Tag Archives: RICON

Riak at Shopzilla

April 24, 2013

Will Gage of Shopzilla presented last week on their production Riak usage at the Santa Monica Java Users’ Group. Gage, a member of the Consumer Site Engineering team, shared details on how they built various user-facing services on Riak, why it was the right tool for the job, and when you might want to use it in production. Will’s talk starts at the 49 minute mark in the video embedded below, and it’s well worth your time. In addition to offering details on data modeling for their specific use cases, he also talks about service latencies for their production applications and how the Riak community played an important role in their decision.

Mark Phillips, Basho’s Director of Technical Evangelism, also presented. His talk starts at approximately the 1:20:00 point and is entitled Riak and the Power of Distributed Systems. An excellent complement to Will’s talk, this covers Riak’s architecture at a high level, how to access it as a developer, and then ends with a few use case discussions.

If you’re interested in more talks on Riak in production and the future of Riak, make sure to grab a ticket for RICON East, happening May 13-14 in New York City. This will be two days of talks, parties, and hacking dedicated to Riak, developers, and the future of distributed systems in production.

The Basho Team

Riak at Shopzilla

RICON East Speakers Announced

April 11, 2013

On May 13-14, RICON East will take place in New York City – with tickets still available here. RICON is Basho’s series of distributed system conferences for developers. We first launched RICON last October at the sold out San Francisco show. This year, we have three conferences scheduled across the globe, with the first in New York.

RICON East will bring together developers, engineers, architects, and scientists to discuss Riak, as well as key emerging research areas and approaches to solving the challenges faced by the industry today.

Earlier this week, the confirmed speaker line-up was released and can be found here. Here’s a look at some of the speakers:

  • Dr. Margo L. Seltzer, Professor at Harvard University
  • Rich Hickey, Creator of Clojure, Datomic
  • Camille Fournier, VP of Architecture at Rent the Runway
  • Hilary Mason, Chief Scientist at bitly
  • Theo Schlossnagle, Founder and CEO at OmniTI
  • Ed Laczynski, VP of Cloud Strategy and Architecture at Datapipe
  • Brian Akins, Chief Operations Engineer at Turner Broadcasting System
  • Sathish Gaddipati, VP of Enterprise Data at The Weather Channel
  • Michajlo Matijkiw, Senior Software Engineer at Comcast

Many Basho engineers will also be speaking throughout the conference, including: Andy Gross, Sean Cribbs, Matthew Von-Maszewski, Ryan Zezeski, and Chris Tilt.

If you still haven’t purchased your tickets, there are still some available here! Also check out some of last year’s amazing talks or reach out to Mark Phillips if you’re interested in group ticket discounts or sponsorships opportunities

See you in New York!


Basho Announces Initial Speaker Line-Up for RICON East

Over 30 speakers from bitly, Comcast, The Weather Channel, Turner Broadcasting System, Harvard University, and more to discuss the future of distributed systems.

New York City, NY – April 8, 2013Basho, the worldwide leader in distributed database and cloud storage software, announced today the initial speaker line up for RICON East. RICON is Basho’s global conference series that is dedicated to distributed systems and is designed by and for engineers, developers, data scientists, and architects. RICON East is being held May 13-14 in New York City, NY. Basho expects to assemble hundreds of the industry’s most influential thinkers and practitioners devoted to deploying distributed systems technologies, including NoSQL solutions and Cloud Storage.

Speakers include:
Dr. Margo L. Seltzer, Harvard University
Rich Hickey, Creator of Clojure, Datomic
Camille Fournier, Rent the Runway
Alex Payne, Breather
Hilary Mason, bitly
Theo Schlossnagle, OmniTI
Robert Treat, OmniTI
Neha Narula, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Neil Conway, UC Berkeley
Kyle Kingsbury, Factual
Ed Laczynski, Datapipe
Brian Akins, Turner Broadcasting System
Sathish Gaddipati, The Weather Channel
Michajlo Matijkiw, Comcast
Mark Wunsch, Gilt Groupe

Basho engineers will be featured prominently throughout RICON East. Basho speakers include: Andy Gross, Sean Cribbs, Matthew Von-Maszewski, Ryan Zezeski, Chris Tilt.

