulted in (guesses — with the exception of public companies):

IaaS: On the Infrastructure as a Service side, the top 3 seemed the most obvious…

1. Amazon Web Services: did 350mm last year, expecting to do 600-700mm this year.

2. Rackspace: 19 million

3. Who is in 3rd? Terremark? Saavis? A startup we don’t know about? Someone’s gotta be doing 5-10 million in the IaaS market….question is: who are they?

Notes: The shocking thing here is the gap between #1 and #2. I’d imagine that gap lessens over the coming years, but who knows…

PaaS: In the Platform as a Service space, the top 3 also seem fairly obvious -

1. (and the platform).

2. Google’s App Engine

3. Microsoft’s Azure

Notes: (My thoughts, not Mike’s) It occurs to me that someone like Intuit might also crack this top three. And as we were twittering, Etelos raised their hand as being in the number 3 spot. Etelos is a public company (so is Intuit), so with a a little digging we could suss out, who of these 5 is actually the top 3.

Management Services: This category is a bit trickier. I guess you could really expand it to “cloud services” and really open things up, but originally we were speaking specifically about the consoles, dashboards and interfaces that provide “management” for cloud provisioning, etc. With that in mind, a guess as to the top 3

1. RightScale

2. enStratus

3. Scalr (though obviously Scalr is free, so it’s position here is based on usage, not revenue).

Notes: I think CA probably cracks this list with their recent acquisitions, though it’s hard to know where. And if we actually expand the category to “cloud services” — who knows.

It was an interesting exercise, and one that I’d love to see expanded on and tracked — which reminds me, why aren’t there journalists or analysts doing this job?

Get in on the Ground Floor

May 10, 2010     |     posted by gluecon

At some point in my life, I got interested in markets. Really interested. I started out interested in public markets, and I’ve grown into my interest in more private markets. But, overall, I love markets — the trades, the liquidity, the exotic instruments — hell, I used to LOVE doing some pretty funky options trades back when I was a stockbroker (butterfly spreads, anyone?). Still, I wake up this morning to the news that the EU bailout fund is 1 Trillion (trillion – with a “T”), I read somewhere that the total worldwide derivatives market is $700 Trillion (trillion – with a “T”), and I read this piece by Mark Cuban (questioning what business Wall Street is in), and I can’t help but feel like the public markets have become something I barely recognize anymore.

Not to be overly nostalgic, or pass judgement — I just have this overwhelming sense that it ain’t what it used to be. You sure as hell can’t read a Peter Lynch book, buy Home Depot because you shop there, wait 30 years and hope for a “10 bagger.” Those days=kaput.

Somewhere amidst my little musings, a thought occurs to me: it’s always more fun when you get in on the ground floor. Whether it’s markets, or startups, or whatever — the guys in EARLY, are the guys that see real returns. And I can tell you, having been around the operation of tech conferences for over 10 years now, the same applies in this space.

Sure, you can go to the giant trade show — the MacWorld, or Web 2.0 Expo, or CES, or SXSW, or RSA Security — and there’s value in the experience (I’m purposefully NOT defining “value). But if you find a targeted conference that’s early in it’s development (ie, the attendance numbers are under 500-700 people), you can gain an entirely DIFFERENT level of value.

You see, the truth is that at shows like Gluecon, a community forms. That community might only be 30 or 40 people large in years 1 and 2 — but those 30 or 40 people form a core. And if Gluecon is going to be around for 3, 4, 5 years (hint: it is), and grow to be a really good sized conference with real influence (hint: it will), then you WANT to be in that core. Why? It’s simple. That core community is special. They’ll have been there from the beginning, contributed to the direction of the conference, grown *with* each other (and hired, acquired and started things with each other) — in short, they’ll get privileges afforded by the community (and the conference organizer) that other, late comers simply will not get.

And it’s not simply that you’ll *receive* something by getting in early. It’s that you’ll be able to *contribute* something that late comers won’t be able to contribute. Gluecon in year 2 (this year) will be filled with a level of interaction and contribution that’s made *possible* by the fact that we’re in an emerging industry and this isn’t some 3 thousand person expo floor.

