QCon London 2012 – Day 3

Today was the final day of the conference. It has been a long week, but nonetheless rewarding. It was a pleasure being here and I feel I learned a lot during this time. Today, I planned to be mostly on Big Data/NoSQL track, with small brakes for some Working Distributed and The Rise of the Functional Programming.

The key note was given by John Allspaw and was about Resilient Response in Complex Systems.Drills on live system, comparisons with running an aircraft carrier, near-miss events, learning from failures, but also from successes!, learning improvisation, Mean Time Between Failures Recoveries – all of that had been touched and more. Some of the mentioned – really scary stuff – like – simulate failure of components in live production. But also some common sense – why don’t we learn from our successes too when we presumably succeed far more often than fail.

Next two talks had lots of overlap and were basically covering NoSQL space and both resonated around same thing: Relational Databases are here to stay, NoSQL can be used as complementary solution to fill some gaps. It was a nice overview and actually there was lots to learn from the talks like where is NoSQL (or well, alternatives to SQL because other things were touched too) positioned on Hype Curve. It seems it’s at the beginning of the curve going up towards Peak of Inflated Expectations. Also, there has been some comparison on all available alternatives to relational databases some of which I never really considered before. See some more scalable datastore comparisons.

The next talk was Ain’t no cure for the distributed blues by Dan North. Very amusing and informational talk, but the choice of the room was ridiculous, the room was too small to fit everyone even with people sitting on the floor and standing by the wall. This wasn’t really that much about working distributed as about how to cut waste, importance of communication and making people want to do something rather forcing them – ah yes, all with background Star Wars theme.

Then it was about Erlang and Damien Katz, creator of CouchDB, explained why he found Erlang weird, simple, reliable, beautiful alas slow. Dubbing it Language from the Future – with appropriate background picture (hint: trilogy ;) ), he pretty much covered when you would want to use it and when you might resort to some lower level alternatives. The bottom line is – it can do anything and everything but slow adoption rate is hurting it and slow adoption rate might be simply due to weird syntax. He strongly declared that the language is beautiful and once past syntax barrier productivity is phenomenal.

The last session of the day and of the conference for me was on Hadoop. It was fairly comprehensive coverage what is it and why one might want to use it. This, combined with previous NoSQL sessions and Dan North’s mentioning of metrics and usefulness of data (well, usefulness of useful data :P ) just made my appetite for massive data generation through various logging insatiable – hopefully it passes me until I come back to work on Monday … otherwise our servers are in trouble. Read original Map Reduce paper on which Hadoop is based.

It’s been a pretty long week, I need some time to summarise impressions and surely I’ll have some more reflection to do on this.

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