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 Feb 28, 2008

Green Eggs and XAM

I am XAMXAM I am.  Sun recently made another open source contribution-- this time in the space of fixed content storage software.  Fixed content storage is growing at an exponential rate.  As an example, stop and imagine how much fixed content data will be generated by the Summer Olympics 2008. Pictures, video, tickets, security data, statistics, invoices, hotel bills, airline reservations, etc, etc. etc.  A massive amount of data that will be stored and preserved digitally for a long time.  Customers depend on Archive Products, even better if they are open.

There is now a fully open source code base contributed to opensolaris.org, java.net and the SNIA XAM TWG.  Read Scott Tracy's perspective. This code base eliminates the need to roll your own digital archive using piece parts (server, RAID HW, database, etc.)  Yet another storage solution built on the equation:

Powerful considering this implementation is not proprietary and uses industry standard APIs. Our contribution to XAM further emphasizes the commitment to eliminate the barriers in the fixed content storage arena. No more closed APIs to a specific vendors hardware or software stack, but rather as an industry standard such as Ethernet. Some vendors are being forced to open their APIs as opensource is having a positive effect for customers.

Code contrbutions can be found at java.net, opensolaris.org and for more info on joing SNIA please go here.

A great start for building your own digital archive appliance with proven enterprise software that is available as an open source code base.  A common theme for some vendors that are leading the way


Thursday Feb 14, 2008

Sun Grid Engine on the Autobahn

 
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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.


Thursday Jan 17, 2008

Don't Forget That Storage Plumbing

Few can say that storage is not one very hot topic in the IT sector today.  The internet has created quite a medium for content delivery of podcasts, blogs, webcasts, webinars, etc.  This blog itself is an example.  Storage solutions are abundant, but don't forget that some storage vendors charge you for every neat feature.  Yes you pay for that special hardware that does compression to save storage space.  You also pay for every one of those protocols that you need (iSCSI, CIFS, NFS, etc.) and let's not forget about those important data services for protection (replication, clustering, anti-virus engine, etc.)  Some vendors even charge big money when you grow out of your storage pool and want expansion.  Can you say fork lift upgrade?  Well not all storage vendors want to charge you twice.  As the storage market approaches commodity some of us are getting ahead of the curve.  It is true that all storage companies want to make money... but the difference is leading the way versus fighting against something that will happen anyway.  Even new fast storage hardware will become a commodity as others join with similar offerings. It is important to understand that storage today is heavily reliant on low level software such as device drivers, frameworks and protocols that enable the higher level software in the storage stack to simply work.  If a company can expose and open up the storage stack it has a good possibility to attract not only customers but developers as well... which is what I'll call a community.

At OpenSolaris.org there is a project being done by the community called COMSTAR (Common Multiprotocol SCSI Target).  It is a clever framework which enables protocol plug-ins which speak differnent flavors of storage like Fibre Channel, iSCSI, etc.  For me it is analogous to  the old port and class driver model of my youth.  For more info on COMSTAR click here

Also see what this community member has to say. Some other notables about the storage plumbing at OpenSolaris.  The COMSTAR effort puts code into the kernel for optimization.  It will improve upon the current iSCSI Target already available and in good use today.

Open sourcing the entire storage stack implies the storage plumbing too.  For example it enables this storage stack to work for you rather than you working to pay for that expensive storage solution.

Remember Sun's OS, middleware, database and infrastructure products have the following in common-- they are models of open sourced software that more and more customers are demanding from all vendors and providers.

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 Dec 06, 2007

NDMP The Protocol, It's All About The Storage...

Why talk about an industry standard protocol called NDMP (Network Data Management Protocol).  I agree by itself it is a low level medium that is a check box item in the world of storage.  However it is an important piece of plumbing that enables your "house" to function.  Numerous software storage applications, particularly backup software and tape products, utilize this protocol for providing services.  While it is analogous to other storage protocols such as iSCSI and FCoE it is "the" protocol when it comes to basic backup.  Pretty sophisticated backup software choices are out there all driven by this basic protocol.  This includes multiple configuration choices such as local backup, 3-way and DAR. 

