Thursday Sep 02, 2004

Need help with server namespace

In my sales office we have a lab where geeks like myself get hands-on time with new Sun technology (hardware and/or software). We recently went through a network ip range change as we consolidated offices. As a consequence, we are re-visiting the naming scheme.

When visiting customers, I like to hear their naming scheme. All sysadmins are guilty of wanting to add "character" to their servers :) "David" and "goliath" in one customer. Another customer uses the star trek theme (suprise) such as "spock", "jim" etc. Hey, anyone else play the boozing star trek game in college where you had to take a drink every time McCoy said "Jim" and slam the drink when McCoy said "Damnit Jim"? OK, I digress.

At home I use the chess opening theme such as "benko" (my favorite), "alekhine", "sicilian", etc. Yeah, I was a pretty good chess player (a USCF strength of about 1750 with a rating in the 1500's due to lack of tournament play). Not great, but solid.

In our lab, machines come in and go out fairly regularly and even the more hardwired machines are multi-purpose over time. I prefer a naming scheme of "server1", "server2", etc. Currently it is "lab1", "lab2", etc. Boring but true. Now with the re-numbering we are considering a new naming theme. I prefer the boring naming theme. Some of my co-workers (like Matt) do not. Daryl, a non-blogger, prefers Sun product code-names as a theme. Not a bad idea.

I am open to a new naming theme, and here is your chance to provide input. What would \*you\* name our servers? Be nice and ... um ... clean.

Tuesday Aug 17, 2004

Whew - I'm clean!

I just submitted my paperwork to get my badge renewed at a customer. They are requiring a background check! I had to submit some minimal information about myself and the 3rd party company tried to dig up dirt on me. I am almost squeaky clean. They found that I had been in a car accident in the last few years when searching the department of motor vehicles (yeah, my fault - and my first accident). I don't think that will stop me getting a badge as driving a forklift is not in my job description, although I do have to maneuver the parking garage ...

Given the industry I support, I would expect no less than a background check these days. It has been 7.5 years since I have interviewed for a job outside of Sun, so is this becoming the norm for employers as well? I actually think it is a good idea to protect employers.

Tuesday Aug 10, 2004

Help Sun Help You

I love working with customers. Over time, I learn as much from them as they learn from me. I learn their business and their business problems, they learn how Sun can be a business parter by leveraging our products, technologies and services. However, there can be challenges along the way.

There are times when I get requirements from customers which they feel are complete but I feel are incomplete. My role is to help overcome this relatively small bump in the road and get down to solving the problem. Example: A customer request comes along which has a bunch of parts on it and the they ask for a quote. Sometimes I have to come back and say, "not enough information." It is dangerous (and downright irresponsible) for me to "quote" complex configurations without understanding the bigger picture. Those of us in the field must use whatever customer skills we have to ensure that the customer understands that we don't want to be a roadblock but that we want to be a facilitator.

Here is a more detailed example, an HA (or parallel database) cluster. I can't simply send off a quote, especially when I see parts missing. Or no services. What's the business problem? Is the customer trained on our products? What are the service level requirements? Is the configuration undersized or oversized to meet SLAs? What is your backup/restore policy? Is disaster recovery a requirement? What's connecting to the database? Is the rest of the architecture also highly available? Sun cannot deliver a 5 9's solution (99.999% uptime) without understanding more about the business problem. No true partner would make assumptions in this scenario.

Our #1 goal is to deliver a high-quality supportable solution. The earlier in the design process customers involve Sun, the higher the overall quality of the solution (not to mention a faster time-to-market with greater availability). Help Sun help you.

Tuesday Aug 03, 2004

Tracking Sun Opteron on eBay

I am starting to follow the Sun hardware/software bundle auctions on the Sun Store@eBay. The prices, as they stand now, are pretty low. For example, the current bid for 6 w1100z Opteron workstations is $3K. Anyone want to bet it won't stay that low? So this brings up a question: How do I track eBay auctions more efficiently outside of pressing the refresh button on my FireFox browser?

I am probably the only geek on earth that has not traded on eBay. Can someone recommend an eBay auction tracker that runs on a Linux client? (

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Monday Aug 02, 2004

Fly on the Wall

Worker bees such as myself are not always privvy to what happens back at the hive. My customers occasionally surprise me with news about Sun that I didn't know (simply because they read the trade rags before I did). Check out this C/Net News article stating that "Sun Mulls buying Novell" and the related Jonathan Schwartz blog on IBM is in a Pickle (Again).

The fact that I don't hear these discussions before they hit the press is a feature, not a bug. The SEC has rules. I would love to be a fly on the wall when these types of decisions are discussed. Not just at Sun but at any organization. An "after the fact" fly on the wall regarding past decisions at Sun is available in this book. These types of books are fascinating to me. We often, with hindsight, critize decisions. Being there at the time of a major decision would be an eye-opening experience.

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John Clingan

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