Monday Apr 13, 2009

Community, Cosmos and Caviar

Last week I was with community friends in the largest country in the world.  It has the largest forest reserve and its lakes contain 25% of the world's unfrozen fresh water.  Thinking China... well I was in the Russian Federation. I visited 2 prestegious universities:  Moscow State University, Russia's largest and St. Petersburg State University, Russia's oldest and founded by Peter the Great.  It is very rewarding to see adoption of ones technology being put to good use via educational training and academic research.  While commercial innovation of technology is part of every high technology company only a select few lead with open sourced technology.

I was honored to participate in the dedication of an HPC Cluster at St. Petersburg State University.  This system will be part of the world effort where there are no barriers.  Only united scientists throughout the world working together to solve the mysteries of the universe.  The physicists at St. Petersburg State University are participants at the Large Haydron Collider at CERN.  As an engineer I'm amazed how scientists take and use technology for analyzing the mountains of data generated by their experiments.  Experiments that are trying to solve how we all originated from the big bang.  After suffering through 2 years of undergraduate physics, as do all engineers, I'm glad to leave the mysteries of the universe to the physicists.  However, I'm a very interested observer...

Just as important are all the developers who create, use and share technology for the physicists as well as the corporations that need it to run their business.  St. Petersburg hosted a Tech Days 2009 mashup event for the community.  The community showed up in force to talk open sourced software.  Jeet Kaul kicked of the Day 1 keynote and spoke about technology, sharing, innovation and the value the community brings to itself.  Jeet also kicked off the JavaFX coding challenge to the community.  Developers... if you are interested get involved and click here.

On Day 2 my keynote focused on the link between technology adoption and commercial innovation in the open source community.  Independent of the open source community that you choose is the need for continued innovation.  Innovation that can be applied to solving the problems of commercial business and entities.  The benefit to the community is that early adopters get to nurture, proliferate and improve technology with no barriers to entry or exit.  Getting involved costs you only your time to join the experience.  Developers worldwide may be interested in the OpenSolaris Applications of Steel challenge for Community One West on June 1st, 2009.  Get connected.  From university academics and their research to the competitive advantage of commercial cloud solutions using opensourced technology-- the benefits are too compelling to ignore.

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

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.


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.



Thursday Sep 04, 2008

Sun Tech Days 2008-2009 coming to you

Once again we are kicking off our yearly worldwide developer conference for 2008-2009.  We are coming to you, the developers, in 13 countries across 4 continents this year.  Netbeans, OpenSolaris, Java, Solaris, System Administration and best of all: hands-on-labs.  Throughout the world, developers continue to flock to these Tech Days to learn, share, develop and participate in the community of millions.

No matter if it's in South America, Asia, India, etc. it is exciting to meet with professionals, students, professors, consultants, customers, partners and vendors in a community setting where innovation and technology matters most.

If your building out your infrastructure, focusing on web 2.0 or looking to take advantage of high performance technical computing a Tech Day near you is worth experiencing.

See you soon in São Paulo Brasil.

Até lá!

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.

 
About

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

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