Thursday Aug 07, 2008

So what's new?

Previously, I promised to do an update since it had been such a long time between postings. Well, wait no longer. Honestly, the last six months or so were fairly light on security work for me. I have continued to work with customers around the world helping them to apply Sun and partner technologies to their business challenges, but my team has continued to deliver on the Sun Systemic Security vision and we have recently started exploring adaptive security architectures. In fact, Joel was published and featured on the cover of the ISSA Journal for his article titled Adaptive Security and Security Architecture (an abridged version was also posted here). You can follow us on this journey at

So if not security, what have I been up to?

Before answering, when you hear the words "High Performance Computing" or HPC, what is the first picture that pops into your head? Does your mind drift immediately towards the hallowed halls of government and research laboratories? Do you think of Top 500 lists or of supercomputers named Ranger? Do you think about exploring the mysteries of weather patterns, "seeing" back into space and time or even keeping tabs on the behaviors of sub-atomic particles? If so, you are not alone, but that is certainly not all there is to HPC.

Today, there is no shortage of computing problems that today are being tackled using high performance computers, interconnects, storage and data visualization, but we need to widen our views, remove our blinders, and begin to see HPC as it exists everywhere.

  • structural analysis, computational fluid dynamics, crash and safety simulations
  • fraud analysis and detection, anti-money laundering, credit derivatives pricing and hedging
  • reservoir simulation and visualization, seismic processing
  • media rendering and transcoding
  • DNA sequencing, molecular modeling and bio-simulation

Customers employing these processes share common traits. They are all trying to drive better business results, more quickly and efficiently. They have huge data volumes and often short windows in which to derive actionable results. They are trying to reduce their time to market, speed up their ability to make key business decisions and thereby maximize their value to their customers and shareholders. Customers such as these are using IT as a strategic weapon.

Sound cool, right? I thought so! For the last six months or so, I have taken on an additional role of leading a global, virtual team across our Global Systems Engineering organization to focus on these "non-traditional" or "commercial" HPC environments. What is truly fascinating is that this is all just the tip of the iceburg. Wired Magazine noted recently that "The quest for knowledge used to begin with grand theories. Now it begins with massive amounts of data." While perhaps an oversimplification, the idea is dead on. We have collected massive amounts of data and more is collected every day. Just as often new ways are being developed to analyze this data. This is where HPC meets main street. Problems with HPC-like characteristics are all around us and only recently have we been given the (commodity) processing power, storage capacity and network bandwidth to employ HPC-like solutions more broadly from government to industry, from large corporations to small startups, from the data center to the home.

It has been a very cool ride and collectively the GSE HPC Tiger Team (as it is known) delivered remarkable results including millions of dollars in wins, training and education for thousands of people, and the capture of key requirements, use cases and design patterns. With this group solidly running on all cylinders, it is time for me to turn my focus back to security (although HPC will never be rid of me!). In the coming months, you will hear more about our work on adaptive security including some really interesting practical applications you can start trying today. Is that enough of a teaser?

Until next time, take care!



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