The software development world keeps on changing. Just when we think we get a handle on something as simple as application lifecycle management, or cloud computing, or mobile apps, we get new models, new innovations, new technologies.

Forget plugging pair programming or continuous delivery or automated testing before checking code into the repository. The industry has moved on. Today, the innovation is around DevOps and Big Data and HTML5 and app stores and… well… it keeps changing.

Tracking and documenting those changes – that’s what we do at SD Times. Each year, the editors stop, catch our breath, and make a big list of the top innovators of the software development industry. We identify the leaders – the companies, the open-source projects, the organizations who ride the cutting edge.

To quote from Rex Kramer in the movie Airplane, the SD Times 100 are the boss, the head man, the top dog, the big cheese, the head honcho, number one…

Who are the SD Times 100? This week, all will be revealed. We will begin tweeting out the SD Times 100 on Thursday. Follow the action by watching @sdtimes on Twitter, or look for hashtag #SDTimes100.

After all the tweeting is complete, the complete list will be published to Be part of the conversation!

The classic database engines – like the big relational behemoths from IBM, Microsoft and Oracle – store the data on disk. So do many of the open-source databases, like MySQL and PostgreSQL, as well as the vast array of emerging NoSQL databases. While such database engines keep  all the rows and columns on the relatively slow, disks, they can boost performance by putting some element, including indices and sophisticated predicted caches, on faster solid-state storage or even faster main memory.

From a performance perspective, it would be great to store everything in main memory. It’s fast, fast, fast. It’s also expensive, expensive, expensive, and in traditional services, is not persistent. That’s why database designers and administrators leverage a hierarchy: A few key elements in the fastest, most costly main memory; more data in fast, costly solid-state storage; the bulk in super-cheap rotating disks. In some cases, of course, some of the data goes into a fourth layer in the hierarchy, off-line optical or tape storage.

In-memory databases challenge those assumptions for applications where database response time is the bottleneck to application performance. Sure, main memory is still fabulously expensive, but it’s not as costly as it used to be. New non-volatile RAM technologies can make main memory somewhat persistent without dramatically harming read/write times. (To the best of my knowledge, NVRAM remains slower than standard RAM – but not enough to matter.)

That’s not to say that your customer database, your server logs, or your music library, should be stored within an in-memory database. Nope. Not even close. But as you examine your application architecture, think about database contents that dramatically affect either raw performance, user experience or API response time. If you can isolate those elements, and store them within an in-memory database, you might realize several orders of magnitude improvement at minimal cost — and with potentially less complex code than you’d need to manage a hierarchical database system.

Not long ago, in-memory databases were a well-kept secret. The secret is out, according to research from Evans Data. Their new Global Development survey says that the developers using in-memory databases has increased 40% worldwide from 18% to 26% during the last six months. An additional 39% globally say they plan to incorporate in-memory databases into their development work within the next 12 months.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Like many of you, I travel with a vast array of personal electronic devices – so much that my briefcase bulges with screens, batteries, cables and charging bricks. Some devices are turned off when I’m on an airplane – and some aren’t, often because I forget.

Take this week, for example. I am working out of SD Times’ New York headquarters, instead of my usual office near San Francisco. What did I bring? A 13-inch mid-2011 MacBook Air notebook, an iPad Mini with Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard, a Google Nexus 7 tablet, a Galaxy Nexus phone, a Virgin Mobile MiFi access point, Bose QuietComfort 15 noise-cancelling headphones, RocketFish RF-MAB2 Bluetooth stereo headset, a Microsoft Notebook Optical Mouse 3000, a USB hub, and an HP-15C calculator. Oh, let’s not forget the Canon PowerShot S100 digital camera. And my Pebble watch.

All that for a five-day trip. A bit excessive? Maybe.

