Monday Mar 02, 2009

Another Tool for the Cloud gets better

Almost everyone in the IT infrastructure business is feverishly working on cloud solutions today.   This includes the incumbent providers as well as the infrastructure providers to the incumbents.  An excellent blog can be found here which outlines the trends that have accelerated over the past 5 years with respect to what has morphed into the cloud.

One tool that is platform agnostic across Linux, Windows, OpenSolaris, etc. is Sun's open sourced Grid Engine.  There is no need to look for a better policy based workload manager which includes dynamic provisioning of application workloads.  We are just about to release update 2 to the 6.2 release.  More platform support (see below) and of course more and better features such as improved resource management of parallel jobs.  Grid Engine is used fairly regularly in HPC stacks throughout the world.  In fact Grid Engine is in use at some of the largest compute installations in the world.  Keeping 60,000 processor cores busy is a formidable task.  A hard requirement that only makes the product that much better.  I can't wait to see how solutions will be able to combine other tools from the toolbox and create technology for clouds, HPC engines and who knows what the limits will be.  We have come a long way since the Turing Machine from the 1930s.

In addition to being excited about the advancement of technology it is also very rewarding for your technology to contribute toward the benefit of solving some very difficult problems.

Grid Engine supports the following platforms:

  • OpenSolaris
  • Solaris 10, 9 and 8 Operating Systems (SPARC Platform Edition)
  • Solaris 10 and 9 Operating Systems (x86 Platform Edition)
  • Solaris 10 Operating System (x64 Platform Edition)
  • Apple Mac OS X 10.5
  • Apple Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), PPC platform
  • Apple Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), x86 platform
  • Hewlett Packard HP-UX 11.00 or higher, 32 bit
  • Hewlett Packard HP-UX 11.00 or higher, 64 bit (including HP-UX on IA64)
  • IBM AIX 5.1, 5.3
  • Linux x86, kernel 2.4, 2.6, glibc >= 2.3.2
  • Linux x64, kernel 2.4, 2.6, glibc >= 2.3.2
  • Linux IA64, kernel 2.4, 2.6, glibc >= 2.3.2
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003
  • Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1 or later
  • Windows 2000 Server with Service Pack 3 or later
  • Windows 2000 Professional with Service Pack 3 or later
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 2008 Server


Wednesday Jan 07, 2009

It's Getting Rather Cloudy Out There...

Happy New Year.  2009 appears to be a busy year for cloudsVirtualization has added several players since VMware momentum appeared a few years ago.  One can now select from an array of hypervisors, both of the bare metal and hosted variety. While VMware still remains the incumbent, healthy competition is now front and center for this business.  The added competition will only stimulate the innovation even more as products strive to differentiate.  Price will become more elastic as equality among base product capability matures.  In fact open sourced hypervisor offerings may become a tipping point, especially in the current worldwide economy.  Desktop hypervisors are almost a required application these days for developers.  Here is to healthy competition continuing in this space.

The internet cloud is the next frontier where competition is popping up all over the place.  While Amazon's EC2 and Google's clouds have been around for a while with success, they have certainly invited competition. Microsoft, IBM, Dell, EMC and Sun are each combining their technologies and extending that of the virtual nature to the cloud.  Cloud computing is the next order of magnitude of virtulization.  The cloud will become the place where physical becomes virtual (like memory) and the application is hosted somewhere out there.  Clients to the cloud are no longer desktops but rather devices.  Devices which include the hand held kind (intelligent phones, Nintendo DS, etc.).  Advantage goes to the cloud who has the technology and assembles computes, storage, interconnect, developer tools, systems management, applications, services, choice, price, flexibility, support, etc... the best.  Open sourced software will provide an advantage here.  Stability of the hardware and software will make a difference.  Cloud lock-in will eventually be a barrier that will go away.  Broadband and mobile utilities have no lock in other than service agreements.  Applications will be required to be portable to work across hosted environments.  2009 will be an exciting area for the cloud to watch as well as participate.  I'm excited.  Utility computing has really started to evolve, morph and accelerate.


Wednesday Sep 26, 2007

If you are painted as irrelevant are you a threat?

What is a better position to be painted as?  Company A: that alternative mouse trap or Company B: that former high flyer but "irrelevant" entity.  It doesn't matter what industry: automobiles, home appliances, beer industry, retail, etc. We have all heard the competition paint their competitors.  Sports teams like to use the "no respect" card to motivate the team.  Satisfaction is gained when the "team" shows the pundits and the odds makers differently.  In fact some like to be the underdog so they can fly under the radar and be taken for granted.  It is a great position for professional sports as any team can be beat on a given night when you are playing the best.  Roger Clemems was supposedly washed up 11 years ago when he was traded by the Boston Red Sox to the Toronto Blue Jays.  How many Cy Young awards did he win after the trade?  Four of them. How many Cy Young awards has he won in total?  Seven of them.  Being painted as all washed up and irrelevant was a motivator.  "He is too old", "Doesn't have the edge anymore", "Lost his spark", "Has too much money", etc. He saw it differently than his pundits and competition.

If you are a company and get painted the same way:  former high flyer, lost its vision, could not adapt after the .BOMB, financially unsound, etc. Those are certainly motivators.  If a company was in the software and hardware business what would they have to do show that irrelevance is determined by the customer not the competition at the end of the day. 

The company would build hardware that is optimized for virtualization on multiple fronts.  Virtulization is not a one recipe fits all problem.  Have your hardware be hyper visor aware.  Make sure your hardware can run the dominate industry operating systems even if one of them happens to be proprietary. Memory density and I/O connectivity should be features that differentiate.    Common industry standard components and subsystems that span across multiple microprocessor architectures is attractive.  If different microprocessor-based blades can share a common backplane all the better.  The company should then make sure that their software is virtual machine aware to be a great dom0 as well as run as a VM in someone else's dom0 even if it is proprietary.  This software would also allow different flavors of VM capability.  For example virtualize and entire OS 'on' your environment or virtualize particular applications 'in' your environment with zoning.  Lastly make sure your software environment runs on competitor's hardware. So far the company would have multiple hardware capability teamed with multiple software capability.  This sounds like motivation. 

Next the company would be able to put the two above items together and build compelling solutions for customers.  Imagine the products that one could build. For example build a server that can eat and serve storage easily because the architecture is closely coupled and the os is optimized.  Or a server that can horizontally consolidate multiple instances of linux by taking advantage of high cpu thread counts and the VM aware os.  How about taking it one step further.  The above 2 examples are based off of general computing.  So now let's extend the solution with embedded capability.  Create dedicated products with the same hardware and software from above-- but leverage their ability to virtulize...  That is both compelling and scary especially if the software licensing terms allow anyone to have access to all the code. 

Cy Young like stuff...

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

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