Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/22/bray_keynote/

XML daddy eyes code riding storage metal

The 'stressed stack' future

By John K Waters

Posted in Developer, 22nd November 2008 04:21 GMT

QCon 2009 Tim Bray, co-inventor of XML and Sun Microsystems’ Director of Web Technologies, found himself manning “the hangover slot” to give the morning keynote at day two of the Qcon developer conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

“And dear god, I’m going to be talking to you about storage,” he said to his limp-but-game audience. “Congratulations for having the fortitude to come out for this.”

A lot of the storage ground rules are changing, Bray said. The buzz is around the evolution of the metal: “spinning rust” versus “volatile silicon,” hard drives versus solid-state drives (SSDs). But it is new approaches to the “stressed stack” of software riding on that metal that developers should be watching: the app code, the object-relational mapping (ORM) layer, the DB engine, the OS and file systems, the underlying caches. Some version of this stack exists behind most big Web sites today, he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of this stuff sucks,” he said. “It’s painful and difficult and we need to find better ways. Fortunately, there are better things on the horizon.”

Bray gave attendees a look at some of the changes he sees “out there in the discipline” manifesting in some tools, trends, and technologies that should be on their radar. Among them:

What is the future of the stressed stack? “It’s all a moving target,” Bray said. “But that means it’s a good time to be in this business. Time was if you were building a serious, non-trivial, web-facing application for people paying real money, you had to use Java EE or .NET, and the OR that came out of the box, and Oracle, and this and that and the other. These days, you don’t have to do any of that stuff, and people won’t look at you like you’re crazy. And that’s a good thing.” ®