Tuesday Feb 17, 2009

Not the Bandwidth... It's the Latency That Gets You

Being an old server guy a common rule we live by is: "It's not the bandwidth, it's the latency that gets you."  How so appropriate for storage today. Applications put a tremendous demand on accessing data when and where you need it.  Users nor customers are willing to deal with waiting a long time for their data.  With Web 2.0 services spanning a multitude of needs, response time is critical.  For certain real time applications interrupt response time and minimal latency is a must.  A real time data feed comes in an instant and you have to be ready to respond to the telemetry data as that satellite passes over that receiving station.

Data needs to be stored or retrieved for devices that span from the small mp3 player to that large cloud that you provide and/or utilize.  Specific to the storage of your data, performance fundamentally comes down to how you manage your reads and writes.  File and block serving of data needs to be tuned, staged and ultimately not waiting at any stage of the pipeline from disk to client.  Today that requires a lot of intimate knowledge of processor caching, storage controllers, I/O software stacks and much more.  Having knowledge of this information is only part of the solution as the whole application topology is further mystified by unknown bottlenecks, resource hogs and just plain alchemy. 

The unknowns are attempted to be turned into knowns by expensive analyzers, network sniffers and debug tools.  What could one do if a visual dynamic analysis tool was made available to you?  The you being that novice with limited knowledge as well as that you with all the intimate knowledge of hardware, kernel, drivers, application software, cache coherency, round robin scheduling, relational databases, etc.  For the investor world we have Cramer's Mad Money.  I'd like to introduce you to Gregg's Mad Storage.  Brendan Gregg  has a great post on explaining how a hybrid storage pool of solid state disk and cheap SATA disks can significantly outperform traditional storage.  It's not only RAM and disk any longer, rather RAM, SSDs, cheap disks and the ZFS file system.  The heat maps from Analytics of storage latency are just so visual.  Using Analytics (Dtrace) in the Unified Storage Server 7000 Appliance is very intuitive and straight forward.  No clumsy logs files to comb through.  No debug points to capture state.  Only point and clicks of your mouse and loads of visual histograms of data for your eyes. Brendan does an awesome job of breaking down fundamental performance problems using analytics built into this storage appliance.

There even is a Unified Storage Server 7000 emulator available on VMwareCheck it out for yourself and see what commodity hardware, an open sourced operating system, innovation and differentiation can do for your storage needs.  You may also want to bookmark Brendan's blog as his posts on performance for hybrid storage appliances are just as passionate as the technology.  Stay tuned for more on solid state disk technology where we'd rather lead than follow.

Tuesday Feb 03, 2009

Follow the Ships in Singapore...

Flying into Singapore, one of the worlds largest ports, I noticed something odd.  There seemed to be too many ships anchored in the waters.  From the SwissHotel in Singapore you have a beautiful view of the port.  From this view you can also see the Singapore Flyer.  One rotation on this structure takes 30 minutes.  It is B-I-G.  Unfortunately it was closed as mechanical problems caused some people to get stuck at the top for several hours.  Not a pleasant thought if you don't like heights...  This Ferris wheel measures 571 feet (165m) in height!  During my attendance of Sun's TechDays 2009 in Singapore I spoke with a lot of developers and customers among the ~1300 that attended (see below).  During the event reception, on the 70th floor of the hotel, we had the backdrop of the port amongst several conversations (see below). 

I was speaking with folks about Singapore's Port Terminal and why so many ships at port.  I was not surprised to find out that many of the ships are short term moored, since imports and exports have slowed.  One individual told me that ship movements started to slow in October, then some more in November and plummeted in December.  The decrease in port activity is in direct correlation with the economic slow down worldwide.  Another person described the port activity as "crawling."  While activity may be off in Singapore's port, it still processes 1/5 of the worlds export/import containers and serves as an economic barometer in my view.  I noticed a large number of oil tankers in the port as well...  Short term mooring of vessels at Singapore is measured in days and it makes sense to stage vessels there-- especially if you consider the amount of throughput at this port.  One only needs to watch the ship activity at Singapore's port terminal to gauge if the world economy is getting better or worse.  No need to listen to all the analysts, experts, press, news feeds, ect.  Simply watch the ships in Singapore.

