By chhandomay on Jan 28, 2010
I will set up my new blog shortly. In the interim, this is my temporary external home. You can get the details of my latest endeavors by following the links posted there.
You can follow me here at Twitter as well.
Mind Candy, launched in 2004, is a leading developer of multi-player games targeted at the rapidly expanding social online games market. Its main product, Moshi Monsters, is its biggest hit to date and is enjoying exponential growth with over 10 million players worldwide, and more than one million new players subscribing each month. The game relies heavily on an IT platform managed by Mind Candy, and became the focus of the company’s attention in 2009, when the number of players was set to top 4 million.
(Image courtesy: Mind Candy)
that point, Mind Candy realized it needed to make changes to its IT
infrastructure. The Moshi Monsters infrastructure is based on the Java
Platform, Standard Edition 6
running Debian GNU/Linux. It includes Apache Tomcat Web application
servers, memcached and PostgreSQL databases as well as open source
frameworks such as Spring and Hibernate. Prior to the upgrade, Mind
Candy already had Sun Fire X2100 servers acting as load balancers,
and chose to make the use of Intel’s new “Nehalem” Xeon
processors a key criterion for the update.
Working with Sun as a member of the Sun Startup Essentials program, Mind Candy finalized the infrastructure expansion design based on two of Sun’s newest Xeon-processor based servers, the Sun Fire X4170 servers for applications working alongside a Sun Fire X4270 server for one of the platform’s main databases. The new Sun solutions were installed in just a couple of days, and deployed alongside the existing equipment. The Sun Fire X4170 servers gave Mind Candy significantly higher I/O speeds, along with multithreading technology for greater performance and power management. The Sun Fire X4270 server provided more than four times the processing performance and memory, and doubled the number of disk drive bays to 16.
Since the full solution went live in July 2009, Toby Moore, Chief Technology Officer at Mind Candy said the performance and scalability of the new platform has fully justified the company’s investment. He stated: “The platform is incredibly fast. Before, the CPU utilization rate for our database servers was about 70%, but now it’s dropped to 15%. The speed of our Tomcat Web application servers has doubled, and the amount of RAM on our servers has quadrupled.” In addition to the increased speed, the Sun platform consumes relatively low amounts of energy, and still has plenty of headroom for expansion. The company is now looking to focus on storage and has plans to deploy a Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System in the near future.
Check out the complete details and a podcast here.
3.1 wins 2010
Technology of the Year Award from InfoWorld. The Test Center
reviewers at InfoWorld credited VirtualBox
as a "disruptive product" that sneaked up on an established category
and shook up the apple cart. The judges were impressed
with VirtualBox's unrivaled features like 32-way virtual SMP support
and "teleport" -- capability to dynamically move running VMs between
VirtualBox host systems. Check out the original review here
InfoWorld concluded, "[VirtualBox] is a huge development for Sun Microsystems, one that places it on a collision course with heavyweights VMware and Microsoft in the virtualized datacenter. But the most remarkable aspect of this story is how quickly the company has brought this virtualization platform along. In a little over a year, Sun has turned this relatively unknown fledgling from an obscure German software developer (Innotek) into a potent threat."
|InfoWorld's final take: "Our advice to VMware (and Microsoft):
Be afraid. Be very afraid."
Congratulations to the Sun VirtualBox team!
VirtualBox users shared a variety of top-notch reviews as well as tips & tricks this week for the free virtualization program. A blogger from Showing My Geek, who recently started using VirtualBox, said, “I really like it,” and explained that he especially appreciated “the ability to allot memory for the video of the virtual machine.” Another blogger selected VirtualBox to highlight as the software product of the month and stated, “VirtualBox is similar to Microsoft Virtual PC, but better” and pointed to its wide-ranging support for a variety of operating systems. A blogger from wikihow.com posted a VirtualBox tutorial for users who want to “play with other operating systems without having to change what’s on your computer right now.” And finally, a blogger demonstrated how to set up VirtualBox on a Linux host to sync an iPod Touch 2G and said, “I am quite happy (and surprised) to find that this solution works for me.”
