Tuesday Jun 16, 2009

Paris in the Clouds: A CloudCamp Paris report

CloudCamp logoLast week, Eric Bezille invited me to Paris for a couple of Cloud Computing related meetings and to help out with CloudCamp Paris. Paris in the clouds, what a nice experience!

This was also a great opportunity to try out the audio recording features of my LiveScribe Pulse pen. This pen not only can record what you write (on special dot paper), it can also record what has been said while you write, creating links between the words you write and the points in time of the audio recording. Very cool. You can then tap on the words in your notebook and the pen will play back the associated audio. Great for conferences, and I wish I had had this pen during my university times :). You can also export your notes including the audio as a flash movie and share them on the net, which is what I'm going to do below.

Intro Session and Lightning Talks

The CloudCamp was kicked off by a representative of Institut Telecom, the location sponsor of CloudCamp Paris. Sam Johnston gave a short and sweet introduction to Clouds, providing some definitions, examples and also some contrarian views, finishing with a short video on how easy it is to set up your account in the cloud.

A series of lightning talks by the sponsors gave us some interesting news, insights and context for the conference:

  • Eric Bezille from Sun showed us what's behind Sun's cloud activities.
  • Arvid Fossen from Aserver.com talked about how they provide datacenters as a service to their clients. Wanna have your own cloud? Go buy it as a turnkey solution!
  • Matthew Hugo (Not sure if I got that name right...) from Runmyprocess.com showed some nice examples of integration between different cloud services.
  • Josh Fraser, VP of Business Development at Rightscale showed some impressive examples of how the cloud can neatly adjust to your business demand curve.
  • Peter Martin from Orange Business Services showed us some pictures of his kids who use clouds based services today (Facebook anyone?), pointing out that when they'll grow up to be CEOs, CIOs and decision makers, they're most likely not going to operate their own datacenters. Food for thought for the sceptics who think Cloud Computing is just a temporary hype or not ready (yet) for prime time: Just wait 'til your kids grow up. It may happen sooner than that, though, given the enthusiasm of the more than 100 people in the room...
  • Finally, Owen Garrett from Zeus provided a really good reason for using a software load balancer: Take back control of your application!

Here are two pencasts with audio and notes taken during the above lightning talks. The first one covers the intro until and including the Rightscale talk, the second one starts with the Orange talk and finishes with the Zeus talk.

The Unpanel

I've been to a couple of unconferences before, but this was my first unpanel. Dave Nielsen asked the attendees about who thought they were an expert on Cloud Computing. A couple of hands went up and whoosh - there you have seven experts for a panel :). Then he asked the group to provide seven questions for the panel to answer, after which each of the panelists got to answer one. For each question, the group was asked whether there was potential for some more discussion on that topic, so we also had a good basis for creating some spontaneous sessions during the conference part. Listen to the whole unpanel session on the right.

Cloud Architecture Session

After the introductory sessions and the unpanel, it was time for the breakouts. There were four of them: Cloud Security (moderated by Luc Wijns from Sun), Cloud Architecture, Open Clouds and Cloud Business Opportunities. Sébastien Pahl from DotCloud and I moderated the Cloud Architecture session. After some introductory slides, Sébastien explained his work on creting portable cloud-based services (including leverating Solaris Containers). (Sébastien, let me know when you have your slides online...). We then let the group share their questions, answeres, thoughts and discussion points. We talked about scaling MySQL in the cloud, or perhaps it would be better to leave the traditional relational model and use a simple key/value alternatives such as CouchDB. Developers asked whether they'll be able to use their IDEs with the cloud (hint: Check out NetBeans...) or whether they need to throw it all away and learn everything from scratch. How much should developers care about scalability? Isn't that something the cloud should provide? What about different APIs? Does it make sense to write your own abstraction layer? Message queues were also a popular topic and we noticed that RESTful interfaces are everywhere. I liked the final statement of one attendee most: Maybe clouds are forcing us to rethink a lot of our developer concepts so we can actually sit down and start writing clean code for a change!

