Fusion-io's SQL Server-snuggle

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Second only to the programming spin that focuses on DevOps is the emergence of what we might call the rise of the true 'data developer'.

The data (or database) developer is focused on tools that can reduce transaction latencies inside modern data warehouse environments, very often now employing in-memory computing speed where possible.

This is the target zone that Fusion-io is looking to with its news this week that the Fusion ioMemory platform has been optimised for performance with Microsoft SQL Server 2014.

First the Earth cooled

So first the Earth cooled, then the dinosaurs came... and then Microsoft adorned SQL Server 2014 with in-memory capabilities with perhaps half an eye on what SAP has done with its HANA IMDB flagship loveliness.

The Fusion ioMemory platform is said to be capable of running the in-memory SQL Server 2014 proposition at a 4x improvement in transactions per second with lower data latencies.

So just to restate the facts... SQL Server 2014 delivers new in-memory capabilities built into the core database for online transaction processing (OLTP) to speed real-time transaction data.

Cut-through architecture

Fusion-io now claims that SQL Server 2014 In-Memory OLTP combined with the Fusion-io "cut through architecture" drives the highest performance level of transactions with the simplest, most cost-effective approach compared to legacy architectures.

"The move by Microsoft to adopt in-memory on-line transaction processing (OLTP) for SQL Server 2014 is a huge step forwards towards the needs businesses around the world have for in-memory databases. In-memory provides businesses with a competitive advantage by allowing real-time access to information, by adding flash memory technology to this it removes additional data bottlenecks to provide faster transactions, faster queries and faster insights at lower costs for businesses," said Fusion-io President and COO Lance Smith.

Fusion ioMemory offers tens of terabytes of high-performance flash per server at "a fraction of the cost" (it says here) of scaling out disks for performance.

Fusion-io's persistent, high capacity ioMemory platform gives servers native access to flash memory with the intention of increasing datacentre efficiency.

Fusion-io also supports Buffer Pool Extension, a new feature in SQL Server 2014.

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Image 1: Fusion-io's understated modest low-key home page imagery, do you think they're trying to tell us something?

The geek is dead: a new superhero power-class emerges

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IT automation company Chef has played its annual PR joker trump card this week and suggested that a new 'power-class' of developers is emerging.

NOTE: The firm produces a model for automating IT infrastructure and applications that drive what it calls 'self-reliance' across development and operations teams.

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The firm says claims that developers are starting to be recognised as a "highly influential population" both in business and in society.

NOTE: There's an old saying in PR: when there's no news, do a survey.

So then, according to a new survey, 93 percent of developers feel empowered to experiment in their companies, with 94 percent believing they will be a "revolutionary influence" in the private sector, government and non-profits during the next five years.

Chef surveyed 1,000 software developers in the U.S. to determine trends in their business, societal, financial and political behaviour.

The average software developer plans to stay at his or her current company for nine years.

More than two-thirds (69 percent) of developers describe their profession as "recession-proof.

Chef CEO Barry Crist says, "Developers are a stable class and are the engine powering our economy today and in the future. Despite the ups and downs of technology companies, the developer population remains stable, maturing and growing in size, influence and financial power."

TIBCO: data integration is more than just plumbing

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Never shy of a long product name, TIBCO this week is hanging out the bunting and flags to celebrate the arrival of TIBCO ActiveMatrix BusinessWorks 6.0 -- a "technology-neutral platform" for data.

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Although there is BPM here (Business Process Management)... in fairness, ActiveMatrix is more than just BPM...

... the company's latest release includes products for service creation and integration, distributed service control and data grid management, tools for dealing with packaged applications, BPM (ah there it is!) and governance.

In terms of usage by data-centric developers, the product allows users create their own "functions and connectors" for data integration.

This then is all about the ability to integrate applications together and influence them with what's about to happen, not what's already happened.

TIBCO CTO Matt Quinn asserts that data (and applications) integration is no longer just "a matter of simple plumbing" and that new agility is needed.

A model-driven development approach allows users to develop, debug, configure and deploy integration processes without having to write any lines of code.

According to Quinn, "Organisations are no longer just integrating internal ERP, SaaS, custom or legacy applications; today they're exposing the data that fuels their mobile applications, web channels and open APIs. This data allows them to engage in real-time discussions with customers."

Image credit: Grinning Planet

Portuguese developer event hosts HTML5... to ZX Spectrum and Atari inspired retro coding jam

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A new Silicon Valley here in Europe?

A Portuguese Costa do Silício (coast of code) perhaps?

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Could Portugal really be the "next great technology hub for Europe" or is the country's national investment authority curiously adept at the black art of spin?

SAPO Codebits is named thusly as SAPO is a subsidiary company of the Portugal Telecom Group -- the event itself is held this week and features 900 participants from more than 10 countries, 25 workshops, more than 100 talks, 64 speakers and a selection of Piri Piri spiced frango asado (roast chicken) to feed the attending masses.

