Doug Tidwell at OSCON 2010

The newest buzz could come from some old technologies

Chat with IBM® cloud computing evangelist Doug Tidwell who is at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention in Portland, Oregon this week. Doug shares thoughts from the week in this podcast and his tweets from the convention, like, "eek! where are the mainframe maintainers for tomorrow coming from?". Plus new content for the week and a request for your dW user stories.


Scott Laningham (, Podcast Editor, IBM developerWorks

Scott LaninghamScott Laningham, host of developerWorks podcasts, was previously editor of developerWorks newsletters. Prior to IBM, he was an award-winning reporter and director for news programming featured on Public Radio International, a freelance writer for the American Communications Foundation and CBS Radio, and a songwriter/musician.

22 July 2010

developerWorks: This is the developerWorks® podcast; I'm Scott Laningham. Today I talk with IBM cloud computing evangelist, Doug Tidwell, who just spoke at OSCON 2010, the O'Reilly Open Source Convention going on this week in Portland, Oregon. Doug has some thoughts from the convention.

(Editor: To discover what new resources are available this week in developerWorks and My developerWorks, jump to the end of this interview.)

Everything old, sharpen those COBOL skills

Listen to this podcast.

Doug Tidwell [Twitter] has been a commenter on dW podcasts before:

OSCON 2010 (the O'Reilly Open Source Convention) is a wrap.

I'm joined now by IBM cloud computing evangelist, Doug Tidwell, calling in from the O'Reilly Open Source Convention going on this week in Portland, Oregon. Hey, Doug.

Tidwell: Hey, how's it going Scott?

developerWorks: Going great. You're a speaker this week, right? Did you do that already?

Tidwell: Yes, actually. The session was yesterday. We talked about Simple Cloud and libcloud [Python unified interface to the cloud], some of the things that IBM is contributing to keep the cloud open. And of course, [I] talked about the cloud use-cases group, and encouraged people to be active in that community as well.

developerWorks: What is OSCON like? How do you place this convention in the universe of tech conferences?

Tidwell: It's an amazing concentration of brainpower. The technical level of people here is really off the charts. These are the people who created the open source project that you know and love and rely on, the people who keep these things going, the people who actively move the technologies and the community forward.

All those people are here and it's just fabulous to be here, a part of the community. And just sit down at a random table at lunch, you'll strike up a conversation with a fascinating couple of people and you'll walk away with a hundred new things that you need to learn and find out more about.

developerWorks: Wow. It sounds exciting and possibly intimidating if you're going there worried at all about how you fit into all of that, right? [LAUGHTER]

Tidwell: Well, yes. It can be intimidating, although I think the people here — this may be the friendliest conference in the world that I go to anymore.

developerWorks: Cool.

Tidwell: There's certainly not a technical bullying vibe to the show at all. But yes, at the same time, Larry Wall, who created PURL, is here. All of the huge names in open source are here, and if you want to talk to these folks, they're here, you can do that.

developerWorks: What about big takeaways for the week, things that you've heard that you're going to be pondering more, and people you want to follow up with. Any stuff like that?

Tidwell: Well there's a couple things. Cloud has really taken off here. There was a cloud Summit on Tuesday that was really, really well done. Lots of great discussions there about where the cloud is going.

Closest to my heart though, were some good discussions about cloud standards, how to avoid lock-in. You know, it's a great conversation to see happening here, and as you would expect with this audience, the people who are really pushing cloud technology to its limits are here in the audience.

I was talking to someone yesterday and I won't mention the name of the hosting company, but he was talking about someone who was actually trying to use enough cloud computing power that they actually brought down that provider.

developerWorks: Wow.

Tidwell: I will say it wasn't IBM, I'll leave it at that. [LAUGHTER]

developerWorks: That's good.

Tidwell: You know, these are the people who are really battle-testing this stuff, taking massive data sets, all sorts of interesting workloads, putting those out on the cloud. And when you're in that sort of environment, it's a very different discussion than you get when you're around people who are sort of kicking the tires and thinking about using the cloud.

developerWorks: Absolutely. A couple days left of the conference still?

Tidwell: Yes. We got a full day today, and a half day tomorrow. And then, you know, there are lots of birds-of-a-feather sessions and after-hours get-togethers. Things like that. You know, OSCON, even if you didn't go to the conference, if all you did was hang out in the city at night with all the interesting people that went here, I think you'd learn a tremendous amount as well. Just in terms of personalities and skill sets, etc. It's amazing.

developerWorks: Where are you off to next Doug, after this?

Tidwell: After this, I'm going to SHARE in Boston in a couple weeks. It's a very interesting group there as well. These are the people who keep the legacy systems running. I mean, there's obviously a lot more to the group than that, but when the sun comes up in the morning it's because the systems that these folks keep going, keep going.

