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/

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 Apr 13, 2009

Community, Cosmos and Caviar

Last week I was with community friends in the largest country in the world.  It has the largest forest reserve and its lakes contain 25% of the world's unfrozen fresh water.  Thinking China... well I was in the Russian Federation. I visited 2 prestegious universities:  Moscow State University, Russia's largest and St. Petersburg State University, Russia's oldest and founded by Peter the Great.  It is very rewarding to see adoption of ones technology being put to good use via educational training and academic research.  While commercial innovation of technology is part of every high technology company only a select few lead with open sourced technology.

I was honored to participate in the dedication of an HPC Cluster at St. Petersburg State University.  This system will be part of the world effort where there are no barriers.  Only united scientists throughout the world working together to solve the mysteries of the universe.  The physicists at St. Petersburg State University are participants at the Large Haydron Collider at CERN.  As an engineer I'm amazed how scientists take and use technology for analyzing the mountains of data generated by their experiments.  Experiments that are trying to solve how we all originated from the big bang.  After suffering through 2 years of undergraduate physics, as do all engineers, I'm glad to leave the mysteries of the universe to the physicists.  However, I'm a very interested observer...

Just as important are all the developers who create, use and share technology for the physicists as well as the corporations that need it to run their business.  St. Petersburg hosted a Tech Days 2009 mashup event for the community.  The community showed up in force to talk open sourced software.  Jeet Kaul kicked of the Day 1 keynote and spoke about technology, sharing, innovation and the value the community brings to itself.  Jeet also kicked off the JavaFX coding challenge to the community.  Developers... if you are interested get involved and click here.

On Day 2 my keynote focused on the link between technology adoption and commercial innovation in the open source community.  Independent of the open source community that you choose is the need for continued innovation.  Innovation that can be applied to solving the problems of commercial business and entities.  The benefit to the community is that early adopters get to nurture, proliferate and improve technology with no barriers to entry or exit.  Getting involved costs you only your time to join the experience.  Developers worldwide may be interested in the OpenSolaris Applications of Steel challenge for Community One West on June 1st, 2009.  Get connected.  From university academics and their research to the competitive advantage of commercial cloud solutions using opensourced technology-- the benefits are too compelling to ignore.

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

Tuesday Mar 31, 2009

What is this Community thing... like FOSS about???

I get asked quite frequently about open source software and how can you make any money, especially if you give software away.  My two word response is quite simple: "business model."  Open Source software does have licensing terms & conditions and revenue is part of the business model.  Having personally spent approximately 3 years front and center in the open source software world-- I've explained it many different ways in an attempt to get others to grasp the concept and not get stuck on myths.

My latest analogy to open source software is to use a popular franchise of Major League Baseball, whom some of us know as a customer.  Take the Boston Red Sox. Clearly this is one of the most successful baseball teams in the world, especially since John W. Henry took ownership of the team in 2002.

Now the analogy can apply to any sports team but I specifically am using the Red Sox because of it's presence, reach and magnitude throughout the world which is important for open source software.  If you live in the Boston area, as I do, you know first hand that securing tickets to any home game is an expensive monetary acquisition.  Even if you gain entry into a home game there are tiers within the ball park that dictate how much revenue you contribute to the Red Sox for the service provided:

There is a very wide margin of service one can obtain if they are willing to pay money.  A bleacher seat for a single game is $26 U.S. dollars, while the cheapest seat for the Oakland A's is $9 U.S dollars... see what I meant about reach and presence of a community.   Fenway Park is an enormous revenue generating machine using game tickets, food concession, merchandising, television broadcasting rights and loyalty.

Now let's talk about the vast majority that do not choose to spend money or do not have any money quite yet for the Red Sox.  There is an enormous following of the Boston Red Sox throughout the world.  To be a Red Sox fan costs you nothing, only your involvement with the Red Sox community.  You can watch, follow, cheer and get a similar Red Sox experience for free from a television, radio, free internet game tracker or newspaper box score.  The Red Sox welcome all types of community fans irrespective of where in the cycle of the business model they currently reside.  A subscription is available to every fan depending on their affordable level of service.  Some loyal Red Sox fans commit up front to many years of continued service.  The key point is that fans (community) can come and go and spend or not depending upon their own circumstance.  Free TV fans are adopters where revenue is not a primary focus while premium paying fans are contributing to the Red Sox revenue stream.  In the end both types of fans are customers of the Red Sox and the Red Sox nurture the needs of a varying wide fan base for profit.