Now in its 7th year, SAPO Codebits will focus on computing and hardware with 3D printing, digital manufacturing, augmented hardware and simulations, robotics, drones and virtual reality retro computing.

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There's even going to be a retro gaming and computing session:

"If you have a ZX Spectrum, a Commodore 64, an Amiga 500, a Dreamcast, the first PlayStation, an Atari 2600, a GameCube, an Amstrad or an IBM PC or something else that will rock our collective geek nostalgia, it's time to blow out the dust of that relic and see if it still works."

The event will also hit the modern edge of programming with a presentation from the very excellent Christian Heilmann in his role as principal developer Evangelist at Mozilla.

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Heilmann's "Firefox OS - HTML5 for a truly world-wide-web" session will feature the following abstract:

"HTML5 was promised to developers as a truly open and simple way to create applications without restrictions and the need to learn new technologies. Sounded too good to be true, and in many platforms it actually was. With Firefox OS, Mozilla created an operating system aimed at emerging markets that delivers the promise of HTML5. In this keynote Chris Heilmann will explain what you can do to be part of this and how the browser is your editing environment. Be part of the creation of the next generation of apps that empower people around the world."

Microsoft CTO for cloud: Azure Preview Portal will fuel real cloud programming

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Developers are getting their hands dirty inside the mechanics of the cloud to an increasing degree every day.

Given this truism, we can expect cloud players to start producing new "code spanner friendly" services suited to the way software application development pros need to work within the big data environment of the cloud.

Microsoft has been vocal in this space recently and has just announced its Azure Preview Portal, a service for developers to build and manage their apps inside already-running cloud instances -- in place, using the tools of their choice.

The firm claims that this new offering brings together all the components of a cloud app into a single development and management experience (effectively then, blending infrastructure and platform services) -- and this could indeed mean that developers no longer have to work in multiple, disparate environments.

Microsoft plans to deliver the new portal across the public, private and hosted cloud.

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With these new services in mind, cloud services CTO for Microsoft Rob Fraser has said that the ability to really start to tune up custom-aligned clouds is going to be crucial game-changer for cloud developers and the CIOs to which they report:

Fraser's comments are as follows:

No two companies will have the same requirements, so hybrid IT solutions that can be customised for each engagement and deliver flexibility regardless of whether the customer runs on premise, on a service provider, on public cloud or any combination.

Best of breed cloud providers need to deliver a complete range of cloud services at scale and that provide coherency in term of key services, like identity and directory services, across whatever device and service infrastructure is selected. Ultimately, cloud providers need to ensure they are able to provide solutions that give the customer as much flexibility as possible to drive efficiencies and allow IT to respond rapidly evolving business requirements.

Microsoft, as an example, has recently provided this with its Office for iPad release. This enables Microsoft customers to take advantage of Office 365 and drive business efficiencies no matter what devices the customer has in place, enabling a flexible and agile service that delivers a return on investment.

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Sound as a development factor

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We have speculated previously about that oft-overlooked software application development parameter: sound.

If sound is not the next (social media) killer app, then surely it could be the next killer application consideration.

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We talk a lot about what makes a great application and what makes a great device; factors including processing speed, graphic capabilities, Input/Output and connectivity capabilities, playability, usability and even plain old storage get talked to death.

But why is sound such a poor cousin to these so-called 'killer' factors.

Here's why this discussion comes to light...

I've been using an iPad, iPod and Xbox for a number of years with a well known brand of headphones from a company beginning with the letter B (rhymes with hose) and been happy enough.

But this weekend I switched to a pair of (and I'm happy to name them) Sennheiser Momentum On Ear Headphones Red and had something of an epiphany. The sound is so rich, deep and crystal clear that I was honestly taken aback.

Soundgarden has a free concert video on iTunes right now where the band plays the whole Superunknown album back to back. I literally sat at my desk and worked on Sunday just so I could sit there listening to the music.

If sound can be "that much better" with quality headphones (or speakers), they why isn't it up there with TOUCH and GESTURE RECOGNITION as a killer app factor?

This brand from Sennheiseris powered by 18Ω proprietary transducers, which use (says the company) technology from the high-end headphone sector in order to deliver full stereo sound with (and this is the important bit) "extraordinary rendition of detail" for the listener.

Why then isn't sound detail rendition more openly discussed and/or targeted as an application development objective?

Yes obviously you can make sound quality as wonderful as possible but if the listener uses a pair of cheap earphones or speakers from a Christmas cracker then it won't matter anyway, so factor should be down to the device manufacturers to start championing anyway.

Some years back now, Sennheiser Communications announced that it had joined the Cisco Developer Network in the Unified Communications technology category -- so it is now out of the realm of firms like the German audio company to get involved at this level.

Better sound for apps and better sound all round please.