Here's the audio recording from the architecture session. I tried to write down some notes after they have been discussed so you can try and skip to the pieces you're most interested in. The audio is a bit low volume, but still quite intelligible.

Wrapping It All Up

After the breakouts, a surprisingly large number of attendees were still there despite being late into the evening to gather and listen to the summaries of the different sessions. Here's the recording, including some notes to help you navigate.

All in all, this was a great event. A big thank you to Eric and his team in Paris and the sponsors for setting this up! More than ever, it became clear to me how significant the trend towards cloud computing is and how many talented people are part of this community, driving the future of IT into the sky.

Update: Eric now published his own summary with a lot of background information. It's a great read, so check it out!

Thursday Jan 08, 2009

Making 3D work over VNC

Dave recently played around with VNC on his computer and an iPod touch. While it worked surprisingly well, the achilles heel of many remote access solutions kicks in when you try doing some 3D stuff, such as a game, Second Life or maybe a scientific application.

This reminds me of one of the best kept secrets at Sun: We fixed the 3D-over-VNC problem.

International Supercomputing Conference 2008, LRZ booth showing 3D remote visualizationJust check out the Sun Shared Visualization Software, it is free and based on open source packages and it works like a charm. For example, here is a picture of the ISC 2008 conference in Dresden where you see a molecular visualization program in 3D stereo at the LRZ booth in Dresden, which is actually running in Garching near Munich.

That's right, the server runs in Munich, the client is in Dresden, there's more than 400km air line in between (probably close to double that in terms of network line) and we saw close to 30 frames per seconds of intricate molecular modeling madness that we could manipulate interactively like if the server was around the corner. In this case, the "server" was a supercomputer that fills the halls of the LRZ compute center, so it wouldn't quite fit the showfloor, thus they used Sun Shared Visualization to deliver the images, not the whole supercomputer, to Dresden.

And this is an increasingly common theme in HPC: As data amounts get bigger and bigger (Terabytes are for sissies, it's Petabytes where the fun starts) and compute clusters get bigger and bigger (think rows of racks after racks), your actual simluation becomes harder to transport (a truck is still the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to transmit PB class data across the nation). The key is: You don't need to transport your data/your simulation/your research. You just need to show the result, and that is just pictures.

Even if it's 3D models at 30 frames per second (= interactive speed) with 1920x1080 pixels (= HDTV) each frame, that's only about 180MB per second uncompressed. And after some efficient compressing, it boils down to only a fraction of it.

This means that you can transmit HDTV at interactive speeds in realtime across a GBE line without any noticeable degradation of image quality, or if you're restricted to 100 MBits or less, you can still choose between interactive speeds (at some degradation of picture quality) or high quality images (at some sacrifice in speed) or a mixture (less quality while spinning, hold the mouse to get the nicer picture). And this is completely independent of the complexity of the model that's being computed at the back-end server.

The Sun Shared Visualization Software is based on VirtualGL and TurboVNC, which are two open source projects that Sun is involved in. It also provides integration with the Sun Grid Engine, so you can allocate multiple graphics cards and handle reservations like "I need 3 cards on Monday, 3-5 PM for my presentation" automatically.

So, if you use a 3D application running on Linux or Solaris and you want to have access to it from everywhere, check out the Sun Shared Visualization Software for free and let me know what you've done with it. Also, make sure to check out Linda's blog, she runs the developer team and would love to get some feedback on what people are using it for.

P.S.: There's some subtle irony in the LRZ case. If you check their homepage, their supercomputer has been built by SGI. But their remote visualization system has been built by Sun. Oh, and we now have some good supercomputer hardware, too.

Monday Mar 17, 2008

CeBIT 2008 impressions

The Sun booth at CeBIT, buildupCeBIT 2008, the largest IT trade show worldwide, is over. This must be my 9th CeBIT as a Sunnie, boy does time fly fast. Here are a few impressions from my point of view.