RICON East builds on Basho’s highly successful, sold-out RICON 2012 event held Fall 2012 in San Francisco. Presentations from RICON 2012 are available to view at www.ricon2012.com.

Ticket Information
Tickets are available online at http://ricon.io/east.html. Student discount prices are available online. For other discounts, including discounts for large groups, contact Mark Phillips at mark@basho.com.

Sponsorship information
Initial sponsors of RICON East include Fastly, Meraki, Engine Yard, Github and NoSQLWeekly. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Tom Santero at tsantero@basho.com.

About Basho Technologies
Basho is a distributed systems company dedicated to making software that is highly available, fault-tolerant and easy-to-operate at scale. Basho’s distributed NoSQL database, Riak, and Basho’s cloud storage software, Riak CS, are used by fast growing Web businesses and by over 25% of the Fortune 50 to power their critical Web, mobile and social applications and their public and private cloud platforms.

Riak and Riak CS are available open source. Riak Enterprise and Riak CS Enterprise offer enhanced multi-datacenter replication and 24×7 Basho support. For more information, visit basho.com.

Basho is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has offices in London, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington DC.

Update on RICON | EAST: CFP, Early Bird, and Talk Announcements

Last year, Basho held a widely-acclaimed conference, RICON2012, where leading technologists gave insightful talks and shared ideas about Basho’s distributed database Riak and, more broadly, the distributed systems space.

The conference will once again host developers, engineers, architects, and scientists talking about Riak as well as key emerging research areas and approaches to solving the challenges faced by the industry today. Learn how some of the smartest people in the world are solving some of the hardest problems in the world.

Early bird ticket sales have begun and talk proposals are welcomed at ricon@basho.com. Please note that the deadline for CFPs is March 15th.

Watch the official RICON blog for speaker announcements.

To get a better idea of what RICON is all about, recorded talks from RICON2012 can be found on the RICON website or Vimeo. Expect to be inspired and receive a fashionable hoodie — with your Twitter/GitHub handle along the side.

RICON Hoodie

How Mobile App Bump Uses Riak for Data Storage

February 13, 2013

Bump, one of the most popular mobile apps of all time, makes it easy for users to share their contact information, photos and other objects by simply “bumping” their smartphones. Bump uses Riak to store user data including events, communications sent and received, handset information and tokens needed to authenticate using social networks.

Bump chose Riak for its operational ease-of-use, ability to scale writes, and availability under failure conditions.

“It’s a relief that we don’t need to spend time thinking about whether or not Riak is working,” said Will Moss, Server Engineer at Bump. “It does what it’s supposed to do; nodes can go down but Riak will still work. It’s great to be able to deal with node failures the next day instead of at 3am.”

Recently, Bump expanded their mobile app offerings and launched Flock, a photo-sharing app. For more information on how Flock uses Riak, including their data model, watch Bump’s presentation at RICON2012, Basho’s 2012 developer conference. Bump is now running 25 nodes on Riak and storing around 3TB of data.

Building A Transaction Logs-based Protocol On Riak – Will Moss and Tim Douglas, RICON2012 from Basho Technologies on Vimeo.

You can also check out the complete case study.

Additionally, check out Bump’s website for more details about Bump and Flock and links to download the apps for iOS and Android. To get started with Riak, check out our overview.


Riak on Engine Yard

January 25, 2013

Today we’re excited to introduce early access of Riak on Engine Yard! You can also learn more on the Engine Yard blog. With Riak on Engine Yard, you can deploy a Riak cluster as simply as defining some configuration values and clicking “Add Cluster.”