A severe case of the "-ilities"

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This is a guest post for the Computer Weekly Developer Network written by Mark Warren of Perforce Software.

If you're struggling to find out what's going on inside your production servers...

(i.e. what's on them and why... and how on Earth you're going to make them grow to keep up with demand)

... then you may have a severe case of the "Ilities".

This is a common ailment.

Sysadmins across the planet are struggling with traceability (knowing what got deployed, why, when and how to clean up if anything goes wrong), auditability (being able to show you know what's running and that, honestly, all the testing and compliancy stuff got done)... and scalability (more people keep wanting to use the systems and for them to run faster).

For all sorts of historical reasons (and some of those apps have been around for decades) a whole raft of different tools have been adopted across development and operations teams and more are still being added, for example some developers are adopting Git while most of the rest of the team are using other tools.

The first part of the solution is to realise that at the core of all the problems is what we call the System of Record.

This is the foundation on which all the development, build, test and deployment tools sit. If you can get that foundation right, with a single "source of truth" then you're well on the road to recovery.

The single source of truth is your version management tool.

That tool needs to be able to handle all the digital assets (source code and outputs from the build system including: test cases, documentation, artwork and video), plus high performance and manageable, robust security.

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As a first step, companies need to audit what they have - including how many version management tools are being used, admins, different back-up or HA/DR processes and then rationalise or retire anything that is superfluous to requirement.

Regardless of what software is used to get there...

... please understand where you are without worrying about how you got there; review what you need and how your current systems match up; develop a modernisation plan to migrate to a version management platform that can take care of your "ilities" for you."

Does Windows 8.1 Update have usability, at last?

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The great and the good among the software application development coding community were invited to Microsoft's Build 2014 conference in San Francisco last night.

The Computer Weekly Developer Network was fortunate enough to attend a series of London-based briefings detailing much of the same information.

We had the Windows 8.1 update (lower case) back in May 2013 -- so this instead is Windows 8.1 Update (CAPS) -- and the distinction is important.

We have known about the forthcoming next build of Windows from as far back as January of this year due to a number of leaks -- initially, our interest has been focused on Microsoft giving users first and then manufacturers the ability to ship machines that boot directly into native desktop mode.

This action eludes to part of the deeper problem Microsoft has had with Windows 8 i.e. slapping full screen apps at desktop (and laptop) users who do not want what is essentially a "tablet experience" on their keyboard-driven machine.

NOTE: As an example, Microsoft's full screen Skype is "snappable" into a quarter of the screen, but is still arguably too intrusive -- the native desktop version is thankfully available.

It is after all called Microsoft WINDOWS -- not WINDOW.

But has Microsoft got around this problem now and does Windows 8.1 Update have real user usability?

The shorter answer is yes, it might well have.

Of course this would be quite a hard trick to pull off. That is to say ... can you imagine Microsoft unveiling a so-called "more converged platform" across desktop, phone and 'other', yet still managing to fix user interface usability for (mouse and keyboard using) desktop users at the same time?

So here's the money shot...

Key features of the Windows 8.1 Update include the ability to access the taskbar from any screen and pin Windows Store apps to the taskbar alongside desktop apps and favourite websites.

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What this means is: if you find yourself constricted inside a full screen app on a desktop and want to change what you're doing, you can pull your mouse downwards to the bottom of the screen and identify all your open apps and switch between them pretty easily.

To add to these "why didn't they do this in the first place" improvements, Microsoft has also added a POWER DOWN and SEARCH icon right in the top right hand of the Windows tile home screen. The option to power off via the desktop "new start button" still exists.

Spotlight or Search?

So that Metro SEARCH option button (ok sorry, we're not allowed to call it Metro anymore) then, is that a good idea?

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Yes of course it is, it makes search much more accessible and it works a lot like Spotlight in Apple's OS X -- so should that be a surprise?

Computer Weekly Developer Network reporting staff last attended Microsoft Build 2004 (it was called PDC back then) and comments were made at that time about "natural migration of features between competing operating systems" and, in fairness, that's what natural selection is all about so we see no reason to criticise Microsoft for this transmigration.

Going a little deeper here, Windows 8.1 Update aims to offer improved Internet Explorer 8 compatibility on Internet Explorer 11.

This is quite a nice enhancement i.e. what Microsoft has done is to make IE 11 more sensitive to older Line of Business apps that might run as web services written for IE8 and ensure that backwards compatibility has been preserved. There are plenty of these kinds of apps around, so this makes good sense.

In terms of the converged developer platform...

Microsoft detailed a new common platform across devices, a single toolset, a common infrastructure across the Windows and Windows Phone stores and what it wants us to call a "clear commitment" to interoperability.

NOTE: Microsoft started employing interoperability specialists somewhere around the start of the millennium and talking about how interoperability should be "baked in" from the start. We sniggered back then (TechEd Amsterdam 2003), but hey look -- now we have Office of iPad and MS DOS has just been open sourced, so you can stop your childish sniggers now please.