Thanks to Detlef, who set up an Ultra 40 M2 with a current Solaris Express and Sun xVM Server for us (here's a nice writeup (sorry, in german) on how he did it, in case you want to try out xVM yourself), buildup was done really quickly. We had two monitors attached to the machine and thanks to NVIDIA's "nvidia-settings" tool that they ship with the Solaris NVIDIA drivers, setting up Twinview was a piece of cake too.

Then we set up the Compiz window manager to run on our Solaris Ultra 40 M2. Few people know what it is (it adds some 3D eye candy to your desktop, similar to Apple's) and even fewer know that it runs on Solaris as well. Thanks to Erwann, installing Compiz is just a matter of running a script. Even if you have an ATI card, you're likely to be able to run Compiz, thanks to Minskey's preliminary driver. It runs just fine on my Acer Ferrari 4000 laptop!

Adding more memory to the Ultra 40 M2But then we found out that running many virtual OSes on a machine requires quite some amount of memory. Our 8 GB inside the Ultra 40 M2 wasn't enough for the different versions of Solaris, Linux and Windows that we had installed. So we hunted down an unsuspecting little Sun Blade X6220 module and ripped it open for an extra 4 GB. To the right, you see Ulrich performing the upgrade, Systemhero-like (i.e. no anti-static mats or straps, those are for sissies...). Now there was enough air to breathe for our virtualized OSes, the booth was ready to go!

The Sun booth: Ready to go!Day 1 wasn't the busiest day, as expected, but it kept us quite entertained. Mario Heide from the german POFACS podcast stopped by and we explored a few things we could do for future episodes.

High-End Visualization: There was also quite an interest from the automotive industry in trying the Sun Fire X4600 M2 8-socket Opteron Server with up to 256 GB of RAM with the NVIDIA Quadro Plex  VCS external graphics cards as a really big workstation, or a network visualization server. The LRZ supercomputer center near Munich is already using such as setup to provide virtualized remote graphics power to their researchers and now the manufacturing industry is starting to like the idea. An ideal companion for this is Sun's suite of visualization software that provides both scalable and shared approaches to high-end visualization. Try it out, it's free and open source.

Optimizing AMP: Another popular question was: "How can I optimize the AMP stack on Solaris and Sun Hardware?" Each day, I pointed about a dozen customers to our Cool Stack homepage, which is part of the Cool Tools developed by Sun for the UltraSPARC T1/T2 processors. The Cool Stack is simply a set of popular web apps (you know, Apache, MySQL, Perl, PHP, Tomcat and friends) which have been precompiled by Sun for Solaris on both x86 and SPARC architectures. Since we compile with Sun Studio compilers using the right options and integrate them with selected Solaris technologies, such as the cryptographic framework, using the Cool Stack is both easy to do and it provides great out-of-the-box performance.

All the other days were very busy. Loads of people, loads of questions lots of interest in Sun technologies, both in hardware and in software. The great thing about this particular CeBIT and the new Sun booth, now in Hall 2 was that the people who came by were all relevant to Sun. We hardly had any "bag-rats" at all, so I guess this is as good as it gets in terms of visitor quality. Visitors ranged from high-level IT executives through middle-management, system administrators, hackers, students and Sun/Solaris enthusiasts.

Sun Ray and Sun Secure Global Desktop: We also had schools looking at our Sun Ray and Sun Secure Global Desktop solutions as a flexible, secure, cost-effective and eco-friendly infrastructure for their schools. Actually, Sun Ray technologies were among the hottest topics discussed during this CeBIT at the Sun booth, not just for schools but also for any kind of environment that is sick and tired of having to upgrade Windows or Linux PCs every couple of years. Also call centers, branch offices and a couple of special applications such as kiosks are very good fits for Sun Rays.

