ep.io and VMWare at London Devops - May 2011

I never thought I’d use a cliche like “David vs Goliath” but considering the two speakers at London Devops it does seem a little apt. Andrew Godwin from ep.io, a Python hosting platform, was the first speaker, and he did an excellent job of explaining their internal platform, how they make their decisions and what makes them special. While it was both an interesting and engaging talk it did leave me a little worried about the size of the operation.

While small companies are great to deal with in the right situations they can also be a risk due to their low survival odds, questionable ability to grow alongside you and inability to throw resources at an awkward but urgent problem. On the other hand they can provide better levels of support, knowledge and assistance if you can find a good one and treat them more as partners than vendors, and I suspect that ep.io is going to be one of the good ones.

Then we had the VMWare talk. Until a couple of years ago, when budgets shrank again and Xen and KVM began to rise, I was a big fan and a happy user of VMWare products both on server and desktop. While I’ve not kept up with all the product details it’s hard not to have heard of CloudFoundry.

The two speakers, one from RabbitMQ and one from SpringSource (both now part of the VMWare org chart) had very different speaking styles, the speaker from RabbitMQ had a keen wit and kept the tone light with lots of amusing comments like “VMWare is about 9000 staff, about 8000 of them write device drivers” and while the man from SpringSource spent the whole time complaining about how slow his laptop was. At one point the audience nearly had a whip-round to cover the cost of a couple of GB of RAM for him. As for the content it left me a little adrift. I came out of the talk without knowing much more than I went in with. Although I always have to smile when I hear people from SpringSource describe their product line, Spring Tomcat, Spring AMQ, Spring ls and Spring Bash (I might have made the last two up) so it wasn’t a complete waste.

Obviously there will be comparisons made between the talk platforms being discussed and one of the most interesting aspects of the evening for me was how well ep.io came out of the deal. They’ve got an architecture every bit as well thought out as that of VMWares, they’re already looking at the next set of problems that both platforms are going to experience and they came across as remarkable professional for such a small team.

CloudFoundry on the other hand will probably have a bigger effect on my working life. VMWare is often quite an easy sell due to its track record and feature set and I can see more companies talking parts of CloudFoundry on board than I can see them hosting with ep.io. So it’s one to spend a little time investigating. The fact that it’s open source will just make the whole process easier.

The talks were very well attended with 70-80 people in the audience and once again we should say thank you to the Guardian for providing the venue and Gareth for organising it.