Terry Myerson, executive vice president, OS Group at Microsoft said, "[Something nice and gung ho about things that] benefit our customers, partners and developers alike." You can imagine the rest - he probably said "vibrant ecosystem" too.

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Windows Phone 8.1

Although we've not touched on it here so far, Microsoft also unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 and introduced the Cortana digital assistant with a persona inspired by a "Halo" character.

"Powered by Bing, Cortana gets to know you and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behaviour and checking in with you before she assumes you're interested in something," said the company, in a press statement

So getting back to the guts of it, for developers -- Microsoft Visual Studio will now be enhanced through Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 Release Candidate.

This update comes in line with the release of TypeScript 1.0, Microsoft's JavaScript superset language with support for static typing and we know that TypeScript 1.0 is available as part of Visual Studio 2013 and Visual Studio Web Express 2013 Spring Update.

NOTE: TypeScript 1.0 is now a fully supported language in Visual Studio.

Universal Projects - 90% code share

Among other new capabilities, Microsoft is talking about the introduction of "universal projects" for developers so that code can be shared across Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 now.

"Universal projects allow developers to use approximately 90 percent of the same code, a single packaging system, and a common user interface to target apps for phones, tablets and PCs," said the company.

And finally (although it's not, there is more bedsides) later this week, Microsoft will release the next version of Windows App Studio, a web-based tool for non-developers that enables the creation of universal Windows apps in a single project.

The Windows 8.1 Update is available to download for MSDN subscribers now and will be generally available via Windows update through the Windows Store from 8 April.

SAP decrees the mobile ten commandments

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SAP is a clinical German company with a stoic approach to hard graft and no perceptible sense of humour, right?

Vorsprung durch Technik has its place at SAP for sure, but the firm has a hidden penchant for jocular transgression which surfaces now and then.

So it is then that SAP mobile solutions and product marketing man Adam Stein came to lay down his ten commandments for mobile recently.

SAP likes mobile remember?

SAP bought Sybase, the database firm with its "unwired enterprise" vision... and SAP HANA is increasingly cloud-centric and cloud is mobile and so on etc.

Stein wrote his ten commandments to celebrate Mobile World Congress last month, so here's a summary:

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10. Thou shalt not covet thy co-workers device, even if it's really cool -- BYOD policies enforce ownership and usage.

9. No bearing false witness in the mobile world -- falsifying your persona on apps or devices is a bad idea.

8. Borrowing devices with permission is fine -- permanent unauthorised mobile device, app or content use is stealing.

7. Adultery is one step away from pornography -- proper content on corporate devices (BYOD or corporate owned) is essential.

Editorial note: SAP's Stein points out that:

"Web/app content filtering is quickly coming into mobile vogue. New app reputation service offerings are coming to market and rating apps here include Applipedia."

6. Death according to some religions is just an interim state on the spirit escalator -- killing a lost or stolen device is however your God-given right.

5. Honouring your family is good common sense, but how far does mobile honour extend? -- must every piece of content be siloed in windows, Android or iOS ecosystem? No! Variety is the spice of life and should be embraced.

4. Certain days are special in the mobile world -- OS update days, bug fix days, shiny new app days and maybe even a new device days.

3. Vanity belongs to the gods and gossip mags -- the IT dept is not after playing god over your mobile usage, they are simply enforcing a few mobile policies that ensure the company data and your mobile workplace remain in situ.

2. Bearing false mobile devices is verboten (forbidden) -- practice safe mobility and place adequate protection over your devices, apps and content.

1. Users need variety to do their different jobs -- don't let IT become the department of no.

The complete story is linked here.

OpenSymmetry codifies the new digital salesperson

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Your acronym du jour today is SPM, or Sales Performance Management to afford the term its full designator and moniker.

Surely this discipline doesn't need digitisation, computerisation and acronym-isation does it?

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OpenSymmetry thinks it does and the sales consulting firm has in fact become the first (and only) IBM partner to attain IBM Bronze Software Practice Accreditation for Cognos Incentive Compensation Management (ICM).

SPM and ICM together then? OpenSymmetry is clearly working to try and almost "codify" the new digital salesperson.

The firm's Candice Arnold says that the European market is calling for businesses to display "sustainable practices" around pay-for-performance.

"OpenSymmetry's in-depth experience and knowledge with Cognos ICM helped the company to design and build an automated commission calculation process that included a web portal salespeople could use to check commissions in real time," said Arnold.

What this means to the new digital salesperson is that the entire sales force gains greater confidence in sales figures used so that commission calculation accuracy is increased.

The digital salesperson moves to the Far East as well...

"For APAC, the market is gradually adopting more sophisticated approaches to managing sales compensation and therefore the early adopters need to have the confidence their delivery partner has the necessary experience to ensure their success," said Anthony Hutchins, managing director, APAC at OpenSymmetry.

