Tuesday Feb 12, 2008

On Snowglobes, xVM and Freedom

Fresh on the heels of our announcement to acquire MySQL, Sun just revealed our intent to acquire Innotek. Located in Germany, Innotek is staffed with a bunch of very, very smart folks who have developed and released the highly popular open source desktop virtualization product, VirtualBox. With more than 4 million downloads to date, and a slew of great reviews, VirtualBox is setting the V-biz on its collective ear. After all, it's free - as in zero dollars – for developers to learn, understand, enhance and contribute to the ever growing community around the technology. And it smacks of freedom because it's all open source (GPL v2) as well as the cross/multi platform ability it gives to developers.

I'll leave it up to others at Sun, and Innotek to explain the technical details – of Type 1 versus Type 2 hypervisors and the like, but suffice it to say that this announcement dramatically enhances the value chain that Sun's xVM program will offer to the open source community and developers worldwide. Of course, I'm required to say the acquisition hasn't closed yet and its completion is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

As you know, last year at Oracle OpenWorld, Jonathan, Steve Wilson and I announced Sun's xVM program – bringing server virtualization and datacenter automation together in an integrated, multiplatform, open source offering. The program is zipping right along, with xVM Ops Center deployed now at TACC . I'm rather thrilled with the status and the potential for xVM. Free and freedom for the virtualization world.

But the grand plan, inclusive of Innotek, and like most everything we do in software at Sun, has a focus on developers. Innotek and VirtualBox will affect how things look for developers months and years out – in the world of virtualization that has developers as well as datacenters at its core.

snowglobe If you want to understand where we're going here, think snow globes. Snow globes? Yea, those cute little plastic things that present an entire 'world under glass' to their lucky owners. Much like these little worlds, desktop virtualization is the key to creating a working implementation, on a developer's laptop, that can include much or all of the machinery that resides in the server farm, or the deployment environment. Using desktop virtualization you can construct a world with multiple operating system images, GlassFish, Apache, MySQL, Java, Ruby/Rails and so on, running in multiple virtual partitions on one's laptop. Processes communicating at local bus speeds, debugging across virtual instances. An image in miniature of the server environment – physical or virtual – where all of this machinery will ultimately run. A snow globe. Get it?\*

Of course, here's where the analogy breaks down – for the better. It's not very hard to imagine a collection of tools such as Netbeans, VirtualBox and xVM Server such that the work on the laptop can slide across the network to one or a collection of systems in the server farm or the cloud. Running virtually or physically, with management services built in at the tool level, to aid in the automation provided by xVM Ops Center. If live migration can work across servers, why not from laptop to server, and back?

All rather exciting. It doesn't take a lot of squinting to see that virtualization and virtual appliances, from the desktop, to the server, using powerful tools and management, along with today's open source platforms and scripting capabilities, further accelerate the build-out of dynamic datacenters and the web economy. And another piece of the puzzle, Innotek and VirtualBox, soon to be part of Sun, speeding this all along.

\* Many thanks to Rob Gingell, ex-Sun Chief Engineer and Sun Fellow for the snow globe analogy. Clever as always.

Wednesday Jan 23, 2008

Notes from Disney World

Call it fate or karma (of course, I wouldn't) - or just a lot of hard work to make it all come together in a very short timeframe - but we were incredibly fortunate that MySQL kicked off their annual worldwide all-hands meeting on the same day as Sun's acquisition announcement. Florida's Disney World was the optimal travel location for the globally distributed workforce that is one of the fundamental tenets of the MySQL organization. Collectively we thought that having a group of Sun folks participate in their meeting and discuss why we're all so jazzed about our joint future would be a great idea.

So a number of us headed cross country late Tuesday – James, Ian, Eduardo, Bill, Karen and others checked in to the Magic Kingdom just prior to Jonathan's announcement.

Marten presented the news at the opening of the Wednesday event – coinciding with the public press release outlining the details of the arrangement. Jonathan, by satellite (we had another long-planned partner event in CA) spoke interactively with everyone and outlined our plans, our hopes and our dreams in bringing these two companies together. Together they made clear why I am absolutely certain that this will be a world-changing event and a win for both companies, our joint communities and our customers. And all of us at Sun are absolutely committed to that outcome. Absolutely. Of course, I'm required to say the acquisition hasn't closed yet and its completion is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions...

Then it was my turn to give my perspective as the leader of Sun's software organization - which is soon to include the MySQL team, to be led and directed by Marten... with his role unchanged from his current purview and responsibilities... now part of the software leadership team... and also part of Sun's Executive Management Group.

I'll skip the details – because this was an 'in family' conversation. A new, expanded family. But family nonetheless. What I said can be summed up with these two slides:

MySQL and Sun Cultures


MySQL and Sun Customers

The two pictures speak volumes on why this is such a perfect match. Throughout the diligence process, in discussions that connected MySQL's team with many of the folks cited above, there were times when we each felt we were looking in a mirror. Our work style, open source models, community and contribution ideology, licensing priorities, business models, technical excellence, innovation focus, sales and service plans, have so much in common that it was almost eerie. But at the same time, the scale of our combined developer and customer base will be dramatically broadened. We'll more than double our customer list and multiply our opportunities.

For the community, in case you haven't noticed, our open source licensing plans center around the GPL V2 for now – as we've done with Java. Same as MySQL. Marten and I have each - independently - spoken publicly about our future interest in GPL V3. Match, match. There couldn't be a more powerful thing that aligns us. Now and in the future.

And for the skeptics who fear that Sun will change, dilute, dismantle, disrupt or otherwise make a mess of things here, clue in. We've changed. You've all seen it. Open source, partnerships, multi-platform, multi-microprocessor, multi-vendor, multi-OS. Same applies here.

We so get it – we are all totally aware of what happens when you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. So we're going to keep this goose happy and healthy for a long, long time. Promise.




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