On Becoming a Member

A couple of days ago, an unexpected message arrived in my inbox, inviting me to become a member of the Apache Software Foundation.

After the initial surprise wore off I began to process what it meant.  Obviously, it’s an honor.  But there’s more to it than that.

About five years ago we began having discussions with a colleague, Emmanuel Lécharny, about moving the OpenLDAP Fortress project into the ASF, as a sub-project of the Apache Directory, and that topic is covered here.

Since that time, the typical path of escalating involvement within a particular project was followed.  Contributor->Committer->PMC, …

What I learned during this period of time can’t be catalogued into a single blog post.  Careers are made (and sometimes broken) on transitional paths such as these.  There were challenges, pressures, (personal) shortcomings to be addressed, highs, lows and everything between.

It would take another post to cover all of the people involved, including family, fellow project members (both at ASF and OpenLDAP), business partners, work colleagues and the many other shoulders upon which I stood.  Thankful doesn’t begin to cover the feelings, I’m still processing, trying to make sense of it all.

Now, after having satisfied those original technology goals, it’s time to broaden the perspective to a wider field.  The elements contained within this new field of vision have yet to come into a sharp focus.

What I do know, it will be more of a societal thing than technological.

For example, having a daughter just now starting her career in technology, what will it be like when she enters into the workplace?  Will organizations such as the Apache Software Foundation be inclusive to her (as it was to me) or will there be barriers put in place barring or slowing down entry?

What must change and what do we leave alone?  How do we ensure the essential characteristic of the ASF remains in place while making targeted changes (planting/pruning/weeding) to clear out space for new growth, allowing new opportunities for new segments of society?

These are the types of questions I’m asking myself.  An incredible opportunity to follow a new course alongside an unmistakable concern of not rising to the occasion.


Why ApacheCon

It’s the middle of the night, just hours before my return flight home, and can’t sleep.  The tape recorder inside my mind continues to play and won’t stop.  And so, much like my first Apachecon, I choose to write rather than toss and turn.

The theme of this week’s entry is ‘Why ApacheCon’.  I mean, after seven trips, on both sides of the pond, one might expect to grow weary of the routine.  I’m not saying that I don’t like traveling.  It’s just that, well, after almost thirty years as a professional software developer, I’ve had my fair share.

But here’s the deal, it’s not the trip that makes it worthwhile although I’ll admit the venues are always nice.  Certainly Montreal in September is not a bad gig.

It’s the people, and their stories, that make this event special.

A perfect example is Cliff Schmidt, founder of Amplio, who left a lucrative technology career, to pursue a new mission — saving lives in Africa through education via starting a non-profit that supplies battery operated listening devices, i.e. ‘talking books’, to poor rural farmers in Ghana.


Cliff Schmidt

Another example of Apache members doing good is Myrle Krantz who’s mission is building an open source system for core banking as a platform.  The reason?  To provide a reliable and affordable solution for the world’s 2 billion unbanked, via Apache Fineract.

There’s also Justin McClean, who’s working on an incubating project to provide a real-time operating system featuring a robust and reliable platform to run embedded systems, a.k.a IoT.  The project is Apache Mynewt.  With Mynewt the playing field has been leveled, opening the dedicated hardware market to anyone with a good idea and access to a cheap embedded processor.


Justin McClean

And Christopher Dutz who’s striving to break Siemens’ stranglehold on the programmable logic controller market, to offer cost-effective options to gather their data, for small to medium-sized manufacturing facilities.  His incubating project is Apache PLX4J.  This affords small business’ the same capabilities of command and control of their equipment, enabling them to compete with giant corporations

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Christopher Dutz

Or how about Daniel Ruggeri, who’s taken it upon himself to create (and teach) a college-level course on how to introduce a successful open source practice into the enterprise.  This brings more talent in, enabling innovation, across a broader spectrum of companies.

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Daniel Ruggeri

What do these people have in common?  Bringing about positive change in the world, via open source projects.

This is why I come to ApacheCon.  It’s not the beautiful venues.  It’s not the education and learning.  It’s not the fun gatherings.  (Although these things are good too of course.)

It’s so that I may be inspired by stories such as these.

Secure Web Apps with JavaEE and Apache Fortress

ApacheCon is just a couple months away — coming up May 16-18 in Miami. We asked Shawn McKinney, Software Architect at Symas Corporation,  to share some details about his talk at ApacheCon. His presentation — “The Anatomy of a Secure Web Application Using Java EE, Spring Security, and Apache Fortress” will focus on an end-to-end application security architecture for an Apache Wicket Web app running in Tomcat. McKinney explains more in this interview.

Source: Secure Web Apps with JavaEE and Apache Fortress

Project Link: Apache Fortress Demo Project

A Newcomers Perspective on ApacheCon Europe – 2014

It’s one am and my last night in Budapest.  Its been six days since arrival yet for some reason I’m still jet-lagged and jolt awake in the middle of the night – once again.  An over-stimulated brain can’t manage to fall back asleep due to the inertia gathered during ApacheCon.  This affords time to reflect and write.

I’m the new kid on the block having just been voted as a committer into the Apache Directory project.  A colleague, Emmanuel Lecharny, invited me to co-present about Fortress, which is the reason for being here.

I’m happy because its been a good week for an open source addict.  New alliances have been formed along with new technologies learned – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

A few months ago the decision was made to move Fortress into the Apache Directory Project.  This move was not taken lightly.  OpenLDAP has been a good home and there were reasons to stay put.  First, it’s a product that offered an excellent example in which to follow.  Second, its project team gave sound mentorship.  Finally, moves such as these are disruptive for the community and can burn bridges.

But it was time to move on.  I needed help: Fortress requires the development processes and resources of ASF in order to gain traction.

I worried that my status as newcomer would place barriers to a successful outcome.  Being no stranger to tech circles gives awareness that many (most?) communities are insular (not built here syndrome) and require long periods before trust and support are established.  Opinions of newcomers are not trusted and attitudes must be kept in check lest they offend the others – especially the leaders.  I have no time for this kind of nonsense.

During my travel to Budapest these thoughts caused a bit of anxiety.  Would I, and more important – my product, fit in with the Apache way of doing things?  Would joining the Apache Directory Project help or hurt objectives?  I thought I knew the answer to these questions but wasn’t certain.

From the outset, during the opening keynotes, Rich Bowen set the tone. His laid-back style and no-nonsense approach of engaging the audience repeatedly struck the chord of fellowship and collaboration.  We’re part of something that is bigger.  Exclusiveness runs counter to that philosophy and risks spoiling the overall objectives of building strong communities and quality software.

Those first moments provided the realization that the right move had been made.  This place (Corinthia Hotel) would prove to be fertile ground for innovation and collaboration.  Creativity was everywhere – in the sessions (of course), the corridors and atriums, at the dining tables, and spilling out into the streets – even once whilst soaking at the thermal pools.  Innovation and collaboration could not be stopped.  This is the point of such a conference, but the magnitude astounded me.

The details are not important.  I felt welcomed, respected and treated as equal by the others.

I am not so naïve as to believe the ASF is immune to the political intrigue weighing down other large technological organizations.  As humans we can’t help but harbour hidden personal agendas and vendettas.  But there’s something different going on here. Not sure I can place a finger on it just yet, call it an intuition.

As I listened to the closing keynotes on Wednesday evening, and despite a natural inclination to be cynical of such sentiments, I could not help but feel a surge of pride at being part of this Apache movement.  I have found a new home – and good things will happen here.

*yawn* now I can return to sleep… 🙂