Thursday Jul 07, 2011

Sun Ray coolness ala iPad

    I've been a fan of Oracle's Sun Ray technology since I first saw it as a Sun Labs project 14 years ago. I've blogged on it many times, and while I am not as directly involved in the sales process for Sun Ray and other desktop virtualization technologies, I still try to stay on top of what is going on. I also try to get some hands on time as well, but that's not as easy as it used to be.

    What makes me excited enough about Sun Ray technology to again take to my blog? My iPad 2. I got an iPad 2 a few weeks ago, and I'm still working on getting the most from it, beyond just being a bigger version of my iPhone 4, which has it's merits for my aging eyes. I really love the Smart Cover, and the size has made it even easier for me to do stuff that I used to prefer doing on my MacBook, but in a lighter and quicker to access form factor. I like my iPad a lot, but my iPhone is still my ultimate 'portable' computer.

    I've played with a couple apps for getting remote access to a desktop machine, for accessing my kid's PC at home and my PC at work. Heck, I even have it set up to remotely access my MacBook, when my MacBook is left running somewhere. But none of them are as seamless and full featured as the Sun Ray at home I had when working for Sun. Wouldn't it be neat to have that kind of access, with the portability of an iPad? Yes it would, and it is now available. Oracle has just announced the Oracle Virtual Desktop Client App for iPad.

    For those that didn't just dash off to get it, here is the link to it on the Apple AppStore. And did I mention that it is free. Obviously you will need access to a Sun Ray server, but that's the point, isn't it. This takes the existing Oracle Virtual Desktop Client (OVDC), available on Windows, Oracle Linux and Oracle Solaris, to a new, more portable platform that has not only created a new market, but is extremely popular, and continuing to sell faster than they can stock them.

    I got the chance to try this iPad OVDC internally and I'm impressed. One thing I really love about it is the keyboard. By tapping with 3 fingers at once, it brings up the on-screen keyboard, which includes access along an additional row across the top to various additional capability. This includes a button to bring up all the function keys (F1-F12), another button to bring up cursor keys, as well as toggle-able Control, Alt, and Shift keys, and Esc, Tab and Del keys. Man, I wish there was a way to get that keyboard for many of my other iPad apps. :-) You can use the standard iPad gestures for zooming and moving around the screen. A quick 2-finger swipe to the right brings back the connection panel, allowing you to easily change connections or disconnect the current session. It also has a button for getting help on supported gestures.

    It's probably just the geek in me, but I'm loving this new client. If you have access to a Sun Ray environment and have an iPad, check it out. For years customers have wanted Sun Ray laptops and tablets. I can't think of a better option for filling that need. For those of you who try it out, please let me know in the comments your impressions. Mobile corporate computing just got more accessible. Congratulations to the Sun Ray engineering team for a great addition to the Sun Ray family.

Wednesday Apr 01, 2009

April Fools at Sun

    Yup, it's that time of year again, and the Internet is abuzz with April Fools Day jokes of various kinds, including Google's, YouTube's, and the first one I saw this morning at Expedia. Some are pretty funny, some well thought out, and others just kinda sad. I always find a laugh to be well worth the effort, particularly during difficult times.

    I'm sorry to say that I haven't seen one prank within Sun today. Over the long history of Sun, April Fools Day pranks have usually been creative, sometimes amazing, and always fun. There was one during the days when Scott McNealy was fond of the phrase "put all our wood behind 1 arrow", and sure enough, he ended up with a gigantic wooden arrow through his office. We have a web resource called Onestop, and many pranks were pulled through it's pages, including amazing new products from SunLabs, etc.

    OK, I'm getting old and can't seem to remember all the details, but one of Sun's execs found his fancy car in the middle of one of the ponds on campus, on a raft or other surface such that it was fine, but not easily accessible. And not long after Sun announce Project BlackBox, there was a video of OpenWork 3.0, built into a shipping container much like the Modular Datacenter. Ah, those were the days. Maybe I was snoozing today and missed it, but it sure would be nice to see some of that old 'Kick Butt and Have Fun' attitude around the Sun family again.

    At this point, the best I can do is try to bring some levity to the rest of my fellow employees at Sun Microsystems by digging up some of the fun old mock ads. Enjoy :-)

Anti-Microsoft Jacques Cousteau style ad

The IT Guy - Episode #1

The IT Guy - Episode #2

The IT Guy - Episode #3

The IT Guy - Episode #4

Tuesday Mar 31, 2009

Solaris powered Nehalem

    Yesterday, Intel had a big announcement of their Xeon® processor 5500 series CPUs for servers. In conjunction with that announcement, Sun announced some impressive world records with Solaris on these new processors. Some of you may know of the Xeon® processor 5500 series by the code name Nehalem, and there has been a lot of press about this new CPU architecture, and the performance it brings to the x86 space. Intel CPUs have come a long way since the old 8086s, and the 8088s used in the first IBM PCs. (yeah, I have one in my collection)

