From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Trip Report: O'Reilly Strata 2011

I attended the O'Reilly Strata Conference in Santa Clara, CA.  It was quite a different conference than the sort that I have  frequented over the last ~10 years (which have overwhelmingly been  Linux and Open Source focused).  This conference focused on a new  industry buzz term -- BIG DATA.  Many of the speakers bragged about  how large their databases were (100M rows, a 1B rows, 10M columns  (WTF?), etc).  If Ubuntu is the a darling of Linux conferences,  Hadoop was undoubtedly the head honcho in this crowd.  Speakers were  employed by the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, LinkedIn, and others in that vein.

A healthy subset of the companies here were selling open source or at  least open core solutions, most of which ran in Amazon's cloud, and  most of those that I could gather were Ubuntu-based.  The attendees,  though, were hardly open source or free software zealots.  I'd estimate  that less than 2% of the 1700 attendee's laptops were running Linux.
This was very much a Mac crowd (and Windows to perhaps a lesser extent).

There was one notable exception, though, with regards to Ubuntu...  I  attended a half-day tutorial on Karmasphere -- an Eclipse-based UI that configures and manages Hadoop.  The presenters passed out 200+ 4GB USB keys, each of which had a VMWare image of a stripped down Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop (i386), adding the Eclipse SDK and their software.  The USB key also included the free (beer) VMWare Player for Windows and 32-bit Ubuntu.  Of course, I'm running 64-bit Ubuntu, and spent the next half hour downloading the tools I needed to concatenate the 2 VMWare disks into 1 and booting their VM in KVM instead ;-)

So this was pretty cool -- at least 100+ Ubuntu VM's booting to the drumbeat noise throughout the room (at least the people who's sound was not muted).  The focus was not on Ubuntu, but I'm sure a few people saw it for the first time and perhaps realized its potential as a development platform for the cloud through the Eclipse SDK.

I chatted with the Rackspace folks at their booth briefly, and attended Eric Day's talk on OpenStack.  Remarkably, he spent at least half of his OpenStack talk describing the Ubuntu development process that they have adopted (6 month cycles, design summits, launchpad,
bzr, irc, wiki, mailing lists).  I took it that this was a new set of concepts for some contingent of the crowd.

I didn't take any real "action items" away from this conference for the Ubuntu Server or Platform teams.  Chief technical guys and gals from LinkedIn, Google, and's talked about their methods of using Map Reduce and various other "big data" techniques to tear through hundreds of millions of records and still deliver a real-time user experience.  So as a server geek, I certainly enjoyed the conference and learned a lot, but I doubt I'll need to attend again in the future.