I can guarantee that not every device is powered down during a flight. Yes, the flight attendants ask passengers to turn devices all the way off, and I have good intentions. But there’s a good chance that the laptop is sleeping, that some tablets and the phone might in airplane mode instead of off, I might have forgotten to slide the switch on the Logitech keyboard, and so-on.

Think about all the electronic noise from those electronics. Think about all the potential interference from the WiFi, cellular and Bluetooth radios, the GPSes in the phone and Google tablet… yet it doesn’t seem to make a tangible difference.

I’m not alone in failing to turn off every personal electronic device. According to a new study by the Consumer Electronics Association,

Almost one-third (30 percent) of passengers report they have accidently left a PED turned on during a flight. The study found that when asked to turn off their electronic devices, 59 percent of passengers say they always turn their devices completely off, 21 percent of passengers say they switch their devices to “airplane mode,” and five percent say they sometimes turn their devices completely off. Of those passengers who accidently left their PED turned on in-flight, 61 percent said the device was a smartphone.

At least I have good intentions. Many travelers intentionally keep playing games with their phones, hiding them when the flight attendant walks by, taking them out as soon as the uniformed crewmember stops looking.

That doesn’t change the reality that devices are left turned on — and the flights appear to be perfectly safe. It’s time for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, to stop the ban on using electronic devices during takeoff, landing, and flying at altitudes under 10,000 feet.

Not long ago, if the corporate brass wanted the change major functionality in a big piece of software, the IT delivery time might be six to 12 months, maybe longer. Once upon a time, that was acceptable. Not today.

Thanks to agile, many software changes can be delivered in, say, six to 12 weeks. That’s a huge improvement — but not huge enough. Business imperatives might require that IT deploy new application functionality in six to 12 days.

Sounds impossible, right? Maybe. Maybe not. I had dinner a few days ago with S. “Soma” Somasegar (pictured), the corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Developer Division. He laughed – and nodded – when I mentioned the need for a 30x shift in software delivery from months to days.

After all, as Soma pointed out, Microsoft is deploying new versions of its cloud-based Team Foundation Service every three weeks. The company has also realize that revving Visual Studio itself every two or three years isn’t serving the needs of developers. That’s why his team has begun rolling out regular updates that include not only bug fixes but also new features. The latest is Update 2 to Visual Studio 2012, released in late April, which added in new features for agile planning, quality assurance, line-of-business app developer, and improvements to the developer experience.

I like what I’m hearing from Soma and Microsoft about their developer tools, and about their direction. For example, the company appears sincere in its engagement of the open source community through Microsoft Open Technologies — but I’ll confess to still being a skeptic, based on Microsoft’s historical hostility toward open source.

Soma said that it’s vital not only for Microsoft to contribute to open source, but also to let open source communities engage with Microsoft. It’s about time!

Soma also cited the company’s new-found dedication to DevOps. He said that future versions of both on-premises and cloud-based tools will help tear down the walls between development and deployment. That’s where the 30x velocity improvement might come from.

Another positive shift is that Microsoft appears to truly accept that other platforms are important to developers and customers. He acknowledges that the answer to every problem cannot be to use Microsoft technologies exclusively.

Case in point: Soma said that fully 60% of Microsoft developers are building applications that touch at least three different platforms. He acknowledged that Microsoft still believes that it has the best platforms and tools, but said, “We now know that developers make other choices for valid reasons. We want to meet developers where they are” – that is, engaging with other platforms.

Soma’s words may seem like a modest and obvious statement, but it’s a huge step forward for Microsoft.

This is one of a series of articles I wrote for the monthly Bulletin of Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame, Calif.

If you were in the Sanctuary on Friday evening, March 15, you know that it was a perfect Erev Shabbat service. You felt the ruach, you were infused with the Shabbat spirit, and you went home with a happy glow that (I hope) lasted through the entire weekend.

The evening stood out for two reasons. First, that service kicked off a Scholars-in-Residence weekend with the rabbis from the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center. Second, Peninsula Temple Sholom was hosting the regional Mitzvah Torah Corps event from NFTY, the North American Federation of Temple Youth.