A common theme, in several of our recent blog posts, has been Basho’s key focus on ease of deployment. We excel in making highly available, low latency, distributed systems. Engine Yard’s strengths lie in providing a hardened and secure Platform as a Service where you can manage your entire platform while retaining control of the environment. In addition, Engine Yard is well known for its contributions to the Ruby, PHP, and Node.js communities. The introduction of Riak on Engine Yard further validates customer demand for reliable and easy to use cloud solutions.

If you were at Ricon2012, you were probably one of the many who attended a talk entitled “Riak in the Cloud.” If you were unable to attend, you missed an amazing session where Ines Sombra and Michael Broadhead from Engine Yard spoke about their experiences with Riak and deploying it in the cloud. It’s great to see the lessons of distributed systems that were discussed translated into reality.

We look forward to seeing what the Basho community builds using Riak on Engine Yard. Get started now with 500 hours for free on their platform.


Riak Powers enStratus Cloud Management

January 15, 2013

enStratus is a cloud infrastructure management solution for deploying and managing enterprise-class applications. You can think of enStratus as the enterprise console to cloud computing – a unified solution for managing single or multi-cloud environments. enStratus uses Riak to store a combination of read-heavy and write-intensive data, including machine and state information, and data supporting analytics and audit control.

Previously, enStratus had relied on MySQL as its primary data store, but needed to provide a greater level of write availability and resilience to failure across multiple datacenters. Scaling writes in MySQL had become a bottleneck, and MySQL’s master/slave replication made master nodes a possible single point of failure.

First migrating customer and API data to Riak, enStratus successfully made the switch to Riak’s data model and eventually consistent approach, which favors availability over consistency in the event of node failure or network partition. “As I’ve looked at a number of problem domains from customers and our own systems, you see this pattern where a relational database has been used just because it’s the default… and the reality is that more of the world is eventually consistent than not,” said George Reese, CTO of enStratus.

At our developer conference Ricon, we were lucky to have George speak about migrating from MySQL to Riak, enStratus’ “design for failure” architecture, and how their application is built. George also talks about challenges of moving to a non-relational system, including adjusting to the data model and migration approaches. You can view the video below, or read the full case study here.

Migrating from MySQL to Riak – George Reese, RICON2012 from Basho Technologies on Vimeo.

Want more info on moving from MySQL to Riak? Sign up for our webcast on Thursday, January 24 here or read our whitepaper on moving from relational to Riak.


The Future of Distributed Systems (RICON Video Roundup)

November 22, 2012

With a growing community understanding of distributed systems architectures, where is the field evolving? How are Riak and other Dynamo-inspired databases handling complex data structures and meeting demands for stronger consistency and more queriability? This blog highlights three talks from last month’s RICON that tackle these questions.

Advancing Distributed Systems – Eric Brewer

In this keynote talk, Dr. Eric Brewer, author of a theorem that helped kick off the NoSQL movement, talks about the challenges facing distributed systems today. Beginning with some historical context–“SQL vs. NoSQL is not really a new religious war, it’s actually the latest round of a very old religious war”– Dr. Brewer walks us through the advantages and disadvantages of top-down (relational) and bottom-up (NoSQL) worldviews, his work at Google, and his thoughts on where next generation databases are headed.

Bringing Consistency to Riak – Joseph Blomstedt

With regard to the CAP Theorem, Riak is an eventually-consistent database with AP semantics. But, this may soon change. In this talk, Basho engineer Joseph Blomstedt presents, for the first time, on-going R&D at Basho to add true strongly-consistent/CP semantics to Riak.

Data Structures in Riak – Sean Cribbs and Russell Brown

Since the beginning, Riak has supported high write-availability using Dynamo-style multi-valued keys – also known as conflicts or siblings. The tradeoff for this type of availability is that the application must include logic to resolve conflicting updates. This ad hoc resolution strategy is error-prone and can result in surprising anomalies. In this talk, Basho engineers Sean Cribbs and Russel Brown present recent work done to address these issues by adding convergent data structures to Riak.

