LaSalle Software News #18: A Conference of Perspective

Thursday February 1st, 2018

Episode Summary

Welcome to my eighteenth LaSalle Software News podcast.

This is Bob Bloom from Toronto Canada. 

Today is Thursday, February 01st, 2018. 

I publish LaSalle Software News monthly, at the top of the month except for September, to update you on my LaSalle Software. 


[Apologies for the two skips in the MP3. About a third of the way in, and near the end.]

Yesterday I attended the CanTech Conference at the Toronto Convention Centre, thanks to a friend who graciously sent me a complimentary ticket. Crypto currency was the Big Topic, but I managed to listen to an artificial intelligence talk, noting that one of the companies was based right here in Richmond Hill. The late afternoon talk with five Canadian bio-tech company CEO’s was very interesting as they each talked about their recent travails. You go to these things and you expect puffery — how great this company is and how great that company is. It was much more compelling listening to how their ship was listing to one side and how they then righted their ship.

So I’m early for the talk. Early enough to hear a good chunk of the previous round of presentations. And what type of companies are presenting? As one of the presenting CEO’s said, “this is not a block chain presentation”. One company is a cable TV technology company and an internet provider who talked a bit about providing co-located servers. I was thinking to myself that if I talked about co-located servers at my meet-ups I just might be laughed all the way out the door (or thrown onto the hockey rink at the Magna Centre where we’ve been holding the York Region meet-ups). In the world I live in, it’s all about the cloud. Thankfully that presentation talked more about their cloud infrastructure than about co-located servers.

The CEO of the cable TV tech company did an interesting presentation. Well, in the context of the Conference, probably one of the most pedestrian topics. But interesting to me! He said that cable companies worldwide have to deliver their content to mobile devices. Doing so requires a different delivery technology than what many cable companies have, so his company provides them with the technology to deliver content via the internet to devices. This company licensed their software to the cable company, sending in a team to install their software onsite at the cable company. This CEO used the most exquisite language to convey the reality of getting his technology into the cable companys’ platform: essentially a no-go. Ironically, he used the term “DNA” in a way that may or may not have resonated with the bio-tech CEO’s presented after him.

So what was this CEO’s solution? Why, they spun up their own software as a service! Did he talk about the technical guts of his SaaS? No. Honestly, this was not the forum for a technical deep dive. Of course, I’m doing the deep dive anyways. There’s only one way he architected his SasS product, because his team’s been doing what I’ve been doing, right? His tech’s have been reading how Netflix has 600 individual services driving their business and content delivery. 600 individually constructed and deployed and monitored programs. Each of these separate programs serve their own little function. Each is a “cog in the big wheel”. Netflix does not run a single massive program that streams out stuff. It has 600 individual programs that work together to stream out stuff.

Well, what is that architecture called that Netflix uses, that this CEO likely uses for his new SaaS? Yes, micro services architecture. And what is the architecture I am struggling with right now? Yes, that’s right! Same one. Micro services.

You know, getting away from my screens, getting away from my usual habitat, letting myself not worry about this or that technical challenge, it felt really good. It was seriously relaxing. 

This presentation comes along, and my brain starts going over stuff I’ve been researching. Gee, his team had to struggle with an authentication server. Maybe they expanded it to an “Identity Management Server” to allow for deep granularity. What roles did they set-up? Was it a matrix or a hierarchy of roles? They very likely used OAuth2 and Json Web Tokens, but given their specific use case they probably developed proprietary implementations. Hey, remember, OAuth2 is a framework, not a specific technology or implementation! Did they put their services behind a VPN? Did they use an API Gateway? Did they build API Specs? Where are they putting these individual services. Amazon Web Services? Azure? Something else?

So they went down the rabbit hole. Just like I’m doing. And what am I coming to grips with? I’m now getting down to brass tacks about constructing a free open source, Laravel Framework based Authentication Service, Gateway Service, Blog Content Service, Podcast Service, Event Service, and an initial web application front-end. I basically have one major issue to figure out. Then work out some minor issues, and then time for real code — whew! 

I thought: boy, I’ve been in the weeds so intensely that I almost forget what I’m trying to achieve. It’s a pretty ambitious thing I’m trying to do. But sitting there yesterday I also realized that I am actually pretty close — a lot closer than I realized — to getting LaSalle Software version two off the ground.

Truth be told, I had a lousy month with something I’m involved with as a volunteer. One day, I hope, I can share it with you. No, it is not related to the meet-up groups I am involved with. This thing took a gargantuan amount of time, was incredibly distracting, and got in the way with my software development. Reading RFC’s is not something you might not chose to do normally, but all this background stuff did not help. The good news is that things got better near month-end.

Also, I hate to admit it, but I’m a bit rusty with the Laravel Framework. As I’m about to dive into coding for my own Software, I started all over with Adam Wathan’s TDD course and I partake of Laracast daily.

So this presentation lit my mind up. I know that I need to do something about my LaSalle Software website to make it much more clear what my software is all about. It was great listening to business plans, target markets, rates of return — it got my mind on the right track about my own software. I took copious notes while I was inspired. I actually made these changes to my site already.

LaSalle Software v1 is a fully functional free open source web app based on the Laravel Framework v5.1. It comes with an administration login with automatically rendering database forms so you do not have to create input forms for each database table. There’s a fully functional blog. It is designed as a monolithic web app, but the individual functions are organized as composer installable packages.

This software lowered the cost of getting clients into real web application software, sped up proof-of-concepts, and focused client investment into value added features and custom front end designs.

LaSalle Software v2 is intended as a free open source micro services architected software. The purpose is to offer the basic common features needed to get a basic services environment up-and-running in order to lower the initial costs to clients. Another intention is to solve the issues related to creating and maintaining a micro services environment instead of revisiting them each Install. It will use the Laravel Framework v5.6, OAuth2 guidelines and Json Web Tokens. The initial set-up will have a front-end web application with an administrative login area, an internal API Gateway, an internal Authentication Service, and a Blog Service. Later will be an Event Service (for scheduling meet-ups!). All the while, I have my eye on creating commerce services.

A Service is an independently deployed API. A micro service is a small API performing a specific function. My assumption is that each LaSalle Software service will deploy in the public internet, and not within a VPN.

There’s so much terminology and technology overhead. Yes, many times it seems overblown and overdone. A payoff is being able to set up multiple front-end apps that use the same back end. A payoff is being able to cope with huge traffic growth. A payoff is being able to focus teams on individual services instead of having to manage one huge monolith.

It’s great to take a step back to get out of the weeds and get a better perspective on the journey that’s been LaSalle Software version 2.0.


You have been listening to a production. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of SouthLaSalleMEDIA dot com, nor of the organizations represented. Links and materials discussed on air are available in the Show Notes for this show. Information contained herein have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but are not guaranteed. Podcasts are released under a creative commons licence. Some rights are reserved. Email correspondence to the attention of Bob Bloom at info at SouthLaSalleMedia dot com.

Monthly report on the good, the bad, and the ugly of my ongoing LaSalle Software development. Produced by Bob Bloom, founder and developer of LaSalle Software.

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