Sun Tech Days in Rome and Milan, Italy


Sun Tech Days are a series of developer focused events being organized world-wide by SUN. The main focus of these events are Java and OpenSolaris. The emphasis of the events is less on product features and more on engaging developers to work with the product. Here is the main event link http://developers.sun.com/events/techdays/

There were a couple of "tracks" (series of talks with a specific theme) in Rome and Milan: OpenSolaris, NETBEANS, Java and Solaris Development. The Java/NETBEANS related tracks were going on in parallel with the the Solaris ones. In addition, in Milan, there also were some booths where people can come in and looked at demos, get Solaris installed on their laptops etc. This page has the Agenda in Rome and Milan


With Solaris Cluster, our talk titled "Using and Contributing To Open High Availability Cluster" was part of the OpenSolaris Track. It also included a demo of Cluster Express running on a laptop running OpenSolaris and demonstrated failover of an application (Apache) between two zones on the same machine. Here are some of my impressions of the events:

OpenSolaris Day

OpenSolaris welcome was done by Chris Armes, Solaris Marketing director. Chris made a few jokes to get the audience to start paying attention (he seem to be good at that!) and also pointed out a bunch of goodies (T-Shirts, Books and Solaris Cluster demo DVDs), available for the audience members.

There were several presentations before Cluster, covering OpenSolaris, Nevada plans, Solaris Virtualization strategy and Solaris Networking enhancements. Virtualization topics generated most of the comments and questions from the audience, with many people asking about the plans around xVM and OpenSolaris.

My presentation on ""Using and Contributing To Open High Availability Cluster" was scheduled after the networking presentation. Before starting the presentation, I did a show-of-hands and not many people in the audience had prior knowledge of Open HA Cluster.

Given that, I spent a bit more time then I had planned, on introducing the basic concept of Availability and Solaris Cluster itself. I talked about concept of SPOFs and how Sun Cluster deals with failures in Storage/Network/Server/Application etc. I moved quickly thru details of what a SC Agent is and what it does. Next I showed a demo of SC with Apache as the application failing over between two zones on the same single node cluster (my laptop). The demo used the "keno" demo which continuously contacts the server and depending upon which node it is, it displays a square of different color. After failover, the client application starts showing squares of different colors. I demoed killing the apache daemons and quick restarts of the application as well as halting of the zone etc. The demo was well received by the audience, although the only comment I received was to use the "uadmin 1 0" command to reboot a zone instead of "reboot" command which I had planned to use. Hey... At least it shows the audience wasn't sleeping! :-) :-)

After the demo I talked about Solaris Cluster plans for open sourcing the code. The fact that all the Agents are already open sourced and there is a roadmap for more. I closed with (and spent some time on), the slide with all the Open HA Cluster related resources. I am hoping that at the very least, the audience members would remember the OHAC community web page on opensolaris.org

I talked a bit about the contents of the Solaris Cluster demo DVD and encouraged people to install it on their laptops. I made the point that the presentation laptop itself is running Cluster Express on OpenSolaris. Which seemed to get the point across that the Open HA Cluster is easy to setup and run on common, off the shelf, hardware.

OpenSolaris Installfest


In Milan we had a OpenSolaris booth where people could come over and get their laptops installed with OpenSolaris. I had duties on all of Friday. Thanks to feedback from Boston about lack of software to partition people's hard drives to create empty partitions for Solaris, I was ready with my own copies of the partitioning software.

Lots of people came over to the booth simply to have a chat about Solaris, not really to install their laptops with it. The most common question was "Why should I use Solaris?", we tried various ways to tackle that question such as unique features and strengths of Solaris, because it is the most reliable and scalable (I had some amount of traction on the reliable part, although strangely enough, from the POV of the quality of code). Another point which (I thought) connected with some people was: Because it is fun and new and because you have never tried it before.

There were lots of questions on whether OpenSolaris can be run via VMware, answer is yes. I took pains to remind people that if they run Solaris under VMware, don't attribute any slowness or lack of stability to Solaris, rather to VMware.

Most people were wary of actually going thru the repartitioning of their hard drives. Some which did go thru were pleasantly surprised to find that once the right partition is specified to the installer, it goes thru the install very quickly and painlessly. I think this is one area where OpenSolaris has improved a lot recently and it shows. I engaged others (not ready for repartitioning of their hard drive yet) by putting in the OpenSolaris DVD into their laptops and running the Solaris Device Detection tool on their laptops. For all of the people who tried that, the device detection tool was able to determine that Solaris would run fine on the laptop. Only missing driver was sound driver, which is not essential, but I suggested to people that opensound drivers would solve that problem as well, as they have for me. Hopefully a couple of them would try out the OpenSolaris install by themselves.

If you missed the event in Italy, check out the schedule on http://developers.sun.com/events/techdays/ , you may just find one near your home town. Find out more about Open HA Clusters at OHAC community web page on opensolaris.org . If wanna join the conversation about it, or just wanna listen to what people in the community are talking about, visit the Open HA Cluster forum, which also has a link to discussion archives.

ciao
Ashutosh Tripathi
Solaris Cluster Engineering

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