Dispatches from a conference

QCon Report - Day One

Visit Westminster, London, this week and liberally littered among the health service protesters, peace protesters and sightseers, you’ll likely bump into a developer or two. The 6th annual QCon London conference is in full swing and the organisers tell us it is a sell-out.

The opening keynote certainly seemed on trend, as Martin Fowler and Rebecca Parsons of ThoughtWorks took the packed room on an entertaining whistle-stop tour in 'The Big Data Panorama', which just about covered every area under the sun. Fowler set the tone with a great line paraphrasing Douglas Adams - 'You may think it’s a long way down to the chemists, but that’s just peanuts compared to Big Data.'

The conclusion to take from the keynote appeared to be that every company at some point is going to suffer Big Data woes - whether that is from scaling horizontally or vertically, or both. The key factor is which approach the company takes to combat that problem, and as pointed out via the Periodic Table of Visualisation Methods, Big Data is such a huge area that finding a distilled solution is difficult.

As crowd went their separate ways to their track of choice we decided to stick with some hardcore Java for most of the day, with a smattering of cloud thrown in.

Simon Ritter's The Future of the Java Platform: Java SE 8 & Beyond

First up was Oracle's Java enthusiast Simon Ritter, who outlined where the language was heading for the next decade, even briefly mentioning 2021's Java 12. Closer to the present however is next year's Java 8 and Ritter explained the key concepts of JDK 8, being Project Lambda and moving to modularity in Project Jigsaw. It’s perhaps a shame there wasn’t more updated content in Simon’s keynote versus his equivalent talk at JAX London at the start of November 2011.  You can view the video of Simon’s keynote presentation from JAX here:

Ritter also told the packed room that Java would revert back to a two-year cycle as the almighty amount of dust from the Oracle acquisition has finally settled, allowing Java to grow. Ritter touched on future ideas, but was clear to state that these plans may change in future. One final point from Ritter was that Java wasn't in a lull and he rebuffed suggestions that Java would become irrelevant alongside newer languages. 

“Java is not the new Cobol,” Ritter said. “I've seen analyst reports where Java is the new Cobol where it drifts off into insignificance but I don't believe it is that way.” In fact there's preliminary talks about making Java object-orientated, but again, the key word is preliminary.

Jevgeni Kabanov - Do you really get class loaders?  

Up next was the charismatic founder of ZeroTurnaround, Jevgeni Kabanov delving into the world of class loaders, providing invaluable advice on how to deal with every type of class loading failure you can imagine. Kabanov's expertise in the area is well known, with revolutionary products like JRebel and LiveRebel, and the interactive session got the crowd involved with solving classloader leakage problems.

JAXenter.com recently caught up with the Jevgeni to talk JRebel and LiveRebel. (link)

Cloud 2017: Cloud architectures in 5 years

Wandering over to the cloud track, there was an interesting panel about the future of cloud architecture in the next few years. Chaired by Andrew Phillips of JClouds, the panel consisted of the 'Diabolical Developer' Martijn Verburg (donning shades), developer Mark Holdsworth, DevOps master Patrick Debois and ElasticHosts co-founder Richard Davies and discussed the key cloud trends at the moment and where we are heading in the future. 

There was an inherent focus on private vs public clouds (and a hope of breaking down that barrier) and a wide-held belief that social features would naturally become part of the whole package. There seemed to be a backlash against Agile methods too.

Holdsworth argued that we should empower teams to pick tech that they want to use and that they should make the decision themselves. Verburg's biggest fear was of existing in-house teams heading into the cloud to avoid internal IT teams and not bringing a 'cloud culture' with them, merely being conduits for those who pay lip-service of Agile. It was a thought-provoking session and certainly covered a huge amount of points.

Attila Szegedi: JVM performance optimizations at Twitter's scale

Proving to be one of the most popular sessions, (so much so that it had to move to a bigger room), newly acquired Oracle employee, Attila Szegedi, covered just some of the techniques he employed at Twitter to improve performance and tackle latency when dealing with garbage collections. It was a tour de force with some interesting methods on show, notably having a newer generation and the old sitting side by side.

Szegedi also covered object creation; saying it was easier to create a temporary object and throw it away rather than having a pooled cache. There was also the concept of Eden (a nursery generation) using -XX:+UseSerialGC, +UseParallelGC, +UseParallelOldGC - to determine whether the size of the Eden generation is appropriate for your application. It was interesting to hear how to deal with garbage collection the size of Twitter's and how to apply those concepts into other projects.

After that, we had to cut loose ahead of the after-party, but QCon was a good event attended by some of the biggest vendors and had speakers full of interesting Java discussion.

We wanted to check out some of the other non-Java tracks, which take up more of the space at QCon this year, but we are nothing if not committed at JAXenter, so stuck to only the Java stuff, and it was worth it.

Chris Mayer

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