My discussions at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference today have all revolved around scale.
First, I ran into Sam Gassel (old bio here), who architected the backend for CNN.com in the early days and scaled it to amazing levels as web traffic grew. CNN.com was the most demanding web environment I've ever seen — we're talking about a site that got 1 billion page views in a single month, and Sam was in the middle of all of it. Sam is now a Technology Fellow at CNN and continues to spend his time thinking about scaling issues. I learned a lot of lessons about scaling web sites from Sam and fondly remember Sam telling vendors that we would melt their routers, switches, OS'es, and load balancers (he was nearly always right). Whenever we crush a network device in the InfoWorld Test Center, I think of Sam. Sam, you need to start a blog to impart your hard-earned wisdom to the rest of us! [Update: I made a correction to make it clear that Sam is a Technology Fellow for CNN, not Time Warner, the parent company. – CD]
I continue to be impressed with Salesforce.com (disclosure: InfoWorld is a salesforce.com customer — actually I think this makes me more qualified to comment on it). To a large degree, Salesforce's innovations have gradually turned my early skepticism about web services into enthusiasm.
Today, I had a great conversation with Adam Gross about their sforce API and some of the activity around it in their community and on sourceforge. I'm not ready to go into the details of what we discussed, but I'm planning to do some coding on my own within the sforce API to link their data more tightly into some of our business processes. This work will likely be of broader use to Salesforce.com customers. Stay tuned. [Chad Dickerson]