Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: Ken Simpson, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Xenia von Wedel, Adrian Bridgwater

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Article

Exclusive Q&A with Mike Vernal of Facebook

Web 2.0 Journal Q&A Special: 1,000+ Websites Now Using Facebook Connect

More than a thousand sites are using Facebook Connect, says Mike Vernal, a member of the Facebook Platform engineering team, in this Exclusive Q&A with SYS-CON's Web 2.0 Journal. Some prominent examples Vernal mentions include Citysearch for local reviews, Joost and Vimeo for video sharing, and a number of blogs, including TechCrunch and Gawker.

Web 2.0 Journal: You’ve been closely involved with developing and launching Facebook Connect. How would you summarize the chief strategic benefit of this service for Facebook’s 150M or so users?

Mike Vernal: I think the answer is twofold. First, Facebook Connect allows users to take their Facebook profile and friends with them to any site on the Web. This is pretty powerful, in that it saves users the hassle of creating another username and password, filling out their profile information, and running a contact importer on every site. Instead, the user can simply register and log in using their Facebook identity and immediately bring their profile and friends with them to that site.

Second, Facebook Connect allows users to share what they’re doing across the Web with their friends back on Facebook. So if I blog about something interesting, comment on someone else’s blog, or share photos or videos somewhere on the Web, I can now share that with my friends through Facebook. We’ve found that sharing this information back to friends helps to create a virtuous cycle of sharing, where friends start to comment on your activities and also start to share their own, which we think is quite powerful and valuable to users.

Web 2.0 Journal: Does this mark the much-discussed transition of Facebook to “platform” status, do you think?

Vernal: Facebook Connect is an evolution of the existing Facebook Platform. Since the very beginning, our goal with Platform has been to allow applications anywhere to become more social by leveraging the power of Facebook. Since 2006 we’ve had an API that allows Web, desktop, and mobile applications to integrate Facebook information. The initial version of Facebook Platform added the ability to integrate directly into Facebook. Facebook Connect represents an evolution of the experience for Web applications. We’re looking to evolve the mobile and desktop experiences, too, including a version of Facebook Connect specifically designed for mobile phones called Facebook Connect for Mobile.

Web 2.0 Journal: How many sites are currently live with Facebook Connect?

Vernal: Currently more than a thousand sites are using Facebook Connect. Some prominent examples include Citysearch for local reviews, Joost and Vimeo for video sharing, and a number of blogs, including TechCrunch and Gawker.

Web 2.0 Journal: What is the approval process like for a site that wants to leverage the platform?

Vernal: Anyone can integrate their site with Facebook Connect or build an application that uses Facebook Platform -- there is no approval process to get started. There are a handful of features like friend linking and automatically publishing Feed stories that require a lightweight approval process before being enabled.

Developers can also optionally participate in the Application Verification program, which involves an exhaustive review of an application or site in exchange for badging on Facebook.

Web 2.0 Journal: Tell us about FriendLink, the service that I believe allows a site using Facebook Connect to pass e-mail addresses to Facebook and get friend recommendations back. I can see that this must allow sites to make connections between users that they may not know about yet (but that Facebook already knows about). Is it proving popular?

Vernal: The friend linking feature was designed to allow sites with a large number of users to quickly fill in the social connections between those users. It works by allowing sites to pass us a cryptographic hash of their users’ email addresses and then using that hash to match up their users with our users. This allows us to then ask the user if they’d like to connect their account on that site with Facebook. This feature has strong network effects – it is more valuable to sites with larger user bases, so we’re seeing it gain momentum as larger sites start to launch.

Web 2.0 Journal: What other tips and recommendations can you provide developers on how they can increase social distribution and integrate their Web sites and applications to Facebook Connect?

Vernal: First, I think making the registration process as simple as possible is critical. As most site owners know, the number of people who complete the registration process is inversely proportional to its complexity. As you add steps (fields to fill out, emails to confirm, etc.), you lose users. By leveraging the user’s profile on Facebook, you can make the registration process much simpler and get more users into your site.

Second, once the user has connected to your site, you can save them the hassle of logging in each time they come back. If the user is already logged into Facebook and has connected to your site, then it’s easy to securely detect that and automatically log the user into your site.

