Friday, 24 April 2015

Podcast interview with Michal Bachman, GraphAware

Here's another great conversation for you in our Neo4j Graph Database podcast series. I met up with Michal Bachman of GraphAware, one of the awesome Neo4j partners out there. Michal and I have been working together on different projects, presentations and beer-tastings - and I am happy to say that his capabilities, visions and strategies when it comes to Graphs and Neo4j are WAY better than when it comes to his taste of beer :) ... Listen to the interview and find out why:

Here's the transcript of our conversation:
RVB: Hello, everyone. This is Rik. Welcome, again, to one of our Neo4j graph data-base podcasts. It's another remote session. I'm joined today by Michal Bachman of GraphAware. Hi Michal. 
MB: Hi Rik, thanks very much for inviting me. 
RVB: Yeah, absolutely. It's great to have you on the podcast. Michal maybe people don't know you yet, so why don't you introduce yourself? Who are you? 
MB: Sure. My name is Michal Bachman and I'm the founder and managing director of a company called GraphAware, which is a London based company dedicated to Neo4j consultancy, training and development. Being based in London we are in a great position to travel around the whole world pretty much and help people succeed with Neo4j. That's what we do for a living. 
RVB: Absolutely. I can hear the London Police in the background [laughter]. That's absolutely great. Thanks, Michal. How did you get to graphs and how did you get to Neo4j? Tell us a little bit about that and what attracted you. What do you love about graphs? 
MB: I started with Neo as a user, pretty much, about four or five years ago. I was involved in a few projects, in fact, that used Neo. One was a recommendation engine, and another one was an impact analysis solution for one of the large telcos. And I really liked the experience as a user, and I then went on and took a bit of a break, and did a master's degree at Imperial College, London where I wrote a thesis on graph databases. 
RVB: Oh, yeah? 
MB: Yeah. Quite inspired by Jim Webber and his idea. That was great, and I loved it. I loved the experience as a user. I loved doing research about it, so the natural next step was to start my own company that will focus only on Neo4j. That's how I pretty much started, and it's been everyday [chuckles]. 
RVB: Absolutely. What attracted you most? What did you like most about working with graphs and Neo4j, specifically? 
MB: The actual thing that I liked the most is, surprisingly not a technical thing. It's the fact that when you introduce people to graphs, and we are doing that every day, you can see the moment - the "Ah" moment - in their eyes. 
RVB: The lights come on [chuckles]. 
MB: Yeah. The lights come on, and then they're like, why haven't I used this before? This is not just like another 10% better way of storing data. This is a complete game changer, and people seemed to get it immediately, and it's applicable to every domain out there. There's a huge potential, and I just liked the fact that you know when people get it. They just fall in love with it. 
RVB: Just to follow onto that, one of my Dutch community members, or community members in the Dutch graph database community, once told me, "Once you start working with graphs, relational databases feel like a youthful sin," [chuckles]. 
MB: [laughter] Yeah. And it makes so much sense if you think about it. Most people work with object-oriented languages, and objects are graphs. Everything is a graph, so it just feels so natural after you've made that transition. 
RVB: Tell me a little bit more about GraphAware now. You guys have a wonderful graph framework these days, right? The GraphAware Framework. Tell me a little bit more about it. 
MB: We've doing two things, really. We've been doing consultancy, as you know. We are involved in projects, very hands-on, helping customers develop software with Neo4j. And as we are gaining more experience about what the use cases are and what people need, we're distilling some of those ideas and experiences into open source extensions for Neo4j. That's the two things, and the third one of course is training. We're running also community events, but also we run public trainings. In the future, we're seeing doing more of the actual extension development and open source software built on top of Neo as the way to go. 
RVB: What are some of the functionality of the framework, in just two minutes? 
MB: One that we recently released, and that's getting quite popular, and running meetups around it as well, is a recommendation engine extension that allows people to build quite complex high-performance engines on top of Neo. That's one. And the other ones are quite technical. We've got modules for representing time as time series data in Neo4j as a tree and easy creating, and there's loads of other modules to main specific use cases. 
RVB: I'll put a link to the repo on the blogpost to go with the podcast so people can take a look at that. Let's maybe move on a little bit. Where is it going, Michal? Where are you guys going as GraphAware, but also where do you see the industry going? Any perspectives that you want to share? 
MB: Absolutely, I think we're going to see, and we are going to see quite soon, this technology being adopted by large enterprises in a massive scale. And as that's happening, I'm seeing some enterprise features, more of the enterprises features being developed, whether the part of the core product or as extensions, so that companies like banks and trans companies, and so on, find it easier to use. I'm talking about security, auditing and things like that. And I see people starting to build whole platforms around the graph use cases, include graph-compute engines in them, include other great software to build whole data analytic platforms, where the graphics is the center of the game. And extensions for impact analysis, fraud detection, recommendations, complete solutions, I think it's what we're going to be seeing in the near future. 
RVB: Very cool. Okay. One more question for you, and it's the most important one. What do you prefer best, Belgian beer or Czech beer? 
MB: [laughter] I have to be honest with you, I prefer Czech beer [laughter]. 
RVB: Oh my God, I can't believe that! All right, thank you so much for coming on the podcast Michal, it was great having you. 
MB: Thank you, Rik, for inviting me. I want to say one last thing. We're of course going to be present at the Graph Connect. We're sponsoring the conference, 7th of May, we're going to be there, so if anyone's interested in having a chat with us, please come to Graph Connect in London, and we'll see you there. 
RVB: Yeah. Absolutely. Thanks a lot, Michal. Talk to you soon, man. 
MB: Thanks, Rik. Bye-bye.
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