Tuesday Nov 14, 2006

Java goes open source

Java went opensource over the weekend under the GPL. Its now free to read and change; its been free to use forever!

I wonder if it'll make "Duke" more popular. I wonder if it'll save me from having to install Java on my Linux systems when I go through my regular rebuilds. :)

Here's an affinity button:-

 

Get the Source

 

You can get them here....

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Thursday Oct 26, 2006

The road to SMF

Just checking out SMF and found these resources at www.sun.com & docs.sun.com.

Now I just have to read them.

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Monday Sep 25, 2006

Virutalising Computer Systems

The rest of the day we considered virtualisation technology. What we have to offer has not changed much since the last conference, (blogged here...), but it seems we have a lot more experience in using many of the currently available tools. Basically we're late to market with some of the competitively defensive technologies and the problem is being defined by Windows and the answer by VMware. Sun's broader range of technologies and the sophistication of the combining these tools into an appropriate new answers are inhibitor's to adoption. To my mind the simple answer is not enough, the data centre manager needs an architecture that supports both his or her applications portfolio, the businesses' change velocity and the technology platforms needed to support these, I don't think VMware does this, but I'm not convinced our story is yet sufficiently aligned. We have more work to do.

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Buying Alignment, Business Confidence

John Fowler, who has taken over as the EVP for Sun's Systems business unit spoke to us today. This is only the second time I've heard him speak and its good to see his humour come through. He also showed during the Q&A his single minded approach in investing for growth and leveraging the opportunities that IT's massive appetite for innovation create.

He told us a story about a visit of his to Poland, where one of the salesmen told him that "customers marry software, they only date hardware". (He told it well though) - and we always need to bear in mind why customers do things. While large customers will often have misalignments within their processes as they fail to align individual and team goals with corporate needs plans and strategies.

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Wednesday Jul 19, 2006

Is Web 2.0 relevant to a systems architect?

Sun are pushing the new x4500 (See Jonathan's Blog) server as the Web 2.0 server, coz that's what Tim O'Reilly said. Actually, he's said a lot about web 2.0 and his most focused comments (that I've found, or more accurately been pointed at,) are at his site, where he has published an article called "What Is Web 2.0 Design, Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software" . I recommend you read it, ( I have bookmarked it on del.icio.us and in my sidebar in the "Links" section.).

One of O'Reilly's Web 2.0 tests is that data becomes crucial (again) and that the move towards (user driven) assembly for purpose and the "perpetual beta", his words, he should trademark them, as illustrated by all sorts of internet companies makes the new hybrid systems more useful as things move on. I have recently created a Yahoo MapApp (which I'll document at some time), but this uses the MapApp server and my web site, together with a Yahoo Group in order to allow people to use the application. The application is build to serve a small closed community (a school year reunion), which is why the Group is used, but also a proof point that collections of data (originally owned by users) are more valuable than the items themselves. (The Application is designed to allow people to plan sites for physical re-unions and drinking). This sort of application will become more common not less.

Sun's announcement page headled with Tim O'Reilly's quotes is here.... Marc Hamilton whose blog is here..., brought my attention to the synergy between the new system product and the new internet phenomenon, with this article, entitled "Thumper Positioning"; Not a karate technique!.

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Monday Jul 17, 2006

Not alone at SunLabs

Ashlee Vance {of the Register} also visited the Labs at the begining of June, and wrote up his findings more rapidly than me. He published them here.... The article covers some stuff I didn't follow through on, and offers a segue into games serverplex designs. The article is headlined "Sun Labs edges toward practicality", and suggests his interests were more short-term than mine.

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Tuesday Jul 04, 2006

What I thought of my visit to the Labs!

I visited Sun Labs Open House at the begining of June. This took place over the first and second, but I have only just managed to write up my notes and post them on the blog. For various reasons, I have backdated the entries to the approximate real time to preserve my personal narrative .

I was lucky to be able to meet so many clever people and see so many clever things which I'm certain will make a difference, although in some cases, its the research in writing the notes that has provoked real interest.

For you to read what I've written, you might find the following links usefull. Here are blogs day links: First Day, Second Day. You can also use the standard index sidebar (or these hyperlinks) to bring up my first article, Wall of Innovation and then go forward, or the last article, Slot Car or SPOT car? and rack backwards. I have also put this article's link into the blogroll sidebar, under the Links folder as "What I said about Sun Labs!".

The demo reviews are also all categorised as Technology, so using the button bar at the top of the page will let you see most of what I wrote.

The articles reflect what I thought at the time. I have since spoken to both colleagues and customers and recognise that some of my priorities were a bit awry and I may not have given some subjects sufficient attention, in particular, I didn't visit many of the "Virtualisation" projects available and havn't reported on those I did visit such as "Project Crossbow", a network interface virtualisation and resource managment project. This is also an Open Solaris project (see here...) for this. The media projects also suffered from a lack of attention, but I couldn't have visited everything.

I have little doubt that I shall try to talk to some of the project staff to understand their projects more fully and to demonstrate their relevance to my customer(s), and hopefully you as well.

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Friday Jun 02, 2006

Slot Car or SPOT car?

We finished the day by checking out a SPOT managed slot car. This combines Real Time Java with the Sun SPOT sensors to manage a slot track racing car. This is a development of this year's Jave One Slot Car Racing Programming Challenge, which has photo's and an excellent description of the demo.

