August 29, 2012

tl;dr – There will be no shortage of language-specific content at RICON when it comes to building Riak-backed applications. If you and your team working on a Riak application and have specific questions or needs around your language or framework of choice, you should be at RICON. Register here. The early bird price ends this Friday.

We are billing RICON as a “distributed systems conference dedicated to developers.” We mean this in two ways:

  1. We are raising awareness and strengthening a community around what it takes to build “distributed systems”; in which a set of physical resources that are spread over unpredictable networks cooperate to run a service in production with little or no downtime. Riak is one of a wide set of technologies that make this possible.
  2. We are delivering on a promise to simplify how developers interact with distributed systems at the language level. This is largely focused on Riak, but not entirely.

A brief look at the RICON schedule will make it quickly apparent that there is plenty of bonafide distributed systems knowledge and experience to go around. What may not be completely obvious (as was pointed out to me a few days ago by a prospective attendee and trusted advisor) is the depth of language-specific knowledge and experience that is represented in RICON’s schedule. I wanted to make sure we cleared this up.

For those of you interested what it takes to build applications with Riak (at the language level), here are the details of what will be represented in the talks. (Keep in mind that the listed speakers constitute but a tiny subset of knowledge that will be present.)

Java and the JVM

  • Comcast contributed the first ever Riak Java client some time around the beginning of 2010. Though that code has changed immensely over the past three years, Riak has spread to various teams who are now using it in production, mostly with Java on the front-end. Michael Bevilacqua-Linn’s Big Data in the Small talk will give valuable insight on how to build JVM-based services that talk to Riak.
  • George Reese’s Migrating from MySQL to Riak session will highlight their work using the Java-based Dasein persistence framework alongside Riak.
  • Brian Roach and Russell Brown, primary maintainers of the Java client, will be wandering the crowd. There will also be several community members using Riak in production with Clojure and Scala that have experience to share.


  • Riak is written in Erlang. And it follows OTP principles in that it’s composed of various Erlang applications and extensions like riak kv and riak_core. To that end, Bryan Fink’s talk on Riak Pipe, Ryan Zezeski’s Riak and Solr session, and a few other talks from the Basho Team will highlight how to build Erlang applications with Riak.
  • OpenX is using riak_core to do all sorts of crazy, amazing things. Anthony Molinaro’s talk about how he and his team are serving trillions of ads per year will go deep on building Erlang services with Riak.


  • Gary Flake is giving Day Two’s opening keynote. He and his team at Clipboard have put Riak through its paces and built a social network fronted by Node.js. He will have much advice and wisdom to pass along.
  • Matt Ranney and Voxer operate one of the biggest Node.js applications known to man. They recently open-sourced their Riak node.js client and, along with real-world experience about running Riak clusters that are creeping towards petabytes of data, his talk will be invaluable to anyone building an application with Riak and Node.

Ruby and Rails

  • The (not-yet-announced) talk from Ines Sombra and Michael Brodhead of EngineYard will include a non-trivial amount of Riak and Ruby production knowledge.
  • Sean Cribbs, original author of Riak’s Ruby client, will be on-hand, along with a handful of community members who have Ruby/Rails applications in production.


  • The team at Bump is full of talent, and they are steeped in Python experience. The first application they wrote when they switched from MongoDB to Riak was Python-based, and their talk about building a transaction log on Riak will touch on their Python usage, too.
  • Various community members who have contributed to and use the Riak Python Client will be in attendance, ready to answer questions and debate implementation details.


  • Bump’s talk will be valuable to Haskell fans, too, as they will be detailing using Riak with a custom, open-source Haskell proxy that handles client-side resolution.
  • There are a few other known applications running Riak with Haskell in the wild. They, too, will be represented among the crowd.


  • In addition to being Riak Core experts, OpenX wrote a custom C backend for Riak that will be highlighted in their talk.
  • Andy Gross, primary author of the still-beta Riak C Client, will be at RICON and is expecting to share his plan for the future with would-be contributors.

What Other Languages Enthusiasts Should Attend?

Just because there isn’t a “Building a Blog with Riak and OCaml” talk on the schedule doesn’t mean that fans of OCaml should shy away from RICON. (In fact, Dave Parfitt has been hacking on an OCaml client and I’m sure he would love your input.) Fans of languages like Perl, Clojure, Go, and Smalltalk are encouraged to join. I have no doubt that you’ll leave feeling more confident about building applications that scale in your specific domain (and as I’ve said before we’ll happily refund your admission price if leave RICON feeling less-than-enriched.)

It’s also worth noting that, along with the massive power of the 100s of non-Basho attendees, nearly every member of the Basho Team that writes code – Engineering, Developer Advocates, Architects, Evangelists – will be at RICON as both eager onlookers and Riak authorities.

Join us for RICON. We’re looking forward to seeing you in October.