Meet the FutureStack14 Speakers: New Relic’s Patrick Lightbody

FutureStack14, New Relic’s unique technology and user conference in San Francisco this October, will attract a wide variety of innovators who are doing beautiful, important things with data and software. The entire career of New Relic’s very own Patrick Lightbody is studded with examples of those efforts.

Photo by Trav Williams, Broken Banjo Photography, www.BrokenBanjo.netPatrick (@plightbo on Twitter) is New Relic’s vice president of product and the head of its product management team. But before joining New Relic, Patrick founded two companies dealing with website performance testing: BrowserMob, later acquired by Neustar, and HostedQA, bought by Gomez. And he continues to be an avid contributor to open source projects such as the Selenium browser automation tool and the Apache Struts framework for Java Web application development.

Besides his development work, Patrick is the coauthor of Java Open Source Programming (Wiley, 2003) and WebWork in Action (Manning Publications, 2005). While we’re waiting to find out the news he plans to share with the FutureStack14 audience at 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning, we talked with Patrick about his background and what he sees as the biggest challenges facing software developers today:

When did you realize you were a data nerd?

Although my data obsession started gradually, I’d say it really kicked into overdrive when I started my own company. As a small business CEO, it was imperative that I understand every aspect of my business, from website visits to signups to sales and retention. None of that could be accomplished without a mild obsession with data!

Besides your job at New Relic, what’s your personal connection to software and development?

My first love is software engineering. Although I’m a product manager at New Relic, I’ll never stop coding.

What do you think are the most important issues for modern software development?

One of the biggest technical issues today is that software platforms are exploding in complexity. A piece of modern software can be distributed across one or more clouds and multiple content delivery networks. The best software offers rich, silky-smooth user experience in the Web browser (using powerful JavaScript frameworks) and on a mobile device (in apps natively written for iOS and Android). Backends are increasingly being split apart to handle ever smaller units of work, each deployed inside isolated containers that talk to each other using Web services and message queues, and those in turn rely on third-party services that we don’t control.

All of this is happening in the context of rapidly growing customer expectations—no one wants to wait for slow or broken products, they’ll uninstall your app in a heartbeat and move on to your competitor. As a result, there is real pressure on businesses, and development and operations teams are the ones on the front lines. It’s really tough!

Why are you interested in speaking at FutureStack14?

Because I’ve got a shiny new product I want to share with the world!

OK, that’s part of it. But the real reason I’m excited to speak is that New Relic has a fantastic community of customers and partners that constantly amaze me when I learn about what they are doing. It may seem counterintuitive, but by speaking at FutureStack I get to stand out from the crowd a bit, and that becomes a great way to strike up interesting conversations with all the attendees through the event. It’s a bit selfish, but as a result I learn a ton.

Don’t miss Patrick Lightbody and all the other great speakers at FutureStack14 at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center on October 8th and 9th. Register by September 21 and save $100'

Jake Widman is a San Francisco-based freelance technology and science writer, covering everything from big data to quantum physics. He's a regular contributor to Computerworld,, and Photoshop User. View posts by .

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