Wednesday Dec 02, 2009

Isn't Chrome OS another Linux distribution?

Google released the Chrome OS open sourced code base on November 19, 2009.  The first netbooks running the Chrome OS are not expected for at least another year.  There are some nice features of this streamlined Linux variant such as fast boot using solid state disk technology built into the netbook. However just about any OS has the ability to support SSDs.  In fact more than a few operating systems, file systems and databases are SSD aware.

With several other Linux offerings such as RedHat, OpenSuse, OEL, Centos, etc. why yet another?  (Have you heard of Moblin?)  Chrome OS appers to me as more of a thin client rather than desktop device.  All applications on a Chrome OS device execute via the Web somewhere.  The users interface to the given application is through the Chrome web browser.  All the data and the application code is NOT on the netbook running The Chrome OS.

The major software desktop platforms want to optimize seamless operation of the desktop and the World Wide Web. Microsoft has Windows 7 and Linux desktops are no longer only for the hobbyist.  Also look how far Apple has come with the UNIX based operating system developed at NeXT, now called Mac OS X.

Now this desktop/netbook/Web client situation sounds familiar to the various smart devices already all over the world.  A particular embedded OS in smart phones really does make a difference.  The Blackberry OS can multitask and therefore you can run multiple applications at once.  The iPhone OS cannot run more than one application at a time but the iPhone experience and application portfolio has set the standard.  Google has the Android OS for intelligent handsets now coming to market.  Will there be a Windows 7 CE?

My opinion is that two camps emerge.  The set of companies whose business model is totally focused to monetize the Web.  Everyone else is focused on maintaining their business model AND creating ways to monetize the Web.  Consumers want simplicity and low prices.  Unfortunately simplicity and low price are inverse proportions for the enterprise. 

Crossing this chasm is what makes the IT industry very exciting today and for the next several years!

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

Wednesday Nov 18, 2009

IT Infrastructure Products, Partnerships and Paraphernalia

Announcements have certainly accelerated lately with respect to integrated infrastructure technology.  Multiple vendors who provide infrastructure hardware for compute, storage and network are either partnering with each other or pursuing a "go alone" strategy.  Few will disagree that more tightly integrated solutions will benefit IT customers.

However an IT solution has always had the expectation and requirement to be integrated.  That is why the IT industry has developed over the years standards and protocols.  In other words, common industry accepted methods to move, process and protect business as well as consumer information.  Traditionally large complex IT solutions have been integrated by VARs, management consulting firms or consulting services for a given customer.  Is that beginning to change?  Also the IT solution is comprised of more than just tightly integrated hardware blocks. 

Let's not forget about the various applications that need to run on any given vendors hardware platform.  In addition to the applications, virtualization is becoming a standard requirement to maximize the utilization of any vendors integrated hardware platform.  Infrastructure providers will need to adjust to the fact that hypervisor technology may sell less hardware because utilization and efficiency will be largely improved.

Does this new focus on consolidation favor software stacks that are both heterogeneous and therefore ubiquitous?  The IT industry has become a mature business.  New ideas will always continue but IT will still be comprised of both hardware and software. 

A good analogy is the automobile industry...  Automobiles have had tremendous amounts of progress over the past 100 years.  For example there have been many optimizations and efficiencies with car manufacturing, car fuel efficiency, etc.  Over the past 20 years the automobile industry has highly leveraged the use of embedded electronics in cars.  But the basic components of a car (tires, engine, brakes, steering wheel, etc.) have (and for the foreseeable future) not changed.

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

Tuesday Jul 07, 2009

Congestion, Creativity, Capital and Competition

Despite the global economic downturn some businesses are aggressively spending for the opportunities of the future.  However the spending of today has conflicting objectives that some would argue are necessary.  Let's take wireless mobile providers throughout the world.  In this market, competition is fierce and beneficial to consumers.  The services offered to subscribers are plentiful and rich but they do come at a high cost for the providers.  Subsidizing the phones from the likes of Nokia, Apple, Samsung and Blackberry is one big cost to get the customer's subscription.

It's great that technology has enabled GSM phones to work almost everywhere in the world except Japan "where you'll need a special phone that either supports CDMA or uses the 3G standard UMTS in the 2100 MHz frequency band. Sony Ericsson, Nokia, and a few other phone manufacturers now offer multi-band GSM phones that also include support for UMTS 2100. Coverage also extends to some cruise ships." There is a crowded group of companies looking for the opportunity to connect to individuals to provide any and all content. It's as if companies have discovered another Gold Rush.

I'm excited to see wireless and cable providers compete and innovate for delivering services to all of us around the world.  Watching cable providers offering land line service over IP and phone companies offering internet connectivity is a good example of the competitiveness out there.  The days of just delivery of service or being only the data pipe are long gone.  Providers want to delivery the data but more importantly they want to create the applications that produce the data.  The telco, cable provider and handset manufacturer all want to own as much of the subscriber stack as possible.  Now that's competition!  Here in the U.S. Comcast and Verizon are aggressively competing to win one subscriber at a time for internet, phone and HD television service.  As a result both companies are making massive investments in capital expenditures.

In fact, despite the global recession, capital spending continues throughout the world by some companies as a competitive advantage for the rebounding economy in the future.  Having spent the past few weeks talking to customers in New Zealand, Australia, Germany and reading newspapers such as the Financial Times, I've collected a group of random data.  This data can be basically summarized into Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection and applies to business as well as nature.