For more RICON videos on a range of distributed systems topics, visit our RICON aftermath site.

The Basho Team

Monitoring Distributed Systems (New Approaches)

November 13, 2012

Legacy RDBMS systems offered mature monitoring capabilities that usually gave operators a clear view of how their databases were (or weren’t) performing. Emerging distributed systems introduce new levels of complexity, presenting new problems in monitoring and diagnosis. In this blog we highlight two talks given at last month’s RICON which shed light on this problem and offer some interesting solutions.

Next Generation Monitoring of Large Scale Riak Applications

In this talk, Theo Schlossnage, founder of OmniTI, talks about moving beyond standard monitoring metrics (average, mean, 95th percentile, 99th percentile, etc.), and advocates for more sophisticated methods, namely histograms and new visualization techniques. He illustrates this with some interesting real world examples in which metrics such as average response time have little meaning in the face of real world distributions which are often multi-modal and rapidly evolving.

Modern Radiology for Distributed Systems

In this talk, Boundary engineer Dietrich Featherston uses radiological imaging as a metaphor to explore the challenges of monitoring distributed systems –Boundary uses Riak to store high-resolution network data for its analysis engine. In this metaphor, if we just look at metrics pulled from individual hosts (CPU usage, memory usage, etc.), we can see diseased “cells”, but ignore the whole organism. We react to problems, instead of preventing them. To illustrate, Dietrich walks through a series of case studies highlighting new, “context aware”, non-invasive monitoring techniques.

For more RICON videos on a range of distributed systems topics, visit our RICON aftermath site.

How Basho Pulled Off Our First Developer Conference

October 26, 2012

A few weeks back the Basho Team put on RICON2012. This was our first developer conference, and by nearly all-accounts, we put on a good show. Here are a few comments from those who were at RICON:

For more, you can browse the @basho favorites for the numerous tweets we managed to tag during RICON. A few blog posts [1] [2] also popped up with positive reviews (with at least one more on the way).

We’ve received more than a few inquiries asking about how we went about planning and executing RICON, so we wanted to publish something on it before too long. This post will cover (in very brief detail) the components of RICON we chose to focus on. We didn’t necessarily do anything new, and as you’ll notice a lot of the ideas were borrowed or modified.


Basho is an open source company, and our flagship project, Riak, has been out for more than three years now. During that time, we’ve built up a strong community, and today 1000s of companies and organizations are using Riak in production. We discussed doing a pure Riak conference (and the Riak community is big enough to warrant such an event), but Basho’s ambitions are, quite frankly, a bit bigger than Riak, and we believe in the future of distributed systems. We also know that making distributed systems something every developer embraces and understands isn’t doable alone, so building a community around it is essential to its success.

So, sometime around the beginning of July, the decision was made put on a conference. We announced it later that month, and got to work. We had just over three months.

Own The Venue

One of our first endeavors was searching for a venue. We knew we wanted to be in San Francisco, and wanted something intimate. Led by the efforts of Amber, we narrowed down the options to a handful and eventually settled on the W Hotel in SOMA. Their third floor has various meeting rooms, and capacity was about 300 people. We then learned that the second floor, which was primarily a bar, could be ours for both days, too, if we so desired. This would be a perfect spot for hacking and relaxing. What really sold us (aside from the amazing staff at the W) was the fact that we could own the venue for a few days. Our attendees wouldn’t be running through mazes to find tracks; or going off-site for lunch. We would be able to carve out space for RICON that would be largely untouched.

The immediate downside is that the W isn’t cheap, meaning even if we cut a deal with them for rooms, the rate would still be pretty steep. It ended up coming to just over $300/night with the RICON code. Certainly not a steal. We mitigated this with the following: ticket prices were kept low – the early bird was just $250 and the full price was just $100 more; also, San Francisco has a lot of hotels, so if you looked around there was cheaper lodging to be had.

