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Chats about DC/OS and Apache Mesos in Dublin

At the end of August MJ made plans to spend a week in Dublin for work with a team he has out there. This seemed like a great opportunity for me to go back to Ireland as well! The last (and first) time I went to Ireland was also to tag along, back in 2010 with his previous job when he was doing a rotation in the office out there. That trip landed in October of 2010 and I took the entire week off to explore the city and surrounding areas, this time I only took a couple days off, choosing to also spend some time getting to know some of the DC/OS and Apache Mesos folks there in Dublin.

First on my noteworthy agenda was speaking on The SMACK stack for the Dublin Apache Kafka Meetup by Confluent. It was held at the ZenDesk office just south of St Stephen’s Green. This meant I could enjoy a lovely mile long walk south from where I was staying near Trinity College to get to my destination. When I arrived, my gracious host for the evening was Andrei Balcanasu, an Infrastructure Engineer there at Zendesk. As attendees trickled in he made me feel very welcome and we had some great chats about the direction of infrastructure tooling over the past decade.

The presentation was an overview of the SMACK stack (Apache Spark, Apache Mesos, Akka, Apache Cassandra, and Apache Kafka) itself, but I did try to stress the value of Kafka specifically in this model. My experience thus far has been that Mesos and Kafka are the two components that are least likely to be swapped out as people tailor SMACK for their own infrastructure environment and industry. I concluded with Achim Nierbeck’s Iot Fast Data analytics demo which plots buses from the Los Angeles Metro on a map and is pure SMACK stack. Slides from the talk can be found here (PDF).

The evening concluded with beer and pizza, during which I indulged in my first Bulmers Cider of the trip as I spoke with attendees about their infrastructures and where they were planning on going tooling-wise. While I’d never call myself a social butterfly, getting able to geek out about open source infrastructure tooling is one of the areas where I can let my guard down and get really into it, so enjoyed the evening. During these conversations something that stood out most for me was a comment about the simplicity of the data source for the demo, as the stream coming in from the LA Metro is not what any of us today would call “fast” (just a few requests per second) so the use of Kafka is a bit overkill. It was a very fair point and I’ll mention it up the next time I use it in a presentation, but it is just a demonstration of a pipeline, and at that it succeeds at being reliable and effective.

Unbeknownst to me when I booked my travel, I came into town the same week as the Usenix SREcon17 held right there in Dublin. This meant that a whole bunch of people seeing my Dublin tweets assumed I was in town for that, and reached out to me to meet during the conference. Had I known about the overlap, I would have probably participated, but the CFP has closed long before I made plans for this trip and it was sold out attendee-wise before I knew about it. Still, this was how I ended up with the opportunity to meet up with DC/OS community members Levente Lajko, Luis Davim and Matthew Allen from PTC!

PTC has been an active participant in Working Groups we run for DC/OS so I was delighted to meet with them in person as they took time away from the conference venue to meet for lunch. Discussions centered around improvements we could make to the community involvement side of things, including being more public about our road maps so they can plan accordingly with what they build and lack of engagement around some tickets and pull requests. Nothing here was new for me and my team is actively working to make real progress on these points, but hearing it directly from community members strengthened my confidence that we’re working on the right things. Even better, they were a fun group of folks to spend a meal with and they were eager to make clear that the technology is worth the community-related road bumps.

Now to be clear, I don’t always intend on making vacation-centric trips include work stuff, I do need time away too, but I’m glad I did this time. With only 8 months under my belt at Mesosphere I was eager to spend as much time as I could interacting with community members, and in-person meetings like this are an important part of that. Having visited Ireland before also helped, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything, so breaking up tourist time with some work ended up being a pretty healthy use of my time.