Tuesday Jan 23, 2007

Sun/Intel Alliance is about Solaris/Java growth

I've been reading some of the comments over on Jonathan's blog. There has been some concern regarding how this affects AMD. If your a AMD shareholder, it's understandable. Here are a couple of snippets:

 I'm crushed. Years of Xeon bashing are supposed to be instantly forgotten? This doesn't speak well for Sun's commitment to its partners. AMD helped turn Sun around and this feels like a real slap in the face. I don't think its too much to ask for Sun and AMD shareholders to be given an explanation on why this happened and how it will effect the entire range of Sun/AMD offerings. -- benr


 

 Unfortunately, the SUN+AMD partnership was a big market differentiator for SUN. SUN was seen as taking enterprise computing more seriously while still catering to the low power consumption 64 bit computing world that wasn't ready to spend the big bucks on Sparc everywhere. Now with low end Intel boxes SUN has become just another "everyone else" with the same vision. I realize that SUN is not "giving anything up" but now SUN is making high power consumption boxes with poor 64 bit performance and acting like if they market it enough we might care. So much for being different and standing out. -- Scott Alan Miller


I'll begin with a question: For how much longer is an AMD-only relationship a positive business decision for Sun? There is no doubt that when we started the relationship AMD was doin' some butt-kickin' and was a serious differentiator. Since then, Intel processors have improved and AMD's partnerships have broadened.

AMD sells chips to pretty much every major server & desktop vendor. AMD knows that volume means everything in their market.  Now that the x64 field is more competitive, Sun is broadening its appeal as well. It's a pro-Solaris, pro-Java business decision. Driving Solaris and Java volume broadens the "Sun Ecosystem". Getting Intel Solaris & Java endorsements and engineering meat behind it is a big deal.

All this being said, our Opteron line and investments continue on. Don't consider the partnership anti-AMD or pro-Intel. Again, consider the partnership pro-Solaris and pro-Java. Much like AMD's business relationship with Dell is not anti-Sun.

If Opteron better fits your needs, buy Opteron (from Sun). If Xeon better fits your needs, buy Xeon (from Sun). Just run an OpenSolaris-based distro on whatever you decide, and then run Java on top of that :)   Bias? What bias?

I'm OpenWork-ing

I am no longer a member of the non-OpenWork heathen as I have joined the ranks of may OpenWorkers at Sun (here, here, here for example). Today I received a SunRay from the FedEx guy. I had the thing installed before my signature dried on his digital tablet. The Sun Ray did come with instructions, but my animal instinct instantly grokked the male/female power (and network) plug configuration. Literally 5 minutes after getting the box, I was up and running.

The first test was to check on my vacation days. I don't do that often enough since I don't VPN into Sun very often. I'm dangerously close to maximum accrual, but dagnabit, I'm not yet "forced" to take vacation days. Wow, close to working on a local workstation. There is some latency on large screen redraws, but given that I never, ever, ever, ever have to sysadmin the thing, I welcome the tradeoff.

The second test was to view one of the videos from Sun's recent Solaris 10 Web Launch. Admittedly I had to shrink the video by about 40% for the video to sync with the audio, but that I never, ever, ever, ever .. well, you get the point.

ThinGuy, buddy, this rocks!

Thursday Dec 28, 2006

Forgoing web candy

I've made an interesting personal discovery - I enjoy content. I mean the "primary" content. I had plenty of time this morning to parse my RSS feeds with QuickNews thanks to a Barista-in-training. I was getting a bit tired of slow page loads and decided to enable "fast mode" on the Treo's Blazer browser, which ignores the download of CSS and images. My my, what a difference. The improvement isn't just speedy page loads, it is the absence of web candy.

I refer to web candy as images, CSS, advertisements, etc that are not a direct part of the content "of interest". Web candy is growing to consume available bandwidth. First it was background colors. Then animated GIFS. Then heavy formatting. Then Flash advertisements. Yikes, what will happen when we have fibre to the home? I bet on High Definition (HD) web candy :)

By disabling CSS and images I don't get colors, pretty borders, or extensive formatting. I do, however, get to the meat of the content quickly. My (mobile) browsing is significantly more pleasurable without web candy. So this brings me to the following question. Is web candy overshadowing the primary content?