That beautiful Erev Shabbat evening, everything came together with a smile and a snap.

Let me explain. NFTY, the teen youth organization for the Reform Movement, has a tradition that when someone does a great job, you show praise by snapping your fingers. No applause, no calls of Yasher Koach; just a gentle snapping. There was a lot of snapping on Friday night.

The Sanctuary was packed, with congregants sitting on the left side of the room, and NFTY teens on the right. The service was filled with songs, worship, and readings led alternatively by the teens and Rabbi Dan Feder. Meanwhile, Cantor Barry Reich was accompanied by Sarah Edelstein, a U.C. Santa Cruz student who is also a guitar-playing song leader at Camp Newman.

From time to time during the service, a teen would ascend the bimah and read a statement about what NFTY meant to him or her. Some of those words were so moving, they brought tears to the congregation.

Seeing those smart, motivated teen leaders, I have no worries about the future of the Jewish people.

Mitzvah Torah Corps

Mitzvah Torah Corps is a major event, sponsored each year by the Central West Region of NFTY. Our congregation’s PARTY teen social group is a NFTY affiliate. About 90 NFTY teens came from all around Northern California, including the Burlingame area, Fresno, Sacramento, Los Altos, San Mateo, the East Bay, and Carmel.

For the teens, this weekend focused on education social action. For example, the teens worked on the Three A’s of Social Action: Action, Advocacy, and Awareness. They also learned about developmentally disabled people, their abilities, and how important it is to use words that respect individuals, not insult or stereotype them. During the weekend, the teens also elected a new regional board. Snaps to our own Sandy Karp (daughter of Robin and Ron Karp), chosen as incoming President of the NFTY Central West Region!

Let me also give a shout-out to the many members of PARTY (PTS’ youth group) who participated in the Mitzvah Torah Corps weekend: Adam Battat, Justin Battat, Jason Cohen, Andrew Ezersky, Jeremy Ezrin, Andrew Friedeberg, Eva Heller, Lauren Isackson, Jake Karp, Sandy Karp, Anna Kurzrock, Anna Leemon, Sarah Levin, Zach Levin, Harris Silk, Marnie Sturm, Olivia Tandowsky, and Sarah Wisialowski.

More snaps go to Yael Zaken, our congregation’s Youth Director, who played a major role in organizing the weekend. And more snaps to the many Temple families who opened their homes and hosted the teens at their homes over the weekend.

Bay Area Jewish Healing Center

In addition to hosting the Mitzvah Torah Corps, Peninsula Temple Sholom invited three rabbis from the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center as scholars-in-residence that busy weekend. During the Friday night service, we heard from Rabbi Eric Weiss; on Saturday and Sunday, there were programs with Rabbi Jon Sommer and Rabbi Elliot Kukla.

The San Francisco-based Jewish Healing Center, established in 1991, is a tremendous resource — one of the true pillars of our community. The Center trains volunteers who visit hospitals throughout the Bay Area; it supports the Jewish End-of- Life Care Program and hospice initiatives; and it provides resources for those who nurture those suffering from mental illness.

Rabbi Weiss is the author of the brand-new Mishkan R’fuah: Where Healing Resides, a little book filled with contemplative readings and prayers for many different moments of spiritual need, including illness, surgery, treatment, chronic illness, hearing bad news, transitions, addiction, infertility, end- of-life, and more. Look for the book in the Starr*Stevens Judaica Shop. It’s the best $6 you’ll spend.

I offer snaps for this wonderful weekend to Rabbis Weiss, Sommer, and Kukla for their compassion, scholarship, and leadership; to congregant Neal Tandowsky, who chairs the board of the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center; and to Liz Gottfried, who chairs our Life Long Learning committee.

And I thank everyone involved in making the Erev Shabbat service on Friday, March 15, into a truly perfect evening. These snaps are for you!