Thursday Oct 06, 2011

Walking in the shadows of giants

As I sit here in 22A on an American Airlines flight from San Francisco to O'Hare at the start of my 16 hour journey home to Ireland, I'm reflecting on some of the key Solaris 11 related events at Oracle OpenWorld this week.

For the first time in a couple of years, I got to spend the weekend in Northern California, having been here  last week for Solaris 11 planning meetings.  I went up to the Sierras to hug some Sequoias.  I'm not normally the tree-hugging type, but I make as exception for these giants.  I saw Mono Lake.  Cool.  Devil's Postpile.  Way Cool.  And the Sequoia National Park - it's truly amazing walking in the shadows of these giants.

As usual, Oracle OpenWorld and Jave One this week provided the opportunity to hear about bleeding edge technologies directly from their architects and to chat with them about the what and the why.

Markus Flierl (VP, Solaris Engineering) hosted a session on Monday with some of his key architects who have been developing Solaris 11 over the last 7+ years, including Liane Praza (IPS), Bart Smaalders (IPS), Darren Moffett (Security), Dan Price (Zones), and Mark Maybee (I/O).  It was great to hear these experts express their passion, ingenuity, and innovation.  They have a justifable parental sense of pride in Solaris 11.  Technologies which were bolt-ons in Solaris 10, or indeed far too disruptive to even be considered for release in a Solaris 10 Update, are tightly integrated and honed in Solaris 11.  Low latency (i.e. performance), scalability, security, availability, robustness, and diagnosability are all factors that customers have come to expect of Solaris.  Solaris 11 takes it to a whole new level.  Warp drive.

My colleague, Pete Dennis, and I have been working closely with Bart, Liane, David Comay, and others to ensure that IPS fully meets the needs of our customers' maintenance lifecycle.  They've listening to us and subtly tweaked and adapted their implementations where necessary to fully meet customers' maintenance lifecycle needs.  Working with geniuses is great.  Working with geniuses who are prepared to listen and adapt is truly wonderful.

But what really blew me away this week was a presentation by Nicolas Droux last night on Network Virtualization in Solaris 11.  Some of you may know about earlier incarnations of this, codenamed Project "Crossbow".  But the fleshing out of the capabilities in Solaris 11 is truly amazing.  The ability to have virtualized NICs (VNICs), virtualized LANs (VLANs), Zones which act as virtualized switches, Zones which act as virtualized firewalls, fully segregated data "Lanes", "Flows", etc., etc., and all with diagnosability built in with new utilities such as 'dlstat' (Data link stats), 'flowstat', etc.  I hadn't met Nicolas before but wow!  Not only is Nicolas a key architect, he has an amazing ability to explain it with crystal clarity in a really easy to understand manner.  As I said to the Product Manager, Joost Pronk, we've got to video Nicolas giving this talk once Solaris 11 ships so that the world can see it.  

At the end of Nicolas's presentation, Thierry Manfe showed how he is leveraging Network Virtualization in Oracle Solaris's cloud infrastructure provided to enable ISVs to test their apps with complete data integrity and segregation.  You can sign up for this, it's available now.  "Solaris 11. #1 for Clouds" isn't just some Marketing hype. It's true.

I'm walking in the shadow of giants.  And it's a wonderful feeling.

Roll on Solaris 11.  It won't be long now and I really can't wait.  It's amazing.  Big time!

Thank you to the 90+ of you who attended Pete Dennis, Isaac Rozenfeld, and my presentation on Solaris 11 Customer Maintenance Lifecycles, policies, and best practices.  If you missed it, there'll be another chance to catch an updated version with more technical content at DOAG (the German Oracle Users Group) conference in Nuremberg, Germany in November (see previous posting for details).

Finally, I'd like to pay my respects to a true giant of our industry, Steve Jobs.  Gone way too soon.  RIP Steve.  You'll be missed.  Big time!

Best Wishes,


Disclaimer: Any forward looking statements in this posting are subject to the vagueries of my Crystal ball, possible hallucinations, and lack of coffee.  You get the drift. 

Tuesday Sep 27, 2011

I'm Presenting at Oracle OpenWorld and I Hope to See You There

I hope to see you next week at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

Pete Dennis, Isaac Rosenfeld, and I will be giving a presentation on the Solaris 11 Customer Maintenance Lifecycle, which will provide an introduction to how we expect customers to maintain Solaris 11 systems, comparing and contrasting it to the Solaris 10 experience.

I believe the compelling advantages of ZFS Root Snapshots and Image Packaging System (IPS) have the potential to dramatically improve our customers' maintenance experience.

I'm sure you, like me, will be delighted to hear that there will be no patches and no patching in Solaris 11.  Neither is there a need to use technologies like Live Upgrade to provide a safety net - it's all baked into core Solaris 11 for you.

It's my intention to provide customers with much more up front guidance on how best to maintain Solaris 11, so customers don't need to figure out their maintenance strategy from scratch.

But we also remain committed to providing the flexibility to meet individual customer's needs and special circumstances.

So if you're at OpenWorld, please come along and hear Pete, Isaac, and I introduce you to the Solaris 11 maintenance lifecycle:

3:30pm, Tuesday, Oct 4th

Moscone South, Room 200

Pete Dennis and I will also be presenting at the Deutsche Oracle Anwendergruppe (DOAG) conference in N├╝rnberg in November 15-17, so if we don't see you at OpenWorld, we hope to see you there.

I really want to get your feedback on our current plans - what you like, what you don't like, and what we can improve.  So come along and let me know.

Best Wishes,


Monday Mar 14, 2011

Desire to Focus on IPS

I like stuff which is well designed (minimalist), well engineered, high quality, with well thought out usability.