  • SUN is a working member of the SNIA community to advance the adoption of industry standards. We will be contributing source code to the SNIA effort to help update the SNIA software from NDMP v3 to NDMP v4.

  • SUN is fostering its own OpenSolaris Storage Platform community in cooperation with SNIA and other industry standards bodies to implement and enhance storage industry standards.

  • SUN plans to incorporate the SNIA software being created by the NDMP software TWG into OpenSolaris when it is approved by the SNIA membership.

The storage stack of OpenSolaris keeps getting stronger.  While NDMP is a robust service for backup, when it comes to management of massive amounts of data your mileage may vary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the above picture shows the NDMP protocol in application it does not speak to the entire pyramid structure on the right.  Backup can help you with the performance/cost curve of storage classes, but true storage archive management (SAM) is the one storage application that can automatically manage multiple tiers of storage according to policies crafted by the environment.   Policies are usually driven of of the metadata (the data on the data that you store) which allows you to move data between classes of storage (e.g. expensive FC disks, cheaper SATA disks and magnetic tape) based on file size, access frequency, creation date, etc.  OpenSolaris has released initial SAM/QFS code sources and will continue to do so until the entire SAM/QFS code base is available to the community.  Equally exciting are the OpenSolaris projects ADM and MMS which are bringing storage archive management to the ZFS file system.  Couple all these activities together make one extremely busy storage community working with OpenSolaris.  Given all the technologies are open source code bases you have the ability to leverage with your own code even if it is proprietary.  Fueling the opensource community benefits not only better innovation but more customer choice as well.

 

 

Monday Nov 26, 2007

The Art of Coexistant File Sharing in OpenSolaris

Today any OS needs to provide support for the 2 dominant file sharing protocols in the industry (NFS and CIFS).  While there are good  implementations such as SAMBA which run  "On" the OS in user space, ideally you want both file sharing protocols to run portions of the implementation "In" the kernel.  Now that OpenSolaris has a kernel based CIFS server along side NFS, I want to give kudos to a few people who made it a reality. Keep in mind implementing any file protocol in any kernel is difficult.  When you introduce both Windows and OpenSolaris together at the kernel level one can appreciate the complexities introduced to coexist.  Coexist has the caveat that code gets added in a seamless fashion and that services are not negatively impacted by this new foreign object.  Fundamental items such as the file system, security, permissions, marshaling,  etc., play an important part in making the seamless coexistence a technical mountain to climb.  That said the OpenSolaris team solved some pretty significant technical issues to make the CIFS Server in OpenSolaris available to anyone.  Despite some self proclaimed experts insisting the feat would never be accomplished, I'll point you to a few folks who know how to collaborate, innovate and in some instances dictate how to "get it done."  You can see for yourself the numerous ARC (~35) cases sponsored and approved as well as some intricate details of how problems were solved.  You can hear from the developers directly and since OpenSolaris is open sourced-- peruse ~370 thousands of lines of code that are now part of OpenSolaris.  Let's start with Mike Shapiro and Alan M. Wright.  One is a Patriots and Red Sox fan (like me) and the other is fond of rugby (unlike me... I like the Patriots).  Both are top notch engineers who can architect with ease and crank out massive amounts of code... that just works.  Mike and Alan cracked a heck of a technical problem (yes these are the hard problems that motivate them both) with respect to "Unified POSIX and Window Credentials for Solaris."  Mike describes the problem in detail on a recent post at his blog.  Alan takes us through, via his blog, the evolution of how a fully integrated CIFS service was integrated into OpenSolaris.  He is very literate on topics such as SMB autohome shares and why they evolved.  Let's not forget about Afshin, Doug and Nico.  All quite literate as well on the details of the hows and whys of a fully integrated CIFS service into OpenSolaris that was not just munged to sort of work.  From an architectural perspective numerous design requirements were diligently reviewed.  Take for example endianness.  The CIFS protocol is sensitive to the x86 processor endian order of significance.  However careful care was taken to enable the CIFS protocol in OpenSolaris to work on both big-endian and little-endian architectures by putting intelligence into marshaling.  So that means that the OpenSolaris CIFS Server will run on a SPARC-based platform if a community member were to build an appliance or simply run the service as part of a general purpose server.  Yes Niagara-II and Rock microprocessors work as it is part of OpenSolaris architecture conformance.  What other open sourced OS supports a kernel based CIFS service that runs on both big and little endian machines?