Some JavaFX users kept busy testing the features of the new JavaFX composer this week while others continued to test the limitations of the current release. Nick Apperley reviewed the JavaFX Composer and said the templates “are a great productivity booster in JavaFX Composer,” noting that with the tool, all of the options for creating and customizing are centralized in one location. Another blogger compared JavaFX to Flex and said the biggest differentiator favoring JavaFX is its “ability to quickly create fantastic animation and graphs compared to Flex where 3rd party libraries come into play.” Longtime JavaFX blogger Drew designed and shared a new calendar implementation he built in JavaFX to improve his design skills, while Jeff Friesen published a tutorial that details a basic demonstration of the JavaFX PerspectiveTransform class.
Many NetBeans users continued to explore the features of the new 6.8 release of the IDE this week while others continued to report NetBeans success stories in production environments. Adam Bien posted several blogs focusing on his experience with the 6.8 release, with one blog dedicated to the five features that he said, “make NetBeans 6.8 my IDE of choice.” The other blog looked at the new NetBeans issue tracking tool, which he said, “really rocks” because “you get immediate feedback whether it is a new bug, a known one or what the resolution is … without leaving the IDE.” Finally, blogger Nat discussed his use of the NetBeans IDE for his UI automation project and said, “NetBeans is a great IDE for watir testing; I heartily recommend it,” noting that, “its svn integration is better than anything else I’ve used so far.”
OpenOffice users were buzzing with excitement over the new 3.2 release candidate, and wrote about the new features of the upgraded program. Blogger Martin from ghacks.net wrote about the new reduction in startup time as well as the new proprietary file compatibility, which he said, “now supports password protected Microsoft Office documents.” Deb Russell from about.com also discussed OpenOffice this week, and recommended the MATH equation editor that comes with the office productivity suite saying it “lets you slip math equations into your documents rather easily.”
OpenSolaris users shared a plethora of tricks with others this week starting with a blogger from Ubiquitous Talk who published an in-depth tutorial that demonstrates how to protect active directories with snapshots implemented with OpenSolaris based storage heads and W2K3 or W2K8 servers. A blogger from Simon’s Musings provided a valuable tutorial that goes through “all of the steps from bare metal” to building a version of OpenAFS on Solaris. Finally, a blogger from The Intersect posted a series of workarounds he has compiled for different issues he encountered in OpenSolaris including turning off output flushing, a broken keyboard layout, and a tip for updating systems.
Randall C. Kennedy
published a desktop
virtualization review that looks at the latest
developments made by VirtualBox,
VMware and Parallels. Randall
described VirtualBox as the “one freebie that breaks the
mold and delivers more, not less than you're expecting,” and
said of the three programs VirtualBox has had the most
compelling recent developments. He pointed out that with the latest
innovations in the 3.1 release: “Users from the three major
platforms – Windows, MacOS X, and Linux – are flocking to
VirtualBox for its scalability, robust networking, and bargain price
Randall said that in general VirtualBox “after years of wallowing in obscurity” is now “causing quite a ruckus.” He pointed to VirtualBox's quick evolution after being taken on by Sun, describing features such as 32-way virtual SMP support as “unrivaled” while noting that the branched snapshots feature “brings it on par with its commercial competitors.”
|However, Randall said “the
shocker” with VirtualBox 3.1 is its new Teleportation ability,
which adds the capability to dynamically move running VMs between
VirtualBox host systems. With this latest addition Randall said “suddenly,
this once shy, awkward desktop VM solution is
sporting speeds and feeds that seem more at home on a VMware ESX or
Microsoft Hyper-V datasheet.”
Randall noted that “this latest development takes VirtualBox in an entirely new direction, one that leads directly to the corporate datacenter and the lucrative rack space turn carved out by the commercial virtualization heavyweights.” He concluded by saying: “If VirtualBox proves as capable and scalable as its latest incarnation seems to indicate, it could have a dramatic effect on the balance of power among the raised floors set.”