Third, I think there’s a huge amount of potential around using Facebook Connect to increase user engagement on your site. By using the social graph as a content filter, you can help present the user with more relevant information. A classic example of this is a review site like Citysearch – people tend to trust and value reviews from their friends more than they trust reviews from the general population. By highlighting reviews from friends and other trusted contacts, the site becomes more valuable and engaging to the user.

Lastly, there are social communication features like Feed that allow users to share what their doing back with their friends on Facebook and, in the process, drive traffic and engagement on your site.

Web 2.0 Journal: How about those who are worried that Facebook Connect gives Facebook access to a great deal of information about how users interact with other social sites. What do you say to them?

Vernal: Our goal with Facebook Connect has been to help users take their information with them to sites across the Web and to help those sites build better, more engaging user experiences with that information. If more people are logging in and engaging with content on another Web site because of Facebook Connect, we see that as helping the site overcome core challenges of attracting and retaining users. We also believe the increased engagement will open doors to new revenue opportunities.

We also give sites and users the power to share information back through Facebook. First, sites can choose which actions they think users will want to share back through Facebook. Users are then in control of the actual stories that are published back to Facebook through the Feed publishing dialogs. We believe we’re offering a valuable service to users and Web sites while giving the site and the user control over what information is shared back through Facebook.

Web 2.0 Journal: What’s the mobile piece of the Facebook Connect story?

Vernal: Facebook Connect for Mobile is a mobile-specific version of Facebook Connect that will launch in early 2009. It will first be available to developers working on the iPhone platform. Like Facebook Connect for the Web, it will be focused on letting users bring their Facebook profile and friends with them to applications on their mobile phones. There are already some exciting applications in the queue, so stay tuned.

Web 2.0 Journal: FB was launched February 4th, 2004, so it’s soon reaching its 5th birthday. Are there any special birthday plans that you’re aware of – as a welcome counterpoint to the gloom and doom of ’09, perhaps?

Vernal: Being an engineer, they thankfully don’t trust me to plan the parties. We’re all getting pretty excited by the continued growth we’re seeing across the world, including over 150 million people actively using the site, and we’re excited to see what the next year will bring.

Cloud Computing Is Swelling Into an Estimated $36BN Market
The Cloud Computing conference theme this March is “The Delivery of IT Resources as Services” - with 100+ breakout sessions by leading industry CEOs and CTOs whose companies already recognize that what today's companies need above all is to be able to build infrastructures that can scale up or down at a moment's notice.

Over the next five years, IDC expects spending on IT cloud services to grow almost threefold, reaching $42 billion by 2012 and accounting for some 9% of total software sales. More importantly, spending on cloud computing will accelerate throughout the forecast period, capturing 25% of IT spending growth in 2012 and nearly a third of growth the following year.

Cloud computing helps IT cut infrastructure costs while adding new features and services to grow core businesses. Clouds can help grow margins as costs are cut back but service offerings are expanded.

Top Keynotes, Top Technical & Business Sessions, Top Delegates
2nd International Cloud Computing Conference & Expo will feature 100+ technical sessions from the leading industry players from the main layers of the Cloud ecosystem - the infrastructure players, the platform providers, and those offering applications and services. Our two-day Expo is your chance to get in front of senior technologists including CIOs, CTOs, directors of infrastructure, VPs of technology, IT directors and managers, network and storage managers, network engineers, enterprise architects, and communications and networking specialists.

Attend Full-Day Cloud Bootcamp FREE With Your “Expo Plus Bootcamp” Registration!
Cloud computing is an opportunity for business to implement low cost, low power and high efficiency systems to deliver scalable infrastructure. But what's actually involved in moving to a cloud infrastructure? In this compelling one-day, hands-on training program, you'll learn just what it takes to take full advantage of the Cloud. Join fellow delegates as Alan Williamson, Editor-in-Chief of Cloud Computing Journal, uses his expertise to lead you through Cloud Computing Bootcamp on Tuesday March 31, 2009 with configuration samples, live demos and working setups.

Seats are limited to the first 500 attendees so Register Today for Cloud Computing Bootcamp to secure your spot!

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@CloudExpo Stories
In recent years, at least 40% of companies using cloud applications have experienced data loss. One of the best prevention against cloud data loss is backing up your cloud data. In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sam McIntyre, Partner Enablement Specialist at eFolder, presented how organizations can use eFolder Cloudfinder to automate backups of cloud application data. He also demonstrated how easy it is to search and restore cloud application data using Cloudfinder.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and t...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user e...