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 26, 2007

FISH -n- CIFS

There is motivation when skeptics like to preach that there is no way <substitute here> is going to happen.  Examples include come from behind victories in sports, new discoveries in science and cures for disease.  Good intentions are one thing, but following through on those intentions is a bit more difficult. 

The storage community at opensolaris.org has been busy this past year with community members that include partners, industry standard bodies and numerous code contributions.  The community has been on a journey to continue to enhance, integrate, develop, share and invent technologies applicable to traditional storage and more importantly hybrid storage solutions of today and tomorrow.  The Storage Platform for OpenSolaris Distributions has just had some recent contributions.  Keep in mind these contributions to the community are free, open and not proprietary.  Code is not read only, but available for modification, improvement and bi-directional sharing according to the opensolaris licensing terms.

Recent additions of code and new opensolaris projects include:

  • Kernel based CIFS server (Build 77).  That's right-- designed in as a first class citizen of the os with a kernel based protocol, tightly coupled with NFSv4, VFS, ZFS and Active Directory.  Windows Interoperability.  Another complimentary open sourced solution along side our friends from the SAMBA community.  This service leverages the os and its capabilities.  Need infinite snapshots of your CIFS files?  Want file compression?  Strive for encryption of your data?  Not a problem.  ZFS provides these data services IN the file system.  The kernel based CIFS server source code will post here today.  Need help with source code management tools click here.

  • NDMP service.  Table stakes for backup applications.  The code will be binaries only until the SNIA working group members complete their efforts.

  • Virus Scan service.  Another service that is tightly integrated with the kernel CIFS server and the ZFS file system.  This service provides ICAP protocol support for off-board virus scan engines.

  • NFSv4 Mirror Mounts.  NFSv4 Clients can now automatically mount shared file systems on a NFSv4 Server.

The above new Opensolaris project pages will be posting in the next few weeks so stay tuned.

Adding more and more content to the storage stack of opensolaris may raise some questions of what can be done with this stack.  Well first off it enables better integrated hybrid storage solutions.  The x4500 "Thumper"with Solaris has enabled new thinking storage solutions by leveraging the hardware and software unique capabilities.  One can continue on this journey and enhance the unique hardware and software capabilities.  In fact think of it as Fully Integrated Software and Hardware on a repetitive basis.  The tighter you integrate the incremental features, the more compelling solutions with commodity components using an enterprise open sourced os one can build.  I would think that if you could provide a software heath kit of an open sourced software stack to appeal to the masses you may have something worth investigating.

Come and participate.  Opensolaris is transforming itself from open storage solutions, xVM to Solaris install revisited also known as "Indiana." 

How can you pass up FISH -n- CIFS well prepared? Help spread the word.

Thursday Oct 18, 2007

Technology, Telecom, Transportation and Tandoori

I recently visited India and personally got to experience a beautiful country transforming itself.  The climate, cuisine and currency (economy) are experienced in various flavors of hot.  For cuisine my favorite is chicken tandoori, a relatively mild dish.  The Bombay SENSEX is boiling like a hot pickled chili.  The BSE has surpassed 19000 and yes it has pulled back some.  In the year 2004 the index was at the 5000 range!  If you take a look at the 30 companies that form the index you will notice that IT, Telecom and Transportation are well represented.  These 3 sectors basically feed each other.  Foreign investments are pouring into India.  Capital is everywhere.  What is driving this surge?  India is transforming itself into an economic pillar.  There is a youthquake (affluent consumers under the age of 25) happening in India.  Job growth is expected to be over 45% this year.  The trend for India college grads is not to go abroad but take a job within India.  Gone are the days of India being only a place to outsource.  The action IS India.  India is quickly addressing the lack of infrastructure that has prevented growth in the past.  Major 8 lane highways, new airports, etc. are being developed as we speak.  Mobile phone service is already throughout India... and pretty cheap as well.  In fact the state government decided to ban mobile phones from school and pre-university college campuses effective Oct 5.  Is technology in the middle of this rapid, massive expansion?  Of course.  Is the term "Going Bollywood" more appropriate now?  Absolutely since "Going Hollywood" is yesterday in some sense.  The government in India has figured out that lowering the VAT actually helps stimulate growth.  Previously the VAT in India was very high... in the double digits.  What did this do?  It actually inhibited tax revenue as most wise people would conduct transactions with dead icons printed on paper (CASH).  Lowering the VAT was a smart move in India as the cash transaction overhead becomes insignificant. Tax revenues actually increase in a growing economy.  Capitalism being embraced for sure.

