Friday, 22 April 2016

Podcast interview with Ben Nussbaum, AtomRain

Recently had the chance to chat to one of the Nussbaum-brothers, Ben more specifically. We've met eachother a bunch of times at various graph events over the years, and next week they will be at GraphConnect again presenting their latest and greatest services and products. So it was a great time to catch up and discuss their view on Graphistania and the rest of the graphlands. So here's our conversation:


And as always, here's the transcript of our conversation:
RVB: 00:02 Hello everyone. My name is Rik. Rik Van Bruggen from Neo Technology. And here I am again recording a great podcast episode with Ben Nussbaum from AtomRain. Hi Ben. 
BN: 00:15 Hi Rik, thanks for having me. 


RVB: 00:17 It's a long distance call. It's late in the evening for me. It's about lunch time for you I think. You're in near Los Angeles, right? 
BN: 00:23 That's right. In Santa Monica. 
RVB: 00:24 All right. Very cool. Ben, I know you've been active in the Neo4j community for quite sometime but maybe some people don't know you yet, so why don't you introduce yourself. 
BN: 00:36 Sure. My name is Ben Nussbaum. I've been building enterprise software for nearly 20 years, really focusing on the architecture of globally distributed systems. And in the last four years, working extensively with Neo4j to basically make that a safe enterprise choice and really establish it in the solutions that we're delivering, and seen-- just a lot of excitement around connected data and the possibility of what it can do. 
RVB: 01:03 Yeah, and you guys have been working for companies on the west coast, or international companies, or-- what kinds of companies are you guys been working for? 
BN: 01:14 Some of both. We end up working with a lot of media companies because they're here in Los Angeles, but those have global reach. We worked with Sony Pictures Television out of the UK through their branch here of Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City. So it was kind of a dual working relationship across the US and into the UK. 
RVB: 01:39 Yeah, very cool. And I know that you guys have been doing quite a bit of work on the scalability operations, those types of things, right? And that's where GraphGrid came in? Is that what I'm understanding? 
BN: 01:51 Yeah, that's right. As AtomRain, we saw a need through our consulting especially around the Neo4j for a lot of-- just foundational data tooling, to enable enterprises to easily adopt and integrate Neo4j into their existing architecture. Because when you deal with an enterprise of a scale like a Toyota or a Sony, there's just a tremendous amount of existing systems already there. And so you're not really starting with a blank slate and bringing in a new technology like Neo4j, which can provide tremendous benefits, also has a lot of integration challenges. I think that's where we saw the need for a platform like graph grid to enable these companies to very quickly get up and running with Neo4j, get it connected to their existing systems, bring data into it and start connecting the real time applications to the graph to be able to take advantage of the connected data. 
RVB: 02:47 Well, I could tell you-- I've been working for Neo4j projects for about three or four years myself as well, and I can completely relate to that. It's a very common problem for big enterprises so I can totally understand that. So how did you get into Neo4j? Tell me about that? How did you guys get connected? 
BN: 03:08 Yeah. A little over four years ago we were working on a project called Ad Cloud, which is basically responsible for delivering 30 second video advertising spots for play out during television shows. There's a lot of different players involved in bringing one of those commercials together. The number of vendors and who has to sign off on what, and all the different assets and managing all of that workflow to bring that final spot out, takes a tremendous amount of complexity in just the roles, the permissions, who needs to sign off, what, when, where, who's next in the chain, and all of that. And so, we were just running up against a lot of barriers with my sequel and with Neo4j, you know identity and access management in this scenario was more of a function of your role in that group, rather than your position in a company at that time. And so there was just-- it give us the flexibility to represent the real world connections of the people, the vendors, the assets and kind of all of that complex network of highly connected data very effectively, and solved the challenge and kind of after-- yes? 
RVB: 04:30 Was it primary around the identity and access management peace stand, or what was it?
BN: 04:34 Yeah. The first one was primarily around the identity and access management, managing the work flow and the permission, and the sign off. 
RVB: 04:43 Okay. There's plenty of other customers that do that. Next week at GraphConnect or in two weeks at GraphConnect, we've got Royal Bank of Scotland talking about it and and that's what they use it for as well for example, so cool, very cool that you guys used it for that. And how did you sort of fell in-- fell in love from there? How did it started [chuckles]? It started with one project and it of took off a life of it's own, huh? 
BN: 05:08 Really after that we just started seeing all of the problems that we tried to solve in the past, and the promise that we are being presented with to solve in the future, were really graph problems. You know being-- where the relationships for how things were connected needed to be treated as first class citizens within the database, because Neo4j allows you to represent real world connections and the contexts of those relationships very well. And so I think that's why we've gravitated towards it as our database of choice, and especially the fact that it's acid compliant and fully transactional, and it can be your source of truth database. That's tremendous for being a real alternative to a relational database. 
RVB: 05:57 That's very cool, I mean it's a-- once you've seen the light, you start seeing these graphs everywhere, right? I've seen that so many times as well. It's really cool to see. 
BN: 06:08 Yeah. 
RVB: 06:10 All right. So where do you see this going then? Where do you-- what does the future hold for both for you guys at AtomRain and Graphgrid, and maybe also for the industry? How do you look at that? 
BN: 06:25 I'm really excited about the future. I think we're going to continue to push Graphgrid and make it able to serve the enterprise with their connected data solutions. Help them leverage Neo4j effectively at global scale. I think with the industry-- the thing that's always excited us about Neo4j and the reason we've backed Neo4j as our graph database of choice is because you guys have focused on reliability. First and foremost, you guarantee referential integrity. And when you're dealing with big data and trying to get it connected, not having to worry about if your data is consistent and if it's reliable, and knowing that two nodes always agree on the relationship between them just takes a huge load off, because not having that guarantee can just be a pain when you're dealing with hundreds of millions or billions of nodes. 
RVB: 07:25 It feels-- especially in the graph model I think, that consistency is super important because if you miss out on the consistency on the graph model, then you're basically corrupting the entire system before you know it, right? It's a really important characteristic especially for the graph model I think. 
BN: 07:46 That's right. The graph model is a paradigm shift. It's not just another relational store, another sequel store where you can just have anybody writing data into it. And so I think that fact that the solution-- as a native graph database Neo4j is sensitive to that, and considers that as the single most important thing. The peta scale graph vision that I've heard Jim Webber discuss at GraphConnect keynotes [chuckles] will come. We will get to that. And when that day happens, Neo4j will be by far the best solution out there. 
RVB: 08:17 Oh man, [chuckles] that's the best summary ever. On that bombshell. That's so great. No, I think it's super great that companies like yourselves are sort of complimenting the product ecosystem that we are establishing, and we need you guys, and you guys need us, and it's a great way to work together and we really appreciate this kind of partnership. So I'm looking forward to lots of other things as well. 
BN: 08:50 Absolutely. 
RVB: 08:50 Are you guys coming to GraphConnect any chance? 
BN: 08:53 Yeah, we'll be there. We're one of the sponsors, so we look forward to seeing you and everybody else there. 
RVB: 08:59 I'm looking forward as well. It's ten days-- a little over ten days to go, and we'll have a big crowd there so it's going to be great. All right Ben, I will wrap up the podcast here. Thank you for coming online, I really appreciate it. I also appreciate your friends in the trees [chuckles] to have joined us as well, because that's always very kind as well, and I look forward to seeing you in two weeks. 
BN: 09:24 Sounds great. Thanks Rik, talk to you soon. 
RVB: 09:25 Thank you man, bye-bye. 
BN: 09:26 Bye.
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All the best

Rik

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