Monday Aug 17, 2009

Use all the Tools in the Tool Box...

Ultimately it is the software application that most IT customers look toward solving their business problems.  However software applications have a lot of moving parts sitting logically under the stack that enables the given application.  Some of these parts include operating system components, hardware and usually a large amounts of data.

A car, like an IT solution, requires more than a few set of tools to complete the job. While companies share many common problems, as do car manufactures, company solutions ultimately need the entire tool box to be fully utilized.  This is necessary in order to get the right solution to a company's IT problem.

Healthy competition amongst vendors enables multiple degrees of freedom for application solutions, but more technologies in a given vendors tool box only enables the ability to build better IT solutions.  The same applies to those who are in the business of building cars.  From a business perspective it is absolutely critical that the technologies have to be articulated into a cohesive and complementary strategy for success.  For example Ford builds cars, trucks and hybrids.  Ford does not depend on putting a truck engine into a Ford Focus and vice versa for obvious reasons.  The same applies for technology.  No "one solution fits all" has ever been successful in any market. 

Venture Capitalists and public companies have been chasing "the" goal for many years that one given technology can satisfy all aspects of a given marketHowever when you combine and use multiple technologies in your portfolio and present the right business and sales focus the results can be pretty awesome.

Here is a good example of software technologies:

from the tool box combined with partner technology to produce an ultimate software application solution.

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/

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.


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 Aug 23, 2007

Sun & IBM Server Partnership = Solaris

Last week was a perfect example of 2 companies coming together to offer choice to customers.  In addition to IBM's offerings of Windows and Linux on their X-Series servers-- Solaris is now a fully supported offering.  As a result this enables an opportunity for more customers for both companies.  This new partnership also shows the community that companies do listen to their requests for solutions and it may be an indicator that other customer/companies will take notice.  Solaris does ship on more x86 systems from IBM, HP and Dell than Sun x86 developed systems but this offers customers choice.  Sun keeps listening to ensure we continue to offer choices so we can compete for more and more opportunities.  Will IBM expand the Solaris offering to their other server products including the mainframe?  Time will tell.  The point is that IBM and Sun can both compete and collaborate which benefits customers and creates additional opportunities for both companies.

Solaris continues to make investments in its proven enterprise class open sourced os.  From new rich features which enable new products to enhancements on ease of usability to attract a wider audiance of customers-- the community is active which translates into more opportunity.

Thursday Aug 09, 2007

Storage as a commodity is accelerating

As company earnings continue to be announced in the 2nd half of 2007 more evidence is becoming available which points to a softening of storage demand, especially in the U.S.A.  Opinions range from the credit crunch of rising interest rates, product mix issues and full channel inventories that need to be drawn down.  While all of the above reasons may be a factor, I’d like to propose one of my own observations.

The storage industry is approaching an inflection point.  Multiple public companies are all speaking about IT consolidation and virtualization.  For newly formed companies and businesses their criteria requires designing around scalability, minimum solution costs and most importantly no vendor dependence.

I believe that companies that enjoy margins north of 50 points for storage solutions will be forced to be more competitive with storage solutions that go the way of commodity.

Let’s take as an example: block and file storage.  Solutions are provided today via a variety of proprietary embedded methods that range from traditional server/storage configurations to specialized appliances.  Storage services for all solutions typically provide support for industry standard protocols (iSCSI, NFS, CIFS, NDMP) and data services (snapshots, replication, RAID, compression, compliance, … etc.).  Storage solutions today charge you licensing fees or RTUs (Right To Use) for each protocol and data service you need.  This is a healthy revenue stream for certain storage vendors.

RAID performed by intelligent hardware controllers is a solid solution today.  However businesses are moving toward solutions based on software RAID because of enhanced protection provided by the software RAID/file system combination.  The design of the application is a factor too when multiple hardware failures can be tolerated because data copies are distributed and recoverable.  A good example of using cheap, non redundant hardware with software capable of handling multiple hardware failures is the Google File System (GFS).

Another factor at work here is a trend that can almost be defined as a default standard today—that of basing your IT solutions off of a Linux distribution.  There are multiple offerings of Linux today.  One distribution that is gaining adoption is CentOS.  Both public and private companies are deploying CentOS as an alternative to a popular Linux vendor distribution.
CentOS is built from publicly available open source SRPMS provided by a prominent North American Enterprise Linux vendor. CentOS conforms fully with the upstream vendors redistribution policies and aims to be 100% binary compatible. (CentOS mainly changes packages to remove upstream vendor branding and artwork). All perfectly legal under the terms and conditions of open source licensing.

How would the competitive landscape change if storage protocol support and data services could be added to a unix distribution? In other words take a proven enterprise unix os that is open sourced and build in additional features specific to storage.  In fact why not add other features that are becoming expected standards.  A good example here is virtulization.  If this could be done it would be an enabler for creating storage product offerings out of non proprietary software using commodity servers and storage.  This would change the current landscape especially if cost savings and prevention of vendor lock in is achievable.

There is a growing customer base that is building their IT infrastructure from hybrid storage solutions.  They don't quite fit nicely into the standard file, block or even object industry segments today.  In some ways these customers want to slightly tweak the storage, servers and software to create the hybrid.  This hybrid also turns out to be their competitive weapon.

Helping customers achieve their own individual hybrid is certainly an opportunity worth pursuing.



Friday Jul 27, 2007

NFS Mirror Mounts

Attached is a screen cast for NFS mirror mounts.

If you are interested in
watching, check it out by clicking here.

This URL can also be found at the Sun Developer
Center (click it here) ... along with Brian Wong's
article on "Storage Device Evolution," Christian Bandulet's piece on
"Object Storage Devices" and much more.

Get connected. 

About

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

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