Choices, Choices, Choices

Yesterday, I landed back at LAX after a day trip to Seattle and the United Airlines pilot politely pointed out the Airbus A380 parked across the runway. United has not yet ordered any A380's and as a United frequent flyer I'm not too upset. I really don't want to be one of the 555 passengers waiting in line to use one of the 18 restrooms planned for a typical configuration. But one can see why the plane has its appeal, as we also taxied past 5 Quantas 747's, no doubt more than one of them leaving within several hours of another for Sydney. The LA Times of course has carried numerous articles on the A380 this week, citing an Airbus spokeperson's comments on how they choose eco-friendly California for one of the first two flights into the US as the A380 can be 20% more fuel efficient per passenger mile than it's competition. Of course the LA freeways are filled with 8 cylinder gas guzzling SUVs and German sports cars too. Remember, a 9 passenger Suburban gets better gas mileage per person, when full, than most cars. The marketing dilemma. If I was Airbus, I would have landed the first flight in Seattle!

So what was I doing in Seattle? Well, besides a couple of customer calls, I also met with Microsoft's HPC marketing director. Yes, a couple of years ago the though of me meeting with anyone from Microsoft, or for that matter even the thought of Microsoft having an HPC marketing director would have been unheard of. Just like with airlines, it is all about choice, and now is a pretty good time to be a Sun customer if you like choice. Like Airbus and Boeing, we offer a choice of engines on our servers, from 144 core UltraSPARC IV+ based Sun Fire 25Ks (the computer equivalent of a 747 or A380) to Intel and AMD based x64 servers to Niagara CMT servers, with lots more to come.

If the CPU is the engine, then the OS is the flight control system for a server. On the OS choice front, perhaps even more surprising than the fact that we qualify Microsoft OSes on all our x64 servers was the the widely reported news that Debian founder Ian Murdoch was joining Sun and would be associated with our Solaris efforts. While Linux bigots may not understand this move, to quote Marc Andreesen of Netscape fame, Solaris is a better Linux than Linux. From a technical point of view, few computer scientists would argue that the Solaris kernel is superior in a host of ways, from its fault management architecture to its SMP and CMT support, to today's Linux kernel. Of course computer scientists aren't the only ones who make OS choices and much of the appeal of Linux is not from the kernel but from everything around the kernel. I'm sure Ian will be spending some of his time at Sun thinking about that. With OpenSolaris, we have the platform to evolve and grow Solaris using best practices from the Linux and other open source communities. With Solaris, we have even better business models. You don't have to go to some .edu site to download a free look-alike of Solaris, we will give you our latest distribution for free, and if you want support, Sun's support costs are consistently lower than the commercial Linux distributions. So the real question for Ian is perhaps not if, but how soon will he load up the latest OpenSolaris release on his laptop? Don't worry, I'm sure Ian already knows that OpenSolaris supports the same Grub boot loader as Linux, so setting up a dual-boot Debian and OpenSolaris laptop is much simpler than loading Windows Vista. I just can't help but end with this message which I noticed today on the web site of the 3rd party web voicemail provider Sun uses:

Currently, AccessLine TeleDesk (used for managing your calls from your PC) and SmartFax Fax Upload application (used for sending faxes from your PC) do not support Microsoft Vista operating system for the PC. As Vista becomes a commonly used operating system, AccessLine will update our applications and add it to our list of supported operating systems.

Not to worry, my "Intel inside" Toshiba laptop running OpenSolaris had no problems with Accessline :).

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