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.


About

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

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