Moving up North to Tokyo I met with some customers in the mobile provider business.  I've been able to visibly see evidence that businesses world wide are interested in cost savings.  That does not necessarily mean stop spending, but rather spending to improve efficiencies via consolidation (cloud computing) and commoditized components (storage). 

It's rather scary to see more public companies report disappointing earnings and forecasts.  Benchmark companies such as Microsoft, Nokia, Toyota, LG, Lockhead, Sony, Hyundai, TSMC, GM, BofA, Barclays and HSBC have all slashed their outlook as well as stating reduction of operating costs.  One analyst quoted in the Financial Times has predicted trouble for some British banks who refused help from their government and may be over exposed to emerging market borrowers.  Some are speculating that these worldwide economic problems are accelerating computing away from the PC.  That means margin pressure for the businesses who center around this particular computing platform.  As PC computing moves more toward laptop to netbook to handhelds and thin clients, this will only accelerate the opportunity for those who can differentiate in the computing infrastructure environment.  This in my opinion is why the storage market and now the cloud market (virtulization 2.0) has become so visible.
Open sourced efforts will only gain momentum with a bad economy. The computing industry will become a low barrier to enter and exit among suppliers.  Look at the auto industry.  If you can drive a car your loyalty can move between any supplier.  The only way an auto manufacturer can “lock you in” is via your experience.  That is not so true in the IT industry today.  Apple does a great job today of keeping you as a customer because of the excellent experience with their products.  However look at Sony.  They had that edge previously, but commodity economics has caused Sony to retreat and regroup.  Customers are interested in solving new problems in different ways, especially if there is a savings in cost.  For example SATA disks and Solid State Disks (SSDs) combined can give you better performance than buying more expensive Fibre Channel 15K Disk Drives. If I give some quick thought as to what the IT commoditization order looks like I would list it as:

  1. memory
  2. processor
  3. networking
  4. operating system
  5. storage
  6. database

Items 1,2 and 3 are in advanced stages of being a commodity.  Items 4, 5, and 6 are early or accelerating stages of being commoditized.  In an accelerating economy leaders of new innovation who commoditize technology are usually venture backed private firms.  In a deteriorating economy the leaders of new innovation tend to be publicly traded entities who have the expertise to combine technology into new solutions.  Also it's important to not be squeamish on changing the business model for these new solutions.

In Tokyo a fellow colleague asked me how the economy was in the U.S.  I asked him has he been reading the papers or watching the news to which he said "yes."  He then told me he wanted to hear it first hand from someone in the U.S.  I asked him why and he stated that he still finds it unbelievable that the downturn is world wide.  It's obvious to him in Japan and he's living it, but the other economy woes worldwide are only news to him and difficult to fathom.   Having seen the downturn firsthand around the globe I don't need to ask anyone.

Keep innovating, keep commoditizing... the time is ripe for opportunity.


Tuesday Dec 09, 2008

OpenSolaris 2008.11 is here

The latest release of OpenSolaris (2008.11) just posted a few weeks ago.  As we discussed in Brasil it is so easy to get and so easy to kick the tires using Virtual Box.  The community has been busy building out the latest enhancements to this release.  We have aggregated FOSS components such as GNOME, FireFox and Thunderbird while having innovated as well.  Take notice of our new installer, OpenOffice 3.0, ZFS Time Slider as well as the integrated packaging system (IPS) repository. Innovation and aggregation brought to you by the same source.

Keep in mind the 2008.11 release is built using the SAME technologies that bring you an enterprise operating system.  From a scalable multiprocessing kernel to a GUI interface targeted at Web developers, 2008.11 combines the best of both worlds.  Take some time and use the package repository to add or subtract the thousands of FOSS application available to you.  While the package repository continues to grow every community member has the opportunity to contribute at their own comfort level.