OpenSymmetry says it is the only performance management consulting company that offers real-time business intelligence for reporting and analysis dedicated to sales performance management.

Image credit: Sales HQ







Zeenyx CEO: how to step beyond comfort zones & damage limitation

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The following post is a guest contribution from Brian Le Suer, CEO of Zeenyx Software, Inc -- a company that provides an automated software testing solution that allows teams to build manual and automated tests.

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I recently read a Princeton University study about success, specifically about how much of success should be attributed to the inherent qualities of the successful thing, and how much was just chance.

What the study showed was:

"It's hard to make things of very poor quality succeed -- although after you meet a basic standard of quality, what becomes a huge hit and what doesn't is essentially a matter of chance."

Apparently the masses tend to go along with what they perceive others think is valuable.

Although the study was about works of art, it got me thinking about how the idea might apply to software products, especially given that in our wired culture, 'going viral' often spells success.

Is the product with the largest market share always the best product?

Clearly being the market leader has its advantages. For one, it's perceived as a safe bet. A decision-maker doesn't feel exposed when choosing a product that has been selected by so many others.

Saving product evaluation time

Perhaps a justification for following the crowd might be that it saves the time that would otherwise be required to conduct a thorough product evaluation.

But what are the opportunity costs of not exploring newer technologies that might improve quality, save time and reduce costs?

In the field of software testing, I recommend to all of our prospective clients that they complete a thorough evaluation, because each organisation and software product has unique requirements.

Important skills considerations

Beyond making sure that a test tool can drive and verify a software application under test, I encourage them to consider whether the usage requirements match the skill sets of their staff members and how test maintenance will impact the cost of ownership over the long haul.

Too often, I think we can all get stuck tracing the same steps that we've followed in the past. We don't like paradigm shifts because they feel risky, but what might be even more precarious is to continue using a tool or an approach that is no longer effective or efficient.

Comfort zones & damage limitation

Recently I engaged with a customer, who has a large staff base that is deeply invested in a tool set and methodology that is no longer working for their organisation. They are spending enormous amounts of time and money patching and working around issues.

Much of this damage control is under the radar so far.

While some of the team members are excited about recent innovations in our field, others throw up barriers because they are threatened by the prospect of moving out of their comfort zones.

It's an interesting twist, because in this case, staying with what's comfortable is what is putting the organisation at risk. I have no doubt that when these followers are found out, they are going to lose their jobs.

Brian LeSuer began as a QA engineer using the testing tools available in the early 1980's. Today he says he is excited to be building the next generation testing tool that will increase the productivity and effectiveness of test & development teams. With AscentialTest, Zeenyx provides an enterprise level Test Management System that encompasses Test Planning, Test Development, Test Data Management and Test Execution.

Is Box OneCloud a lesson for a new class of applications?

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Online file sharing and cloud content management company Box launched its OneCloud service two years ago back in March of 2012 with what started out as 30 applications on iOS (and later Android), mostly focused on improving user productivity.

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Did this herald (as the company would have liked) the "new way" for us to consume applications? i.e. via an online cloud portal.

Does this trend have a deeper message for software application developers such that they should now target applications for deployment to this types of connected ecosystem with a heavy predisposition to mobile devices?

Box has detailed its last two years in this space and notes (for developers in particular) that it introduced a set of tools designed to simplify the integration process for programming moving application structures to this kind of portal.

OneCloud has now grown to more than 1,000 applications and claims to boast "a trusted ecosystem" for 25 million users.

Major brands like HP and Cisco Webex Meeting have integrated their products with Box, that always helps.

A new class of applications?

"We are starting to see a new class of applications emerge - applications whose sole focus is to address content-specific workflows for vertical industries," said Cecilia Haig, OneCloud product & program manager.

Haig points to applications like "drchronoused" for doctors to care for patients while they are bedside and applications like TrialPadare modernising courtrooms and legal proceedings...

... or as Haig optimistically phrases it, "digitalizing" the attorney's briefcase.

Box says that in this past year OneCloud adoption has increased in industries like healthcare (+400%), architecture, engineering and construction (AEC)
(+300%) and education (+300%).

Box points to key growth in industries with deep-rooted processes that are both repetitive and manual -- well, Box would, wouldn't it?

Yes this is just one side of the story, but there is a strengthening trend here.

BMW: the ultimate big data machine?

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IBM used its truly enormous stand at the CeBIT exhibition in Hannover to drive home news of BMW deploying IBM big data & analytics technology to optimise its cars from a repairs and maintenance perspective.

The firms suggest that use of predictive analytics helps to detect and fix vulnerabilities before new models are launched -- and long before they might cause problems in series production.