In short: it pays to get in early. It pays to get in on the ground floor. It pays off in that you’ll contribute directly to forming a core community, and when the early stages are over, you’ll be part of that core community.

You only get a couple swings at this pitch. Ever. Join us.

Understanding the Open Graph Protocol

May 6, 2010     |     posted by gluecon

David Recordon (of Facebook) sent over his session title this morning. Now, I think we all kind of figured that David would be addressing Facebook’s Open Graph stuff, but it’s nice to get “official confirmation” from him on that front. I commented on Dave Linthicum’s podcast this week that I was a bit unsure of how I felt about what Facebook is doing. Is Facebook just another walled garden? Kinda. Is the Open Graph stuff crossing some Open Web lines? Maybe. Am I filled with zealotry and vitriol over it? Eh – I’m too old for zealotry.

That said, there is a *serious* discussion to be had about the implications of what Facebook is up to. As Mitch Kapor reminded the Glue audience last year, you cannot assume that the internet simply HAD to turn out the way it did (ie, taking some Darwinian “purpose filled” evolutionary approach — yes, Darwin thought evolution had purpose, but I digress — is just silly with regards to the Internet).

The discussion takes place in a larger context: “I thought Glue was about the Cloud. Why are you talking about Facebook?”

Ah yes – good point. As I also said on Dave’s podcast, Glue is about the idea that the enterprise developer and the web (“consumer-facing”) developer are not separate skill sets over the next 5 year timeframe. The protocols and APIs that the web developer uses/knows (Facebook, Twitter, Activity Streams, OAuth, etc) will become the kinds of things the enterprise developer uses/knows (and vice versa). And all of THAT happens in the cloud. It’s why we speak of Glue as being about developing in *and* for the cloud. Putting experts on hybrid cloud architecture in the same space as the guy building out Facebook’s Open Graph protocol will yield one hell of an interesting discussion. One that you cannot (and will not) have at either a “cloud computing” event or a “web developer” event — but one that you WILL have at Glue.

I hope you’ll join us.

The 7 Stages of Tech Industry Development

May 4, 2010     |     posted by gluecon

Anyone that’s been reading my blog posts here or over on Defrag has probably figured out that I’m a big fan of recurring cycles in history, industries, societies, etc. It’s always especially interesting to watch it play out in the tech world.

Yesterday’s acquisition of Cast Iron Systems by IBM seems like an indicator of where we’re at in the cycle for Cloud Computing. Let me break down tech industry development into 7 stages (this is the “successful trend curve,” not the “it crashed and burned” curve):

1. The pre-alpha stage: This is the stage where the new trend/niche doesn’t have a name yet. Normally, it’s growing out of the ashes or success of another industry movement, so people *try* to just call it that. For example, before there was “identity management” (in the enterprise) there were directories (and meta-directories). Hence, before IdM (identity management) was called identity management, it was called “directory services” — even though that name didn’t quite fit.

2. The “we’ve named it, but it’s all buzz” stage: Somewhere along the way, a name sticks. “Cloud Computing” – a helluva lot sexier than “Application Service Providers” isn’t it? Once the name sticks, you enter the stage of “all buzz.” This is where a ton of startups take root, and the common mantra is “technology X will *revolutionize*/permanently change/totally destroy the enterprise IT world [or whatever] and the big tech CO’s are clueless.” This is the time for visionaries and daring entrepreneurs. And, of course, some of the forward looking guys inside of the big vendors start paying attention. What this stage ALWAYS lacks is a) fully developed technology and b) customers.

3. The “um, we might have something real here” stage: In this stage the startups get their technology developed just enough that they begin to land customers. If the trend is lucky, the buzz word is now in full force and running headlong towards completely overhyped. Initial customers always arouses the big tech vendors — and they begin to make noises.

4. The “we’ve gotta get in” stage: This is the stage where the big tech vendors hear enough about this new thing from analysts and customers that meetings start to occur wherein an engineering guy says “holy sh&!, we’ve GOT to get in to this space.” The big tech vendors then do one of three things: 1) enter denial (ie, what we currently call “The Ellison”), 2) begin building something that will take 18-24 months to roll out (and be hopelessly outdated when it arrives), or 3) start buying startups from stages 2/3 (ie, the “CA” approach).