India is a growth country that does not have to deal with much legacy infrastructure.  This includes legacy technology.  Interoperability issues?  No.  Put in a solution that is a weapon not a burden.  Who are your IT vendors?  Who are your IT partners?  Who is going to help you prevent from getting "locked in" to a vendor? The cost effective approach is to install the latest technology.  Use the technology to help surge the growth.  Don't say your business is relying on India unless you are "IN" India.

There is action in Las Vegas, but it is also in Bangalore too.  What is an indicator?  Technology, Telecom and Transportation are helping fuel a mall-building boom in India.  The retail environment of yesterday is going upscale.  I read in Time that the number one shopping splurge in India is dresses and the American brand coveted to own is Calvin Klein.  Yes India has its challenges as do other developing economies.  Will the infrastructure build out be done properly?  Will the economy eventually level off and when?

It is a world economy today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.


Wednesday Sep 26, 2007

If you are painted as irrelevant are you a threat?

What is a better position to be painted as?  Company A: that alternative mouse trap or Company B: that former high flyer but "irrelevant" entity.  It doesn't matter what industry: automobiles, home appliances, beer industry, retail, etc. We have all heard the competition paint their competitors.  Sports teams like to use the "no respect" card to motivate the team.  Satisfaction is gained when the "team" shows the pundits and the odds makers differently.  In fact some like to be the underdog so they can fly under the radar and be taken for granted.  It is a great position for professional sports as any team can be beat on a given night when you are playing the best.  Roger Clemems was supposedly washed up 11 years ago when he was traded by the Boston Red Sox to the Toronto Blue Jays.  How many Cy Young awards did he win after the trade?  Four of them. How many Cy Young awards has he won in total?  Seven of them.  Being painted as all washed up and irrelevant was a motivator.  "He is too old", "Doesn't have the edge anymore", "Lost his spark", "Has too much money", etc. He saw it differently than his pundits and competition.

If you are a company and get painted the same way:  former high flyer, lost its vision, could not adapt after the .BOMB, financially unsound, etc. Those are certainly motivators.  If a company was in the software and hardware business what would they have to do show that irrelevance is determined by the customer not the competition at the end of the day. 

The company would build hardware that is optimized for virtualization on multiple fronts.  Virtulization is not a one recipe fits all problem.  Have your hardware be hyper visor aware.  Make sure your hardware can run the dominate industry operating systems even if one of them happens to be proprietary. Memory density and I/O connectivity should be features that differentiate.    Common industry standard components and subsystems that span across multiple microprocessor architectures is attractive.  If different microprocessor-based blades can share a common backplane all the better.  The company should then make sure that their software is virtual machine aware to be a great dom0 as well as run as a VM in someone else's dom0 even if it is proprietary.  This software would also allow different flavors of VM capability.  For example virtualize and entire OS 'on' your environment or virtualize particular applications 'in' your environment with zoning.  Lastly make sure your software environment runs on competitor's hardware. So far the company would have multiple hardware capability teamed with multiple software capability.  This sounds like motivation. 

