Tuesday Jul 21, 2009

Do you remember your 1st job after graduating university?

Do you remember your first job out of college?  More importantly do you remember your first manager?  Yes that  person who decided to give you a chance.  I was on vacation during the July 4th holiday weekend in Maine and had a chance encounter.  This young person named Pat R., who was working the concierge service, was off in the corner being quiet on a slow night.  My wife Ellen and I along with our gang of three Michael, Michelle and Mikayla (are all versions of the name Michael) were the only guests having an early evening snack.  So I struck up a conversation with Pat.  I asked him if he was from Maine and was this his summer job, to which he said yes to both questions.  I also found out that he was entering his senior year at Colorado College.  I asked Pat what was his major and he replied Computer Science.  Bingo... my wife and kids were probably thinking: "we are going to be here for a while..."  I told Pat I worked at Sun Microsystems and then he started talking about Java, Java and more Java.  Pat admitted to being a Xbox 360 heavy user, especially at college.  My son really liked this part as I pester him for his diligent practice of his  Xbox dexterous skill.  My son enjoyed that Pat was a Halo 3 and Call of Duty player as well.  As we left to go back to our room I wished Pat good luck and we agreed to keep in touch via Facebook or Linkedin since he is a member of both networks.  Even though I only interacted with Pat for a short period of time I sensed he was well rounded and envision him doing well in his future.

There are many stories throughout the world from people who speak of remembering that first chance that “someone” gave them.  Through all walks of life from business, entertainment, sports, cuisine, medicine, etc. there are instances of people not forgetting that initial opportunity that started their climb in life.  I was in New Zealand recently and was told a story by my driver of his friend. His friend is the sole provider of beef in New Zealand for a large U.S. based fast food franchise.  Many years ago this gentleman responded to a small local newspaper advertisement.  He eventually won the contract over much larger companies in New Zealand because the decision maker had a good instinctive feeling about him and was willing to give him a chance.

I've been fortunate to have given several college graduates their first chance in their career and it is one of the most satisfying parts of the job.  To be able to watch young college graduates transform into seasoned industry veterans is similar to watching your own children grow into adults.  Listening to graduates from all over the world tell their story of what education has enabled for their lives is humbling.  It reminds me of the stories of my grandparents when they immigrated to the U.S. They too got that first chance which eventually led to my own first chance in the working world here in the U.S.

As an engineering undergraduate I had to complete 2 years of full time work experience in order to graduate from Northeastern University.  In 1979 Tom Seiker gave me my first cooperative education job at AVCO Research Laboratory in Everett, MA.  I also completed cooperative education at the Mitre Corporation in Bedford, MA.  Bob Preuss, Dr. Greg Robertshaw, John Roberts and Dr. B.N. Suresh Babu all gave me a chance at Mitre.  In fact, Bob Preuss made me do an official daily written status report that was logged and filed as part of the company record.  As you can imagine few engineers enjoy writing words, myself included, but because of his insistence writing became much easier for me.

My cooperative education was  mostly working on classified projects that required a secret clearance, so I naturally interviewed with the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  I decided that the commercial industry was right for me.   Ten companies wanted to give me a chance and I picked Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).  Bob Raspallo, Jim Scott and Mike Pennington gave me my first chance at DEC.  Thank you, I have not forgotten and continue with what you started with me.

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

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.


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 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.


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.


 



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

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