Saturday Mar 04, 2006

More......

I have now (yeah really) added a picture to my article "Designing Data Centre automation solutions" illustrating the two dimensions of virtualisation & posted my notes from the N1 Architecture sessions.

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Friday Mar 03, 2006

Virtualisation has two dimensions

I have added a picture to my article "Designing Data Centre automation solutions" illustrating the two dimensions of virtualisation.. It seems like I didn't! Sorry. I have now. Mysterious Smiley

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Data Centre Vision

Sohrab has sent me an edited version of his slides. You can download it here... and I have put it up as a bookmark in the right hand side bar. Its the "N1 (.pdf)" one.

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Wednesday Mar 01, 2006

Architecting DC automation

During a presentations on N1, Garima Thockburn & Doan Nguyen showed an architectural functional model for the applications provisioning technology.

N1 Service Provisioning Architecture diagram

What's really cool is that, as I'd expect from Sun, although we can forget what it made us, is that openness is being designed in from the ground level. Its recognised that a DC automation solution will have to utilise external capabilities. A second piece of ideology is borrowed from SOA and the products need to workflow manage various transactions, i.e. systems management transactions in the data centre. (Thuis is the service manager ).The whole SOA vocabulary of composition & orcestration fits the problem. The industry (or community if you prefer) are also developing business applications design skills for the infrastructure. This is also necessary if automation is to suceed. The block diagram puts work flow at the centre of the design. NB The diagram is accurate today but may change.

We were given the opportunity to workshop with members of the team. We had a discussion about solutions selling and examined the reality of the partnering dimension. I argued that we need to take more ownership of the relationship; in many cases, our "Partners" don't use that word to describe us. On a good day, we're suppliers on a bad day we're competition. I have thought through this since I said it, and it clear that this problem requires inter-company co-operation. At least Sun is comfortable working with others and partnership will help our customers meet broader requirements today, and as I said partnering helps meet the hetrogeneity requirement, at the least we'll need help dealing with oddities. Matthias Pfuetzner (a german colleague) argued for openness of the products APIs at both the plugin level, which determines what objects the software can manage and at the UI level, because as the plugin capability extends, it may be necessary to customise the UI to invoke and monitor the extended functionality. I like his idea of making a "plugin builder".

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Designing Data Centre automation solutions

Today was planned as a look ar Sun's system management solutions and the day was started by Sohrab Modi, the V/P for the group. We really have a problem with our branding, but we're sticking with N1, managing maNy systems as 1. Sohrab's presentation called "Simplify, Integrate, Automate", hit two key points for me.

First, N1 is a solutions sale and the customer will define the scope and boundaries. Sun's field need to capture these requirements and map both Sun & partner products to the requirements and take integration responsibility, at the least the solution design needs to be a collaborative process between the customer and vendor. Our proposition needs to be we meet your need and solve your problems. Its not good enough to try and win feature/benefit beauty parades. Sohrab showed how in the next 12 months Sun (his people) will be bringing virtualisation and management products to market to allow us to more address more and more comprehensive requirements. He demo'd some of the more advanced features of our logical domaining and provisioning technology which gives me confidence that his team are finally getting their delivery train in order, its been a long hard struggle for them. (One of his staff produced one of the analyst slides showing Sun in a strong position today, at least we're gaining mind share.)

The second piece of his talk that I liked is his two dimensions of consolidation. The virtualisation technologies mean that the data centre might have more operating system images, which without automation is more difficult and costly to manage, therefore we have to aggregate systems into run time resources and management objects.

2D of Virtualisation

This something I have been calling pools, but I suspect that Sun and the industry will call them something else. The demand for multi-node pools by applications is a crucial part of the capability supply and demand nexus and the economics and architectural constraints that aggregation enables and and creates make solutions design and integration more important not less. It is unlikely that one technology can answer the management consolidation and virtualisation problems.

N1 is a solutions sell. Customers will define the boundaries of scope, and we need to meet all of the customer problem. Sohrab gets this and is committed to a full technology offering that meets customer needs. We're not looking at point product releases, we're selling/building a platform and field people i.e. me need to learn how to ensure that customers define problems, sun offer's technology and the sales process collaborates on solutions design. As I said we don't want to sell each of our N1 products on a feature benefit basis, and customers shouldn't want to buy that way.

Presentations later in the day emphasised Sun's co-opetive approach, building from the ground up to enable integrators to add value. These integrators are as likely to be customer internal staff as they are to be consultants. This means that a central piece of our platform is going to be the orchestration functionality so the "N1 backplane" will be able to orchestrate micro transactions, which themselves can be undertaken by either Sun product or partner/competitor product. It all enables solutions design.

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