Thursday Apr 23, 2009

A short URL for the "Third Wave" slides

I have created a short URL at for the slides I used on Wednesday; is the mediacaster web page that hosts my slides.


Tuesday Apr 21, 2009

The Third Wave of Adoption

I spoke next, the slides I used, based on Simon Phipps, current pitch are posted on my page at Sun's mediacaster. (I say based, this is a derived work, and I was pleased to be able to use his presentation). I covered how we have got to where we are, the Pioneers, the four freedoms, the geek community and the arrival of the enterprise. We then look at the compelling value of peer production, and the role of licenses in the community, and how to defend against trolls and vultures. One slide, developed by Simon and articulated in Sun's Free and Open Source Licensing White Paper posted at, classes the open source licences into Open, file based and project based licences. The slide I used is posted below

Three Classes of License Slide

. It is clear there are some who think that only the GPL counts as Open Source, but despite its undoubted popularity, there are a number of people and organisations who think that its duty to publish is not always desirable, and the Apache licence. These are not restricted to organisations that pursue a rights based business model. The presentations and white paper talk about community roles and present a model of these roles. The presentation re-inforces the fact that Sun is the largest publisher of Open Source in the world and has a range of produicts and partners to allow open source adopters to what they want.

The slide above is available as a full size .jpg if you prefer it.


Monday Apr 20, 2009

And a surprise on my arrival home

Travelling home today; the hotel had one internet terminal in the lounge so I have been out of contact during the weekend. We visited the sites and some of my pictures, including this one are uploaded into my barcelona set at flickr.

Sagrada Familia

I was in the air as the press releases about Oracle and Sun were circulating. I got a text message when I landed. Twitter had turned itself off while I was abroad and this is probably a good thing, but it was old fashioned SMS that let me know and now like you, I just have to wait and see what happens.


Tuesday Apr 07, 2009

Thank goodness for

Where's my screwdriver? I got a bit close to the 'tin' today. I have been trying to boot a lab machine, an x4600, that clearly hasn't been used for a while.

Its previous user had kindly documented the tcp/ip addresses used, but we couldn't ping either of them, so http'ing onto the ILOM server was right out. We plugged in a console into the VGA port and tried to boot from an Open Solaris live CD, this failed with the error messages zooming of the top of the console. So we tried S10 and the same thing happened. This meant we had to actually read some documentation. This is at, and has a bunch of docs on the x4600. Having equipped ourselves with some knowldege,

  1. We attatched a real serial terminal to the serial console port. This involved checking the serial comms port paramters. Its a very long time since I've had to do that. We then checked the tcp/ip settings, once we realised these were correctly set,
  2. We checked the ethernet cable to ensure it was correctly connected and seated.
  3. This enabled us to log into the ILOM using the browser interface. Everything seemed OK so
  4. We used ssh to login into the ILOM service and started the console
  5. We power cycled the machine using the browser

This allowed us to capture the errors as the Live CD image of S10 failed to boot.

The lessons of this story are

  1. sometimes one should read the documentation earlier rather than later
  2. check your cabling
  3. the x4600 documentation is good
  4. sometimes systems do have hardware faults


Thursday Mar 19, 2009

Installing the Amber Road simulator on a Laptop

Sun's Open Storage software comes as an appliance from Currently available as a VMware image, and I now have it running on my trusty laptop.

Unified Storage Simulator screen shot

The management panel in in the browser, the appliance console is the black window, I have started the CIFS service, mounted a file system using SMB onto my host image (the windows folder) and I have opend a file using notepad. It was easier to do than attach my Vista systems to my legacy home windows network.

I had to install VMware Player first and when the VM starts for the first time, you are offered a text menu to install the network identity and point to the network gateways. I was nervous about VMware because I wasn't sure about what VMware does to implement the network interface. This wiki page has been created by the FISHworks team to help you, which discusses how you configure each of the four netowrk interfaces and I advise you to think hard about the node name and domain name as I havn't yet worked out how to change it. The wiki's advice on the network gateways didn't work for me so I used dor both the default gateway and DNS server. Anyway the boot screen looks like this,

unified storage simulator first time screen

I am off to install it on my home server and maybe I'll try the Virtual Box version and use the appliance to manage my home network storage, I think its legal, but in order to get the performance advantage at scale, you'll need to buy the hardware.


