Ask an Expert: Catching up with Srinath Perera

Srinath Perera is vice president of research at WSO2. He is a scientist, software architect, author, and speaker. He is also a key architect behind Apache Axis2 and WSO2 Stream Processor. We caught up with Srinath recently to get his take on the significance of Streaming SQL, the future of open source stream processing solutions, and why we must learn to think, question, and see beyond the obvious.

1. What has your journey at WSO2 been like?

This is my ninth year at WSO2, but I have been working with Sanjiva Weerawarana on similar technologies since 2003. Yes, it’s been close to 15 years, and it’s been a lot of fun. I have worked on a wide variety of challenging problems, and have worked with many brilliant individuals who will make good stories for one’s grandchildren one day. I have done a lot more than I imagined years ago.

2. For agile digital businesses, the availability of business insights is a significant factor in gaining a competitive advantage. How does WSO2 Stream Processor help?

Our product can easily plug-in to a user’s system and collect data. You could then write queries using Streaming SQL to detect important conditions. Streaming SQL is similar to SQL, but works on data streams instead of data tables. The former is flowing, while the latter is stored on a disk.

Compared to what our competitors offer, we have very powerful Streaming SQL with operators most others do not have. We enable you to use machine learning models within Streaming SQL itself. Also, if you are looking for a small deployment, our server can run a HA deployment with only two nodes and process about 100,000 events/second. If you are looking for a large deployment, we can run on top of Kafka. In the event you are unsure or undecided, you can always start small and later switch to Kafka without changing any code.

Streaming SQL is similar to SQL, but works on data streams instead of data tables. The former is flowing, while the latter is stored on a disk.”

4. What does the future hold for open source stream processing solutions?

In my opinion, stream processing has not become mainstream yet. People are still figuring out analytics. It’s not easy to find developers who excel in analytics. Stream processing has to wait for that adoption to play out. No one will try to do real-time before they figure out basic analytics; that is unless you have specialized use cases such as for stock markets, surveillance, and anomaly detection.

People are still figuring out analytics. It’s not easy to find developers who excel in analytics. Stream processing has to wait for that adoption to play out.”

5. What are the benefits of an open source stream processing solution?

I think there’s a growing trend for middleware as an open source model. They use complex code, support a wide variety of use cases, and are used by many. We are increasingly made aware that products are best built using the open source model. I think there’s no better testament than Microsoft, a company that hated open-source, but has now embraced it.

I think there’s a growing trend for middleware as an open source model. They use complex code, support a wide variety of use cases, and are used by many.”

6. How did you start working in stream processing?

A long time ago, in 2007, while I was doing a Ph.D, we worked on a paper comparing Complex Event Processors (or CEPs, which is an older name for stream processing) and rule-based systems. I was fascinated by the technology, and after I joined WSO2, I supervised an undergraduate thesis project to build an open-source CEP engine. This was in 2011 – well before stream processing became cool! It was called WSO2 Complex Event Processor back then and was later renamed WSO2 Stream Processor.

7. What is your proudest accomplishment in recent times?

In general, it is the role I have played with Apache Axis2. However, if you want me to choose something recent, I suppose my work with the WSO2 Research Team stands out. Some good work will be made public soon. I have also worked with Paul Fremantle, WSO2’s CTO, to build a framework to evaluate different emerging technologies. You will hear more about this too soon.

8. What advice would you like to give a budding developer or an architect to better their career?

I would say learn to think, question, and see beyond the obvious.”

There is this quote that I love, “Wisdom is tolerance of cognitive dissonance.” It took me awhile to understand what it meant. We all interpret how the world works, but when we discover things that do not match our way of thinking, we ignore them. However, the world is more complicated than that. By understanding those mismatches and by learning through struggle and discomfort, we achieve true wisdom. That is what that quote conveys.

I would say learn to think, question, and see beyond the obvious. I refuse to tell people I work with how to solve something. Instead, I tell them, “Tell me how you will solve it and then I will complain.” I think they are used to it now. That way, we all use put our critical thinking skills to good use and one day, they will not need me for guidance.

To learn more about Srinath’s work, follow him on Twitter and read his blog.

A Sneak Peek at WSO2Con and BallerinaCon 2018

We’re only one month away from our largest WSO2Con ever… as well as the first-ever BallerinaCon.

With nearly a dozen separate announcements that we’ll be making in the integration space, I’m really excited to be part of this. If you’re a developer, integrator or enterprise architect, or are just into the latest trends in APIs, enterprise architecture or microservices, then the conference is where you need to be. Here are some teasers about what is coming up…

Agile integration. Agile isn’t just for pure development projects anymore, integration is becoming agile and that is a major focus for the conference. We’ll be looking at agile integration from multiple angles: of course the tech will be key, but also people and processes are essential to agile. Transforming organizations into integration agile is front-and-center at this year’s WSO2Con.

