Tuesday May 20, 2008

Interesting view on making money in business

I had the chance to be a key note speaker at PROMISE (and ICSE workshop) last week. The group uses datamining and A/I techniques to look for patterns and make predictions on a variety of things, like where in code defects might occur, or how much effort a project might entail. 

I was there because we had  a project a few years a go running to predict which bugs might cause customer escalations, using similar techniques. I was responsible for implementing the fixing of these bugs proactively. My talk was geared around how to put a business case together and run such a project, and ultimately why in this case it was wound up before major benefits were realised.

There were loads of other great talks and papers, but the other keynote speaker, Murray Cantor from IBM had some interesting points, one of which I wanted to pull out here.

He said that there are three things you can monetize. Innovation, Customer Relationships, and Cost structure. For example, you can Make money by having the first product to market, or a good close relationship with the customer or buy doing it cheaper than anyone else. He  drew this in a triangle like this

 Monetize Triange

So this got me thinking as to where Sun fits in to the picture. First off I'd say it's a different place from IBM who put huge resources in to having a close relationship with the customer (Murray indicated he felt IBM was somewhere on the Innovation/Customer line). However It isn't purely at the Innovation point either. We provide Innovative technologies to help lower costs both for our customers (hey Free Software anyone - check out http://opensolaris.com), but also by automating things like system management thus removing cost and complexity (Take a look at our xVM strategy to merge virtualization and system management at http://openxvm.org, thus removing some of the headaches to running a virtual data center). Oh and did I mention our coolthreads hardware? So I think we're probably somewhere between the Cost and Innovation points.

I'm not saying this is a full theory of business, but I found it a useful thought experiment to see the different value propositions of various companies business models.

Thursday Nov 01, 2007

Installing Indiana/Opensolaris

For a few days recently I have been looking at the future of packaging, pkg(5) or IPS. IPS looks really powerful and quite simple. It will allow us to generate fixes and deliver them much more simply. What I've been thinking about is how and when will we generate fixes using this mechanism.

Any way as a result I've signed up for pkg-discuss-AT-opensolaris-DOT-org and indiana-discuss-AT-opensolaris.org. Both of these are very active and full of interesting discussions (and arguments) and ideas. Anyway, it's not surprising there has been so much activity recently. Today indiana-discuss announced the launch of the developer preview of the opensolaris binary distribution. So I tried it out on a couple of machines. My laptop first, an Acer Ferrari 4005. Everything just worked. The LiveCD booted up, really quickly actually, well done the team for getting the performance up so well. Even wireless worked, though that's probably because I've already swapped the Broadcom wireless miniPCI card for an Atheros one. Unfortunately I have no spare slices available on the laptop so I move on to my next machine.

This is my home PC, usually running WindowsXP for the kids, it has never successfully Solaris for reasons that will become apparent. I have just upgraded the hard drive so theres 60Gb partition free for me to do some damage.

Booting the livecd failed, or rather Xorg failed to display anything. My machine is an old Athlon XP2600 with an AGP radeon x1600pro graphics card. Great for games, but unfortunately the Solaris/OpenSolaris Radeon driver doesn't support it. Fortunately Stephan Hahn blogged about how to get Xorg to use the vesa driver from the livecd. With that in place I got the gnome gui up and gave the install a go.

The installer uses dwarf-caiman, a cut down slim line installer which is nice and easy to navigate. The install itself was really quick - there's only a CD's worth installed. The rest should be added later over the web from the IPS repository. Unfortunately that is where my old machine creaked too much. The onboard ethernet is an nforce2 gigabit ethernet. It should work with the nge driver but I think it's just too old. I tried adding an alias for it using 

# add_drv '"pci10de,66"' nge

But even though I could plumb it there was no traffic going through it :-( I guess I'll have to find another ethernet card.

The install claimed it failed, but it did come up fine after a reboot, though I had to add a user again at single user because the useradd hadn't worked. Warning here. root is just a role that users can take on - so you can't log in as root as you might expect from a "normal" solaris system.

I'm pretty impressed. Nice installer, lightweight liveCD to get you started. zfs root and pkg(5) to add new stuff (or it will when I get a new ethernet adapter. I wonder if I can get one of my old USB wireless sticks to work :-). Plus it seems to be more responsive under OpenSolaris than windows XP.

 Do give it a go, it is one vision of the future of opensolaris






Chris W Beal


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