Wednesday Mar 18, 2009


There is a conversation on google groups, cloud computing [XML] about CISCO's plans to enter the server market, kicked off by this article at Business Week.

The dimension, only just, missed in that conversation is the opportunity to get design synergies on the hardware between networking and systems. Why do large scale users have to buy switches and servers as seperate procurements? Perhaps the next stage is to migrate the network functionality to a software appliance, so one buys a box and then decides what to do with it. (I know that a switch needs a lot of ports where a non-switch system only needs two, but modern blade systems are modularising this design area as well.)

The interesting questions then left are whether the data centre, or network can consolidate to one cabling standard and perfromance. When will the need for seperate networking (or interconnect) technologies between CPUs and Systems decline? (If ever?)

I know some computer scientists thinking about tomorrow's problems are interested in this sort of thinking.


Sunday Jan 04, 2009

You can't do this without "amberroad"

Glenn Brunnette pointed this Youtube Video out to me

which struck me as rather cool in that it demonstrates the awesome advantage of the FISHworks analytics i.e. the management software that comes with Sun's Unified Storage systems. Its such a great way of seeing the power of the software I decided to bookmark it on and digg it, [here], I glad to see I am not the first. I was, however, sad to see that the digg conversation was so trivial, amusingly focused on the effects of shouting at computers, which we've all done, and less so about the track record of the person who submitted the story to digg. Has Digg jumped the shark?


Thursday Nov 06, 2008

Talking about Cloud Computing

The current technical state of systems, storage and networking and specifically the cost of broad band networking has created a tipping point. Over the last 10 years, organisations and people have been learning to build new distributed computing server complexes. It may be too late to copy the leaders, but certain design criteria and the regulatory constraints may mean that there is a slower commercial adoption cylce. The privacy, availability and response time requirements are for businesses are all different. In my mind, its commercial adoption that turns grids into clouds.

"One class of grid is where we locate one application, which has many identical parts on a distributed computing platform and we call this HPC; where we locate many copies of one application be it apache, glassfish or MySQL on a distributed computing platform we call it web 2.0 and when we locate many applications on a distributed computing platform we call it Cloud Computing"

Dave Levy

Its commerce that has the need for the Cloud, because they have usually have a large portfolio of applications, some of which behave like HPC and some of which behave like Web 2.0 and its the economics of utility that drives this. Sun's ERP solutions have leveraged our product portfolio and Moore's law to become a tiny fraction of Sun's IT estate, with the community infrastructure and the design support solutions being implemented on web 2.0 and HPC grids, now dominating Sun's internal network in terms of cycles, storage and cost.

Admittedly, there are other aspects of what makes a cloud different from the payroll bureau of thirty years ago.

Data Centres are expensive and as we are discovering in the last few years, they are best built for purpose. Building and running Data Centres also benefits from 'specialisation'. In "The Big Switch", Nicholas Carr argues that the efficiencies of the plant apply to IT. (I'm really going to have to read it). Historically, applications developers have tightly coupled their code with an operating system image, specifying the version, library installs, package cluster and patch state. This is beginning to end. Developers want to and do develop to new contracts, be it Java, Python or another run time. Also with virtualisation technology such as Virtual Box and VMware, deployers can build their utility plant and take an application appliance with an integrated OS and applications run time, this allows developers to choose whether to use modern dynamic runtimes or to tightly integrate their code with the environment.

A second driver is the amount of data coming on-line. This cornucopia of data is enabling/creating new applications, of which internet search is an obvious one. Google scans the web, but many companies and increasing social networks are scanning their storage to discover new valuable pieces of information. Internet scale also means the "clever people work elsewhere" rule of life is generating new questions. The growing number of devices attached to the internet is also discovering and delivering new digital facts. The evolution of the internet of things will make the growth in data explosive so its a good time to be introducing a new disruptive storage capability and economics. The need to analyse this massive new data source is what's driving the emergence of Hadoop and Map/Reduce. Only parallel computing is capable of getting information out of the data in any reasonable time. A fascinating proof point is documented on the NYT Blog, where Derek Gottfrid shows how he used Amazon's cloud offerings to convert the NYT's 4TB archive into .pdf using Hadoop. I'd hate to think how long it might have taken using traditional techniques.