Kudos to the team and stay tuned for the 2009.04 release...  Think about working with the community on the build updates that get posted every 2 weeks at OpenSolaris.org.

Give

it

a

try...

Today. 

Peter Buckingham gave it a spin.


Wednesday Oct 01, 2008

Software Freedom = Brasil

What is important in Brasil?  Obviously football, samba dance, carnival and if you come here to Brasil and talk to developers: open sourced softwareThis week in Brasil the community of developers, including students, came together for 3 days.  The above picture shows you the density of a city discovered in the year 1532.  The picture also represents a world leader, as a country, for progressing open sourced software.  Today 1 out of ever 10 software developers reside in Brasil!

I had the pleasure of personally thanking, on behalf of Sun, Sean Maloney EVP and Chief Sales Marketing Officer at Intel for his partner keynote at Sun's 1st 2008-2009 Worldwide Developers Conference in San Paulo. Sun's partner Intel along with our other partners from AMD and Ericsson certainly had lots of technology to share this past week.  Sean discussed Solaris innovation as a partner.  Innovation that is valuable to the open sourced community via OpenSolaris despite what others may think.

I keynoted after Sean and discussed value to and from the community when you innovate, collaborate and integrate together.  I demonstrated how opensourced virtualization software for the desktop enables a developer to work with multiple guest operating systems as virtual machines.  We had a OpenSolaris 2008.05 virtual machine (in local language - Brasil Portugeuse) installing and removing packages seamlessly with its package manager.  The OpenSolaris 2008.11 release coming next month just gets better.  Heck we even had the virtual machine check the followings of the U.S. stock market crisis via a Firefox browser and My Yahoo.  Finally we put the OpenSolaris virtual machine through some work to demonstrate storage data services such as ZFS and snapshots.  Important technology if your want to build open storage products. 

Keep leading the way Brasil!  Bravo.



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! 

Monday Jun 23, 2008

High Performance Computing in Dresden and Prague

Last week Dresden Germany hosted the ISC '08 (International Supercomputing Conference) as well as Sun's HPC Conference. It was a busy week for many of us in Dresden.  Plenty of presentations, discussions and information exchange among the HPC community.  Fritz Ferstl and myself had fruitful discussion with Dr. Matsuoka-san of TITech (Tokyo Institute of Technology) regarding Sun Grid Engine's policy for throughput AND priority. I also had the opportunity to have dinner with another group of customers at a dinner hosted by Andy Bechtolsheim. Love talking to customers and listening.  Having discussions with other industry vendors around trends, directions and new announcements certainly makes some topics lively.  I personally find the automotive industry crash simulations for safety fascinating. These simulations are an example of applied HPC for an industry.  More Sun HPC Software was announced last week in Dresden which included:

I then headed to Prague for a few days and visited Sun's development site.  A beautiful city with a lot of history and culture.  I understand now why Albert Einstein lived there and had the opportunity to eat at one of his favorite places.  Prague is one of the centers of Eastern European growth as evidenced by the presence of many U.S. based technology companies.  The busy commuter trains, congested technology parks and many construction sites are all you need to witness.  Here's to Macura, Michal, Martin, Victor, Marcin, Zsigmond, Jana, Lubomir, Alena and Michael.

Dresden and Prague are certainly cities of opportunity.

Tuesday Jun 10, 2008

OpenStorage blather... maybe not

There has been much talk about open source storage software in the past several months.  It seems that it is generating more interest than open source software in general.  The debates have aligned around 2 basic camps of nonsense and practicality.  One observation is starting to become clear.  It speaks relevance to certain folks.  Usually if something is mere hype people will ignore it.  I've watched something that was previously irrelevant become a lightening rod as of late.  Just as we are aligning for a presidential election here in the U.S. we have alignment around proprietary versus open sourced storage software.  More than mere startups are interested and able to design, build and offer a solution using software that is built from software that is open sourced. Heck you can even build your product on an open sourced code base and charge for it too.  It goes against the traditional grain of what is considered the norm for storage.  There is lots of proprietary storage software out there that comes from open sourced code-- e.g. embedded controllers.   Systems companies who have the knowledge of software, integration, sheer collaboration and understanding their customers are capable of creating a similar picture to the above.  It does go beyond DIY.