Sun xVM was another hot topic. Having been at the Sun xVM pod with Ulrich and Detlef, we explained numerous times how the Sun xVM Server adds value to the work of the Xen community by providing Solaris technologies as the better foundation for virtual machines of all OSes. The Solaris Fault Manager can monitor your hardware and trigger virtual machine migration before the hardware starts failing for real, increasing uptime for your virtualized applications. This can work hand in hand with the Solaris Cluster, which adds high-availability features to virtualized OSes. ZFS is a great tool for providing fast, flexible, integrity-checked and powerful storage through iSCSI, NFS, CIFS or other protocols to virtualized environments. And there's much more, for example the Solaris Crossbow project which adds fully virtualized and bandwidth-managed network devices to the picture, enabling full network-in-a-box virtualization approaches. Oh, and when a virtual machine fails, you can debug it with DTrace, too. Levon has some nice examples about DTrace and Xen working together!

Sun's glass datacenter at CeBITSexy Hardware: No Sun booth at CeBIT without showing off some tin and this year was no exception. For starters, we had a datacenter with Sun's newest UltraSPARC T2, AMD and Intel based servers, both in rack-mount and in blade form factors. Of course we also had some storage arrays and a big tape library to show off.
But the big eyecatcher was the Sun Modular Datacenter S20 (formerly known as "Project Black Box") which was so big and so eye-catching that we had to place it outside the halls, near the Intel pavillion. Our heroic product manager Ingo explained everything about project Black Box to customers, including more than a handful of TV stations. Even at 4 o'clock in the morning, for the ARD TV station's breakfast TV show...

Back to Solaris: The nice thing about Solaris at CeBIT 2008 was that we hardly needed to explain to people that it is free and open source. Most visitors already knew this and came to visit us specifically to learn some more about a particular Solaris feature, grab a Solaris Express Developer Edition DVD or ask questions about how to best deploy Solaris in their environment. One system administrator actually thanked us for producing our CSI:Munich ZFS video because it helped him gain his boss' support for deploying ZFS in their company. The boss just said: "If this really works, then we need to roll it out now!" (Of course it "really worked"). Actually, ZFS was one of the most popular discussion topics, and I logged in to my home machine more than once to show some real life, production snapshots, pools and other ZFS features on a living, breathing system.

Getting Started with Solaris: We handed out a lot of Solaris Express: Developer Edition DVDs and to get people going and avoid the initial humps of first-time Solaris users, we pointed visitors to the same essential and useful links over and over again. This inspired me to post an entry into the german Solarium blog with the 7 Most Useful Solaris and OpenSolaris links. Now I only need to point customers to a single website for all their initial Solaris needs: The Solarium.

Helping and Learning: But we learned a lot of new stuff, too. Not only are Ulrich and Detlef great sources of endless Solaris knowledge (them being OS Ambassadors at Sun), I also had a number of very illuminating conversations with customers and visitors. Thorsten Ludewig of the Wolfenbüttel University of Applied Sciences updated me on the state of the art of digital picture frames. A guy from Konstanz University pointed me to a small company in Switzerland called "PC Engines" that manufactures small form factor systems with good quality. I'm looking for a small, low-power system as a backup server at home and this might be it. He's running NetBSD on these systems for small and home server tasks, but I wonder if they work with Solaris as well. At only 256 MB it might be a stretch but not impossible. Other options I'm considering are VIA's Artigo kit or maybe a standard Via motherboard in an ITX case after all? Let me know if you have experience with Solaris on very small, very low-power machines.

3 Systemhelden com to visit us at CeBITMeeting Customers and Interests: CeBIT, like any major trade show is a great way to connect with customers and interests. Sometimes it's a way of meeting people you only knew virtually. In this case, we had three fans of the Systemhelden.com podcast HELDENFunk visit us at the booth: Graefin, Chaosblog and Unruheherd. All three came in white Sun T-Shirts which could only be rewarded with new black Systemhelden.com T-Shirts :). We had a great time during the Sun booth party that day and according to Chaosblog's latest entry, they seem to have had a fun time at CeBIT a well.

In closing, this was probably one of the best CeBITs I've ever had. Customers and partners like Sun, they are excited about our technology and they want more. Some know us because of our Software and were suprised to learn that we have hardware, too (this is a good sign), some come to see our hardware and discover our software portfolio (this case is slightly more common) and all want us to win, which is a good feeling :).