Speaker Selection, Variety, and Composition

Keeping with the “distributed systems conference for developers” theme, we set out to find speakers that could cover the current and future state of the space. This wasn’t an easy task, but we assembled an impressive line up of developers, engineers, executives, and academicians. One thing that should have been immediately apparent was that the focus wasn’t Riak. Of the three keynotes, two were dedicated to larger trends in distributed systems; we had talks about Postgres and Chef; “Scaling Cassandra” was one of the lightning talks.

We were also dedicated to showcasing female speakers, though we could have done better. Women were part of just under 20% of all the talks the conference total which (anecdotally) is much higher than what most of us were used to seeing at developer events. Admittedly, we wanted this ratio be higher, and at future RICONs we’ll push that much closer to 50/50.


On the top of our priority list was bullet-proof WiFi. There would be no complaints from RICON attendees about connectivity or bandwidth. We worked with the team at Unwired to get a 100MBit dedicated ethernet drop (which included running a line from the roof of the W down to their machine room – a tidy 31 floors). Meraki then came aboard as official WiFi sponsors and provided us with enough hardware to blanket bolth floors of the conference – more than 20,000 square feet – with reliable, fast internet. They wrote about it on their blog shortly after RICON concluded. Also, you can expect a full length post from Sean Carey, Seth Thomas and Ryan Carey on all the work they did to keep you connected (because it was downright awesome).

Live Streaming

Thanks to Nimby, Artur, and the rest of the crew (and servers) at Fastly, we were able to stream the entire conference live. We did this both days, all day, and streamed out 1080p video at about 60 frames/second. By the end of the conference the live stream only dropped a total of 2,086 out of approx 2,808,000 frames (99.9%); a testament to the quality of the streaming infrastructure available from Fastly. This was something that came together within the week preceding RICON, and we were very fortunate for it as it enabled us to increase the impact of RICON by orders of magnitude. If you’re having a conference, stream it live, and use Fastly to do it. Please.

Make It Accessible to Non-attendees

Live streaming was just one of various ways we made RICON accessible to the those who weren’t able to attend. On the day of the event, we deployed a dedicated RICON Live site (which has since been deprecated) that included links to code and slides decks from RICON, tweets, and pun-riddled play lists for both days [1] [2] (in addition to the stream). From a traffic perspective, we had as many visitors connect to the RICON Live site during the conference as we did on basho.com during the entire previous month.

Making RICON accessible to others around the world was also very important to us as we are a distributed company. We believe very deeply in this approach to building companies, communities, and distributed systems, and we wanted RICON to reflect this.

Only Distribute What People Will Keep

Early on we decided to keep to eliminate as many printed materials as possible. Conference bags and the paper products that go in them cost a lot of money and are very wasteful because not many people keep them. Instead, every attendee was given a customized hoodie wrapped in their conference pass. And we built the passes such that we could include the sponsors’ stickers therein.

Coffee (Preferably Ritual)

Good, readily-available coffee is essential to keeping people excited and energized for two days of in-depth talks. We made sure that there would be freshly-brewed coffee all day both days. Additionally, we brought in a two person team from Ritual Coffee Roasters to serve espresso drinks in the hacker lounge for both days. Niley and the team at Trifork made this happen. This was a huge hit (not surprisingly) and I hope to see more events doing it as it’s not too pricey and makes for an easy-to-sell sponsorship. The cherry on the cake was that the brewed coffee in the hallways was also from Ritual.

It’s Not All About The Talks

The conference ran two days, with two tracks each day. There were 23 full length talks. That’s a tremendous amount of content. But we wanted to make sure that there was plenty of room to relax, hack, socialize, and get work done. To that end we made the entire 2nd floor of the hotel wide open and equipped it with power, food, coffee, and a few video games (including NES courtesy of the generous @cscotta.