"The IBM SPSS predictive analytics software helps to combine and analyse data from, for instance, numerous test drives of prototypes, an average of 15,000 faults recorded by vehicles and details from recent workshop reports," says IBM.

IBM feeds the insight it gathers from big data analytics into both the software application development process used to power BMW cars and, also, the physical manufacturing element of the cars themselves.

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Software AG: what does a real digital business look like?

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Software AG is using the CeBIT conference and exhibition to launch its new Intelligent Business Operations platform and Intelligent Business Process Management (iBPMS) platform.

Now clearly this is all about big data analysis, but what kind of data?

This is both process-related and business transactional data to start with, but the story is deeper.

The firm wants to assert that we are at now within sight of Nirvana i.e. business and IT now actually speaking the same language with the integrated business processes under a single architecture management consideration from Software AG itself.

Intelligent Business Operations Platform (IBO) is positioned as a tool that monitors and analyses real-time data streams for "significant business events" driving real-time, intelligent business decisions.

Mini case study

A logistics company that provides services for shipping lines is an excellent customer example for the intelligent evaluation and analysis of large data volumes. The company processes a wide variety of data such as ship movements, weather data, and harbour information such as the availability of terminals and port facilities. Using this data in real time optimises important steering factors such as ship course and speed. Significant resource savings can be realised in addition to the business process optimisation -- up to 1,500 tons of oil per year. This helps the company reduce its CO2 emissions as well.

The nine (example) elements of big data

So then, given the above shipping industry example, we can use this market vertical to explain what the internal elements of big data really are:

1. Process-related data
2. Business transactional data
3. IT systems operations data
4. Pricing data for fuel and port charges
5. Transport (speed) data
6. Weather data
7. Market commodities pricing data and the price of oil
8. Carbon offset data
9. Location data and other geo-location factors

Within the context of this scenario, this is a reasonable summary of the nine key elements (if not all) of big data that might come under scrutiny.

Intelligent Business Operations is positioned as a means of enabling the immediate implementation of decisions in automated business processes - and, this flexibility needs to be reflected in the enterprise IT architecture management.

To facilitate this, Software AG also announced the integration of its ARIS/Alfabet product suites.

After the acquisition of Alfabet AG, Software AG combined the ARIS and Alfabet products into a new product.

Software AG's story goes further... but this is part of the story for what might make a real digital business in the future. Did you think that we would start with something sexier than shipping? Yes -- we did too!

Microsoft: developers, developers, (brave) developers

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Microsoft loves to smile.

Have you ever been to an industry event and walked past the Microsoft booth and not been met by an assortment of beaming smiles and people telling you that they are "super excited" about this, that or the other in Windows x.1 version update etc?

No you haven't -- and that's because Microsoft is a cheery ship full of happy encouraging souls.

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So much so that Microsoft head of development and platform group Anand Krishnan has called out the "brave developers" he says are fighting our application-centric causes for us.

Krishnan also says we need to champion coding earlier in our education system, or long term "digital transformation" might never happen.

"We've spoken before about the 'Brave Developer', a new breed of developer who is overcoming challenges to take advantage of the significant opportunities in the developer world, and this is becoming ever more important to the future of growth in the UK," said Krishnan.

The Microsoft man thinks that today's developer ecosystem has itself evolved beyond software developers to:

• bedroom-hobbyists,
• marketers and
• core IT professionals, whose roles are increasingly touching development.

NOTE: If you look at the developer community according to City & Guilds, 48% claim to have only started developing in the past five years.

So what is a brave developer anyway?

Krishnan says it is the kind of guy (and girl) that despite the uncertain economic environment are:

• either teaching themselves app development skills o,
• are becoming champions within their organisations in bringing new innovative apps to market.

"At Microsoft we believe that support for these 'Brave Developers' (Ed, surely not CAPS?) must start at an early age, consider teaching coding and programming skills from school upwards into college and beyond is of the upmost importance to prepare young people for a range of careers and ensure the continued growth and success of the UK developer ecosystem."

To support this drive, capital letters or not, Microsoft is providing a discounted Xbox 360 for schools, which includes a DreamSpark subscription.

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NOTE: DreamSpark provides the tools to help students design and create applications and games for Microsoft Xbox, Windows Phone and Windows 8, empowering them with professional developer software and resources to explore the world of coding and become the next generation of 'Brave Developer'.

"Whilst we too remain optimistic about the future of the UK's technology industry, the lesson we have learnt is that for the industry to sustain its entrepreneurial spirit and success, we must engage the next generation today, and with a renewed commitment to educating young developers, we are one step closer to achieving it," he concluded, while smiling.







SAP HANA development, more tangible now

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Three years ago in 2011 we described SAP HANA as an in-memory computing platform and high-performance analytical appliance with a strong emphasis on ERP.

Today in 2014, SAP would rather we just call HANA a computing platform -- but have developers ever been really able to "code to HANA" itself?

