Automating around scarcity by using virtual resources

[posted on behalf of Usman Muzaffar, who is on a long flight with no WiFi] Here's a sobering truth that shows up often in software automation: people are way better at sharing stuff than computers are. For example: say you have a scarce resource, like a box with special hardware...

How to quickly navigate an unfamiliar makefile

The other day, I was working with an unfamiliar build and I needed to get familiar with it in a hurry. In this case, I was dealing with a makefile generated by the Perl utility h2xs, but the trick I'll show you here works any time you need to find...

Seven lessons from seven years at Electric Cloud

We wrapped up the 2009 Electric Cloud Customer Summit a couple weeks ago. Like last year, I left refreshed and reinvigorated after hearing so many customers' stories. Comments like, "Developer builds are now measured in seconds [with Accelerator]. Nobody does local builds anymore," and, "ElectricAccelerator will give you better performance...

What is SparkBuild?

At the 2009 Electric Cloud Customer Summit we introduced SparkBuild, a free gmake- and NMAKE-compatible build tool. SparkBuild is now in public beta, and several people have asked us for some more explanation: what is SparkBuild and why should I care? I thought I'd take a crack at answering those...

Subbuilds: build avoidance done right

I've heard it said that the best programmer is a lazy programmer. I've always taken that to mean that the best programmers avoid unnecessary work, by working smarter and not harder; and that they focus on building only those features that are really required now, not allowing speculative work to...

Private clouds: more than just buzzword bingo

A friend pointed me to a blog in which Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst at ZapThink, asserts that the term "private cloud" is nothing more than empty marketing hype. Ironically, he proposes that we instead use the term "service-oriented cloud computing." Maybe I'm being obtuse, but "service-oriented" anything is about the...

Using Markov Chains to Generate Test Input

One challenge that we've faced at Electric Cloud is how to verify that our makefile parser correctly emulates GNU Make. We started by generating test cases based on a close reading of the gmake manual. Then we turned to real-world examples: makefiles from dozens of open source projects and from...

Getting data to the cloud

One of the problems facing cloud computing is the difficulty in getting data from your local servers to the cloud. My home Internet connection offers me maybe 768 Kbps upstream, on a good day, if I'm standing in the right place and nobody else in my neighborhood is home. Even...

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