Cloud developer mechanics in gear at Rackspace::Solve 2016 London  

Managed cloud company Rackspace held its London-located customer, techie, partner, cloud collaborator etc. event this week. So… another contrived set of presentations fluffed out with corporate padding, or real guts in terms of cloud mechanics for developers?

NOTE: Rackspace senior VP and CMO Carla Pineyro Sublett started this event with a respectful nod to the tragic events in Nice overnight.

Rackspace view of IT stack architectures

Chief technology office John Engates spoke during keynote sessions to distinguish between the kinds of challenges that exist in IT shops today.

Engates says that some IT challenges will be thrown up immediately at the front end by users and their need to connect to applications — some IT challenges will be thrown up by systems at the back end i.e. the need to bring back office functions into operational architectures, the need to integrate aspects like collaboration suites (for example) and the need to deal with shadow IT where it arises (when test & dev applications end up becoming part of the deployed stack).

All of this, it appears, comes together to help form the challenge of managing software application development in a cloud-centric world.

Akamai, we need content at scale

VP of global marketing at Akamai John Dillon also spoke at the event. The firm describes itself as a content delivery network (CDN) services provider for media, software delivery and a player in cloud security solutions. Dillon’s most appetising takeaway from the event (almost as if he was trying to leave us with a soundbite) was something like:

“Content is great, but what we need to do now is provide delivery networks where the world can get ‘content at scale’.”

Cloud computing (and the size of cloud applications in the first place) is all about the ability to scale, so scaling content is a logical progression.

Amazon Web Services, patterns of adoption

Chief evangelist for Amazon Web Services in the UK Ian Massingham was present to explain that AWS currently has over 1 million active customers. So what are people using cloud for?

“Start-ups build in the cloud as the new normal … building applications in the cloud is a good route for developers in the start-up space because you have no legacy and no dependencies (in coding terms)… so it will always be easier to change the shape and form of the infrastructure used when needed,” said Massingham.

Did he mean ‘dependencies’ as in code dependencies, or as in wider terms of any other kind of business dependencies… or did he mean both? Perhaps it doesn’t matter.

Inside OpenStack

Rackspace’s director for OpenStack international Frank Weyns spoke to press during breakout sessions at this year’s event. His insight into how changes and developments are incorporated into the open source project shed some light on the way foundations like OpenStack work on a day-to-day (or perhaps month-to-month) basis.

  1. A feature request or code commit comes forward from a user or group or team or company or some other entity.
  2. The OpenStack teams asks WHY that feature was requested.
  3. Before the function is even tested or debugged, the team looks to examine whether a possible “workaround” exists with currently available technologies.
  4. It’s better to look at “configuration before customisation” when feature changes are considered… especially where pre-defined building blocks exist.
  5. It’s important to remember that, sometimes, accessibility beats functionality (look at what happened in the VHS-Betamax wars).

So what about bad features, could open source development methodologies ever result in bad features being rolled out into OpenStack or any technology base?

Weyns says that this is the real beauty in open development methodologies i.e. bad functionality will always be killed off ultimately.

Deconstructing DevOps

Afternoon sessions included presentations including ‘Deconstructing DevOps’ hosted by the firm’s Iskandar Najmuddin in his role as DevOps solutions architect.

What Rackspace is aiming to do in the wider elements of this event is convince its prospects that it has real cloud software application development capabilities. For a company that is supposed to be a ‘managed cloud’ company, is it too much to swallow?

The firm’s bottom line is that cloud adoption is intimately linked to DevOps and that application-centric ‘systems thinking’ is a new business baseline. Actually the bottom line is… as we move to an all-cloud world we need to see that even companies that distinguish themselves through their managed services layer (as is obviously the case with Rackspace) then a real and definite working knowledge of real world cloud-centric software application developer issues is essential.

Yes Rackspace does cloud services, yes Rackspace does coding and developers… we met them for real at this event.

Rackspace::Solve London 2016... the scope resolution operator shows we're serious about developers

Rackspace::Solve London 2016… the scope resolution operator shows we’re developer serious