5. The end of early adoption stage: In this stage, the early adoption is in full force, and you can almost just *sense* that mainstream adoption is about to start happening. This causes the big tech vendors to wake up…which is to say, the CEO, COO and CFO finally go to that engineering guy and say, “holy sh&% this is gonna be big! why didn’t you tell us?” When this stage happens, an old, stodgy, been around forever tech company (*ahem* IBM *ahem*) makes a substantial acquisition (Cast Iron).

6. The “mainstream adoption/market gets real” stage: This is actually the longest stage, and it normally lasts 2-3x whatever stages 1-5 were. So, if stages 1-5 took 24 months to run through, stage 6 will take 48 to 72 months to occur. Some startups get REALLY big in this stage, some big tech guys make REALLY big acquisitions, and general mayhem ensues. In this stage, some tech conference will throw an expo around the topic and have 5, 10, or even 15 thousand people show up.

7. The “mission accomplished” stage: This is when you come out of the mainstream adoption curve, and the “industry” that has been built gets a) steady b) boring (to entrepreneurs) and c) profitable (for startups that ran the gauntlet). This stage usually lasts 2 years. At which point, the next trend will start.

Total time for stages 1-7: roughly 7 years.

Now, where are we in this cycle? Somewhere in the middle of Stage 5 (the “end of early adoption” stage). I don’t think we’ve seen the end of early adoption yet (indeed, I think it’s just beginning), but IBM’s Cast Iron buy lets us know where we are. Figure the early adopters need a year to play out (or so), and then we’ll move to stage 6 (assuming all stays on track).

What does that mean for the “cloud computing” industry? That there’s probably 4 years of REALLY explosive growth ahead of it, followed by 2-ish years of steady profitable stuff.

In other words, we’re just getting started. Be sure to join us at Gluecon.

Rounding the Bend

May 3, 2010     |     posted by gluecon

It seems appropriate to reference horse racing the Monday morning after the derby.

Yes, we are “rounding the bend” — 23 days until Gluecon. I feel like I’ve droned on endlessly about how great it’s going to be (I probably have), so let me just take a different approach by highlighting some things I’m looking forward to — starting at the END of Day 2 and working backwards a bit.

David Linthicum’s closing keynote: I’ve never met David, but he has the reputation of being super smart — having been around SOA architecture stuff, and now cloud stuff for quite some time. David told me he’s more comfortable speaking to a technical crowd, and I said, “perfect.” I’m looking forward to his thoughts where we go from here.

The  ”Hacking Identity” track  - which highlights user managed access (Eve Maler), federated provisioning (Nishant Kaushik), XAuth (Chris Messina), and Webfinger (Brad Fitzpatrick) and follows it up with a discussion moderated by Ian Glazer (of Burton Group, now Gartner).

“Integrating Drizzle” with Eric Day from Rackspace. Rackspace brought most of the Drizzle guys on board when the Sun-Oracle merger happened. I’m anxious to learn more.

“On Hadoop” with Todd Lipcon from Cloudera. Hadoop is about as dominant as it gets at the moment, and I profess to knowing far less about it than I should. You?

Three sessions on scalability and the cloud stack — from Bradford Stephens (Hadoop, HBase, Zookeeper), Oren Teich (of Heroku, on scaling apps), and Sebastian Stadil (Scalr).

That’s just one possible “track” of sessions that runs from Lunch to the end of Day 2. That’s an extra-large helping of information. In one afternoon. And you can make your own choices.

I’m really proud of what we’ve got going, and when I look around at what else is out there – be it 1 day unconferences (that cost the same as gluecon), or large tradeshows (that cost 2-3x gluecon), and exceedingly happy about the value that we’re offering developers. So, get your butt to Gluecon! ;-)

Update: I did a quick podcast with Dave Linthicum this morning — a good summary of what’s coming at Gluecon – check it out.