Apache Con Europe 2009 - part 3

2009-03-29 19:56
Friday was the last conference day. I enjoyed the Apache pioneers panel with a brief history of the Apache Software Foundation as well as lots of stories on how people first got in contact with the ASF.

After lunch I went to the testing and cloud session. I enjoyed the talk on continuum and its uses by Wendy Smoak. She gave a basic overview of why one would want a CI system and provided a brief introduction to continuum. After that Carlos Sanchez showed how to use the cloud to automate interface tests with Selenium: The basic idea is to automatically (initiated through maven) start up AMIs on EC2, each configured with another operating system and run Selenium tests against the application under development in these. Really nice system for running automated interface tests.

The final session for me was the talk by Chris Anderson and Jan Lehnardt on CouchDB deployments.

The day ended with the Closing Event and Raffle. Big Thank You to Ross Gardler for including the Berlin Apache Hadoop Get Together in newthinking store in the announcements! Will sent the CfP to concom really soon, as promised. Finally I won one package of caffeinated sweets at the Raffle - does that mean less sleep for me in the coming weeks?

Now I am finally back home and had some time to do a quick writeup. If you are interested in the complete notes, go to http://fotos.isabel-drost.de (default login is published in the login window). Looking forward to the Hadoop User Group UK on 14th of April. If you have not signed up yet - do so now: http://huguk.org

Apache Con Europe 2009 - part 2

2009-03-29 19:42
Thursday morning started with an interesting talk on open source collaboration tools and how they can help resolving some collaboration overhead on commercial software projects. Four goals can be reached with the help of the right tools: Sharing the project vision, tracking the current status of the project, finding places to help the project and documenting the project history as well as the reasons for decisions along the way. The exact tool used is irrelevant as long as it helps to solve the four tasks above.

The second talk was on cloud architectures by Steve Loughran. He explained what reasons there are to go into the cloud, what a typical cloud architecture looks like. Steve described Amazon's offer, mentioned other cloud service providers and highlighted some options for a private cloud. However his main interest is in building a standardised cloud stack. Currently choosing one of the cloud provides means vendor lock-in: Your application uses a special API, your data are stored on special servers. There are quite a few tools necessary for building a cloud stack available at Apache (Hadoop, HBase, CouchDB, Pig, Zookeeper...). The question that remains is how to integrate the various pieces and extend where necessary to arrive at a solution that can compete with AppEngine or Azure?

After lunch I went to the Solr case study by JTeam. Basically one great commercial for Solr. They even brought the happy customer to Apache Con to talk about the experience of Solr from his point of view. Great work, really!

The Lightning Talk session ended the day - with a "Happy birthday to you" from the community.

After having spent the last 4 days from 8a.m. to 12p.m. at Apache Con I really did need some rest on Thursday and went to bed pretty early: At 11p.m. ...

Apache Con Europe 2009 - part 1

2009-03-29 18:41
The past week members, committers and users of Apache software projects gathered in Amsterdam for another Apache Con EU - and to celebrate the 10th birthday of the ASF. One week dedicated to the development and use of Free Software and the Apache Way.

Monday was BarCamp day for me, the first BarCamp I ever attended. Unfortunately not all participants proposed talks. So some of the atmosphere of an unconference was missing. The first talk by Danese Cooper was on "HowTo: Amsterdam Coffee Shops". She explained the ins and outs of going to coffee shops in Amsterdam, gave both legal and practical advise. There was a presentation of the Open Street Map project, several Apache projects. One talk discussed transfering the ideas of Free Software to other parts of life. Ross Gardler started a discussion on how to advocate contributions to Free Software projects in science and education.

Tuesday for me meant having some time for Mahout during the Hackathon. Specifically I looked into enhancing matrices with meta information. In the evening there were quite a few interesting talks at the Lucene Meetup: Jukka gave an overview of Tika, Grant introduced Solr. After Grant's talk some of the participants shared numbers on their Solr installations (number of documents per index, query volumn, machine setup). To me it was extremely interesting to gain some insight into what people actually accomplish with Solr. The final talk was on Apache Droids, a still incubating crawling framework.

The Wednesday tracks were a little unfair: The Hadoop track (videos available online for a small fee) was right in parallel to the Lucene track. The day started with a very interesting keynote by Raghu from Yahoo! on their storage system PNUTS. He went into quite some technical detail. Obviously there is interest in publishing the underlying code under an open source license.

After the Mahout introduction by Grant Ingersoll I changed room to the Hadoop track. Arun Murthy shared his experience on tuning and debugging Hadoop applications. After lunch Olga Natkovich gave an introduction to Pig - a higher language on top of Hadoop that allows for specifications of filter operations, joins and basic control flow of map reduce jobs in just a few lines of Pig Latin code. Tom White gave an overview of what it means to run Hadoop on the EC2 cloud. He compared several options for storing the data to process. Today it is very likely that there will soon be quite a few more providers of cloud services in addition to Amazon.

Allen Wittenauer gave an overview of Hadoop from the operations point of view. Steve Lougran finally covered the topic of running Hadoop on dynamically allocated servers.

The day finished with a pretty interesting BOF on Hadoop. There still are people that do not clearly see the differences of Hadoop based systems to database backed applications. Best way to find out whether the model fits: Set up a trial cluster and do experiment yourself. Noone can tell which solution is best for you except for yourself (and maybe Cloudera setting up the cluster for you :) ).

After that the Mahout/UIMA BOF was scheduled - there were quite a few interesting discussions on what UIMA can be used for and how it integrates with Mahout. One major take home message: We need more examples integrating both. We developers do see the clear connections. But users often do not realize that many Apache projects should be used together to get the biggest value out.