One tendency I have observed from my work over the last year is that today building grids is now longer hard, and most dramatically Amazon and Google are turning their grids to applications hosting. A number of public sector research institutions have also been building publicly available grids for a wile, although they tend to share amongst themselves. In the public sector world at least, they have begun to address the question of grid interoperability, and everyone is looking at how to 'slice' resource chunks out of the grid for users, on demand of course.

In the commercial world the competitive positioning of various players has led to them competing with different services and different levels of abstraction. The offerings of Google's "google apps engine" vs "Amazon's EC2" are quite different. Sun believes that cloud computing offerings need to organise above the OS level now and that developers don't want to worry about the operating system, merely their run time execution environment. This is only possible because modern development and runtime environments can protect developers from both the cpu architecture and now the operating system implementation. I know that as I search for a new solution for the services I run on my Qube, I'm happy to configure the applications and their backups, but I don't want to worry about disk reliability and other system services.

Jim Baty made the comment that we're entering a Web 3.0 world which is chmod 777 for everyone. :)

So the economics are compelling, the state of technology is right, developers are ready to leave these decisions behind and the first movers are moving.

Can and will Sun play a role in this next stage of the maturing of IT?

This article is I hope the first of two, written from notes made during a presentation by Jim Baty, Chief Architect, Sun Global Sales and Services, Scott Matton, one of the senior architects in GSS and Lew Tucker, VP & CTO of The article is back dated to about the time of occurrence.

Monday Oct 27, 2008

Sun M9000, the fastest SAP platform

Back in Brussels for a NESSI meeting, the SAP delegate is new and points me to Sun's M9000 SAP Benchmark results which put's Sun at No. 1 again, although for how long who knows. There's no dount that the SPARC 64 CPU is great and that the M-Series systems are mighty systems. On a slightly more measured, and affordable note, Joerg Moellenkamp wrote about SAP Benchmarks on the X4600 yesterday.


Monday Oct 06, 2008

Beyond con-calls

I have been looking at ways of making virtual meetings easier, more effective and fun. As part of that I have looked again at secondlife, and one of my new correspondents pointed me at "The future is virtually here". This, despite being published last August, and while containing two fun stories about EVE Online, tries too hard in my mind to use language which proves the author's Yoof credentials. Also quoting IBM and World of Warcraft as the exemplar's of using virtual worlds is to my mind lazy. Many companies use secondlife as a virtual store front, although I admit that IBM's virtual data centre, (see also my blog report on the IBM virtual data center) is a quite a cute toy, but a number of people are on the trail of WoW, and its monthly subscription is high for school students.

The killer app. for virtual worlds seems to be training. Sun has just launched its "Solaris Campus" on secondlife, but its the truly compelling case for virtual training is where the where real life exercises are either very expensive or very dangerous, such as the US Marines' use of Doom, and its growing use in urban disaster relief planning. Its certainly dangerous training soldiers realistically. I have argued before that game fan forums helped develop remote collaboration techniques and the games world is now offering a lot to the infrastructure providers. Besides Sun 's very own Project Wonderland, it would be worth checking up on Torque, a science toolkit, & maybe Gaia Online, one of the virtual worlds. (Now in my feed, tagged virtualworlds). Another interesting arrival is Runescape, a british FRPG written in Java, with a free to play subscription option. The science engines are important as they potentially enable the extension of virtual worlds beyond social collaboration into prototyping problems for real world designers.

One interesting aspect about the juvenilsation of games is that actually it also seems to be true the 16-20's aren't there; they're busy 'Getting a First Life', however it could be an indicator that Dave's theory of Youthful Conservativism is true. Today's 16-20 year olds adopted their technologies before the virtual worlds came out, and they see no reason to use the virtual worlds because its too new, and offers them little beyond messaging. Another inhibitor for this age group is that these worlds don't have phone hosted clients yet. (Although iphone has a secondlife client.)