    But where are the Sun server's using these new CPUs, you might be asking. Well, you need to be patient, as we have several coming on April 14th. And we've made it easy for you to keep from missing it, by offering to send you an SMS reminder of the Sun Open Network Systems Launch - April 14. So go get yourself registered for that SMS reminder, and make sure you don't miss these energy efficient, high performance servers using Intel's Xeon® processor 5500 series and Sun's innovation. You won't be sorry. :-)

Friday Jul 11, 2008

I don't know how to say goodbye

    I've been through a number of downsizings at Sun. I even ended up on the down side of one of the early ones, but found a new position just before taking a job elsewhere. I work with many fun, talented people, and I've shaken my head at some of the folks let go in the past. But I'm still getting over the number of people I knew well and worked with, and the number of really talented, top notch employees who got let go on Thursday. Some of these folks where in high demand, both by sales teams and customers. These same folks drove a lot of training in hot, important technology topics, like Solaris, virtualization, consolidation, ZFS, Zones, etc, and they are gone. I really hope that they find another opening at Sun, now or soon. I have no doubt that many of these folks will be in high demand, even in a tough market like this. And I wish I could tell them this personally.

    I guess this time I'm coming to the realization that through all the other rounds of layoffs, I didn't pay enough attention to how to gracefully and comfortably keep connections with the people I knew who were being let go. I'd keep my eyes open to openings, and let someone know if I thought they might be interested, but there usually weren't many such opportunities. I don't drink alcoholic beverages, and particularly these days many of them aren't local, so going out for a beer would have been awkward at best. Maybe some of the new crop of social networking technologies, like Twitter, IM, SecondLife, Facebook, will make it easier going forward, but I know friends on these who have left and haven't been on them much since. Commiserating with friends still here takes some of the shock away. I just need to find a way to stay connected with them if they go, by their choice or Sun's.

    This isn't how I really want to do this, but for the moment it's something. All my friends let go by Sun this week, not goodbye, but till we meet again.

Sunday Jan 27, 2008

Sun Blade 6000 firmware update

    The Sun Blade 6000 Modular Computing products have been out for several months now, and have been getting good press, like this Infoworld article. While they liked the Sun Blade 6000, one thing that was noted in this article is the lack of the browser-based user interface (BUI) to the ILOM, which the Sun Blade 8000 has. It was noted that the BUI feature was coming, and good news, it has arrived. Here is a link to the recently released Sun Blade 6000 chassis 1.1a firmware, which adds this functionality. So now you can use your choice of CLI (Command Line Interface) or BUI for managing and monitoring your Sun Blade 6000 chassis and blades, just like on the Sun Blade 8000.

    While you're updating firmware, make sure you check out what's available for the compute modules you have, at the Sun Blade 60000 & 8000 Modular Systems - Downloads page. There are downloads of firmware and supplemental software for the various compute modules available for the Sun Blade 6000, including a short description of what's new in each update. Not only will you find updates to BIOS, ILOM, ELOM, Diagnostic CDs, etc, but there is also the Sun Fire x64 Servers Management Pack 3.0 for Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, making it easier to manage your x64 systems from Sun using the Microsoft Operations Manager 2005. More on managing Sun's x64 systems in a future post, so stay tuned.

Tuesday Nov 20, 2007

Dude, you're getting Solaris

    I'll start right out by admitting to being a big fan of the Muppets. I love the Muppet Show, although I'm approaching the age where I could do the role of Waldorf or Stadtler, the elder hecklers from the private box. It should come as no surprise that I have seen most of the Muppet movies, including Muppets from Space. In this movie, there are a couple scenes in which a Muppet bear tries to calm his human boss in a secret government agency by suggesting 'baby steps, sir, baby steps'. I like using that line myself to remember that success doesn't have to come fast or in big strides.

    By now you have probably heard that Dell to carry Solaris 10 on PowerEdge servers as noted by CNET, and noted in Jonathan's blog. Based on a CNET News Blog from last year, Dell: No Solaris until it's a standard, looks like Solaris is making progress, at least in Dell's eyes. Not too long ago we announced that IBM is doing the same thing, selling and supporting Solaris on their x86 servers, with another Jonathan blog about it. More progress for Solaris.

    Even more exciting is the availability of a developer preview of Project Indiana, an OpenSolaris binary distribution with the look, feel, and tools of a standard Linux distribution. The best of both worlds, available in a Live CD to test out and provide feedback on as it moves forward. The way I look at it, Solaris is doing as the Muppet bear suggested, and making great progress in manageable 'baby steps'. Or as the young man from the old Dell commercial might say "Dude, you're getting Solaris".

Wednesday Oct 10, 2007

Open Standard I/O

    I changed roles at Sun, and am now a Technical Specialist focusing on our x64 technologies. While there is always an element of time spent on both customer relationships and technical skills development in pre-sales engineering roles, I prefer a balance more weighted towards technical depth and skills development/maintenance. I've always felt that as a technical professional, you have more credibility if you have spent at least some time working with the technology and products.

