Anna’s Journey, and Her WSO2Con Experience

Anna’s Journey, and Her WSO2Con Experience

Written by Anna P Schwab

Free Tickets

Code. Apps. Web. Repeat.
Baby. Hubby. Mum. Repeat.
Walk. Read. Pray. Repeat.


Hello, my name is Anna and I’m a 40-somethinger who is learning how to code.

I used to work in a hotel, however, after giving birth, my husband and I decided that it would be best to stay at home and take care of our baby.

I did go back to work as weekend duty manager when my son turned six months old. However, the situation led me to do some serious thinking about how I could complement our present family dynamics and help prepare for our future and retirement.

Thus, I decided to learn computer programming skills that would help me in my career transition while still allowing me to take care of my family.

On one of my regular visits to the Women Who Code web site, I clicked the “free ticket” link and won a conference pass to WSO2ConUSA 2015 in San Francisco.

I was elated. I did the dance of joy. I called my husband at work about it.

Thank you, WWCode! Yay!

After that, I visited the WSO2 web site and I encountered words I have never seen before: middleware, enterprise service bus, integration platform, enterprise architecture etc.

This is totally new to me, I said to myself.

But, I decided that this would be an opportunity to learn, and that I should just go with an open mind.

My husband offered that he would use his time-off to take care of our son while I attended the conference. So, it worked out.

I went. I took the ferry to the City and it was a beautiful ride.

I took the F streetcar and after five stops, I was at the Park Central Hotel.

I went to the third floor, check-in was really fast and I got my conference ID, partook of the continental breakfast and had some Starbucks. Sweet.

This, I did for the three days of the conference.


WSO2 is a ten-year-old company headquartered in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It also has offices in Palo Alto, CA and London, UK. It has around 500 employees with 95% of them based in Sri Lanka.

It is led by its founder Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana

and co-Founder/CTO Paul Fremantle.

Among their many accomplishments, Dr. Weerawarana is a pillar of Apache Foundation and he also teaches at a university in Sri Lanka while Mr. Fremantle, who is currently finishing his PhD on the Internet of Things (IoT), was named in 2008 as one of Top 25 CTOs by InfoWorld.

WSO2 software is comprehensive and 100% open-source; it always has been and will be according to Dr. Weerawarana. Any user can download their software and use it for free. Now, if and when, they’re ready to scale, WS02 comes in and will send their architects and help it get up and running. WSO2 makes their revenue through support contracts.

They are completely inbound. They don’t have sales teams. What they have are relationship managers to make sure their clients are taken care of.

Dr. Weerawarana believes that “the customer is not always right”. He said during the Keynote that if WSO2 had to make a judgement call they will make it and do it their way. And if they made a mistake, they will act fast and adjust.

WSO2 competes in the same territory as IBM, Oracle and Red Hat.


Google defines middleware as, “software that acts as a bridge between an operating system or database and applications, especially on a network.”

WSO2, in more specific terms, defines middleware as “a platform for addressing the application and integration requirements of enterprises with highly diverse, heterogeneous environments. In today’s increasingly connected world, enterprise IT requirements have drastically changed with the growth of APIs, Cloud, mobile and IoT technologies. WSO2 provides a comprehensive and entirely open source middleware platform that address these demands to help enterprises meet the new pace of technology and business innovation.“

As I understand it, the function of enterprise middleware is to address the need of large corporations, institutions, government agencies and the like to integrate all their technology into one cohesive whole, with the idea of delivering great business value, functionality, reliability, and security for both internal and external customers.

It is about connecting people, devices and applications. And middleware is the software that serves as the “glue” to connect these.


What was I able to take away from the conference attended by 250 of the best minds in technology?

I attended the pre-conference tutorials and signed up for the WSO2 Integration Platform Deep Dive, and Enterprise Security Uncovered talks.

Although highly technical, I gained a deep appreciation of how professional, passionate and outstanding the WSO2 team is. They were very patient in answering question posed by the conference goers.

The Integration Platform tutorial demonstrated a real-time monitoring of speed violations by the drivers of the iconic red buses in London using the WSO2 Geo-Dashboard. This information can be used to monitor driver performance, determine the location of all buses at a specific moment in time, and guide policy on safety standards.

The tutorial on Enterprise Security Uncovered focused on the ability of WSO2 Identity Servers to facilitate single sign ons and single log outs for the users. They also touched on moving toward eliminating the password. And as a best practice, WSO2 advocates RISC (Risk and Incident and Sharing Coordination) working groups.


Hip-hop dancers ushered in the keynote in “the style of Steve Ballmer and Microsoft,” said one conference goer.