The Red Sox certainly want to reach as wide of a fan base as possible including all demographics.  For example that young 11 year old female in bleacher seats with her Dad and pink Red Sox hat may be a future CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Her company may want a corporate suite at Fenway Park some day.  It's very clear to the Red Sox that young Red Sox fans of today usually become future adult Red Sox fans that are likely to contribute revenue to the Red Sox.  When the Red Sox play away games you can see many loyal Red Sox fans at baseball stadiums in Tampa Bay, Baltimore, New York, Oakland, Toronto and Cleveland.

The Red Sox model works for all fans with time and/or money but clearly the Red Sox have been successful by growing their fan base world wide and providing a superior product for their community.  So when you think open source software examples think Red Sox and opensolaris, openoffice, eclipse, ubuntu, mysql, java, opensuse, glassfish, redhat, apache, etc. and the largest contributor of open sourced software in the world.  The choice is yours for choosing the team and community that is right for you.  Developers from many FOSS communities are getting together at CommunityOne West in June.  Click here to register.


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


Friday Mar 14, 2008

Protected Wild Life and Data in Johannesburg

I've just returned from beautiful Johannesburg, South Africa and Tech Days.  It was a very busy week of interacting with developers and many customers.  Africa is another continent going through rapid change.  The growth opportunities are tremendous and South Africa is another example of the new global economy.  The people and climate are great.  The Pilanesburg National Park is spectacular and beautiful.  At Tech Days in Johannesburg we demonstrated an enterprise open sourced operating system in action on a whitebox.  Matt Ahrens, Jim Hughes, Wyllis Ingersol and Renier Sevenster all got together and installed OpenSolaris Developer Preview 2 on the whitebox.  A RAID-Z stripe was created across 8 80GB disk drives that were connected via USB ports.  A MD5 checksum was run on a file that was layed out across all of the 8 drives.  Then Jim took a sledge hammer to 2 disk drives without any data loss.  The data still remained preserved and accessible.   Try doing that with another operating system on a laptop or PC!  In fact view the video below and leave the demolition of hardware for another day.  Checkout for yourself the capability of opensolaris.  Download the Developer Preview 2 here.  If you need a MD5 checksum tool get it here.  If you need a CD burner tool get it here.  Then install your live CD  on your laptop or PC and compare it to what you are running today.  No need to partition or wipe out your hard drive as the system runs off of the CD (Live CD).  I heard strongly in South Africa that open source is a requirement for customers.  Even better if your open source solution is built from a proven enterprise operating system.

 

Thursday Jan 31, 2008

Spending Time to Save $$$ or Spending $$$ to Save Time...

Mårten Mickos the CEO of MySQL hit upon a key trend occurring in the web core which is also known as SAAS, web hosting services,  the internet cloud, etc. . "Some people spend time to save $$$ and some people spend $$$ to save time."  In the open source arena the majority of folks (actually it's a pretty vast majority) are spending the time to save the $$$.  50,000 downloads a day of the most popular open sourced database is an eye opener.  That certainly sounds like a vibrant and active community to me!  People who help develop, enhance, promote, utilize, advocate, lead, govern, market, plan, discuss, etc. There is power in numbers  Are individuals using this database?  Yes in the droves.  Are companies using the database?  Wikipedia, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, SecondLife are using MySQL.  Would banks be interested in this technology alternative?  That is a good question.  Are some enterprise companies experimenting with CentOS today?  The answer is "yes."  Can you purchase commercial grade support on CentOS?  It is probably a barrier for certain application deployments in the enterprise today.  Seems like the potential is there... Commercial grade support from a Fortune 500 company can broaden the reach to new customers. A company that  generates new technology rather than simply gather and glue technology together in a distro can be an advantage as well as an attraction.