The BR Network is a high-performance computing initiative funded by Brazil's national oil company, Petróleo Brasilero, and is managed by an alliance of five federal universities to support the country's oil and gas industries. After the discovery of a vast new oil field off the coast of Brazil, the BR Network was selected to develop computer simulations to aid oil production at the new site, which is under approximately two miles of ocean floor riddled with geological faults.
(Image courtesy: BR Network, a Petrobras initiative)
Institute-Graduate School and Research in Engineering from the
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro realized that the alliance of
universities needed a high-performance computing grid to handle the
complex new project that would be both an affordable and easily
expandable solution over the next few years. Ultimately, the
alliance selected Sun, which not only was the vendor that would best
meet the performance, scalability, and energy efficiency goals, but
also cost almost 30% less than the next closest offer from a
The new HPC solution includes 448 Sun Blade X6275 Server Modules with the new Intel Xeon processor series 5500, Sun Blade 6048 Modular Systems, and the Lustre File System. The solution also features the first blade server with on-board QDR InfiniBand for high performance and low latency. The alliance runs the Red Hat Linux OS on a Sun open-network solution, which supports multiple operating systems. The BR Network is currently running at three universities on a grid that provides approximately 100 teraflops of peak performance and 21.5 TB of memory.
The alliance expects that the BR Network will be fully operational by February 2010 with nearly 300 researchers working on the new clusters. Sun Professional Services is providing ongoing support for the project's air-conditioning and hi-visualization environments. The Sun solution more than doubles the universities' processing speed with ample room for growth. Alvaro Coutinho, a professor at the Center for Parallel Computing and Department of Civil Engineering, COPPE/UFRJ said: “We are very excited about the scalability of our Sun HPC system. We are currently at about 100 teraflops and we are thinking of doubling or even tripling it in the next two years.”
Check out the complete details here.
Interactive recently spoke with the October
winner of the JFXStudio
Challenge, Matthew Hegarty, creator of the JavaFX Video Poker
game, which was written with a total of just 2,994 characters. A
long-time Java programmer, Matt started using JavaFX about two years
ago, and has relied primarily on online resources to learn the
language, following examples posted on various blogs. However, in a
sentiment common to the developer world, Matt states that “the
most effective way of learning is to actually use the language, which
is partly why I've been taking part in the JFXStudio challenges.”
Matt's idea for the Video Poker game came after hearing Dick Wall of the Java Posse mention a poker game while discussing the challenge. Even though Matt thought “it's too obvious,” he forged ahead with development. The approach Matt took was to write the code normally, and to aim for no more than 4,500 characters, confident he could cut it from there. Once he developed a final cut, he had to remove whitespace, and cut down variable names. However, when he found he was still 100 characters over he said “I had to try to shave off extra characters where I could – this involved removing extraneous semi-colons, re-using strings where I could and even swapping declarations of MountEvent for FXBase because it had a shorter name!”
Matt admits there were a few sacrifices he had to make in creating the game – mainly cutting out animations for the cards – but said, “mostly by sticking to a simple idea I was able to keep the core of the game there.” Besides the Video Poker game, Matt has used JavaFX in other application development to include a previous entry into a JFXStudio challenge called Reaction Time task, while another is an educational application called PsyKit – a face recognition task – for students of psychology.
discussing JavaFX Matt said: “Once
you get used to the style of the language you can create applications
very quickly,” stating that it makes it easy and quick to translate
an idea into “something
working on screen, and that really keeps programming fun.” Matt was
able to get the basics of his Video Poker game going in
only a couple of hours, which he said was the result of “the
more you use it [JavaFX],
the more efficient you become.”
Read the written Q&A with Matt here.
Interactive recently spoke with José
Rubi-Gonzalo from WhiteStone
about how the company is currently using JavaFX in the Workflow
component of its Consolidated Service Desk and IT Service Management
product. Specifically, WhiteStone utilized JavaFX to create an
intuitive tool with a rich set of functionalities that allows users
to create complex business processes using a visual approach.
points out that “UI
design is key for a successful application,”
and noted that JavaFX has helped WhiteStone differentiate from other
competitors in the service desk industry by giving them the
capabilities to create a visually rich UI that not only helps users
be more comfortable, but productive as well.