My latest gadget arrived on Friday - a HTC Desire HD and I'm tickled pink with it.

It replaces my Nokia 5800 XpressMusic whose screen I cracked in the gym a couple of weeks ago.  For those who know me, they'll read that last sentence with incredulity.  But yes, I attend the gym once a quarter whether I need to or not. 

I put the Nokia in the rectangular holder on the exercise bike and it fell straight on the floor.  Thinking I'd simply missed the holder, I picked it up and put it in again, only for it to fall straight back to the floor, hitting the leg of the exercise bike and cracking the screen.  Looking into the holder, I saw it's "designed" with a big hole in the bottom of it - presumably sponsored by the local phone repair company.  Who designs a holder for iPods/phones with a ruddy great hole in the bottom of it ?  Arrgh.

Anyway, rather than pay EURO 80 for another new screen, I was due an upgrade so it was time to get a "smarter" phone.  The Nokia XpressMusic is great for playing music, but I found it useless for web browsing due to it's glacial connect times (which may be at least partially due to my local provider), slow loading, and small screen.  But the Nokia's web capabilities did come in handy in an emergency when I got stuck in Spain last year due to the Icelandic volanic ash cloud.

I spent a couple of evenings googling smartphone reviews and reading everything I could find. 

Since I purchased an iMac last year, and Santa Claus brought iTouches for the kids, I was leaning towards the iPhone4, perhaps partially due to Apple's slick marketing.  But one of the reasons I bought the iMac (apart from my natural UNIX affiliation to MacOS, the 27" screen, cool design, and my engineers telling me how cool everything Apple is), was exasperation with Microsoft for continually changing how to change/fix settings on its various releases.  Being a 25 year UNIX veteran, I'm pretty amateurish at finding my way around Windows, but having grasped the basics of XP, I found it really frustrating having to re-learn how to do the same functions on Vista and my father-in-law's Windows 7 laptop.

While I'm very happy with my iMac, the Apple iTunes lock-in and Apple marketing machine gives me a slightly uneasy sense of deja-vu with Microsoft from 10-15 years ago.  Granted, Apple designs Operating Systems and hardware a hell of a lot better and I don't think any company will ever again get away with that sort of monopolization tactics.

Anyway, the consensus amongst most of the smartphone reviews was that the HTC Desire / Desire HD is superior to the iPhone4 and Samsung Galaxy S.  And being Android based, it satisfies my UNIX principles too.  And so far, so good.  It's intuitive, fast, well designed, with good apps, and all very well integrated.  Pity about the appalling battery life, but there's always a socket or USB connection nearby.  I carry the charging cable with me in my coat pocket.

So my HTC Desire HD joins my favorite gadget collection alongside the superb Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 camera I bought at Christmas, the SunRay which I've used as my main computer at work for the last 10 years and which is truly excellent (allowing me to bring my desktop session with me anywhere in the world), my Pansonic G10 FullHD TV, the kids' PS3, and my all time favorite, my Rado watch.

The Rado fulfills the pinnacle of design IMHO.  Beautifully minimalist, utterly unscratchable (and believe me, I'm a Philistine - I do gardening and DIY with it on), and perfectly functional apart from the date field which is so small that it's very hard to read even in good light.  Four years on, and it genuinely looks like I bought it yesterday.  Truly a product which exceeds even my most demanding expectations.

This circuitous product review brings me to Image Packaging System (IPS), with which I'm currently working in preparation for the release of Solaris 11.

As I've mentioned in previous postings, Image Packaging System (IPS) is a single-tier packaging architecture which in Solaris 11 replaces the old System V (five), Release 4 (SVR4) based 2-tier package and patching architecture in Solaris 10 and earlier releases. 

IPS architects, Bart Smaalders and David Comay, spent a lot of time with me around the Solaris 10 Update 3 timeframe to understand the deficiencies in the SVR4-based patch architecture, and helped fix the issues around patching Zones and applying arbitrary change to a live boot environment.

Bart and David have used that deep understanding of the deficiencies of the SVR4-based patch architecture when designing IPS to ensure their design addresses these and other issues.  The result is a highly flexible IPS architecture.  Feature and process development is continuing as the target audience moves from developers in OpenSolaris, to ISVs and evaluators in the currently available Solaris 11 Express release, to meeting the needs of Enterprise production customers in Solaris 11.

You can learn lots more about IPS at and by trying in out in the current Solaris 11 Express release.

I, for one, will not be sorry to see the back of patches.  While my team and I have done our best to improve our customers' patching experience over the last decade, it's very difficult to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Much of the work to be done between now and the Solaris 11 release revolves around defining and communicating the processes and best practices which we recommend customers adopt around maintaining Solaris 11. 

While we still have a lot of work to do, I look forward to adding IPS to my most favorite technology list.

Wednesday Dec 17, 2008

OpenSolaris code swarms

Nothing directly to do with patches but a colleague of mine, Albert White, has produced some code swarm videos of OpenSoalirs code changes which I find way cool.

I've no idea what's it's telling me, but I'm sure it's telling me something useful if I learn to listen.  For example, Area of code change and amount of code change => Risk => Areas on which to concentrate test coverage.

I've asked Albert if he can do something similar for Solaris 10. 

BTW: I like his choice of music too!

From Albert to <>, :

A bit OT but this might be of interest to some of you.

You may have seen code_swarm videos on vimeo or youtube showing a visualisation of code development (from the files changed in the putback logs) over time for various projects.

I've put up videos of the [OpenSolaris] codeswarms of IPS [Image Packaging System] and ON [core Solaris Operating System and Network] here




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