Check out my CeBIT 2008 photo gallery on SmugMug for some more impressions of the Sun booth @ CeBIT with comments.

Oh, Rolf brought some beer to celebrate. Cheers!

 

 

 


Thursday Feb 14, 2008

Be a System Hero

Ansaphone mockery ad 

If you read this blog regularly, you might have noticed that I like spending time participating in podcasts for the german website Systemhelden.com (For instance, see here, here and of course here). The podcast and the Systemhelden.com community is in german language, so if your native tongue isn't, the times of envy are over. Welcome to Systemheroes.co.uk!

What is it?

It's a community website for those that are the "up" in "uptime", the unsung heroes of data centers, the people that never get a "Thank you for delivering all of my 1526 emails today!" call: The system heroes. If you like tinkering with computer systems, it's probably something for you.

What's in it for me?

First of all: A lot of fun, including some comics. A place to plug your blog (and who doesn't want the occasional extra spike in hitrates...). A place to meet other system heroes and chat about those pesky little lusers and their latest PEBKAC incidents while exchanging LART maintenance tips. And they have the coolest system hero game around: Caffeine Crazy. As seen, er, heard on HELDENFunk #9 and #10. Try it out!

Yeah, there's some Sun marketing, too, I admit. Mainly references to cool technology from Sun and the ability to test it 60 days for free (if it's hardware) or just use it eternally for free (if it's software), but someone has to pay the hosting bills and I assure you: It's for the good of system herokind.

Oh, and you gotta love these great ads at the bottom of each page (my favourite is above).

Cool, what do I do?

Do as Yoda would say: "Hrrm, a system hero you want to be? Sign up you need!" Well, being a system hero has never been so much fun...

Friday Nov 02, 2007

Getting Ready for TS Ambassador Conference 2007

Tomorrow, I'll be flying to San Francisco for the annual Technical Systems (TS) Ambassador Conference. I just packed my stuff, including my trusty favourite gadgets, excluding for the very first time, my Palm. I've been using the Nokia E61i as a PDA substitute for a week and this is going to be the stress test.

The TS Ambassadors are a group of Sun System Engineers (SEs) from all around the world who are specialized in CPU and Systems Technologies, HPC and Grid Computing, Workstations, Visualization and other interesting tech stuff that keeps the computer scientist in me stimulated, including a growing amount of storage related topics, such as Thumper and Honeycomb, although there is a separate Data Management Ambassador group.

During our annual conference, we listen to what our colleagues in engineering and corporate are up to, and we give feedback based on what we experience with our customers, thereby providing a two-way know-how transfer between Sun's field organization and Sun's product groups.

Like last year, I'm going to grab some co-ambassadors after each day and drag them into a room to record a daily TS Ambassador podcast. If you're inside SWAN, stay tuned for the announcement. My Zoom H2 will be my trusty portable recording studio, just like during the CEC 2007 podcasts.

But before we start with the conference on Monday, my colleague Roland and I registered for a special event that happened to be scheduled this sunday: The Foresight Vision Weekend. This unconference is going to address some fascinating topics including Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, Space Development and Settlement, Synthetic Biology and other topics of the not so long-term, but utterly exciting future. Let me know if you happen to be there, too, and stay tuned for a conference update on this blog.

Monday Oct 08, 2007

CEC 2007 in Las Vegas: Podcasting, JavaFX Hacking and HPC Software

Since I've arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday, October 8th, I've been busy with a number of things that are going on at the Sun CEC 2007 Conference:

  • CEC 2007 Messaging:  One of the cool things during the general sessions is the ability for attendees to send in their questions and comments via Email, SMS or Instant Messaging in real time, while the speaker is presenting.  Backstage, these messages are fed into a database. Then, two aggregate feeds are created: One goes to the CEC Message Visualizer, a Java Application written by Simon Cook which visualizes the flow of information in a very nice way so the audience can see where their messages are going. The other feed goes mainly to the presenters on stage so they know what the current questions are and answer them. That feed gets visualized through a Java FX Script application that I've been busy writing over the last weeks.
  • Podcasting: Tune in to the new CEC 2007 Podcast that is going live at this very moment. In the first episode, Hartmut Streppel, Eric Bezille, Matthias Pfützner and I sit together at the Gordon Biersch in Las Vegas (Prost!) while we discuss our plans and projects for CEC 2007, including Service Virtualization and Consolidation, ZFS, Flying Zones, the Message Aggregation Process and other cool stuff. Send me email or call my mobil phone if you want to participate in one of our next episodes!
  • HPC Software: In about an hour, Roland Rambau, Barton Fiske and I will present on HPC Software: Roland will cover the general state of HPC Software at Sun and talk about HPC storage solutions around CFS' Lustre filesystem, Barton will present the Sun Visualization Software solutions and I'll cover the Sun Grid Engine and some information on Sun Studio Developer Tools.
So, have fun listening to the podcast and see you at the HPC Software session if you happen to be in Vegas!

Wednesday Aug 08, 2007

A True Web 2.0 Chip

Yesterday was the big day in which we launched the UltraSPARC T2 chip, code-named Niagara 2.

Few people realize how significant this announcement really is. The UltraSPARC T1 chip already changed the game of providing a powerful web infrastructure: By providing 32 threads in parallel, the UltraSPARC T1 chip and the associated T2000 server can provide more than double the performance of today's regular chips, at half the power cost. Even now, 18 months after its introduction, this chip still remains ahead of the pack both in absolute web performance and in price/performance and in performance/watt.

UltraSPARC T2 is not just a better version of the T1 chip, it provides three significant improvements:

  • More parallelism: Instead of 32 concurrent threads, UltraSPARC T2 delivers 64 threads running in parallel. Moore's law gives us twice as many transistors to play with every 18 weeks and the best way to leverage that is to turn them into parallelism. UltraSPARC T1 and T2 are all about maximizing the return on Moore's Law. Check out the specs.
  • More networking: The UltraSPARC T2 features two 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports directly on the chip. Two. Ten GigaBit. On the chip. The NIC is included, there is no bus system between the NIC and the CPU, the CPU is the NIC is the CPU. Total embedded networking. For applications that live in the network, what more can they ask for in a server?
  • Built-in, free and fast encryption. In a world where the web becomes social, private data becomes more and more common, but also more and more important to secure. Making security a default feature of your web service is now available for free and it does not impact performance.

Of course, there are many more other improvements, such as 8 FP units, more memory etc., but the three points above alone make the UltraSPARC T2 the perfect chip for web 2.0 applications.

This guy needs UltraSPARC T2!For instance, check out this analysis of the Facebook platform by Marc Andreesen. If you don't want to read it all, here's a summary: Web 2.0 means explosive growth in server capacity, for any reasonably successful application. In the case of iLike, they are growing their user base at the rate of 300k a day! This kind of growth can be fatal for your company if you don't have the infrastructure to sustain it. Well, UltraSPARC T2 is just the kind of technology that was designed to do just that: Handle many, many, many concurrent users at once as efficiently and securely as possible.

So, all you Web 2.0 startups out there, get in touch with your nearest Sun rep or Sun SE and ask them about UltraSPARC T2, or better yet, get a free 60-day trial of UltraSPARC T1, do your favourite benchmark, double that number and forget about that crypto-card to see what UltraSPARC T2 can do for you real soon now. Then, sit back, relax and keep those 300k a day users coming!

Tuesday Jul 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Yesterday, we've announced good financial results for the last fiscal year 07. Very good financial results. I like working for a profitable company, it makes so many things so much easier.