José said the JavaFX technology was announced at a time when the WhiteStone was already looking to update its Workflow tool which José said “needed to evolve,” to add more functionality without limiting growth. He said the technology “matched exactly our needs – a Java based language that fit nicely into our existing J2EE framework, multi-platform, and multi-screen.” José said there was a very fast adoption of the technology by the development team noting: “JavaFX is very easy to pick up for Java developers so our team was writing code on JavaFX in no time.”
said a simple integration process was another key factor in selecting
JavaFX because WhiteStone needed to protect its past technology
investments. However, since the original application was developed
on J2EE, José said introducing JavaFX was “straightforward.”
José said WhiteStone is now able to deliver more features on a
faster timeline “because our development capability has grown
very significantly with the technology change.” When asked
about what he liked most about using JavaFX in the service desk
application José responded: “For me, personally, is the
peace of mind that JavaFX gives me, because I know we have the
ability to maintain and grow our application with the level of
quality interaction and visual design that our users expect.”
Looking to the future, José said the company is looking to continue incorporating JavaFX into the rest of the service desk application while also exploring the potential of using JavaFX for a mobile platform to extend the capabilities of field service users. WhiteStone is also working on deploying a system with a software UI developed entirely in JavaFX for one of the leading hospitals in Spain, that will help increase quality of life for patients. As José pointed out, when starting work on this new project “we knew we could not just write another web interface...with JavaFX we had the capacity to produce the application we envision, mixing an innovative interactive design with great visual capabilities.”
To learn more about WhiteStone's experience with JavaFX, read the full interview here.
Founded in 1979, ScrewFix is the leading tool, accessory, and hardware product supplier to both building professionals and DIY enthusiasts in the U.K. The company's original business model was based on high-volume catalog orders, but it now runs a substantial online operation in addition to its network of 143 trade outlets, delivering millions of products to customers every year.
(Image courtesy: ScrewFix)
ScrewFix contact center plays
critical role in daily operations, taking customer calls to place
orders while also handling other customer inquiries including refunds
and exchanges, using internally developed customer relationship
management software. Until recently, contact center agents used the
CRM system running on desktop PCs connected to the company's
datacenter. However, slow system performance was making it
increasingly difficult to respond quickly to customer inquiries. In
2008, as the PCs came to an end of their lifecycle, ScrewFix looked
into an alternative solution with Sun.
Sun recommended a proof of concept using five Sun Ray 270 Virtual Display Client terminals that were deployed in different areas of the contact center, and ScrewFix reported that “the end-user response was impressive.” The proof of concept was enough to convince the ScrewFix IT team to deploy 350 Sun Ray 270 Virtual Display Client terminals to the entire contact center team, powered by 10 Sun Blade X6250 Server Modules residing in two Sun Blade 6000 Chassis. Six of the blades run Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services, while the other four run Sun Ray Software 4 on top of the Solaris 10 Operating System.
The new solution was installed overnight during one week to minimize disruption to employees and customers, and user migration to the new systems took place quickly. ScrewFix's server and storage team leader Peter Smith reports that because the technology is so easy to use, “for most people it was business as usual from the moment they switched on their new machine.” Additionally, ScrewFix employees are also saving time, with startup times up to 95% faster than the previous solution. The deployment of thin-client technology has also significantly lowered hardware total cost of ownership and made administration much simpler and less time consuming.
Check out the complete details, along with a podcast, here.
Interactive recently spoke with Jens Arndt from Ubivent,
leading virtual event specialist.' Ubivent both designs and conducts
customized virtual events, and has based its entire platform on
JavaFX. The primary reason Ubivent selected JavaFX is because the
technology allows developers to create customizable graphics controls
and effects in the events platform, which is essential for Ubivent
customers who are utilizing virtual events as a marketing instrument,
and need to ensure that all events fit corporate design guidelines.