The sunweb Open House Page also has a picture.

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The E-PBX

We rushed past Steve Uhler's e-PBX demo, where he demo'd the conection via web services of a PBX, utilising the opensource PBX solution to the internet and offered a flavour of the new services this enables.

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Searching for........

We then popped into see two search projects. I saw the display of the Search inside the Music project, which is currently focusing on two areas: using acoustic similarity to help people find music that 'sounds similar' to music that they already like, and using social data to recommend and organize music based upon the listening habits of people with similar musical tastes. Some deeply interesting science (how do you define music as sounds alike?), plus leveraging a "wisdom of crowds (or networks). The 3D screen display is pretty cute too. (I need to have another look! )

I actually spent my time here talking to Steve Green, whose blog I occasionally read, but always with interest. He was demonstrating some technology from the Advanced Search Tecnologies project. The web page states that the mission of the Advanced Search Technologies project is to improve the ability of people to find and organize information in an enterprise setting and that the group is responsible for the Sun Labs Search Enginewhich ships as part of the Sun Java System Portal Server and Web Server. The demo showed a tool called the blurbalyzer which recommends (or sorts and groups) books based upon similarities in the book's published 'blurbs'. It's amazing the complexity of problem hidden in the single word, in this case "similarity".

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There's a lot to know about people

I arranged to meet Mark Bagley of BT to show him round the Labs. We rushed past Jim Waldo's Project Neuromancer, which demonstrates both the biometric interfaces and the elements of the network solution required to implement biometric telemetry systems, the key problems being those of scale, reliability, syncronicity and longevity.

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Thursday Jun 01, 2006

New Age Industrial Plant

I also had a quick run through some of the Media projects incorporated in Media Architecture & Technology project including the open source DRM efforts and a Sun micro (and therefore disruptivly cheap) set-top box. Again I didn't spent enough time to really understand how my current customer can really obtain value from these projects, so some more research is required. These projects have both been raised with me since my return to the UK.

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Sun's SPOTs

There were a couple of demos of Sun's SPOT (Small Programmable Object Technology). This is seen as really important and is possibly the best piece of research from the labs hitting my sweet spot (no pun intended ) of proximity, wireless and database. They have their own web site http://www.sunspotworld.com. The researchers are looking to innovate the platform to enable new applications and new developer productivity models. Check out the SPOT docs page, which also contains highlight arguments about the problems they're trying to solve. They also seem to have a view about collaboration, potentially missing from many of the demos and prototypes I have seen over the last two months at Sun & BT.

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The Technology behind Virtual Worlds

I popped in to see Jeff Kesselman (who blogs here...) & Seth Proctor (blogs {occassionally here...) at their Project Darkstar demo. There's no question but that Project Darkstar demos always make an impact. Project Darkstar is a java based server platfrom designed for writing massively scalable games. We're seeking to offer our unique technology platform for applications developers a proposition to games authors and hosts. You can see their sites; a project dashboard or a Sun Labs spotlight article or their project page at java.net.. I didn't and havn't spent the time getting to know the project, the queues are usually so long, but as Telco's move from "triple play" to "quad-play", it'd be good to learn more.

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Thursday May 04, 2006

Open Source, Friend or Foe

The Register today, has an article, headlined "US in open source backlash" arguing that the US is a late, slow and distressed adopter of open source compared with Europe and Latin America. It reminded me of some of the speeches and conversations I had last week (See my blog here...) in Ipswich.

I bumped into Simon Deighton of MySQL. When I rudely asked him how they had beaten Postgres despite the latter's technical advantage he argued that success as an OSS vendor requires three things, a community {based around the code}, ease of installation {low barriers to entry/use}, and reliable and good enough functionality. He suggested that MySQL beat Postgres through ease of installation. Having thought hard about the list, I think its a good one. I shall certainly think about it for things I look to out there. Others should too.

Zaheda Bhorat of Google spoke about their commitment to Open Source and while much of their engagement is as consumers, they sponsor the summer of code and leverage the extreme programming policy of letting their developers spend one day/week doing what they want! This freedom {together with other aspects of their culture, such as the signed publication of open source, i.e. recognising authorship} they argue makes them a desirable place to work and helps them recruit the best people.

I'd not heard Simon Phipps speak before and he used some of the slides he's posted on the web. He showed how open source creates value summarised by the pithy quote "it's not about altruism". Both publication and contribution is in the coder's best interests. (I'll return to this another day as it impacts on some thinking I've been doing for the last couple of years about the source of wealth and the nature of software & information). He also offers a definition of open based on readability, however, most opensource is licenced and therefore the "right to use" is constrained. Simon has written a White Paper (see here...) offering a simple classification based on how the licence constrains copyright if users change the code. The third leg of his defintion of open relates to how easy it is to become a committer and/or how the original authors control or share the code's development and future. However possibly the most interesting comment is that we're now in "Software Market 3.0" and both expect to pay for software at the point of value and expect to make transparent payments for services related to software. Critically access to the "committers" so that errors can be fixed but a whole bunch of things come with software such as updates, fixes, documentation (including the known errors list), RFC process, consultancy, education etc. Open source allows consumers to negociate these services and pay a fair price for what they require. Simon referred to it as "unbundling the software value proposition". Clever stuff.

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