FOSDEM is the biggest free and non-commercial event organized by and for the community. Its goal is to provide Free and Open Source developers a place to meet. No registration necessary.


Interview: Spike Morelli

Spike Morelli will give a talk about "I'm going M.A.D." at FOSDEM 2011.

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I am a systems and software engineer, devops and data geek. I love visualization and infographics, we operate increasingly complex systems and the old way of looking at data is falling short. I like configuration management, my developer self finds the infrastructure-as-code approach to be a blessing, and you need configuration management to make it possible. Monitoring is a necessity and a passion to which I've devoted a large chunk of my career, now mirrored by testing/test driven development/continuous integration efforts on my development time.

I have been working on a startup project since the end of last year and doing consulting on the side, mostly around the devops theme.

What will your talk be about, exactly? What does the title "I'm Going M.A.D." mean?

I'd rather not expand the M.A.D. acronym and leave it as a surprise for the talk, but as a theme I'm going to focus on monitoring, metrics and software development. I'd like to share my experience going from a pure sysadmin role to a developer position and how those years in ops have influenced my choices on approaching software development.

What do you hope to accomplish by giving this talk? What do you expect?

There are some techniques and approaches derived from my experience with monitoring applications in production that I'd love to see more widely adopted within the developers circle. I believe that as functional groups devs and ops have much to share with each other to the benefit of the individuals and the organization and I hope to be able to show some of that goodness in my talk.

I read that you enjoy working on information visualization, especially in the context of dashboards showing system metrics. Which are your favourite free and open source visualization tools?

Unfortunately there are no good FLOSS dashboard tools, that's in part why I've been working on one, but right now I lack the time. On the other hand there are plenty great visualization tools. I think that most people would agree that server-side graphing is going away, a large share of monitoring softwares are pushing out new frontends shipping with JavaScript libraries to do the rendering client side. Therefore a lot of the tools I'm using are JavaScript libraries, with the most prominent ones being Protovis and the Javascript InfoViz Toolkit. Flot is also a fairly common library, however in my opinion not as powerful. Raphael is a gorgeous library with an incredible amount of functionalities and I'd use that if I had to do a lot of custom visualization, but its charts support is not as nearly as good although promising. For charting only, the most advanced and beautiful library I've seen so far is Highcharts. It's stunning, packed with features and free for non commercial use.

In the non-web world I have primarily used cairographics and cairo based libraries like mathplotlib. And if I needed something in 3D/opengl I used pygame (as you might have guessed I primarily develop in python).

There are many other interesting tools out there, but these are the ones I tend to go back to when I need to get stuff done.

Have you enjoyed previous FOSDEM editions?

This is actually my first time attending FOSDEM. I am excited and grateful to be given the opportunity to speak this year. I look forward to bouncing ideas and drinking beer.

Creative Commons License
This interview is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License.