The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is a really large organization with even larger reach – probably much more than most of us realize. Sure, you probably know about the massive genealogy library and databases that they have, but it’s so much more. In my cursory research I found that they have numerous humanitarian programs, benefitting people around the globe with health services, drilling wells for safe water, disaster relief, educational services and more.
Why am I telling you all this? Because, just like in virtually every other industry Software is Eating the World; the mission of the LDS Church is greatly enabled and supported through technological innovation and application. For example, I learned that for a time window around Christmas an LDS Church mobile application broke into the top 10 list of applications downloaded from the Apple Appstore; not top 10 in its category, but top 10 overall!! And just like any other enterprise, the Church wants to get better, faster and more effective at creating the technology that it needs.
I received a wonderful gift; an invitation to participate in the internal launch of a new application development and operations platform aimed at doing just this.
Yep, you guessed it – at the core of this platform is Cloud Foundry. A small but crazy-good team of IT professionals at the Church started in earnest with the open source Cloud Foundry project a bit more than a year ago and have been fine-tuning it for their needs since. Okay, truth be told, what they’ve done is so much more than “fine-tuning”; for those of you that hang out on our mailing lists, you already know well what Mike Youngstrom and Mike Heath have brought to the community. The team has built more than a half dozen service brokers, they’ve customized their DEAs, they’ve built CLI plugins and they’ve constructed a developer console that we would all envy. They’ve contributed countless pull requests and donated whole new frameworks to the open source. Some of that I knew about, much more I didn’t see until this week.
Let me tell you a bit about the event. The two hour event was held in their Salt Lake City offices in a large event space set up with a presentation area as well as more than a dozen booths that would showcase specific parts of the platform. As we were setting up, more than one person made a nervous remark about “if no one comes…” – well, they needn’t have worried, the roughly 200 chairs arranged before the stage were not even close to enough! Let’s put this in perspective. In September when Pivotal held its first Platform event we hoped for 100 people, drawing from the 10s of thousands of technologists in the Silicon Valley. The LDS Church event was INTERNAL with a population to draw from sizing in the mid hundreds; a HUGE percentage of those people made the time for this event.
Shawn Nielsen gave the bulk of the presentation and LIVE (!! – you are my hero Shawn!) demo. He showed the creation of a host of services from the substantial marketplace they’ve created. And then he pushed an app, binding it to not one or two services, but to four. When he then brought the app up in a browser it automatically had single sign on (to rounding applause), application monitoring, security features and several other capabilities, all without the developer needing to do more than bind to those services. The demo rocked!
Following the presentation, attendees were invited to visit the booths to learn more about the various components of and integrations with the platform. Customized services and buildpacks were covered, application lifecycle management integrations described, internal customer use cases presented and so much more. The room was teeming with excitement.
The event was a huge success and I congratulate Shawn Nielsen, Mike Youngstrom, Mike Heath and the rest of the team on what they’ve already accomplished. I’d like to take this moment also to personally and on behalf of Pivotal thank “the Mikes” (as I learned they are referred to within the Church just as they are in our Howard Street offices) for what they are bringing to the Cloud Foundry community. And finally, I have to say that I am completely humbled by what they are doing with Cloud Foundry and reach it has to so many people around the globe.