Friday, December 23, 2011

Future of Middleware

I think it's fair to say that despite my years in industry I'm still an academic at heart. I like the ability to spend time working on a problem without the usual product deadlines. Of course there's the potential that you come up with something that has little relevance to the real world, but that can be mitigated by staying close to industry through funding, sponsorship or other relationships. Often in industry we don't have the luxury of spending years coming up with the perfect solution and whilst it's for very good reasons, it can be frustrating at times for those involved.

But we all make the best of what we have to work with and I love my current position, despite the fact I get to spend less time researching than I would like. In fact in some ways I now understand what Santosh has been doing for years in directing and pushing others in the right directions, whilst at the same time wanting to get more involved himself but not quite having enough time to do it all.

Therefore, I take any opportunity I can find to dive back into research, write papers, code etc. And attend, and possibly/hopefully present at conferences and workshops that are often dominated by the research community, though obviously with practical overtones. The Middleware conference is one such event that I love to participate with in one way or another. Over the years I've had papers there and been on the program committee, and not once have I been disappointed by the quality of submissions.

So it was great to be asked to write a paper with Santosh and Stuart on the future of middleware for FOME. Truth be told, Santosh did the bulk of the writing and his co-authors provided the disparate data and input that he's excellent at being able to form into a coherent whole. The result is a great paper that I presented in Portugal earlier this month. It went down well and I got a lot of good feedback, both from the academics present as well as industrial participants.

But the real high for me was just being at the workshop and listening to all of the other presentations. I had a wonderful time meeting with others there and getting as immersed in the research atmosphere as it's possible to do in 48 hours. I could cast my mind back many years to when I was in full-time research and compare and contrast with today. I got a lot out of the many conversations I had with researchers, both old and new to the field. I hope I had a positive impact on them too, because I came away invigorated and my mind full of new possibilities.

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