Does an open source business model want to shift enterprise customers from spending the time to spending the $$$.  Of course. When those customers are ready to do so on their terms because it is a business decision.  Think of "free" but drop the letter 'r' (for me it's easy since I'm from Boston) and you have "fee" for commercial grade deployment-- which typically means support, various service offerings and SLAs.  If you become "the" largest open source company in the world you drive for new and repeat customers via opportunities not by mouse traps.  Opportunities are generated by downloads, partners, OEMs and direct sales.  While the MySQL acquisition is subject to closing and regulation approvals it is clearly a move that complements nicely an existing software business that is growing.

How much data is currently being stored via this relational database?  I imagine it is many tables of stored data and many more tables of the relations between those tables of stored data.  Can MySQL help drive synergies with storage products and other offerings? 

A big yes.

This is making too much sense.


Wednesday Dec 19, 2007

FOSS = Low Exit Barrier as well as Low Entry Hurdle

FOSS is a check box item for new startup companies as well as enterprise corporations who are consolidating, upgrading or issuing new application deployments.  The high tech industry will continue to have companies acquire other's technology as part of alignment and pure business economics.  Some companies acquire open source software and their intent is to continue to FOSter the community with this software, while being able to monetize the asset.   Counter to this strategy some proprietary companies may be inclined to purchase an open source software stack simply to eliminate its growing popularity by customers.  The software industry should embrace, as have universities, that more and more new deployments require solutions based on open source software code bases.  The following table shows very large deployments of storage assets based on proprietary and open source models. Open source software does create a low exit barrier for unhappy customers, but it does enable a low hurdle for a company that wants to take advantage of the opportunity to engage.  If you have built your business model around open source software you have probably listened to your customers and have realized strategically where the software industry is headed.  On the other side of the coin if your business model is to stay proprietary you may be inclined to believe that open source software is a trend and you will be able to continue to differentiate in a commodity market.  The debate continues but customers vote with their purchases.  It is my opinion that os virtualization solutions both proprietay and open sourced will shed some light on the momentum or trend of open source software.  A robust, stable, enterprise OS that can virtualize other OSes as guests has an opportunity.  The market will embrace multiple choices for OS virtualization rather than have a single choice.  With the amount of vendors who have announced OS virtualization solutions that are both proprietary and open sourced the end results are still open for debate.  Who has the momentum?  I remember the VHS and Betamax debate and who tried to dictate rather than listen to customers.

Thursday Nov 08, 2007

OpenSolaris Train Keeps a Rolling...

There I was standing at the railway station in the city of Odawara, Japan waiting for the express train back to Tokyo.  Out of nowhere a N700 bullet train sped by without stopping.  I'm estimating it was clocking ~90mph (~145kph) right through the station!!!  The N700 bullet train is an engineering marvel.  In fact the bullet train system in Japan is a wonderful experience.  The service is superb and in my opinion the most efficient means for transportation in and out of Tokyo.  Instead of dealing with stop and go traffic in any congested major city of the world, you ride on what feels like a cushion of air.  You also see the electric poles on the side of the track flash by you quickly...  You know you are going fast.  The N700 will top out at ~320kph (~200mph) which is equivilent to the French TGV  bullet trains.  Previously the N700 was bidding to top out at ~360kph (~224mph) but the East Japan Railway Company decided to scale back due to vibration and environmental concerns.  I wanted to take a picture of the train in motion.  The pure speed not only startled me but had me in awe of this beautiful machine.  The nose of the train is very aerodynamic in appearance.  The number of passenger cars attached, fully occupied with passengers, must of numbered ~20.  Despite the number of fully loaded cars the N700 appeared to effortlessly move  due to momentum and kinetic energy.

The N700 reminds me of the OpenSolaris train that has gathered a lot of speed and momentum during the past 18 months.  This train  is carrying more passengers (community members) and the acceleration is noticeable.  With the OpenSolaris release of the Developer Preview, MMS, Kernel based CIFS Server and yes infamous ephemeral UIDs the validation of open source software keeps building momentum.  Furthermore even more technology is yet to come.  While a picture may be worth a 1000 words-- I encourage you to look, touch and participate in the millions of lines of source code available to everyone.  So you can create your own picture.


Friday Oct 05, 2007

Look but don't touch...

Where is the value if you can only look at that chocolate cake behind the glass rather than share and taste it?  Same should apply for all software.


About

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

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