Party Like It’s 1999

Night one featured a party sponsored by GitHub and Boundary. Much like with the venue, we wanted a space we could call our own, and we settled on 620 Jones. 620 Jones has the largest outdoor patio in San Francisco, and Amber had the idea to project the sponsor logos on the buildings that surrounded the patio. The view from Geary Street:

We also opened the party up to non-attendees which meant that significant others and those who weren’t able to attend but happened to be local could take part in the festivities. And, thanks to the sponsors, all the refreshments were free for the entire evening and we were able to feature a top shelf selection.

Design What Matters; Don’t Over Do It

The micro-site for the conference was one of the first assets built for RICON. Pulling from our design elements at Basho, the team branded and formatted a simple page, highlighting speakers and playing off of our pre-existing logos, color palette and fonts. We also made sure the site was ready for mobile devices (as that’s what people use while they are walking from talk to talk).

From Day 1, the consensus was that we didn’t want to print sheets upon sheets of paper that would be discarded. The only paper printing done was isolated to the passes and involved a traditional dye cut press. We wanted to provide a practical handout (name tag, schedule etc.), along with memento – a take away from the event that Sarah dreamt up, including a over lay of San Francisco, twitter handles, an embossed Riak node, Riak code snippet lining the inside, and the RICON twitter hash tag.

Working with a small, intimate space, RICON design was intentionally under spoken, and integrated with the authentic elements of the Basho brand and the uniqueness that the W had to offer.

No Sales People And Thoughtful, Generous Sponsors

The majority of the Basho Sales team was at RICON, but you probably didn’t realize this. The culture at Basho is engineering-driven. As such, our sales people take pride in knowing just as much about the space as our users and customers do. They were at RICON but they weren’t trying to hard close anyone. Instead they were there to learn just like the rest of us.

Our amazing sponsors also helped our attendees focus by staying largely in the background and branding things like parties, lightning talks, coffee bars, and lanyards. We cut a lot of custom deals for sponsors (there was no official prospectus), and we worked with everyone who committed money and time to RICON to make their investment fit their needs.

Lightning Talks

Lightning talks are nothing new. They are usually a huge hit if you do them right. Make them informal, encourage crowd participation (in the form of light heckling and interactive Q & A), and make sure you’re serving refreshments for the duration. Tom ran the lightning talks from top to bottom and crushed it. All told there were eleven talks at about 5-7 minutes each. Nearly all RICON attendees were present for this session and enjoyed topics varied from “Scaling Cassandra” to “How to Demotivate Your Best Talent”, providing an excellent finale to RICON Day 1.

Don’t Skimp On The Food

The W Staff worked with us to put together custom menus for both days. The lunch was served on the 4th floor roof deck, and the seating and was such that it encouraged interaction while eating. We were of the opinion that the food should be plentiful and exceed expectations for conference fare. Attendees were treated to buffet stations themed after San Francisco, and we served everything from tacos to vegan pasta to cheese and fruit plates to seared Ahi sliders.

Take Care Of Your Speakers

We tried to made it easy for the speakers to commit to being a part of RICON. We didn’t have a formal CFP (this year anyway) but instead opted to extend invites. Every speaker was of course given a free pass to RICON. If they were non-local, we paid their airfare to and from San Francisco. We also put them up at the W if they needed lodging.

Additionally, when each speaker registered, we had one person dedicated to walking them around the venue; they were given a personal tour that started with the track room they were slated to speak in, covered the entirety of the conference space, and ended with arrival at the dedicated Speaker’s Lounge.

What Else?

There’s a lot we didn’t cover. This post is long-winded as it is. If you’ve got any specific questions, comments, or ideas on how we might of done things better, shoot an email to amber@basho.com. We would love to talk to you.

All told, just under 350 people registered for RICON and we sold out three times (and flirted with the fire code at the W in the process). This was a huge event for Basho as a company for our personal growth, and nearly all of our team touched it in some way; some were speakers, some stayed late setting up the space; some hustled tickets; others worked the Riak help desk during the event; etc.

Most importantly, we were able to share our passion for distributed systems with developers the world over. We’re counting down the days until we get to do this again. See you at RICON2013.

Thanks for being a part of RICON.


The Basho Team