Wednesday Nov 04, 2009

A Time Capsule for the Enterprise?

On Halloween I upgraded the desk side PC from Windows XP to Windows 7.  Between multiple reboots, application installs, recovery of email, print server configuration, etc. my wife asked "Why does it have to be so hard?"  As she said this I was looking at the Apple Time Capsule sitting on top of a small cabinet in our home basement. The only item coming out of the Time Capsule was the power cord connected to the power outlet.  I run the Time Capsule as a wireless client in our home network for data backup.  The data consists of many pictures, video clips, songs, the kids homework and basically many various files (some of which are important).

My home (LAN) network has grown over the years from a few PCs connected via an old 802.11b router to a dual band (802.11g/802.11n) router connecting a multitude of wireless clients. These include a XBox, iTouch, PrintServer, OpenSolaris, Ubuntu, Mac, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 devices.  Basically a heterogeneous environment.  Will the older Window versions be phased out at home eventually?  Yes.  The Unix/Linux clients will remain out of necessity as well as for hobby.  It's difficult to currently beat the Mac experience.  Adding a Time capsule into my existing home network was relatively easy.  The Airport setup updated the Time Capsule firmware and configured the device in straight forward steps.  It wasn't as "fun" for a "techie" as say CLI commands, but simple is defined as "fun" for most consumers. The Windows XP to Windows 7 full upgrade was painfull but I have to admit the network configuration experience was much improved.  I was pleasantly surprised freeware Bonjour discovery services just worked and the W7 system configured the Time Capsule as a usable share.

One could imply a similar situation in the enterprise space.  For an enterprise business "fun" is defined as high margin dollars on a growing revenue stream.  This usually means your costs are contained, you implement continuous improvements on efficiency and you simplify.  Vendors in the technology industry are all trying to provide a truly "Enterprise Time Capsule" or Appliance.  There has been a large amount of innovation over the past 20 years.  However today's innovation is tomorrow's PDP-11Minicomputers were appliances that Mainframes couldn't be.  The evolution has continued over the years in every technology segment.

Enterprise customers want it simple as do consumers.  While the stakes are much higher in the enterprise, the bar is significantly raised for "just working" each and every time.  It doesn't matter if you are playing catchup, you are the incumbent or you are the new thought leader-- the winners will be the set of vendors who provide the tool that "just works" each and every time in the harshest and most complex environments. 

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


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 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.

 

 

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.

About

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

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