I know there is a lot of knocking copy about Second Life in particular, but con-calls often don't work any more, and training is a different application to e-commerce. Perhaps its only the virtual shopkeepers who are unhappy.

tags: ""

Tuesday Aug 26, 2008

Building big grids

A colleague of mine, Philipe Trautman presented on winning High Performance Computing deals. He produced some fascinating figures to describe the opportunity. Both Storage and Systems are forecast to grow at double digit rates for the next few years, where as commercial IT is expected to standstill at best. Over 30% of CPUs are going to be bought by HPC solutions during this period and at the moment, 65% of the HPC market is educational and/or research institutes. He outlined Sun's product portfolio consisting of systems, storage, operating systems and interconnects, which can be supplemented by partner products and people. He made the assertion that the real pain is no longer FLOPS, but elsewhere

  • Power & Cooling
  • Space
  • Cluster Management
  • Consolidation
  • Application Scalability & Utilization
  • Data Access including Filesystem selection

and presumably interconnect architecture and selection. Some of these are problems we have been confronting in commercial data centres for a while, albeit on a smaller scale but the last two are new.

Philipe introduced Dr Wolfgang Hafeman, of "Solutions for Research", a subsidiary of T-Systems and thus Deutsche Telekom, who have built and manage an HPC system for researchers in German commerce and academia, using Sun's products. I wonder if I can get the picture he showed, its quite dramatic. Again, this is an example of the right thing done well. Certainly T-System's people have added massive value to the proposition, although often the success of such a piece of business is based on the quality, drive and determination of the project teams. The relationship between the project teams supercedes the relationship between the companies. Its a great example of partnering for the end customer's success.


Monday Aug 25, 2008


Just arrived in Budapest. I am hear to attend a training event. This is for Sun's EMEA, Governement, Education and Healthcare team. My work on NESSI has opened my eyes to the tremendous innovation occuring in parts of these sectors, so I am really looking forward to it.


Tuesday Mar 04, 2008


Tim Bray noted that two of Python's leading developers are joining Sun. I'm pleased, along with all the others that have welcomed them. You can read what they have to say on their own blogs at Ted Leung, and  Frank Wierzbicki.

When deciding to re-invest in my scripting skills last year I choose Python. I didn't do this for necessarily the best of reasons but I need to look inside planet planet and also a 3rd party plazes script, both of which are written in Python. I also spent several hours getting lost inside Red Hat's apt-get when I failed to install it properly a couple of years ago.

I bought  the O'Reilly book, Learning Python but have got stuck on the exercises on method inheritance and overlays. I must get them finished this week, so I can read the next chapters on my next plane journey.


Wednesday Feb 20, 2008

And in Italy

Meetings with my italian colleagues where I talked about my new role, the opportunities that "Red Shift" offers to Sun, why we still bother with Solaris and also talked about Web 2.0. We discussed the localisation of the italian economy which while large (the 5th in the world) has language as a barrier to entry and while the US economy is no longer the definition of scale, the italian economy ceased to be such a long time ago.

Despite this, Sun Italia has a number of good relationships with leading companies in Italy and have some exciting project successes under their belt, paricualrly in the software field, where a number of the italian government's web portals are based on Sun's technology. In addition to being hosted by Giussepe Russo, the Chief Technologist in Italy, I met with Carrado di Bari and Danilo Poca who both write about their work here at, albeit in italian.


Thursday Jan 17, 2008

Hi MySQL, welcome to Sun

{short description of image}Wow, the MySQL announcement from Sun has certainly made a lot of noise in the blogosphere. The Register comments here..., and also post their interview with Rich Green & Marten Mikos. You've probably seen Jonatahan's Blog and Comments.

The Register Article has some interesting, and some wrong headed and tedious comments about the MySQL current licencsing policies, it'll be interesting to see how it moves forward. We all obviously have a lot to learn, it should be fun.





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