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JavaOne 2007, Startup Camp 2

Posted by johnm on May 8, 2007 at 8:56 AM PDT

Is this really JavaOne? Walking around downtown San Francisco in May wearing a t-shirt and shorts and not freezing to death? Record setting heat must be boiling my brain!

I spent most of Monday at the Startup Camp 2 festivities over at the old Argent Hotel. Startup Camp is an open space unconference hosted by Sun and run by the nice folks over at Mass Events Labs. If you've never participated in an open-space style conference, you definitely should -- but don't expect to just sit there -- it's really exactly what you make of it. Note that the notes from each section should eventually make it up to the wiki so check that out for more information.

I went to a session lead by Josh Berkus that was about MySql vs. PostgreSQL. It was much less contentious than I expected. :-) It's great to see PostgreSQL getting more exposure -- especially given how much (undue) credit MySQL gets around being "open source" when it's not completely true. I.e., when it comes down to it, the single biggest reason to chose one or the other is licensing. PostgreSQL's BSD license is a Very Good Thing(tm). In terms of performance, there's definitely a lot afoot with both projects... MySQL is getting better at vertical scaling and PostgreSQL is getting more horizontal support (for things like "clustering").

Another session that I went to was lead by Jason Hoffman of Joyent about the tradoffs of hosted vs. building and managing your own data centers especially as your service starts to grow and you need to start worrying about scale. What made this session cool is what open space conferences are all about -- audience participation. Lots of experienced folks in the audience sharing their war stories.

The money quote of the day came from Josh Berkus (gee, am I a stalker?): "Databases scale poorly." This basic sentiment came up over and over when talking about how to effectively and efficiently get better performance for those hard-earned (or hard-begged :-) startup dollars. Databases don't scale linearly in terms of cost. Moving business logic out of the database leads to up to a 5X improvement in terms of cost (according to a study by Sun). That's a big deal but I'll leave further exploration of that to a future blog.

The wackiest thing at Startup Camp 2 was the "Speed Geeking" general session. Think: speed dating for startups. Each startup that wanted to present itself was given a big round dinner table and had a few minutes to make their pitch/demo/whatever to each small group of interested people. I'm sorry but the Rate My Poop idea is not something that I even want think about -- I'm going to have nightmares.

I also attended a session on pricing of SaaS/"on demand" services. Alas, I hosed my notes of who was running that session -- my apologies. Lots of good discussion but two key takeways were to remember that it's not just "software" but also a "service" and that trust is a key component to any relationship.

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