New global leader for SAP Mobile Rick Costanzo has proclaimed that mobile is the key enabler of the cloud and that that they are integrally connected.

"SAP is the industry leader in enterprise mobility with a very comprehensive mobile solutions portfolio," he said, in a comments made before the show.

Commenting on SAP at the show itself, Costanzo said he was really impressed by what he had seen at SAP's MWC stand.

The company's "Experience the Future" exhibit showcased how the future of technology-enabled soccer can improve a player's performance by analysing cognitive skills in real-time 3D visualisation.

For the jaunty jackaloupes...

This, along with a growing group of other examples, is inarguably SAP actually producing what we could justifiably call HANA applications -- or "HANA apps" if you're feeling jaunty.

Costanzo has talked about how he has seen HANA used by technicians to repair a machine through augmented reality and gesture controlled services with the help of connected glasses.

More real developer development?

SAP used the show itself to announce it is collaborating with Xamarin and Service2Media to provide developers with mobile app development frameworks that enable development on the company's SAP Mobile Platform.

"Xamarin SAP SDK provides a native .NET interface to the SAP Mobile Platform. Developers can authenticate against SAP Mobile Platform endpoints and use native C# objects to access their SAP business objects directly. Full data-access capabilities and Linq support are included," said the company, in a press statement.

As part of a co-innovation project, SAP and BMW Group Research and Technology have developed a new technology infrastructure for in-vehicle mobility services.

The research prototype is based on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform and will provide personalised services to drivers based on their location and route.

The cloud-based platform from SAP serves as a link between BMW and external partners that provide services such as parking, fuel, beverages and food and one again, this is the stuff real of real HANA applications...

SAP's vision is to consistently enrich the driver's experience and provide the convenience consumers expect from a connected and social world -- in or out of the vehicle.

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Why QCon London brings the developers together

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London often plays second fiddle to Las Vegas, Barcelona, Hannover and more in terms of where the best developer events are held.

We do have DevWeek it's true, but QCon London appears to be one of the better gathering of real developer purists.

You're more likely to hear about emerging use of Scala at QCon that you are of hearing some polished suit blither on about ERP, ALM, APM and any other selection of 3-letter acronym.

Today is the opening block of sessions http://qconlondon.com/

... and in the organisation's own words, "QCon empowers software development by facilitating the spread of knowledge and innovation in the developer community. A practitioner-driven conference, QCon is designed for technical team leads, architects, engineering directors, and project managers who influence innovation in their teams."

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There's some good sessions all week, but here's a snapshot of today:

A Brief History of Data
The process, Technology & Practice of Continuous Delivery
Impossible Programs
Identity is the new Currency

IBM's Rometty: Watson developers will build a new era of computing

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IBM used its presence at Mobile World Congress 2014 to show off its new charcoal grey stand emblazonments, press the obligatory flesh and generally crowbar the name "Watson" into as many conversations as possible.
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Naysayers have chided IBM for positioning Watson as some kind of panacea to cure all our computing ills in the future -- criticism of this kind generally comes from commentators (if we deign to grace them with such a grand term) who still also rank IBM as a died in the wool company incapable of true bleeding edge innovation.

Comments like these are (arguably) somewhat tainted with a little jealously; IBM will probably be around next year.

Justification, validation and rationalisation aside, IBM is big on Watson.

What's Watson?

For those that need reminding, Watson is named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson and it is IBM's massive data analytics supercomputer capable of working with humans in natural language to reason and learn as it provides answers.

Watson understands natural language and the system then generates hypotheses - recognising that there are different probabilities of various outcomes.

Back to Mobile World Congress then, IBM also used the show to launch its IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge a global competition to encourage developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by Watson.

The newly formed IBM Watson Group, aims to encourage developers to "spread cognitive computing apps" that could provide complex questions from massive amounts of disparate data into the marketplace.

IBM chairwoman and CEO Virginia "Ginni" Rometty is good for a soundbite if you need one; some of her best include:

• Be first and be lonely.
• Don't let others define you. You define yourself.
• Growth and comfort do not coexist

With Watson more specifically in mind, Rometty is urging us to imagine a new class of cognitive app that delivers insights instantly over the cloud.

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"You can't program enough to make sense of all the data in the world," said Rometty with regard to what she calls a new era of computing.


"You run a business today and you [must] reinvent it for the future at the same time," Rometty said. "Data is the world's new natural resource and it will become a key competitive advantage for every industry. I think we will look back at this time and see data as a resource that drove the 21st century."

The developer challenge

The IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge (part of the IBM MobileFirst strategy) invites mobile developers to share their best ideas to build and develop mobile apps into prototypes. Three winners will join the Watson Ecosystem Program.

The winners will work with IBM's recently launched global consulting practice, IBM Interactive Experience to receive design consulting and support from IBM experts to develop a viable commercial app.