Tomorrow, I'm going to have a meeting with my managers to discuss what to do next. Since we're early in the new financial year 08, I'm thinking about what to do next. So, here are some new year's priorities for my FY08 at Sun:

  • Web 2.0: I've been talking to customers, partners and Sun people in Germany about Web 2.0 a number of times. Every time, the feedback has been very clear: We want More! So I'm going to do more Web 2.0 related stuff: More blogging, podcasting, perhaps a successor to the now famous ZFS movie, more participation in social networking sites, including del.icio.us, XING and Facebook, more evangelizing and of course more insight into where this journey is headed to.
  • Technology: Sun is all about technology. We create, apply and leverage technology to enable the participation age. (Did you know that we've proclaimed the participation age before Tim O'Reilly published his famous Web 2.0 article?)
    We've seen Niagara changing the rules of processor technology and building the backbone of the web, again, and we've already disclosed some information on Niagara 2. We've seen the Constellation System debut during ISC 2007. You may have noticed that the Sun Ultra 40 Workstation is the best workstation on the planet, and BTW, we're changing the economics of true Video-On-Demand Streaming as well, just to name a few favourite technologies on my list.
    The biggest problem to solve now is: Spreading the word. Let me explain. Whenever I participate in a Sun day (A customer meeting in which Sun people present on new Sun technologies), two effects consistently happen: First, more people than originally planned show up (I once had people join in over a video conference line). Second, the meeting takes much longer than originally anticipated, because customers want to hear so much more about our technologies.
    Since we don't have much money to spend on advertising, sponsoring or other forms of traditional awareness generation, we need to do a lot more of these Sun days, and talk to customers one by one. Is this more difficult and time-consuming? Yes. Does this have a more lasting effect than traditional marketing? You bet. Only by talking to the experts at our customers are we able to verify that what we do is right and make sure our technology meets the people that want/need/develop for/join/use/participate in it. In FY08, I'm going to participate in more Sun days and talk to as many customers about Sun technology as I can.
  • Solaris: This may be a sub-topic of "Technology", but it really is a topic of its own: I use Solaris at home, on my laptop, evangelize it to customers, and it feeds my need as a computer scientist to learn about interesting things every day. In FY08, I'm going to use more new Solaris features at home and at work, write more about it (German readers: Check out this ZFS whitepaper), participate more in the OpenSolaris communities and make sure OpenSolaris gets the attention with developers, customers and partners that it deserves.
All in all, I'm sure FY08 is going to be interesting and fun. FY07 has been the year of technology announcements, FY08 will be the year of seeing them all in action. A year of interesting times.

Wednesday Jul 25, 2007

Now That's What I Call Rock-Solid!

A rock-solid Sun server still functioning flawlessly.Check out this story from systemhelden.com. A system admin enters their datacenter, only to find this scene of a crushed floor and a fallen rack full of Sun equipment. This must have happened some time ago, only the sysadmin didn't notice it because all of the servers were still running as if nothing happened! Later, Sun services checked every system in the rack and the only fault they found was a simple harddisk failure.

Sun systems have a reputation for being rock-solid, no doubt... 

P.S.: "Systemheld" translates to "system hero". Systemhelden.com is a community for the unsung system admin among us, in constant danger to be disbudgeted by moronic beancounters and haunted by incompetent lusers. Sometimes, their only defense is a LART-Whip.

Friday Mar 30, 2007

25 Years of Sun History in the Middle of Germany

Sun 1-100If you happen to be near Frankfurt, Germany, stop by the Sun Frankfurt office in Langen. It hosts the Sunopsis Computer Museum, which is run by our colleague Rüdiger in his free time.

Sunopsis consists of a collection of nearly all systems that Sun has built since it's foundation as well as an exhibition, an online-reference, a material-, document- and software archive. Additional highlights of Sunopsis are the nearly complete Cobalt history and prototypes of Sun systems that didn't make it to a real product. It is the only known museum in the world that can tell the history of Sun in such a compelling way.

Here are some impressions from the hardware exhibited there. Sunopsis has also donated equipment to other computer collections such as the German CPU Collection and the Computer Museum in Munich. Now that we're celebrating 25 years of Sun, it's amazing to see how the world of computing has changed in less than a generation!

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