Jens said that JavaFX makes the UI easier to customize and configure in many ways, by allowing the 3D architecture to change for each event, without having to alter the general design. As he pointed out, with JavaFX: “All of the UI is configured using XML files which are synchronized between the servers and the clients using our proprietary protocol. We then bind our DOM directly to the UI elements and so we can push updates instantly to running clients.” Jens said this has allowed Ubivent to create a much simpler process then what could be achieved with other programming languages and platforms.
|Beyond the freedom in design
provides, Jens pointed out that “from our
perspective, the most critical element is the fact that JavaFX is a
powerful programming language, which makes developments really easy.”
He went on to state that the clear structure of JavaFX “allows
us to achieve a high degree of code re-usability within our
projects,” while also allowing developers to use already
established debugging tools. These details, along with the binding
for UI components and overall integration with existing Java code,
have helped Ubivent to improve “day-to-day efficiency in
developing our platform.”
In looking to the future, Ubivent plans to leverage the capabilities of JavaFX to develop a sophisticated “what-you-see-is-what-you-get-like” admin tool to allow customers to have even more flexibility in the set-up and administration of virtual events. Jens also reports that Ubivent is additionally looking to build an evaluation and reporting app for the platform, as the company moves towards building a complete user-friendly event infrastructure, saying: “JavaFX helps us attain this goal." He is looking forward to added features and functionalities in JavaFX including getting increased accessibility support, media capturing capability, and a fully functional password field, but said right now, "in general we're totally happy with JavaFX."
To read more about how Ubivent has integrated JavaFX in its virtual events platform, read the full interview here.
Outspark is an entertainment services company that publishes and operates online multi-player social games. These free games are used by millions of video gamers around the world every year so Outspark maintains game servers in San Jose, California, and Andover, Massachusetts in addition to Web servers in Oakland, California.
(Image courtesy: Outspark)
2008, Outspark began
address operational problems with its game servers, which needed
better performance and uptime. Outspark was also experiencing
problems with its Web servers which were having repetitive hardware
issues. Additionally, with an upcoming launch of new games, Outspark
was anticipating a traffic spike and needed new server technology
that was more scalable and would help minimize operational costs.
In July 2008 Outspark decided on a complete solution from Sun under the Sun Startup Essentials program, which provides startups with a combination of hardware, software, and support at a discount. Through the Sun Startup Essentials program Outspark purchased Sun Fire X2250 servers to host its online games, as well as several Sun Fire X2200 M2 servers and Sun Fire X4150 servers while Sun provided ongoing technical support and hosted Web services through Sun partner NaviSite.
The Sun Fire X2250 server gave Outspark the power it needed to manage its game servers while using significantly less power than the previous Outspark hardware. Outspark has also successfully reduced its overall operational costs because it has a completely managed solution with infrastructure and technical support from Sun. Luc Suryo, Chief of Network and Systems Operations at Outspark, noted: “With this solution, we are able to reduce costs while also getting the capacity, speed, and availability we need to support our game and Web servers.”
Check out the complete details here.
VirtualBox received exuberant praise in both trade publications and on top blogs this week. InfoWorld's Randall Kennedy said VirtualBox “delivers tremendous virtualization power” and also noted that it “installs quickly, requires very little study, and includes all the essentials.” Ken Hess from Linux Magazine stated: “Yes, VirtualBox is all that and a bag of computer chips,” while Larry Henry from Lehsys.com reported in a blog titled 'VirtualBox just keeps getting better,' that he has been using the program for eight months and that “it's been just awesome … there's no lag to it – it just works.” Finally, blogger Roger recommended VirtualBox because “the virtualization technology is top notch.”
JavaFX was discussed in a variety of forums this week, including in an analysis piece of the Java programming language by Peter Wayner at InfoWorld. Peter said that while JavaFX requires Java programmers to learn a new language, “the new animation classes may make it worthwhile for highly interactive desktop tools.” Meanwhile, a blogger new to JavaFX developed his first application with the programming language and said “indeed, it's a lot easier to prepare the GUI than plain old AWT,” and also pointed out that “JavaFX is a lot easier way to do the graphics.” Finally, a blogger from Soft-Tech Talks reported “I am amazed with its features,” after testing the GUI development capabilities of JavaFX.
