Wednesday Nov 04, 2009

A Time Capsule for the Enterprise?

On Halloween I upgraded the desk side PC from Windows XP to Windows 7.  Between multiple reboots, application installs, recovery of email, print server configuration, etc. my wife asked "Why does it have to be so hard?"  As she said this I was looking at the Apple Time Capsule sitting on top of a small cabinet in our home basement. The only item coming out of the Time Capsule was the power cord connected to the power outlet.  I run the Time Capsule as a wireless client in our home network for data backup.  The data consists of many pictures, video clips, songs, the kids homework and basically many various files (some of which are important).

My home (LAN) network has grown over the years from a few PCs connected via an old 802.11b router to a dual band (802.11g/802.11n) router connecting a multitude of wireless clients. These include a XBox, iTouch, PrintServer, OpenSolaris, Ubuntu, Mac, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 devices.  Basically a heterogeneous environment.  Will the older Window versions be phased out at home eventually?  Yes.  The Unix/Linux clients will remain out of necessity as well as for hobby.  It's difficult to currently beat the Mac experience.  Adding a Time capsule into my existing home network was relatively easy.  The Airport setup updated the Time Capsule firmware and configured the device in straight forward steps.  It wasn't as "fun" for a "techie" as say CLI commands, but simple is defined as "fun" for most consumers. The Windows XP to Windows 7 full upgrade was painfull but I have to admit the network configuration experience was much improved.  I was pleasantly surprised freeware Bonjour discovery services just worked and the W7 system configured the Time Capsule as a usable share.

One could imply a similar situation in the enterprise space.  For an enterprise business "fun" is defined as high margin dollars on a growing revenue stream.  This usually means your costs are contained, you implement continuous improvements on efficiency and you simplify.  Vendors in the technology industry are all trying to provide a truly "Enterprise Time Capsule" or Appliance.  There has been a large amount of innovation over the past 20 years.  However today's innovation is tomorrow's PDP-11Minicomputers were appliances that Mainframes couldn't be.  The evolution has continued over the years in every technology segment.

Enterprise customers want it simple as do consumers.  While the stakes are much higher in the enterprise, the bar is significantly raised for "just working" each and every time.  It doesn't matter if you are playing catchup, you are the incumbent or you are the new thought leader-- the winners will be the set of vendors who provide the tool that "just works" each and every time in the harshest and most complex environments. 

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/


Monday Aug 17, 2009

Use all the Tools in the Tool Box...

Ultimately it is the software application that most IT customers look toward solving their business problems.  However software applications have a lot of moving parts sitting logically under the stack that enables the given application.  Some of these parts include operating system components, hardware and usually a large amounts of data.

A car, like an IT solution, requires more than a few set of tools to complete the job. While companies share many common problems, as do car manufactures, company solutions ultimately need the entire tool box to be fully utilized.  This is necessary in order to get the right solution to a company's IT problem.

Healthy competition amongst vendors enables multiple degrees of freedom for application solutions, but more technologies in a given vendors tool box only enables the ability to build better IT solutions.  The same applies to those who are in the business of building cars.  From a business perspective it is absolutely critical that the technologies have to be articulated into a cohesive and complementary strategy for success.  For example Ford builds cars, trucks and hybrids.  Ford does not depend on putting a truck engine into a Ford Focus and vice versa for obvious reasons.  The same applies for technology.  No "one solution fits all" has ever been successful in any market. 

Venture Capitalists and public companies have been chasing "the" goal for many years that one given technology can satisfy all aspects of a given marketHowever when you combine and use multiple technologies in your portfolio and present the right business and sales focus the results can be pretty awesome.

Here is a good example of software technologies:

from the tool box combined with partner technology to produce an ultimate software application solution.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Wednesday Oct 29, 2008

NDMP, SNIA, FOSS, DATA, EASY, COOL, GIVE, TAKE

The Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) is a standard developed to address the interoperability of backup with  multi vendor network attached storage (NAS).  Less than a year ago some storage vendors worked with SNIA and created a technical Work Group (TWG) to further extend the NDMP standard through software development.  Initial NDMP TWG members include: EMC, NetApp, Hitachi Data Systems, Pillar Data Systems and Sun Microsystems.  The TWG membership made significant code contributions of the NDMPv3 reference implementation code base.  The end result was to create a complete, robust software development kit (SDK) that can be used to to implement NDMPv4 of the standard.

Sun as a member of the SNIA TWG for NDMP has now made available via opensolaris.org it's implementation of the NDMP Server.  As of build 102 (snv_102) the NDMPv4 source code is available.

The  significance here is not so much the evolving protocol but rather multiple vendors, regardless of their business model, promoting open storage networking solutions for the industry.  This collaboration through SNIA promoting not only open standards but open sourced software is what customers expect from all storage vendors today.  The challenge is to get all of the storage vendors to contribute to the collaboration, contribution and evolution of open storage solutions.

Job well done Mark Carlson and Reza Sabdar.


Tuesday Apr 29, 2008

OpenStorage in the news... OpenStorage IS the news.

A year ago Sun announced its OpenStorage initiative.  OpenSolaris is enabling the open storage revolution with the industry's first open storage software community and it is thriving and growing.  Companies are actively contributing source code as well as building appliances and solutions with this OpenStorage software stack.  This is not a head on battle with proprietary storage vendors.  Rather it is a flankOpenStorage  provides customers the advantage of a global community, with all the building blocks they need to accelerate business and market response at 1/10th the cost, with freedom to change vendors. Unlike the competition, Sun remains active in the community, offering the full range of service and support to help you at any point along the path to OpenStorage.  The community is enabled to provide OpenStorage software pre-installed on selected servers and contributed to the community for download.

OpenStorage = commodity industry standard hardware + OpenSolaris

All community members love to share to the degree that they choose.  That is the beauty... participate actively or maybe just watch for the moment from your vantage point.  It is rewarding to observe the participation through the efforts of others.  From podcasts of enthused individuals destroying disk drives to community members touting the value of this open sourced software-- one point is consistent.  ZFS is a file system that keeps appearing in the news more and more.  For example, end to end data integrity WITHOUT  intelligent hardware RAID controllers using free software on commodity hardware is news. Simon blogging about an open sourced home file server is news.  Fear of the impact of this free technology to some proprietary business models is news.  Seeing what others are doing with this technology is news.  Interest from other companies both large and small on using this file system is news.  Tim Thomas talking about configuring native CIFS in WorkGroup mode on OpenSolaris is news.  When Tim discusses Domain mode that is news as well. Seeing Jim Hughes and his YouTube postings helps makes the news as well. 

OpenStorage is no longer coming.  OpenStorage is here and customers are containing and retiring their proprietary storage. 

Set your storage free...  Get connected.

About

The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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