Thursday, February 28, 2013

Clouds introduce a new era of Openness

I've long been a big proponent of open source - supporting it at companies like Bluestone, HP, JBoss, Hyperic, and Spring.  I still am as witnessed by some of the open source RunSignUp is contributing like our mobile timing app and our Open API.

However, there is an important shift happening with the emergence of cloud services.  The new idea has two parts when it comes to cloud middleware, or PaaS:

  • Wiring together services to develop apps
  • Portability across PaaS so you don't get locked in
I wrote about this choice in 2011 and how CloudBees was going to approach it.  The graphic at the right is from that blog.

CloudBees has been following this methodology, and had an important announcement with Cloud Foundry today.  As GigaOm put it:
So you want to build your software in CloudBees but want to run it elsewhere? With new integration, you can put that application on Cloud Foundry (as well as Google App Engine.)
This is the basic mantra of the open movement.  If there is openness, then there is reduced effort by all parties, producing efficiency in the system.  Eliminating lock-in allows new markets to progress faster and gives customers more confidence to move forward.

The other important element to note about the CloudBees strategy is that we intend to run the business as meshed offerings.  This means we will take them to market together and separately.  We obviously have a huge investment in Jenkins, and to make that investment thrive we have to view it as something that is open to working with others and becoming part of other ecosystems.  You can see how it is important for Jenkins and Cloud Foundry to work together in their blog. As we grow in the future, you may see us continue this strategy by working closely with a technology or creating a new offering, but partnering with others to make sure that technology has a clear path to the market.

Congratulations to the CloudBees team for making this important step forward for PaaS openness.  It will help everyone - users, our competitors in the market and us!

Here's a demo:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

23andme - My genomic health predictions

I signed up for the $99 23andme genetic test a couple of months ago and got my health results last night!  Genetics is very interesting to me, and if I were younger it would be my career path.  As research progresses, understanding genetics and applying it will have a huge impact on society over the next 100 years.  For a quick tutorial on genetics, watch https://www.23andme.com/gen101/genes/.

For the rest of this write-up I am going to focus on the genetics part of things.  Of course environment plays a huge role, we all know that eating healthy can reduce my risk of stomach cancer, etc.  So I will leave that caveat off the rest of this...

My Health Results
The good news is that I have good health genes.  As the video shows, I have my family to thank for that.  I have several family members that have lived past 100 years old and all of my grandparents were healthy people.

The results are pretty interesting.  They are broken into the following areas:

  • Disease Risk - This is a long list of diseases that I have a higher or lower probability of having something like gout, kidney stones, or stomach cancer.
  • Carrier Risk - for example do I have genes that are more likely to cause breast cancer in my children.
  • Drug Response - for example, my genes indicate a slightly increased sensitivity to warafin/Coumadin.  This information can help guide a doctor in prescribing an initial dosage level if I ever need a blood thinner.  I also have a higher odds than normal of developing a heroin addiction (2.5-9.9 X more likely than the lowest level gene combination)  You can see the details in the graphic on the right.
  • Tendencies - like I have a tendency to overeat (I knew that already, but now I can blame it on my genes!)
On the right is an example of my page on Drug Response.  The column with the stars in it shows the correlation/confidence in the influence of my genes on this type of response.  As you can see, the ones with 4 stars mean there is a high correlation and there has been enough research done to determine a link statistically.

The Promise
There are several amazing advances that can be made by knowing your genetics and for research to continue to gain more insight:
  • People can change their environmental factors to adjust for their higher risk levels.
  • People can prepare for potential future challenges such as a probability of Alzheimers.
  • Doctors can administer treatments that are more likely to work with fewer side effects.
The Challenges
Of course there are always people who are afraid of change and new science.  One of the biggest challenges to the overcome is one of privacy and implications of genetic information.  

Certainly some people have no interest in knowing about the things that I find fascinating.  For example, 23andme provides results on Alzheimers, but since there is nothing that can be done environmentally, they do not share that information in the standard reports.  You have to go thru several steps of learning and accepting little checkboxes to see what your genes indicate in terms of the probability of Alzheimers.  I wanted to know because if I have a more likely chance of getting it, for me I would want to do some things to prepare myself and my family.  Some would not want that hanging over their heads.

The more important challenge is getting enough reliable data to do real research.  If you drill down on some of the studies that back each of the genetic traits, they typically come from Europe or Asia.  One of the reasons for this is the universal healthcare in those societies does not subject a person submitting their genetic code and tracking their health to selection into an insurance program.  In societies like the US, there is of course much greater concern as health insurance companies can chose who they cover.  

Even with universal healthcare, there is fear of the information falling into employers hands.  An employer might want to hire healthier employees (or not).

And what about potential mates?  That starts to get real personal.  And the implications are much more life changing than past waves of technology like your computer getting hacked or having telemarketers learn your cell phone number.

In my mind, the technology will continue to evolve.  And societies will be impacted by this and have to make even tougher decisions than the ones outlined above.  For example, here is an article  and a eugenics research study that talks about the fact China has more genetics engineers than any country and how they are trying to move toward a higher IQ population by leveraging genetics.

Yep, the next 100 years are going to be very interesting!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Codenvy

Codenvy formally announced their spin-off from eXo and new financing of $9M today.

Codenvy does for developers what Google Docs did for Word users - open things up to the Cloud.  That means better collaboration, closer integration with Cloud Services like Github and the PaaS vendors like CloudBees, CloudFoundry, Amazon Beanstalk, etc.  It means faster set-up and team enablement.  It means editing on a Tablet NOW instead of waiting to get back to my desktop and Eclipse.  It means more freedom and more control.

The background on this started several years ago Benjamin Mestrallet, the founder of eXo Platform, saw the need to easily create the new wave of applications - easily tying widgets and back end data sources.  He had a crackjack team of developers working on this, and the idea kept expanding.  Last year he realized that this technology was too important to keep bottled up inside eXo.  About the same time, Tyler Jewell joined the company.  One thing led to another, and pretty soon we had a plan to have Tyler become the CEO of this new company.  Getting financing was simple given the head start the team had built, the customer adoption, and the clear direction of the market.

There are lots of things to like about coding in the Cloud.  But the best is it is simple to give it a try - https://codenvy.com/.