Despite having been around the Spring developer community for 7 years, and regularly running the event and conference circuit (including Java One several times), I have never managed to attend SpringOne. This year I did. And frankly, I’m blown away.
Given that this is the first year that our little 1200+ person startup, Pivotal, is running the event, I think it was expected to have a slightly different energy. Since being unleashed from our larger parent companies of VMware and EMC, Pivotal has been living up to our new moniker by quickly turning out new products, solutions and ideas. And at our first big user conference, that energy was felt. We’ve been moving fast, and this week it was really inspiring to see a lot of hard work over the past 5+ months come to fruition.
The event was inspiring for a lot of reasons. Mostly, it was the first time since we formed that I got to meet face to face with so many people. I met with over 20 partners and customers, and caught up face-to-face with dozens of Pivots, many I have never met in real life since we are spread so far around the globe. It is impossible to share the entire experience—for that, you just need to attend the next one. But to give you an idea, here are my highlights:
- Keynotes. Different than any other event I have ever attended, keynotes are at night. Before the keynotes, there is a cocktail hour and a great dinner all in the main hall. Shockingly, attendees showed no sign of fatigue and the room was always packed. This is probably because the keynotes aren’t your usual run of the mill dog and pony shows. They are live demos of straight innovation. The first night, Pivotal’s Chris Beams got up on stage to make the first of many announcements—the launch of Spring.IO. To everyone’s amazement, he not only announced it, he actually launched the website on stage, using the newly packaged Spring framework, naturally. At conferences, you expect a lot of announcements. And at this point, many of us accept that these announcements are really pre-announcements, much like Apple’s new iPhones this week, where you can not actually have the product for a couple weeks. Here, products were shown to do real stuff, and it packed the house.
- Cloud Foundry. I’ve already written of how impressed I am with how far Cloud Foundry has come in such a short time under Pivotal. The day before SpringOne started, it had its first standalone user conference, Platform CF, at the same Hyatt in Santa Clara that SpringOne would be at. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to that event, but the halo of the event was carried throughout the halls of SpringOne. An inaugural event, we only planned to recruit about 400 people. We ended up with over 500 people, many of whom were happy to stand all day just to be part of it. With speakers from Warner Music, NTT, Swisscom, IBM and Intel, it decidedly had the feel of big business being done. The names on the nametags were equally impressive, with virtually everyone telling me how excited they were to learn the likes of internet giants like Baidu were there as users. Perhaps the best endorsement however came from my meetings with partners such as C24, IBM and HCL. In each their own way, they let me know that they had looked at Cloud Foundry when it first came out a few years ago, and while intrigued, hadn’t really been able to endorse it as a strategy for their customers. After this week, they now see it not only usable, but necessary. I’m expecting for momentum to only increase here, and likely exponentially. The industry now views it officially as a disrupter, and its going to get real interesting from here.
- Product Releases. The volume of product releases and innovation was a constant source of conversation. Now, many of you should rightly point out that being from Pivotal and typically the mouth to social media at least, I should have been prepared. I should have known what was coming, but I didn’t. Of course I knew about Spring.IO, Spring XD, Spring Boot, and the new Hadoop GemFire incubator project. But this is an open source conference and the whole ecosystem was there. Open source projects, even the ones that Pivotal employees shepherd such as RabbitMQ, Apache Tomcat, and Apache httpd, tend to creep up on us. They are not given hard release dates, rather they are developed and tested until the community deems them ready. Usually, we may have a ballpark of a week, but the exact release timings is at a natural pace. At this conference there were many more projects than I even considered that came out with releases. So, I was pleasantly surprised by releases such as Spring Data Solr, Spring Data Redis, Grails, Spring Data Babbage, Spring Integration, and two releases for Spring for Hadoop. What’s more, I also heard about impeding releases such as Spring Batch 3.0 M2, Spring Integration 3.0 M3, and Thymeleaf 2.1. But perhaps my favorite story, and one that truly underscores how much “real stuff” got done at SpringOne, is for RabbitMQ. After a few meetings with customers who, being java shops, suggested they could not use Rabbit without JMS support, we decided to advertise that we have had a JMS Client for RabbitMQ for a few months. I asked some engineers to help finish a use case on our SpringTrader reference app and craft a blog post on the topic, and after reviewing it, they decided to redo the example using Groovy and Spring Boot. It’s simple, it’s elegant, and it’s coming soon—so stay tuned!
- GemFire. Given that Spring has resided in the vFabric product family for the past 4+ years, it isn’t surprising that many of the users that have direct relationships with VMware/Pivotal have also embraced our expanded middleware stack. I absolutely expected to talk to loads of Apache Tomcat and tc Server customers, and I was definitely not disappointed. But my first three customer meetings were also heavy GemFire users. I have been trying eagerly to gather more customer stories to publish on GemFire for years now. Much to my dismay, either the customers were always too busy or the project was too early stage. This week a corner was turned, and now I have some amazing stories I will be publishing in the coming weeks. Just to give you a taste of how real and big these stories are, I learned this week that ALL of Argentina’s financial transactions are run by GemFire. In fact, most of the use cases I heard this week were in the financial sector and I am really excited to share with you the scope of how many of the worlds foreign currency, cash payments, and stock trades are dependent on GemFire.
- Groovy & Grails. Last but not least, with the release of Spring.IO, we welcomed Groovy and Grails as first class citizens of the Spring ecosystem. Already the ‘2GX’ in the conference, the buzz and excitement around the 10 year anniversary of Groovy and welcoming them into the forefront was heard throughout the halls. Their sessions were heavily attended and folks like Grails lead Graeme Rocher and Groovy lead Guillaume Laforge were followed and treated just like the other Spring ‘celebrities’ at the conference. In fact, big Groovy/Grails shops like Netflix came to the event purely just for these two projects.
This is just a taste of what I saw, and I am confident there are even more stories. There certainly are a lot of fans of the event, and I expect it to grow even bigger next year. For proof, just take a look at the #s2gx hashtag stream on Twitter for the event, or better yet—come to the next one!