Wednesday Aug 12, 2009

Some interesting reading about VMWare's acquisition of SpringSource

This week's announcement that VMWare is acquiring SpringSource sure caught me by surprise.  I'm not surprised that VMWare is making an acquisition; it clearly needs to get away from the "one trick pony" problem of being known only as a hypervisor vendor, because there are many entrants in that field now, and it will become commoditized soon.

What surprised me was that VMWare picked a company known for its support of software development frameworks, namely, the Spring framework.  Also what surprised me was that VMWare pretty much explicitly commits to Java as the programming language of choice for their cloud offering.

Don't get me wrong: I love Java as a choice of programming language.  But I have two basic questions about this choice:
  1. Really?  Java is the language you're choosing for rapid-beyond-belief development and deployment of applications on the web?
  2. Why is VMWare locking themselves into a single language?  That's essentially what I get out of the announcement and press.
Maybe there weren't any other credible candidate frameworks in PHP, for example.

Here is a nicely-written opinion piece by an IBM guy about what the deal means to VMWare and the industry.  I like his take that this purchase is less help to VMWare's cloud vision than what you might think, but it does help VMWare get into the addressable market for application servers

But what do you think is going on?  Why did VMWare choose to buy SpringSource?  Does this really make VMWare more credible as a cloud vendor, or do you think VMWare is off track with this decision?

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Monday Jul 13, 2009

SuperNAP: a crazy huge, modern datacenter in Vegas


I just saw this short video talking about how Sun's cloud computing platform lives at a fascinating datacenter called the SuperNAP in Las Vegas.

Maybe you've just read that sentence and asked yourself two questions:
  1. "fascinating" and "datacenter" in the same sentence?  Dude, you've pegged the nerd-meter at 100.  What happened to you?
  2. A datacenter in Vegas?  I thought datacenters try to keep machines cool, not toasty.
Well, the story about how Switch Communications keeps the SuperNAP cool is actually pretty interesting; here is their own video that talks about it.  And here's a story from The Register talking about the SuperNAP as well.

And Vegas had me scratching my head as well, but it turns out that many of the big Internet carriers have endpoints in Vegas.  So if you have a datacenter that sits where all those endpoints meet, you have the opportunity to offer huge bandwidth at great prices to your customers.  That's what the Switch people do.

Check it out; it's actually pretty interesting reading and watching.

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Thursday Apr 09, 2009

VirtualBox 2.2 supports software appliances

Looks like the VirtualBox people keep chugging along (although if you're moving at 150mph, is it right to call it "chugging"?).  Yesterday I saw they've released version 2.2, which supports the Open Virtualization Format (OVF).  This is what I like about it: when I want to share my software configuration with somebody, I make a vbox image and give it to somebody, but then they have to know the vbox VM configuration I used.  That means they have to go into the vbox UI and manually set up the same settings I did.  It's not difficult, but it's error-prone and it's tedious.

No longer: now I just tell VirtualBox to create an appliance out of my vbox image and it creates two files: an OVF image and the OVF description of that image.  When my co-worker wants to use my appliance, she tells vbox to import that appliance (the OVF description) and it does the right thing.  No configuration, nothing: it's just ready to go.  Nice and easy.

Jignesh Shah tried it out yesterday and created a relatively small-footprint OVF appliance of PostgreSQL 8.3.

I think this is going to be the way to distribute software in the near future.  And if not the way, then a valid way.  Virtualized images solve a few problems that I can think of:
  1. You don't have to worry about which operating system the customer has deployed on their desktop or server; as long as they're running a hypervisor, you can deliver your software to them easily, nicely pre-packaged in a virtualized image "appliance";
  2. it eliminates the install step for trying software: you've already packaged up your app in an appliance, no installation needed for the customer just makes things simpler and faster for them to get rolling;
  3. The transition to cloud computing becomes easier; if you use a virtualized image on your desktop, you can use the same image on a cloud like Sun's cloud computing offering, Amazon EC2, or other clouds that I'm sure will come online over the next few years.  This gives customers the flexibility to run apps where they want, and to migrate to/from clouds.
JumpBox is one example of a company that provides open source applications in virtualized appliance format, but also lets you try their appliances right now, for free, on a cloud: it's JumpBox.  Nice idea.

TurnKey Linux seeems to be something similar; I haven't looked much into it yet so don't know if they offer the cloud preview feature that JumpBox provides, but they do have the download-an-app-in-a-virtualized-image feature.


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