To share more on Dr. Weerawarana, he said that their goal is to be the best middleware company in the world, adding that they are not yet there, but they are on their way.

He is also proud of the fact they are the only platform vendor that has been built ground-up and are not a product of “hyped” acquisitions over time.

Mike Gualtieri, Principal Analyst of Forrester Research, the next keynote, spoke about the future of Real-Time Analytics and ioT, the importance of prescriptive analytics. Jis belief is that this was going one step closer to predictive analytics. He also discussed the conundrum that occurs after collecting all the data and “predicting” what the customer would do, where the business has to figure out how to individualize real-time applications. He also touched on the use Hadoop and Apache Spark to reach this objective.

Google’s Brian Grant spoke on the use of Kubernetes, a tool to manage a cluster of Docker containers for faster development and simplified operations.

Andrew Bird of West Interactive talked about building cloud-based app platforms with WSO2. But, what really stuck with me was his goal to optimize Interactive Voice Response in delivering great customer experiences wherein callers would be able to answer questions on the phone screen itself and not have to enter a separate app or open another device. This would get their transactions done, customer issues resolved, or create an opportunity for the company to offer an upgrade or upsell during the phone call.


I attended talks on API Management, Strategy, and Applications Development and I went away with more knowledge of the company, customer experience, and middleware.

The conference wanted to showcase how “WSO2’s enterprise middleware platform is harnessing the power of analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, cloud, containers, microservices, and business processes, among others, to deliver on the demands of today’s connected world.” And I must say they were very successful in letting us know that.

I hope to attend more conferences and networking opportunities. And I encourage more women in technology, whether you are a student, professional, or a really serious enthusiast to participate and attend these occasions for learning and getting to know people in the industry.

Among the people that i got to talk to were Drew Sathern, President of Positive Proximity which offers Session Tracking Technologies, Tudor Boloni, Head of Corporate Development of, Greg Streetman, Senior Engineer of Eagle Technology Group, and Ramith Jayasinghe, Senior Technical Lead of WSO2.

There were also a lot of the companies that were in attendance like PG&E, AvidXchange, Fidelity, Bank of NY, Motorola, KPMG, NYU and Verifone.

I had a very pleasant experience as the conference staff were always ready to help, and I also would like to thank Sanduni and Usama of WSO2 for helping me with post-conference questions.


My coding journey started on the 3rd of July this year, when at a gathering with my high school friends I finally declared that I was ready to move on from the hospitality industry.

I wanted to spend more time with my husband and see our son grow up, to be with them during holidays, and to work normal hours.

So with the blessing of my supportive and loving husband, we took the leap and moved away from Silicon Valley to be closer to his work.

I stayed at home and took care of our son full-time. As soon as he went to bed and my husband and I talked about our day, I would immediately hit the books and work on my laptop until 1:00 am.

I studied JavaScript, HTML and CSS via Codecademy, Coder Manual, JavaScript is Sexy and Telegraph Prep via livestream.

I interspersed this with the textbooks “Beginning JavaScript” by Jeremy McPeak and “Eloquent JavaScript”, as well as a host of resources too numerous to mention.

I consumed all kinds of tech news, blogs, and tutorials, etc.

To this day I maintain the same schedule: read, watch the video tutorials, code, make an application however simple and elementary in appearance it might be.

I only missed coding for four days during August and in early September as I traveled to visit my family in the Philippines.

I have made a dating web page (HTML), matching game (HTML and JavaScript), color guessing game (JavaScript), and restaurant web site (HTML and Bootstrap CSS) through the Coursera Full Stack Web Development course that I am currently taking. And I would like to build more.

I would like to get more mentorship, do pair programming and get a full scholarship to an excellent programming school so I could continue to make more apps that matter. I really want to get better every day.

I would also like to volunteer and teach both children and adults about technology here in Benicia.

Just recently, I laid down the groundwork for my own web development business by getting a domain name, working on a simple web page, writing down my target clients/market, and filing the fictitious business name application at our local county.

For the future, I envision a business that will create more jobs, add value, and ultimately improve the lives of the people who will use our products and services.

I am just starting. And it has been pretty good.

Thank you, Women Who Code. Thank you, my family. Thank you to The Guy Up There who wrote the original and best code that is Life.

This is my coding journey, so far. How has been yours?


If you have any questions, maybe about this blog post, my WSO2Con experience, coding, or even raising a toddler, please feel free to email me at, check out my LInkedIn profile, or reach me via twitter: @schwabDev. I would be glad to answer your queries and be of help. Thank you very much.