And I had a really interesting discussion with some people the other day. They were working specifically on women in tech. You know, "how do we get more women involved in IT?" I'm rambling briefly, but a side anecdote in one session, the attendance count was, there were four [Apple] iPads and one woman. [LAUGHTER]

So, that's one of the things that's disturbing, but unfortunately not surprising.

developerWorks: Right.

Tidwell: [continued] in our industry. So, a lot of discussions there about how can we get more women involved. You know, having half of the world's population contributing ideas and insights to our industry would certainly help a lot.

developerWorks: Absolutely.

Tidwell: But with the SHARE group, there's some similar demographics in terms of [how] the younger people are not studying these technologies for whatever reason. They're just not seen as being as important or interesting. I'm not really sure what the perception is there, but the fact is, these systems have to keep going, and a lot of people that have been running these systems for a long time are starting to retire.

So, I can see a real marketplace for things like COBOL® skills over the next few years really starting to ramp up. As that generation of folks says: "It's time to hand the reins over to someone else."

developerWorks: That brings to mind, from the Innovate conference, it brings to mind Dean Kamen's inspiring talk that both you and I missed, but that I've since watched on video, [and] you may have, too.

Tidwell: Yes.

developerWorks: And pointing out the strong need to make science and technology hip with young people again, and that we need rock stars in that space. And Doug, I think you qualify for one of those positions. [LAUGHTER]

Tidwell: Unfortunately, I don't qualify on the young part, but you do what you can.

developerWorks: Ladies and gentlemen, the fabulous Doug Tidwell. Doug, always good talking with you.

Tidwell: All right, thanks Scott. I appreciate it.

developerWorks: Follow Doug on Twitter at Doug_Tidwell, that's D-O-U-G, underscore, T-I-D-W-E-L-L. He's actively Tweeting from the show.

This is the developerWorks podcast. developerWorks is IBM's premier technical resource for software developers with tools, code, and education on IBM products and open standards technologies. I'm Scott Laningham, talk to you next time.

What's new in the developerWorks community?

developerWorks: But first, developerWorks' newsletters editor, John Swanson. Hey, John.

Swanson: Howdy, Scott.

developerWorks: What's up this week?

Swanson: Well, we're turning the spotlight of the developerWorks newsletter, we're turning it on to the readers themselves, looking for some input. We want to hear stories now that My developerWorks is a year, a little more than a year old now.

Several hundred thousand folks out there doing things, getting stuff done, networking, collaborating. And I think there's probably some pretty good stories out there. We want to hear what people's experiences have been with the network in the last year or so, [to] find out what's been going on, find out about, you know, success stories, who people like to read, and what sort of groups have been formed, what sort of blogs have been helpful. All that sort of thing.

developerWorks: Absolutely. We got that blog entry from Michael O'Connell, our editor in chief, today on that, right? Or did that come yesterday?

Swanson: Exactly, exactly. And he spells it all out. Basically we're looking to hear what folks' experiences have been and catch up on what's been going on out there. With so much going on, it's hard to know without hearing from the various quarters, so I think it could be a real interesting exercise.

developerWorks: Absolutely; and the easiest and quickest way to do that is to just leave us comments in our blogs. Michael O'Connell, our editor in chief, his blog is entitled, from the DW editor in chief. Mine is Scott Laningham, developerWorks podcast.

You can search in either of those blog titles in our blog section at and find those blogs. Tell us your stories and we'd just love to hear them and maybe we'll even get some podcast interview ideas out of it. So we'd love to have you on the show with a good enough story. So, please take the time to do that. And John, thank you as always, man, have a good day.

Swanson: Thanks, Scott.

developerWorks: Also new on developerWorks this week:

You can read all that and a lot more at



developerWorks: Sign in

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

Need an IBM ID?
Forgot your IBM ID?

Forgot your password?
Change your password

By clicking Submit, you agree to the developerWorks terms of use.


The first time you sign into developerWorks, a profile is created for you. Information in your profile (your name, country/region, and company name) is displayed to the public and will accompany any content you post, unless you opt to hide your company name. You may update your IBM account at any time.

All information submitted is secure.

Choose your display name

The first time you sign in to developerWorks, a profile is created for you, so you need to choose a display name. Your display name accompanies the content you post on developerWorks.

Please choose a display name between 3-31 characters. Your display name must be unique in the developerWorks community and should not be your email address for privacy reasons.

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

(Must be between 3 – 31 characters.)

By clicking Submit, you agree to the developerWorks terms of use.


All information submitted is secure.

Dig deeper into developerWorks

ArticleTitle=Doug Tidwell at OSCON 2010