IBM says it has advanced Watson what was a game playing innovation (it beat human contestants on the US quiz show Jeopardy) into a commercial technology -- now 24 times faster with a 2,400 percent improvement in performance; and 90 percent smaller than the original system.

How the challenge works

Once developers have submitted their proposal, a panel of judges will conduct two phases of judging. The first phase will narrow the field to 25 finalists. Those finalists will receive access to the Watson API and sandbox so they can build a prototype to be judged in the second phase. From there, the top five finalists will pitch their concepts to a panel of IBM judges in a live session. The judges will then determine three winners who will have IBM mentoring support and sandbox access to build the next Watson-powered app.


Microsoft scales up TypeScript in Visual Studio 2013 Update 2

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Microsoft has rolled out a second technical preview of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2.

The new release shows Microsoft adhering to its pledge to "regular cadence" in terms of how frequently it now brings developer updates to its programmer audience.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 is released with the TypeScript language and tooling built in.

So TypeScript is now "in-the-box" (to use Microsoft's term) with Visual Studio 2013.

TypeScript 1.0 RC is also being made available for Visual Studio 2012 users as a standalone installer.

Microsoft developer division VP Soma Somasegar says that the new functionality in this release primarily spans (though is not limited to) five areas of investment:

• agile planning,
• quality enablement,
• Windows Store development,
• line-of-business development and,
• the general developer experience.

TypeScript is a language for application-scale JavaScript development.

First available as a test build to developers in October 2012, it is a typed superset of JavaScript (for large scale projects) that compiles to plain JavaScript and runs on any browser, any host and on any OS.

Father of C# Anders Hejlsberg is one of the key members of the TypeScript team.

JavaScript for thousands, not hundreds

Hejlsberg has explained that much of the reason for bringing TypeScript forward (as a Microsoft project) is that JavaScript was envisioned as a language to be used for 100-line applications and not applications with thousands of lines.

The language's "Types" enable TypeScript developers to use tools and practices including: static checking, symbol-based navigation, statement completion and code refactoring.

This release is cumulative and consolidated so that it contains everything Microsoft has already released in Update 2 CTP 1.

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"Agile planning. Visual Studio 2012 introduced a wide range of capabilities focused on enabling agile teams, not only for development but also for planning. With VS2012.2, Team Foundation Server (TFS) has been augmented with an additional variety of features to help make it even easier for agile teams to do their planning, in particular around adapting to a team's preferences and work styles. For example, VS2012.1 introduced new project tracking options, including a Kanban board and a cumulative flow diagram; VS2012.2 augments those experiences with the ability to customize the Kanban board to adapt it for an organization's needs," wrote Somasegar, in a blog post.

CA Technologies: developers should view DevOps as a promotion

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Discussions between the Computer Weekly Developer Network and CA Technologies at Mobile World Congress this week lead to some real world feedback in terms of where the portmanteau-labeled discipline of DevOps might really be at today.

As many readers will know, DevOps is a compound term encapsulating both 'developer' and 'operations' i.e. sysadmins, DBAs etc.

But DevOps is just marketing isn't it?

In the real world, one imagines that DevOps is just a marketing label and that DevOps pros do not really exist.

Developers can't stand the operations crowd (they're programmers who didn't cut it right?) and operations thinks developers are a bunch of nerds.

Consequently then, DevOps is a marketing term made up by firms who sell management software and so-called "orchestration tools" to execute DevOps style tasks.

CA Technologies' EMEA president Marco Comastri says he speaks to his customers and has a different view.

"As many as 40 percent of organisations we speak to have a DevOps division, or at least they have senior developers with an operations-focused purview. DevOps professionals are very real and they often fulfil their roles as part of a very cross functional team," said Comastri.

What Comastri is suggesting then is that DevOps is a role that comes to those developers who have shown themselves to be effective and can carry out their function with an appreciation for operations from the start.

So, if anything, developers should view DevOps as a promotion right?

Comastri would rather we use a less forthright turn of phrase perhaps, but essentially this is what is happening.

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His firm used Mobile World Congress to launch what it calls the "industry first" Management Cloud for Mobility as a software portfolio (delivered as a cloud service) that includes: Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), Mobile DevOps and Enterprise Internet of Things (IoT).

So with European mobile usage higher than any other world region, DevOps designed for mobile a delivered in a cloud model makes perfect sense on paper.

CA is also making its CA Mobile Device Management (CA MDM) compatible with Samsung KNOX, Samsung's secure mobile platform for advanced data and privacy protection.

Samsung KNOX has a secure boot chain and new container-based environment for Android.

"CA MDM, one of the products in the new Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) suite, is a scalable product that provides enterprises with the capabilities necessary to secure and manage mobile devices, applications, and various end points including Windows and Linux desktops," said the company, in a press statement.

So is DevOps a developer promotion then?

It's a more progressive and positive way of looking at things for sure.

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