Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui, William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

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.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...