In fact if you have the expertise to lead in design trends you may be able to do better.  Take the so called blather around SSDs.  Some argue replacing a spinning drive with a FLASH drive using the traditional disk I/O interface is not worth it.  Maybe they are right.  However if your software was designed to use that SSD as a tertiary cache between the disk and the computational engine that would be different.  Yes maybe even altering as was the case when very large memories (VLM) were introduced in the mid-90s.  VLMs enabled the killer application database because working sets became much bigger.  The semiconductor folks do something similar and refer to the concept as pipelining.  Yes old concepts that get reapplied with newer technologies producing significant results.

So it is merely not just a do it yourself thing.  Click on the picture above an scroll through what the product offers.  An offering from a company who leads rather than follows.  It is probably true too if your company has all the capability of using open source software, hardware design and system integration.  Big companies too... not only startups.  Interesting times...

Thursday May 29, 2008

Open HA Cluster<-->Open HA Cluster

Another 2 million lines of source code contribution completed to the opensolaris.org community-- 6 months ahead of schedule.  Open HA Cluster is the source code, automated test suite, documentation and community for the Solaris Cluster Framework.  While a few agents and some encumbered code fragments are not being released, you are able to build a fully functional high availability cluster from the source code. With this release, users can develop and customize more complete, complex and sophisticated open-sourced business continuity and disaster recovery solutions. Included as well is integration with key applications such as Apache, Apache Tomcat, MySQL, PostgreSQL, DNS, NFS, Grid Engine, Glassfish, Samba, Kerberos and more. Even better you have the opportunity to contribute, modify, enhance and experiment as part of the community. 

This latest contribution follows the Solaris Cluster Agents in June 2007, the Solaris Cluster Geographic Edition in December 2007 and our most recent May 2008 source code.  Click the blueprint on the left for a simple cluster set up and configuration.

Ian Murdock is doing a keynote at LinuxTag 2008 in Berlin featuring Open HA Cluster, followed by a demo by Eve Kleinknecht.  Listen to Barton George and his podcast with Meenakshi Kaul-Basu about the whole enchilada.  Also a shout out to Thorsten Frueauf, Hartmut Streppel, Nick Solter, Amour Kwok, Jeff Osteen, Ashutosh Tripathi, Bonnie Corwin and the OpenSolaris team.  Last but certainly not least a much appreciated high five to the extended Sun Cluster team... including Keith "he's damn good" White.

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.

Thursday Mar 20, 2008

A Completed Open Source Storage Stack... no kidding

Another storage code base has been posted at opensolaris.  This most recent contribution focuses on the area of hierarchical storage management (HSM).  The technology is much more than standard backup.  It addresses automated data management via policies driven by data and metadata.  HSM drives some of the largest data repositories out there in the industry today.  With our open sourcing of SAM-Q we have completed an extremely large complex effort of open sourcing our \*entire\* storage stack!

This milestone is only the end of the beginning since we have many new open storage projects in process at opensolaris.org. These new storage projects are all being developed out in the open with the community.  Everything from data services, protocols, file systems, compression, encryption, replication, snapshots, drivers and archive software is available to the community.  There is no other comprehensive open sourced storage stack out there in the industry.

However, there are other comprehensive proprietary storage stacks out there that are quite good but you pay a hefty price (premium) for each part of the storage stack.  If you have the time but not the money the opensolaris community may be the place where you can contribute.  The community may also be the place for you if you are trying to establish your business or solution at a revolutionary price point.  In either case pure economics is a driving force. 

You may want to check out my most current read. "Alan Greenspan - The Age of Turbulence"  If you enjoy economics, history and want to ponder the power of the open source movement (aggregate demand ;-) )-- this book is a must read.  Alan also gives you some insight into the current market meltdown.