    Part of coming up to speed in a new role is getting a better understanding of the available resources. An important resource for sales is the ever present presentation. And while I appreciate the efforts of marketing to help promote our products, I need to be prepared to avoid potential rat holes by knowing the details of the background material used in developing the slides. If I'm hemming and hawing when presenting because I don't have confidence in the slides, I loose credibility. I get particularly wary when ambiguous or overloaded buzz words are used, such as 'open', 'free', 'grid', 'utility computing', 'blade computing', etc.

    Can you believe it, it took me 2 paragraphs to finally get to the meat of this post? :-) Sun has an impressive family of modular computing systems, or blade computers as they are commonly characterized. Among the many values of our modular computing family is the use of industry-standard open I/O. Ah, buzz words. What does that mean, industry-standard open I/O, and what is the benefit? It means that our compute modules use the same industry-standard open I/O technologies that our rack servers use, PCI-Express (PCIe). Instead of having I/O daughter cards on the compute module itself, that then need to connect electrically through the backplane to an I/O card in the chassis, making maintenance and reconfiguration more difficult, we pass the PCIe lanes through the passive backplane to PCI-SIG industry-standard PCIe Express Module slots at the back of the chassis. Simpler and more reliable.

    What is the benefit? There are several. Since the PCIe Express Module slots are separate from the compute module, you can easily hot swap PCIe Express Module cards, without needing to power down and remove the corresponding compute module, enhancing tool-less maintenance. Instead of having to remove the compute module, swap a daughter card and also swap an I/O card in the chassis, you can just swap the I/O card in the chassis. Fewer steps, less chance for human error, quicker. Sounds good to me.

    By sticking with industry-standard I/O, compatibility with 3rd party cards is enhanced, as is design and testing. PCIe is a well established standard, developed by a group of companies, and based on years of experience with previous generations of I/O interfaces. There are chip sets implementing the PCIe standard from several companies, and a well developed ecosystem of people and resources with the skills for designing it into systems. This makes it easy for 3rd party companies and partners, like QLogic, to develop cards for use in these modular systems, and the cards are compatible with other vendor's systems. For instance, I understand that NEC and Fujitsu use PCIe Express Modules for some of their systems, and others are planning on using this standard.

    Another benefit of using an industry-standard I/O technology is that as technology gets enhanced, and it inevitably does, maintaining compatibility is easier. Our implementation of the PCIe industry-standard I/O technology is forward-compatible with PCI G2 and IOV, adding to the investment protection provided by Sun's modular computing platforms. Building systems that take advantage of the well established design and years of testing experience of industry standard open PCIe makes for higher reliability and more choice, something I can talk to customers with confidence about.

Thursday Aug 23, 2007

Sun Ray in the Eco Innovation Initiative

    Sun has been innovating in technologies that are greener than traditional servers for a while now, and we are developing more value around them. This includes best practices, incentives, services, and highlighting some of those technologies that don't always jump out at you as energy efficient. As part of this Eco Innovation Initiative, it is not surprising that the Sun Ray technologies are right in the thick of things, as it were.

    Using around 4 watts at the desktop and taking advantage of efficiencies from multiple users on servers in the data center is just a start for the Eco friendly value of a Sun Ray solution. Use a Project Blackbox to locate your data center where there is inexpensive power, or better yet, where there is power from renewable sources close at hand, placing them in pre-existing buildings, etc, thereby re-using real estate. Be creative.

    Check out some of the other parts of this Eco Innovation Initiative, and see how much further you can take the power savings and other values of a Sun Ray solution, when implemented in conjunction with Sun's other innovations. Here is a link to the announcement on CNNMoney.com. It's cooler than cool (ice cold).

Friday Aug 03, 2007

Nice change of pace

    I've worked at Sun for almost 10 years now. As a matter of fact, I juts got my catalog for picking my 10 Year service award. I started during the dot-com boom, and life was great, as was Sun's image. Then dot-bust, and we've been working hard to get the glow back. This week was a nice change of pace. Starting here with the announcement of our financial performance for the year, beating our goal of 4% operating profitability (actually made it to 8%). Some really nice results, and positive press about it as well. Check out Jonathan on CNBC's Squawk on the Street July 31st show if you don't believe me. :-)

    As I have mentioned before, I include Slashdot in my regular reads, and today this item showed up, Sun To Release 8-Core Niagara 2 Processor. Sun news makes it into Slashdot now and again, and sometimes Sun gets trashed, but more often than not gets a mixed reception. I like to review the comments to try to get a sense of how Slashdot readers feel in general, and the response to this one was quite positive. It really helped reinforce my faith in the strength of Sun's products and direction, which can waiver sometimes as I'm on the inside. Kinda like the old saying about sausages and laws, you don't want to know how they are made. Well, actually more like knowing all the details and blemishes makes it harder for you to see the positive. And man, does the Niagara 2 have plenty of positives.

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A place where Perley Mears sounds off on topics relevant to his work at Oracle.

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