Next the company would be able to put the two above items together and build compelling solutions for customers.  Imagine the products that one could build. For example build a server that can eat and serve storage easily because the architecture is closely coupled and the os is optimized.  Or a server that can horizontally consolidate multiple instances of linux by taking advantage of high cpu thread counts and the VM aware os.  How about taking it one step further.  The above 2 examples are based off of general computing.  So now let's extend the solution with embedded capability.  Create dedicated products with the same hardware and software from above-- but leverage their ability to virtulize...  That is both compelling and scary especially if the software licensing terms allow anyone to have access to all the code. 

Cy Young like stuff...

Sunday Sep 16, 2007

The Financial industry IS High Tech

The financial industry has become quite high technology. The old days of banking are long gone.  Does anyone remember the 3-6-3 rule of banking?  Pay your depositors 3% interest, charge 6% for loans and be on the golf course by 3 pm.  The financial industry is a hungry consumer of high technology in order to manage their business.

Number crunching of massive amounts of data is a requirement in the financial industry today.  Complex formulas and modeling on large scale computing engines are no longer foreign to people managing capital.  Complex equations and modeling are not unique to the scientific community.  High performance technical computing (HPC) is being used for financial management. 

A financial institution will crunch lots of numbers to determine their opening position when trading begins each day.  When the market closes trading for the day, those massive computes begin again and crunch numbers throughout the night looking for the advantage via trend, averages, models, derivatives, etc.  The financial industry has leveraged technology to the point that this industry is effectively competing and hiring technology college graduates.

Simple financial management has been replace by everything from sub-prime mortgages, day trading, hedge funds, disaster bonds to mortality bonds.  Mortality bonds are a perfect example of how the industry constantly looks for creative ways to provide a return on an investment.  The finance industry has taken a page from every insurance company actuary.  Disaster bonds are hedging against having to payout for natural disasters.

High Performance Technical computing has become a competitive weapon for the financial industry.

Thursday Sep 13, 2007

10 year old twins programming?

This past summer I had the dreaded conversation that software developer parents have with their 13 year old children.  No not about the birds and the beesIt was the programmer conversation...  My 13 year old is a runescape gamer-- part of a community that is 5 million users strong for a single on-line game!  It bothers me that he spends time on a game when he could be playing outside.  Granted he is active in sports, the combination of Web, Playstation and media content dejour causes me to constantly say things \*are\* different today.  The discussion started with me telling him that runescape is a Java app. "What's that?" he replied.  So I downloaded NetBeans onto his computer.  Then I showed him how to build a simple Java app and then run it in the JVM on his PC.  His first exposure to programming at 13... I was 18 when I was exposed to FORTRAN IV on punch cards.

I'm waiting to see if my son picks up from being "on" the code as a user and embraces being "in" the code as developer. He is pretty savvy already.  He has taken full advantage of Google Pack (always free - no trail versions or spyware). I asked him what tools in Google Pack are most applicable to his school work.  Hands down he uses the office productivity suite called StarOffice the most.  My son is getting along nicely with his PC and the free software he uses on a daily basis.  I'm waiting to have the virtulization discussion with him next, but let's wait and see if he wants to be "in" rather than "on."

Not to be left out my twin 10 year old daughters wanted to be "in" on something that they do not understand.  There is a great research project called SCRATCH being driven out of MIT that enables elementary school children to create games, interactive media and animated stories via drag and drop programming. With a little investigation I discovered the engine behind this tool is an open sourced LAMP stack.  My twins are now programming away using this fabulous tool to expose young children to programming.  I suggested my son experiment with SCRATCH as a precursor to NetBeans.

So in a weekend I was able to expose all 3 of my children to programming via free and open source software.  That made me think why wouldn't the same apply to novice adults and businesses. Free and open source software enables one to experiment with no entry barriers other than a person's time.  A computer is a barrier but pubic access to  computers at libraries and university locations is widespread. I did a search on the web to see what free and open source stack  I could find related to storage.  I was able to find a product called FreeNAS. Granted this product has some limitations, but I'm sure someone will enable a commercial viable product around an open sourced os using commodity hardware.  In fact, FreeNAS won an Info World Bossie Award along with some other recipients...

My son teaches me every day that things are different than when I was a youth.  Land line phones no, Wireless Web-based devices yes.

He is right... things are changing.


 



About

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

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