In a similar vein, have you hit a trade rag home page lately with Firefox or IE? Not me. I prefer the RSS feeds. Check out CNet News.com, The Register or eWeek. Heck, check out my blog. Yikes. Lots of visual noise. I'm not going to check, but I bet it's 100K+ of data for a 500 word article. Now check out your favorite blogs in your feed reader. I just subscribed to my own blog via Bloglines to see how it looks. I can describe how it looks in one word: Enticing. No, not because it's my blog but because the RSS feed cuts out all of the crap the under-developed-yet-hyper-active right side of my brain put on the blog. It's bare naked and to-the-point content.

As for the Barista-in-training, I left a tip. I have to train em' early to remember my drink :)
 

Friday Dec 22, 2006

Star Trek Clingans - AHEM - Klingons

I have been associated with the "Klingon" name for my entire life, and now it's for good reason (read the first paragraph). Here are just a few I've heard throughout my life:

  • So how do you spell that? K-L-I-N-G-O-N?
  • Were you on Star Trek?
  • Do you speak Klingon? (ghobe')
  • No wonder you have a thick head
  • You even have a Klingon forehead ... oh, never mind, they're zits.
  • I thought Klingon's were supposed to be tough
  • The Clingan Empire

Tuesday Dec 19, 2006

Can a Treo replace an iPod?

It's no secret I am stoked about the 700p. It has already helped consolidate my phone and my underutilized Palm. Can it replace my iPod as well? Read on ...

First, I haven't upgraded to an iPod video. I'm stuck in Palm Year 2004 (generation 4). No video, no pictures. Next, it syncs with the iMac at home. Not good when travelling. Last, it's another device to carry around.

Along with the Treo I carry around a couple of SD cards and a small spare battery. On the software side, I have installed QuickNews (trial)  Kinoma 4, TCPMP, Pocket Tunes 4 (trial) and MMPlayer (trial).With the combination of QuickNews and Pocket Tunes, I can quickly peruse podcast feeds and then listen to them in the background. Streaming podcast downloads is a huge advantage for the Treo, although the setup does have issues. The SD card(s) can be used to cache content when connectivity is an issue (in-flight for example). I also stream live content from my favorite talk radio shows quite often, something else the iPod can't do.

There is no doubt that the simplicity of the iPod has value, including iTunes. However, the flexibility of the Treo (700p) has a lot going for it. At this point I'm not yet ready to give up the iPod, but it wouldn't take much in software improvements - and education on my part - to get there.

Thursday Dec 14, 2006

Can the Internet be an addiction?

Looks like someone thinks it is. I'm addicted to caffeine, blogging, family, Lost and Heroes, my Treo 700p, NetBeans, Solaris, food and water.

And yes, I am addicted to the Internet. I am connected 100% of the time. Can't get way from it. Everywhere I go, I am connected  - and use my unfair share of bandwidth :)

Let it be known now that I claim 100% responsibility and ownership for these addictions. I point the finger at myself.


 

Tuesday Dec 12, 2006

How you know Internet usage is growing outside the US

We can look at statistics. We can look at polls. We can listen to "experts". However, the best way to discover where the 'Net is growing is by measuring SPAM. Spammers seem to be "ahead" of the market. 

Over the last 12 months I have been getting a growing quantity of non-english-speaking spam. First it was Japanese, then Chinese. Now it is Spanish (mostly put out by some bonehead in Chile). Seems the SPAM filters do a better job of filtering out English (if you call this English: "by mcintyre in veracity";).

I heard last week that 9 out of 10 emails on the 'Net is SPAM. I think I get 8 out of the 9. Doesn't help that I plaster my email address on my blog, but that was a calculated risk. Actually, Sun's SPAM filters do a pretty good job.

I don't know what the answer is. I don't think an email tax works. Some small 1-person business with a compromised system will find a huge bill one day. Until then, I'll have to deal with email subjects with grammer only slighly worse than my own.


Mobility

Yeah, I'm still on this mobility kick. It's great not being tied down to one location. On the one hand I have my server running Secure Global Desktop. On the other I have a Palm Treo 700p. No matter where I go, I have access to pretty much everything I want. I can even tether my laptop to my phone, although I enjory my Starbucks (guess where I am now ...?). Unfortunatly, there is not a client for Secure Global Desktop that runs on my Treo. Then again, browsing a 1400x1050 desktop on my 320x200 Treo doesn't sound all that appetizing. There are, however, VNC and RDP clients for the Treo.

