FutureTalks Portland logoWith the Internet of Things growing explosively, the ability of apps to send and receive data in real time is becoming increasingly crucial. In our most recent FutureTalk in Portland, Ore., PubNub’s Josh Marinacci introduced the crowd to Data Stream Networks (DSNs), and said these networks play a vital role in handling and transmitting data at lightning-fast speeds.

A self-described “recovering engineer” based in Eugene, Ore., Josh has conducted research at Nokia, evangelized webOS at Palm, and worked on graphics at Sun. Currently he is the head of developer evangelism at PubNub, a global data stream network for IoT, mobile, and Web applications. The company is committed to real-time technology, and to powering low-latency messaging across any device, any platform, anywhere in the world.

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josh marinacciSo why is “real time” so important? “Humans like to share things,” Josh explained. And our desire to share everything—from chat messages and photos to status updates and sensory data—is only getting stronger. Then there’s our burgeoning array of devices, all of which are generating, collecting, and sharing information around the clock. For apps to provide the instant gratification we crave, data needs to be sent and presented in milliseconds.

That’s where Data Stream Networks come in, he said. Building them isn’t necessarily difficult, Josh claimed, but scaling them definitely is. Accommodating vast numbers of users; usage spikes (on election nights, for example); multiple devices, platforms, and languages; and issues of privacy, security, and compliance—these are all challenges that can distract app developers from their primary task.

Data in motion

Josh compared the rise of DSNs to the emergence of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), which occurred in response to the challenges of scaling HTTP. Able to handle any load, replicating static content globally, and supporting new devices and browsers as they hit the market, CDNs from companies such as Akamai, Rackspace, Fastly and others take care of those scaling issues, leaving developers free to do what they do best.

DSNs do the same thing, he said, but for data in motion. The speed and low latency they provide helps apps  deliver first-rate user experiences. “You shouldn’t have to think about how it works,” Josh said. “You can just pop a message into a pipe and it gets where it needs to go very quickly.”

data stream

Helping those in need

Josh went on to share examples of DSNs in action, including a healthcare provider using DSNs to facilitate real-time chat between patients and physicians. The plan is to extend that data exchange to medical devices and monitoring. Recovering in the comfort of your own home, safe in the knowledge that your vital signs are being monitored remotely by your doctor, sounds far preferable—and less expensive—to languishing in hospital.

Josh also mentioned Speakfree, a location-based, instant messaging app now working to connect refugees in the Middle East and Europe with NGOs in a position to help them out. By affordably enabling geo-location information and chat translation in real time, deploying a DSN helps Speakfree focus on what it does best.

To see Josh’s example of DSN coding, hear about other apps leveraging DSNs, and check on the beta test of PubNub’s latest product, watch the video below:

Finally, the team here at New Relic wants to thank everyone who supported FutureTalks PDX in 2015! It was another year of amazing and inspirational speakers, with record attendance. And we couldn’t have done it without you! For more information about the cool stuff we have in store for 2016, join our Meetup group, New Relic FutureTalks PDX, and follow us on Twitter @newrelic for the latest developments and updates on upcoming events.

Data stream image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Christian Sinai is the Community Relations Manager for New Relic in Portland, Oregon. He is the community lead and liaison for our local outreach efforts, and manages initiatives such as the FutureTalks PDX technical speaker series. View posts by .

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