  • world airlines have 866 Boeing 787 Dreamliners on order.  Each 787 averages ~$200M U.S. each!
  • new cargo ships ordered or under construction is ~50% \*more\* than anticipated need
  • telcos are making huge capital investments but they understand they cannot be sustained
  • will energy become so expensive that transporting it becomes prohibitive?
  • will multiple countries practice protectionism such that localization becomes attractive again?

I'm excited that new technology will be able to help address the above as well as new economic problems we will all face in the future.


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

Monday Mar 02, 2009

Another Tool for the Cloud gets better

Almost everyone in the IT infrastructure business is feverishly working on cloud solutions today.   This includes the incumbent providers as well as the infrastructure providers to the incumbents.  An excellent blog can be found here which outlines the trends that have accelerated over the past 5 years with respect to what has morphed into the cloud.

One tool that is platform agnostic across Linux, Windows, OpenSolaris, etc. is Sun's open sourced Grid Engine.  There is no need to look for a better policy based workload manager which includes dynamic provisioning of application workloads.  We are just about to release update 2 to the 6.2 release.  More platform support (see below) and of course more and better features such as improved resource management of parallel jobs.  Grid Engine is used fairly regularly in HPC stacks throughout the world.  In fact Grid Engine is in use at some of the largest compute installations in the world.  Keeping 60,000 processor cores busy is a formidable task.  A hard requirement that only makes the product that much better.  I can't wait to see how solutions will be able to combine other tools from the toolbox and create technology for clouds, HPC engines and who knows what the limits will be.  We have come a long way since the Turing Machine from the 1930s.

In addition to being excited about the advancement of technology it is also very rewarding for your technology to contribute toward the benefit of solving some very difficult problems.

Grid Engine supports the following platforms:

  • OpenSolaris
  • Solaris 10, 9 and 8 Operating Systems (SPARC Platform Edition)
  • Solaris 10 and 9 Operating Systems (x86 Platform Edition)
  • Solaris 10 Operating System (x64 Platform Edition)
  • Apple Mac OS X 10.5
  • Apple Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), PPC platform
  • Apple Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), x86 platform
  • Hewlett Packard HP-UX 11.00 or higher, 32 bit
  • Hewlett Packard HP-UX 11.00 or higher, 64 bit (including HP-UX on IA64)
  • IBM AIX 5.1, 5.3
  • Linux x86, kernel 2.4, 2.6, glibc >= 2.3.2
  • Linux x64, kernel 2.4, 2.6, glibc >= 2.3.2
  • Linux IA64, kernel 2.4, 2.6, glibc >= 2.3.2
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003
  • Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1 or later
  • Windows 2000 Server with Service Pack 3 or later
  • Windows 2000 Professional with Service Pack 3 or later
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 2008 Server


Wednesday Jan 07, 2009

It's Getting Rather Cloudy Out There...

Happy New Year.  2009 appears to be a busy year for cloudsVirtualization has added several players since VMware momentum appeared a few years ago.  One can now select from an array of hypervisors, both of the bare metal and hosted variety. While VMware still remains the incumbent, healthy competition is now front and center for this business.  The added competition will only stimulate the innovation even more as products strive to differentiate.  Price will become more elastic as equality among base product capability matures.  In fact open sourced hypervisor offerings may become a tipping point, especially in the current worldwide economy.  Desktop hypervisors are almost a required application these days for developers.  Here is to healthy competition continuing in this space.

The internet cloud is the next frontier where competition is popping up all over the place.  While Amazon's EC2 and Google's clouds have been around for a while with success, they have certainly invited competition. Microsoft, IBM, Dell, EMC and Sun are each combining their technologies and extending that of the virtual nature to the cloud.  Cloud computing is the next order of magnitude of virtulization.  The cloud will become the place where physical becomes virtual (like memory) and the application is hosted somewhere out there.  Clients to the cloud are no longer desktops but rather devices.  Devices which include the hand held kind (intelligent phones, Nintendo DS, etc.).  Advantage goes to the cloud who has the technology and assembles computes, storage, interconnect, developer tools, systems management, applications, services, choice, price, flexibility, support, etc... the best.  Open sourced software will provide an advantage here.  Stability of the hardware and software will make a difference.  Cloud lock-in will eventually be a barrier that will go away.  Broadband and mobile utilities have no lock in other than service agreements.  Applications will be required to be portable to work across hosted environments.  2009 will be an exciting area for the cloud to watch as well as participate.  I'm excited.  Utility computing has really started to evolve, morph and accelerate.


Monday Aug 04, 2008

Sun Grid Engine 6.2 - what opensource can do for you

If you are having problems managing your large HPC compute infrastructure or provisioning your cloud of computes a certain tool may be just what you may need.  Policy-based workload management and the dynamic provisioning of application workloads are two large problems facing industry and research institutions. 

Today Sun Grid Engine 6.2 raises the bar for scalability, performance and ease of management.  New features include:

  • Multi-clustering with Service Domain Manager - delivers built in elasticity of hosts

  • Advance Reservation - request and reserve grid resources in advance

  • Scalability - up to 63,000 core CPU's today and even higher tomorrow

  • Supports massivelly parallel jobs - across thousands of CPU cores

Sun Grid Engine is in use today for many production environments managing critical research, crash simulations and clouds of computing.  Sun Grid Engine is an opensource distribution that runs on solaris, linux and windows. 

Community members help drive and influence the features, content adn direction of the product.  Join today and become a community member.

What is really exciting is the new Service Domain Manager capability of Sun Grid Engine 6.2, click here to see a demo of managing elastic resources.  Totally applicable to your cloud including network.com and other cloud resources.  Dynamic, on the fly and transparent to your workload.  Check it out! 

About

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

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