March 2008 Archives


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I've been quite busy this past month organizing a move of my girlfriend and I to San Francisco, but just a brief note for those that skipped my rather mysterious post on February 29th....

After 3.5 years at BEA, I've decided to jump to a new startup in the cloud computing space, called Elastra, as a lead architect of their product line.

Today, Elastra provides the software to provision clustered, highly available MySQL, PostgreSQL, and EnterpriseDB on Amazon EC2. The vision is to take this to multiple layers of an application stack (App servers, Mongrels, BPM engines, Integration engines, etc.) , adding in simulation and modeling, for different underlying utility infrastructures, whether public clouds like Amazon EC2, or private clouds like your in-house VMWare or Xen installation. I also think some surprises will emerge, as we explore with our customers what it means to be in "the cloud".

p.s. I have an "ode to BEA" entry coming soon, stay tuned...

From Joel,

And Postel's "robustness" principle didn't really work.....Jon Postel should be honored for his enormous contributions to the invention of the Internet, and there is really no reason to fault him for the infamous robustness principle. 1981 is prehistoric. If you had told Postel that there would be 90 million untrained people, not engineers, creating web sites.... he would have understood that this is the wrong principle.

So, that not everyone follows Postel's law means that Postel's law is... wrong? This is nearly Homer Simpson-eque logic. Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.

I'm not sure how one jumps from "we've had problems with a policy" as "the policy is wrong/broken"; I find the tendency increasingly common, but no less repugnant. Postel's law has reasonable limits, but I have a hard time believing the early web would have been a success without it. The root problem is that we are not absolved of Gresham's law when some kind of balance between liberal interpretation and conservative emission isn't maintained.

What's the solution? Correct the balance. Which is why the standards folks seem to be wielding more power despite the drawbacks of their stance. Or as Gruber says, "You reap what you sow".

Update: A quick Google found this rather interesting quote:

I knew Jon Postel. He was quite unhappy with how his robustness principle was abused to cover up non-compliant behavior, and to criticize compliant software.

Jon's principle could perhaps be more accurately stated as "in general,
only a subset of a protocol is actually used in real life. So, you should
be conservative and only generate that subset. However, you should also
be liberal and accept everything that the protocol permits, even if it
appears that nobody will ever use it."

It could be that what has failed us (as often as it does) is our mainstream caricatured misunderstanding of the principle, not the original principle. Perhaps if Jon were still with us, we wouldn't have had these problems to the same degree.

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