Read what some of the many team members Margaret Hamburger, Ted Pogue and Lynn Rohrer have to say about our latest opensource efforts. The entire team's pace and execution responded to a very aggressive goal set by me ~1 year ago... "Open Source the entire storage stack."  I'm also excited by the code contributions made by partners and vendors to the community.  It is also equally exciting to see customers using the open sourced storage technologies to build their storage products for their businesses. 

We at Sun also have the opportunity to build hybrid storage solutions with the opensolaris storage stack as well.  After all, open source software is in our DNA and we are the largest commercial contributors of open source software in the world.  A big thank you to the entire team.


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.


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.

Thursday Jan 03, 2008

Holiday Technology Woes... at Home

In anticipation of some Winter Holiday downtime and unplugging from the internet cloud-- I envisioned some history reading and some home projects that required tools from a Craftsman Toolbox.  On Dec 24th my home computer hardware decided to get real sick.  The system uses fast RDRAM memory but all 2GB became usless when a single memory address line failure corrupted my system disk.  I was able to invoke extended memory tests then managed to isolate the faulty DIMM module and once again had good memory.  My next step was to try and recover the system disk.  I ran chkdsk (its just like fsck), mucked with the boot partion, etc. but could not recover the disk.  Previously I was fortunate to recover the system disk two times prior on this machine but this time my luck ran out.  Since all my data is on a separate data disk that is incrementally backed up daily to a network drive, I still had the most important items intact... The DATA.  So I reformatted the system disk and reinstalled the OS, then all the numerous updates, patches and ALL the applications (including configuring them).  It took about a day but all is normal on the home computer once again.  My wife and I realized how dependent we are on this device for running our domestic endeavours (paying bills, kids activities, purchases, getting information, etc.)  While we have other computers running various OSes in our house, this specific one was the nerve center.  It really resonated with me that I had taken precautions to preserve the data and they payed off.  It felt similar to the car accident question.  "Are you all right?"  We can replace the car but not you (the data). Personal digital data that an individual generates is just as important as the digital data of corporations.  We live in a sea of digital data today.  With free email, picture sharing and archives that store massive amounts of data that increases every second, protecting the data grows in importance as well.

My son received a new gaming console as a holiday present and the initial experience was amazing.  The ability of the graphic processor (GPU) to generate and manipulate polygons is incredible.  The effects generated to create waterfalls, reflection, smoke, 3D, etc. is excellent.  The visual effect is most stunning when the game's HD visual output is displayed in 1080i mode on a HD display.  It is safe to say the gaming console is a powerful personal computer.  The ultimate gaming experience is when you plug into the network cloud and play online with others.  Forget for a moment the complexities of configuring your network router, wireless LAN and the correct settings of open not restricted NAT and UPnP.  To play online and communicate in real time via VoIP, while you visualize in HD, hear in surround sound and control the events of the game is an experience you could only previously get at Walt's Kingdom.  The online response was great... for a few days when suddenly response started to get slow.  I told my son that good old latency had arrived.  He said "What?"  I told him that if 10 kids in each city of the world just received a new game console for the holidays that would be a lot of new consoles.  By the time most of them connected online would be about now...  As a result there are servers somewhere that are hosting these online games that are probably getting strained/hot and can't keep up with all the requests.  In other words the computer infrastructure (lots of servers, storage, etc.) that is keeping all game consoles in harmony can't do it as effortlessly as before because there are now too many of you playing while on school vacation. Then it happened...  His online id on his console got corrupted.  He could not recover his id.  All his scores, points, you name it data and a lot of it was unreachable on his console.  I told him I think his hard drive on his console is corrupted.  So I reformatted his hard drive (deja vu) and went through a recovery procedure.  Fortunately we recovered his online id and all his data since those busy servers with loads of storage kept a copy of his data too.

These technology woes are opportunities for those who provide the infrastructure of the internet... which is one large data cloud growing and growing and growing. 

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.

About

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

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Today