Architecture and methodology are key. One of the major lessons we’ve learnt is that the architecture and methodology are key to successful integration. We’ve been working to capture those learnings in a reference architecture and reference methodology for agile integration, and we are really keen to see your feedback on them. As well as introducing our reference architecture, we are also going to be launching our maturity assessment methodology, which is designed to help any organization move towards more agile integration.

Desperately seeking serverless. What do you get when you combine integration agile technologies with Kubernetes and make it multi-cloud? You’ll have to come and find out about about our serverless strategy and solutions.

Microservices everywhere. The popularity and growth of microservices is challenging old approaches to integration. We have an amazing vision of how microservices architecture can enhance, accelerate, and re-energize enterprise integration. We will be unveiling this vision, addressing how integration fits into the microservices architecture.

Going global: new channels, offices, and partner programs. Partner outreach is demanding it, growth curves are predicting it, global reach is requiring it: yes, we’ll be announcing new global office locations. We’ll also have our first all-day partner conference where we’ll reveal an even better partner program for our global partner and global reseller community.

Integration simple and agile. At BallerinaCon (the day after WSO2Con) we’ll dive deep into the Ballerina language, the first cloud-native programming language aimed at targeting the integration gap. While companies have moved to agile, most integration is still on a fast waterfall approach. Integration products have been part of that challenge. But general purpose programming languages aren’t integration simple. We think we have an answer. Come and see what you think. And it’s #1 on TechWorld’s 2018 list.

Finally, some business stuff. We’ll be announcing a number of new pricing options, support model enhancements, and even better customer success and consulting offerings.

We can’t wait to see you in San Francisco.

You Do Not Want to Miss WSO2Con North America, July 16–18 in San Francisco

“This year is going to be the biggest, baddest, most monstrous year yet for our conference. Do not miss out!”

Each year, vendors around the world who host their own conferences make identical claims. With promises of special locations, intriguing speakers, and networking with food (and delightfully intoxicating substances), commercial events turn into rigmarole.

Not this year. Not this conference.

WSO2’s North American conference is going to be a doozy. If you are a developer, architect, integration specialist, partner, CIO, CTO, or CDO, we want to see you at this event as we unveil the next phase of our company, our technology, and our growth.

For the first time, we are hosting three events:

  1. WSO2Con: see us unveil our vision for how digital transformation is evolving and how we will help every organization become integration agile.
  2. WSO2Con Partner Day: our partner ranks have ballooned and our partners generate nearly $250M annually as part of the WSO2 ecosystem. We are hosting a business day dedicated to exploring collaborative opportunities to build markets together. We’ll be unveiling new channel programs, how resellers will shape future integration sales, introduce the global channel team that joined this year, and our investment plan that will help you build annuity and profit streams from our field collaboration.
  3. BallerinaCon: Ballerina is a programming language that makes it ridiculously easy to write microservices that integrate APIs. We are lucky and excited to co-host this first-time event with the language designers and the San Francisco Ballet. Ballerina is gaining global adoption and your experience will have you agree with why Google’s Kelsey Hightower called it “the dopest thing” and Redmonk’s James Governor declared Ballerina “the belle of the Kubecon ball. ”

These events are happening at a time where WSO2 has become the largest open source integration vendor. Integration is suddenly the hottest thing in enterprise software, and that is propelling tremendous growth for us. We are reinvesting all of our gains back into the business, and at the conference we’ll be announcing important software, services and solutions designed to make it easier for any organization to become integration agile.

We’ve become increasingly concerned that as architectures continue to disaggregate due to the drive to scale to support customer demand, those architectures have required organizations to support center-of-excellence integration approaches which impose waterfall constraints and limited agility. We will make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, and in my keynote we’ll be unveiling:

  1. Our agility strategy for organizations of any size, through the presentation of a new reference architecture for agility and agility methodology, including the introduction of cell-based architectures and philosophies to make the composable enterprise as agile as a microservice.
  2. How microservices will pervade all of our products giving you new forms of micro deployments, management and runtimes so that enterprise architecture can increasingly be delegated and crowd sourced.
  3. Our serverless strategy, including how a special collaboration between our engineers and the Apache OpenWhisk community is going to give enterprises an agile approach to event-driven architecture without fearing data or platform lock-in from the megaclouds.
  4. Our commitment and commercial strategy unveiling for Ballerina, a cloud native programming language, which can augment your Java,.NET and JavaScript development by making agile development of microservices accessible to any enterprise.
  5. Substantial new business programs, including microservices-based pricing / packaging and Technical Account Management.
  6. Our territory and local influence expansion plans including our plans for new offices in Mexico, Germany, and other MEAP locations.
  7. New partner programs designed so that WSO2 can make substantial investments into our global partners so that they can create annuity and profit streams.

This is going to be an amazing event and an experience that should not be missed. Come join us and learn about why we believe that WSO2 is going to become the world’s largest integration vendor. Let our passion, excitement, and experience help guide you on your own integration journey. And let’s hope I don’t screw up my very important keynote.