Workshop at CERN
Last week, Thomas, Christian and myself were attending a workshop in CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneve, Switzerland.
CERN is a very inspiring place, attracting intelligent people from all over the world to get behind the secrets of our being. I felt honored to be at the place where for example the world wide web was invented.
The event was called Workshop on Cloud Services for File Synchronisation and Sharing and was hosted by CERN IT department. There have been around 100 attendees.
I was giving a talk called The File Sync Algorithm of the ownCloud Desktop Clients, which was very well received. If you happen to be interested in the sync algorithm we’re using, the slides are a nice starting point.
What amazed me most was the great atmosphere and the very positive attitude towards ownCloud. Many representatives of edu organizations that use ownCloud to which I talked were very happy with the product (even though there are problems here and there) from the technical POV. A lot of interesting setups and environments were explained and also showcased ownCloud’s flexibility to integrate into existing structures.
What also was pointed out by the attendees of the workshop was the importance of the fact that ownCloud is open source. Non free software does not have a chance at all in that market. That was the very clear statement in the final discussion session of the workshop.
The keynote was given by Prof. Benjamin Pierce from Pennsylvania with the title Principles of Synchronization. He is the lead author of
the project Unison which is another opensource sync project. It’s sync engine marks very high quality, but is not “up-to-date software” any more as he said.
I had the pleasure to spend quite some time with him to discuss syncing in general and our sync algorithms in particular, amongst other interesting things.As part of his work, he works with a tool called QuickCheck to do very enhanced testing. One night we were sitting in the cantina there hacking to adopt the testing to ownCloud client and server. The first results were very promising, for example we revealed a “problem” in our sync core that I knew of, which formally is a sync error, yet very very unlikely to happen and thus accepted for the sake of an easier algorithm. It was impressive how fast the testing method was identifying that problem.
I like to follow up with the testing method.
Furthermore we met with a whole variety of other interesting people, backend developers, operators of the huge datasets (100 Peta-Byte), the director of CERN IT, a maintainer of the Scientific Linux and others.
Also we had the chance to visit the Atlas experiment, it is 100 meter underneath the surface and huge. That is where the particles are accelerated, and it was great to have the chance to visit that.
The trip was a great experience and very motivating for me, and I think it should be for all of us all doing ownCloud. Frank was really hitting a nerv when he was seeding the idea, and we all were doing a nice product of it so far.
Lets do more of this cool stuff!