On the desktop front, I spent last week in training. Instead of installing our Identity Manager product on my desktop (Windows) partition, I installed it in a zone on the X2100. I ran the entire class over the 'Net. The latency was a bit noticeable, but I actually think the wireless connection was the issue. I trimmed down the colors and resolution to 1024x768x256 and performance was slightly better. A wired line is noticably better. What was nice is that I didn't even have to take my laptop out of the bag when I got home. I simply picked up my wifes laptop on the table and resumed my training at home.

 On the Treo front, I listened to the Monday Night Football last night while out on the road - on the Treo. Thanks to Kinoma 4, I can listen to content in Microsoft (proprietary) formats streamed over the web. It took a bit of Googl'ing, but I found the stream to WBBM 780 in Chicago and listened to about 3 quarters of the game. In fact, I have most of my radio stations pre-programmed so I can listen to them on demand (or I can download the rather large podcast versions).

One of these day's I'll talk about mobile content and delivery. I am getting a lot of good content - mostly from 3rd party providers.

Thursday Dec 07, 2006

How smart should your phone be?

I have been spending the week getting edumacated on our Identity Manager product. During one of the breaks, we geeks compared phones. The instructor, non-blogging-heathen-but-identity-guru Brad, brought up how buggy he thought the Palm Treo was based on his past experience with one. Others concurred.. I agree the phone reboots too often although most likely the side-effect of too many 'value-add' apps and/or an Inbox with 4,500 emails. To Brad, call connectivity (no dropped calls) is his priority. His number one use for the phone is verbal communication. Data is secondary.

While I have been using my Palm Treo for verbal communication, I've been using it more for data communication. Email. Web Browsing. Google Maps (traffic). Reading news. Blogging. SMS. Flight status information. I notice that I get more miffed if my phone reboots during a data connection than a verbal one. I figure I can call back and return from whence the conversation left off. However, resuming my data "conversation" is much harder, if not impossible.

Could it be that the smarter the phone the more it acts like a PC? How smart should a phone be?



 

Friday Dec 01, 2006

Sun sales coverage - supporting the small guy/gal

As usual, Jonathan posts a very thought-provoking entry. What I found equally interesting is the following comment left by Jason:

 I think of the biggest obstacles is your sales force. The feedback I consistently get from small companies (like what you want to target) is that if you're not a Fortune 500 company, it doesn't matter how much money you want to spend on Sun equipment -- it could be $2000, it could be $2mil, you are deemed unimportant and are completely ignored. I hope part of this focus includes fixing this attitude, as it also tends to generate a lasting negative impression, regardless of the quality of the products.

Being in the sales force, that one sure strikes home for me. While Sun is a large corporation, we are not with unlimited resources. It is true that our direct sales force mostly focuses on named accounts. There is a problem with Sun covering small organizations directly, and it is not small budgets. It's not that we don't want to support them. Sun wants to create a marketplace that is larger than Sun itself. Doing so helps establish the longevity of Sun.

What makes the marketplace larger than Sun from the sales perspective is partners, ISVs and resellers. Sun has a sales support team that supports partners, ISVs and resellers, which in turn support "smaller companies". No matter how hard we try, Sun itself will not be able to cover all of the "small companies" out there and provide a high quality of service. That's one reason major reason why partners are key to Sun.

Sun does have relationships with some small companies. IMHO, most of those relationships begin with existing personal relationships with Sun employees. There are also cases where a company hits on an idea that is mutually beneficial between Sun and the "smaller" company. In a growing number of cases, relationships with "small companies" are being built through the open source projects we mutually participate in. "Small companies" are not, using Jason's word, unimportant. Small companies are extremely innovative. Two years ago, who had heard of MySpace? YouTube? The list goes on. It is one of the reasons we have created programs to start the relationships early.

That being said, Sun does want to understand where we are falling short in supporting "smaller customers" and will work with them to fill the gaps. It may mean finding the right partner. It may mean creating a new "program". It may be something completely new and innovative. The first step is to have the conversation. We're listening.



Saturday Nov 25, 2006

Mobile Clingan

It has been almost a month since I have blogged. Yikes! Between a larger family and a family emergency, I have had little time for blogging.