An ever-increasing number of developers made the move to NetBeans this week starting with Glen Smith who reported NetBeans was his choice of IDE for Grails development because “the Mercurial support is just fantastic (and built into the basic install!).” A blogger from TechnologyTales.com made the switch to NetBeans after Eclipse stopped working with his Ubuntu 9.10 upgrade and said “things seemed to go smoothly and it looks to have replaced Eclipse for PHP development duties.” Finally, Quintin Beukes selected NetBeans for its Maven support and said while it doesn't have as large of a feature count as Eclipse, “the features it does have are far more complete and of much higher quality.”
OpenOffice users had heaps of praise for the office productivity suite this week starting with Willow Sidhe who described OpenOffice as “the best free word processor out there.” She said: “I use it exclusively for word processing and I actually prefer the program to Microsoft Word.” Don Lindich said he has been using OpenOffice regularly and has “come to prefer it over the latest version of Microsoft Word,” and pointed out that the compatibility with Word is great. Finally, Kent Newsome reported that he was “pretty impressed” with OpenOffice, saying “I'm about ready to call OpenOffice a winner.”
OpenSolaris enthusiasts continued to share tips and tricks with others this week, employing some inventive new methods in the process. Beryl Sims created a “visual installation tutorial” that walks step-by-step through the process of an OpenSolaris installation. A blogger at Linux Administration demonstrated how to setup an OpenSolaris client to work with a Linux OpenLDAP server while a blogger at Linux/UNIX succinctly described how to install a Flash player on OpenSolaris through Firefox. Finally, blogger Colin described how to overcome a bug that prevents the install of pkgs on OpenSolaris snv_127 through the Package Manager and command line.
Co. Ltd. is Japan's leading provider of online map services with
more than 700,000 page views every day. The company offers the free
Mapion online map search service for driving and public
transportation routes; the fee-based service Mapion Mobile, which
delivers navigation tools and directions to mobile phones; and the
Mapion BB service for broadband users, that smoothly and
instantaneously refreshes as the user navigates around the map.
(Image courtesy: Mapion)
competitive, Mapion must
constantly innovate and improve the details in its maps and the
services it provides and needs a stable system with minimal downtime
and scalability to handle a large increase in users, without a
deterioration in response time. In 2008, Mapion had to relocate its
data center because of increasing power consumption needs, and saw
the relocation as an opportunity to start a full-scale upgrade of the
hardware, software, and operating system supporting its map
Mapion chose to deploy the Solaris 10 Operating System along with Solaris Containers to ensure effective use of available resources for map image generation. Mapion also adopted the Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server as its application server, and the MySQL Cluster database as a real-time database for mission-critical applications for Mapion Mobile. Mapion standardized its hardware environment in its new data center on a Sun platform, deploying 18 Sun Fire X4150 servers, 3 Sun Blade 6000 modular systems, 3 Sun Blade X6250 servers, 1 Sun Blade T6320 server, and the Sun Storage Tek 9985V system for storage consolidation and virtualization.
Mapion also decided to renew its customer management system for Mapion Mobile, a system that needed to be available 24/7. Mapion adopted the MySQL Cluster Database because it allows for the availability of existing applications through its 'shared-nothing' distributed architecture with no single point of failure, to meet Mapion's mission-critical application requirements of 99.999% availability, which, coupled with automatic data partitioning with load balancing, allows almost unlimited database scalability for the company. The new customer management system for Mapion Mobile went live in January 2009, “with downtime reduced to near zero,” according to Koji Kozono, who works in the Technology Development Department, Service Development Group at Mapion.
By standardizing its IT infrastructure on a Sun platform, Mapion enjoys unified support from Sun Spectrum Support that keeps the operation running smoothly while substantially reducing costs that would arise from resolving problems. The Sun GlassFish Enterprise server has provided Mapion with a cost-effective platform for developing and delivering applications. Yukio Hasehawa, Manager of the Operational Technology Group, Mapion Technology Development Department, stated that switching to GlassFish resulted in a substantial reduction in the operational management workload and said: “It offers easy-to-use functions which are indispensable in day-to-day operations, including batch deployment to multiple application servers.”
Check out the complete details here.