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FLOSSUK Spring 2016

Shadowcat will once again be involved in the FLOSSUK Spring Conference with both Mark keating and Ian Norton on the FLOSSUK Council and members of the organising team. Mark has been busy working with Kimball Johnson, and other Council members, on the Call for Papers, media and websites.

Last week the council announced its call for papers:

“The FLOSSUK UK Council are now accepting submissions for presentations and workshops for our main annual conference event. In recent years we have evolved into the UK's primary support organisation for Free/Libre Open Source Systems (FLOSS) supporting Free and Open Technology.

The Spring conference is the UK's longest running event supporting systems and network administrators. But as FLOSS UK has evolved to support open networks, software, hardware and data so our primary conference has become open to submissions on these areas.

If you would like to offer a forum or half-day workshop that might interest our target audience, please submit a proposal. If you have a novel solution to a problem, experience of a particular application or hardware platform, tips and tricks for fellow open source delegates, or a favourite tool you could talk about, use of open data, please submit a paper for consideration by the programme committee.

There will be a prize for the best conference talk. Bursaries may be made available for accepted speakers who are unable to afford travel costs, subject to Council approval with all bursaries being fixed in advance. All accepted speakers receive a complimentary conference place and a ticket for the conference dinner.

We are also seeking lightning talks for the event – please contact us if you have something you want to schedule in the programme – Lightning Talk speakers who offer no other presentation are not eligible for free conference places or dinner.

Significant Dates:

  • Initial closing date for abstracts: 30th December 2015
  • Speakers notified by: 20th January 2016
  • Conference: 15th-17th March 2016
  • To submit a paper, please email”

The conference will be held at Mary Ward House in London next Spring and it is a great time to become involved with FLOSSUK and the growing positive effect it hopes to bring to the Open Technology scene in the UK.


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OUCE 2015

The schedule for the OpenNMS User Conference (OUCE) has recently been announced and it contains the information of the talks being presented by Shadowcat staff, Mark, Ian and Tom.[1]

The team will be all presenting on the same day and are discussing different aspects of our new service ShadowNMS which was recently launched and uses OpenNMS as one of its underlying technologies.

The talks are all on Wednesday 30th September, at the main event in Fulder, Germany.

Mark starts our presentation trio with his talk The Shadow of NMS. According to his abstract:

Yeah though I walk through the Shadow of NMS I will not fear no ill What was the business case for building a service based on a popular network monitoring system. We will take a look at the ShadowNMS project and the advantages and pitfalls of using an established underlying technology. ShadowNMS is a Cloud-Based monitoring solution, when we decided to build the system we had a number of very difficult choices to make. One of these was the choice of a strong, and versatile underlying Network Monitoring Software.

This talk will cover the discussions and arguments that led to us basing a core product on an existing enterprise-grade solution. What we were offering, how that differed, and why we chose to use OpenNMS. We will look at the issues of working with community software and with communities. We will look at the interaction between Shadowcat Systems, the OpenNMS group and the OpenNMS Foundation and community.

We will also take a brief look at the software itself. What were we trying to achieve? How were we trying to achieve it? What were the obstacles? What part did OpenNMS play in this.

A small amount of time will be devoted to the schoolyard crush that Shadowcat has for communities and how we have found working with the OpenNMS people.

This is followed later in the day by Tom who will discuss Running with Scissors which is based around deploying OpenNMS and Ansible:

There are many ways to go wrong with a deployment of OpenNMS. You forget this package, you forget that config file, and eventually you end up with a working system. And then you need to do it again. Enter Ansible, meaning you only have to get it wrong once... A bit like running with Scissors.

The final Shadowcat talk is by Ian Norton who wants us to be Dancing on the Head of a Ping:

Building a scalable Software as a Service platform using Open Source software How do we build a scalable Software as a Service (SaaS) monitoring solution using Open Source software?

This talk will discuss the architecture of the Shadowcat ShadowNMS SaaS platform, how it was implemented and what fun we had along the way! Some of the things covered will be Ansible, OpenNMS, OpenNMS PRIS, Apache, PostgreSQL, Perl, Angular JS and Phantom JS*

/* Other buzzwords may be included, please check with your operator for a full list * - Buzzword bingo cards available on request - * Not really, but feel free to bring your own ;)/

If you are at the event we would love to say hello and share some stories about using OpenNMS and ShadowNMS.

If you are interested in using cloud-based network monitoring to continuously check service, giving assurance from your customers view, then feel free to contact Shadowcat.


[1] This is a slightly unusual way of announcing that the team from Castle Shadowcat will be speaking at the OUCE in Fulder, but we thought we’d copy the manner in which the OUCE chose to announce it, just in case it was a precedent for this event ;).

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this year the Shadowcat team will be represented at the Yet Another Perl Conference::Europe by the company directors, Mark Keating and Matt S. Trout.

Matt will also be presenting a talk at the event on the Wednesday afternoon called Build Management with a Dash of Prolog. The full text of Matt’s abstract is available online but some particular highlights are:

A finely honed hatred of every systems tool I have to work with led me to experiment with alternative ideas for build, configuration and deployment management.

And if you have ever been to a talk that Matt has given you will instantly understand this statement:

Trust me, it'll be fun. I'll bring tissues in case anybody's head explodes.

Take a full look at the schedule to see what highlights you want to attend and make sure to say hello to Matt and Mark if you are there.


[1] So I’m kind of old and the mention of Granada instantly makes me think of the old ITV regions of the 70s and 80s.

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Heart of Sales

For several months our Managing Director, Mark Keating, has been helping local business guru and author, Jane Binnion, to complete her latest book The Heart of Sales.

The Heart of Sales is a new book looking at how to be successful in business while maintaining a strong ethical and moral basis. Shadowcat Systems is deeply connected to the book not just as an ethical organisation with strong ties to community but as a principal sponsor on the Kickstarter campaign that led to the book being created. This is not the first time Shadowcat have been associated with a book as you might recall our previous association with The Empty House

Mark has a history connected to publishing as he worked at renown local publishers Carnegie for over 10 years and has been exposed to the whole process of book publishing. The book will be available as an e-book this month before going onto to traditional printing at a later date.


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A Fond Farewell

This month is a slightly sad time as we say goodbye to our intern Errietta Kostala. Erry was with us for a year’s placement from Huddersfield University as part of her CS course. Errietta returns for her third, and final, year in October and we know that she will do really well.

During her third year Erry will be keeping in touch with us as her final year project is connected to some of the services she has worked on while at Shadowcat.

I am sure you will join with me in wishing Erry good luck in her final year and in whatever path the future holds for her.

Herete Errietta Kostala.


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