About two weeks ago I changed my mobile phone plan. I am now the owner of a treo 700p with a high-speed data plan. While many of you have been Treo or smartphone owners for ages, a new world of possibilities have been opened to me. Just after I got the Treo, I had to travel out of town due to a family emergency. While I haven't had much time to pop open the laptop, there hasn't been much need to. The Treo has filled the gap quite nicely. In fact, I am at Starbucks writing this entry while I get some bonding time with my sleeping 7 week old :) Having a qwerty keyboard, even a microscopic one, sure speeds up the process!

Time to go. Hailey is waking up. Time to bond. Hailey bond.

Thursday Nov 02, 2006

Stress testing the T2000 running Sun's Application Server

 
Sigh. Sorry folks. I'm dangerously close to adding myself to my own non-blogging heathen list. Not only have I been sacrificing my blog for the sake of time, I've sacrificed reading other blogs as well :(  My regular-blogging schedule is completely out of whack.

I had the privilege last week of stress testing a T2000 with a boatload of zones running Sun's Application Server. Ya know, I never knew about the stress-transfer capabilities of running a stress test. The last couple of weeks have been a bit more stressful due to a  shortage of sleep, and running the stress test was more effective than Tylenol. I found inexplicable pleasure in nearly pounding a server into submission. I envy BMSeer :)

It sure took quite a bit of work to pound the server into submission.  We threw more and more servers running JMeter at the poor T2000, and it kept chewing through them. I'm not going to post results as this was customer & application specific. Plus, more formal testing will be done later. We simply wanted to get an idea if we were heading in the right direction.

I can say that we were RAM, CPU and disk constrained :) Note, it was not a top-end T2000. The CPUs were 100% busy with runnable threads growing over time but with good response time. According to iostat, the mirrored volume was hitting ~250 IOPS (95+% writes) and %60 busy. I should have run iosnoop, but I'm pretty sure most writes were log file writes. The (memory) scan rate was consistent. It wanted RAM but managed to stay sane. The few really big spikes were due to me running scripts to - oddly enough - free up memory. The server was pretty much "comfortably numb" when we stopped - it had some headroom left.

Were we headed in the right direction? Absolutely! Plus, we were running out of servers to generate load :)

 

Friday Oct 27, 2006

Thick client for Sun's Calendar Server



Thanks, Jonathan, for the tip on connecting Thunderbird to Sun's Calendar Server. I have been wanting a thick client for this to augment the web itnerface.

Mini-instructions:

1) Download the WCAP extension (here for Solaris).
2) Download the Calendar extension (here for solaris).
3) Create a new calendar and point to Sun's calendar web site (https://....)

I've got this background task (moving at a snail's pace) to write a calendar client for the SavaJe platform, also using WCAP. Not sure if I'll ever get it done. If I do, I'll post it.


Tuesday Oct 10, 2006

Mike Wyatt - Enterprise Software Deployments


I'd like to welcome new Sun blogger Mike Wyatt. I report to Mike albeit a couple of management levels removed. Mike manages a team of  folks, Architecture Enablement and Services, that is responsible for ensuring successful deployments of enterprise software in general and the Java Enterprise System in particular.

Deploying an enterprise project is challenging. Check out Mike's blog for experience-packed discussions of how to address common challenges when deploying enterprise software.

Saturday Oct 07, 2006

Live Help



Due to recent events, it's been tough updating the blog. BTW, <B>many thanks</B> to those who commented on the entry. It means a lot. I've been trying to find out how to increase productivity without much success. One corner case of success has been using live chat. I have an Accessline account to help manage my communications. What a wonderful service. I was having a problem, so I thought I'd hit their web site for the 1-800 number. I was presented with the "Live Help" option. Hmmm. 1-800 or http. Since we're the dot in web 2.0, driving web traffic drives potential Sun revenue. "Click".

I was quadruple-tasking (I seem to only have one core).  Online support, e-mail, researching a customer problem and finishing off a Grande Non-Fat Latte. In a matter of 4 minutes, I had the problem resolved thanks to "Bob", while I was running 3 other tasks. It would have taken me that long just to listen to what menu options have changed (Grrrr). I don't know how you feel about "live chatting" in it's various forms (Live Help, Instant Messaging, IRC, etc), but I simply love it. I'm not religious about it, but when I remember to boot up Gaim, it sure makes my day more productive.

BTW, right now I'm quad-multitasking again. Checking email, IM'ing, hacking away on our application server via NetBeans via Firefox via Secure Global Desktop via my X2100 while working on a Grande Non-Fat Latte. Still can't seem to create  thread #5 ....


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John Clingan

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