FutureStack Speaker Spotlight: Peter van Hardenberg (Heroku) and Mathias Meyer (Travis CI)

Since Futurestack, our first-ever user conference, is rapidly approaching, we wanted to give you a glimpse into our esteemed speakers and what they’re all about. This post will be the first of many where they’ll tell you a little about themselves, their work, and how they envision the future of software.

Today we’re talking to Peter van Hardenberg, GM of Heroku Postgres, and Matthias Meyer, Founder of Travis CI.

Peter Van HardenbergPeter is a long-time member of the Heroku team. Having helped build out the Heroku Postgres database service he accidentally (and begrudgingly) became a SQL guru and has to live with that guilt. Before joining Heroku, Peter’s checkered past ranged across open-source desktop media players, scholarly Shakespearean texts, hand-held game development, and oceanographic field research.

Q: What first got you excited about technology?

I got my start in technology at a very young age. My dad was an oceanographer studying wave motion in huge fish tanks at a research lab on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada and decided to pick up a computer to help him model the process. I remember being entranced by the geometric glowing yellow lines produced by a BASIC program we typed in off the back of a magazine before I was even in kindergarten. I needed to understand. Had to learn more. It’s fair to say I was hooked early.

Q: What open question in tech are you dying to see solved?

If you’ve ever read science fiction by guys like Gibson, Egan, and Stephenson, they always imagine this world made of software. We’re building that world all around us right now with Bluetooth-activated door locks; laser-guided robotic vacuum cleaners; iPhone-controlled bike locks; you name it, we’re kickstarting it.

But it’s still awful. Compartmentalized. We don’t live in a world where there’s one vast supercomputer that all developers can use. I want that sci-fi feeling when it doesn’t matter where my software “is”, I just want it to work. I want to see us tie all the computers in the world together into one big sloshy grid. Even the ones in your pocket.

The only application you should need is your browser. The App Store? That’s gotta go. Let that light of fast, cordless internet shine into every now dark gully and basement. I think we’re on the road there and it’s tremendously fun to be a part of helping build that.

You can find Peter on Twitter here.

Mathias MayerMathias is responsible for infrastructure and bacon at Travis CI, a hosted continuous integration and deployment platform, and the author of the Riak Handbook. His interests include coffee, photography, studies of human error and distributed systems. He writes about all of these topics on http://paperplanes.de and regularly tweets about bacon.

Q: What first got you excited about technology?

I got into technology quite late, and I didn’t really learn how to program until I was 21. This may sound really boring, but the things that got me excited about technology and software development in particular was learning C++ and SQL. The latter in particular, and affinity for databases, has stuck with me to this very day.

Q: What recent advancement do you think will transform the future of software?

Docker.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face in your work today?

As my work involves both infrastructure and business, it’s an interesting mix about making sure our software is running. Travis CI is running off more than 500 servers, consists of a lot of components, and handles people’s code every and all day long.

Monitoring all these single parts is a big challenge for us, both in terms of what’s currently going on and where our capacity reaches its limits. We also need to look out for external components that could fail and affects our customers’ builds; dependency sites are just one example.

On the other end is our business, which needs monitoring just the same to give us insight as to the hurdles our users need to jump over to get their builds running, how many attempts they need to get to a green builds, and what kind of problems we need to solve or make easier in our app.

You can find Mathias on Twitter here.

The future is coming sooner than you think, so don’t forget to register for your own spot at FutureStack. Follow our conference posts on the blog and at #FS13 to hear from our speakers and get sneak peaks of the what we’ve got planned.

Thea is New Relic's Online Community and Developer Relations Manager View posts by .

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