Friday Jan 18, 2008

Abstraction and Ingredients

I stopped reading package ingredients a few years ago, after getting regularly depressed that what I considered a "snack size" actually contained an entire day's worth of calories, fat, sugar and not nearly enough vitamin content. Let's face it: when you pop open one of those airport snack packs, you aren't thinking about how you'll divvy it up into three servings; you're looking for a sugar fix and you're less concerned about what other things it drags along. Not exactly heart-healthy and aligned with the much-rumored new year's resolutions for 2008, but immensely practical.

Packaging and abstraction drive use. If something is easy to consume, you'll consume more of it, and if it presents an abstraction that hides the ugly {technical, political, nutritional} details, you'll find it easier to use. That, in a (healthy) nutshell, is the motivation for Project Caroline, a Sun Labs effort focused on simplifying service deployment and delivery. (For anyone questioning my failure to craft a pun around Sweet Caroline, it's an anti-New York Rangers sentiment bubbling through the otherwise sugary stuff here).

VP of Advanced Development Rich Zippel and I sat down with our USB microphones to record another Innovating@Sun podcast, extolling the virtues of Caroline in all of its nuts and bolts, from the motivations for a simple service platform to the derivation of the name (again, no Neil Diamond, thankfully).

This is a much bigger deal than a research project and an attmept to rationalize the array of interfaces presented to deployers, not just service developers. The biggest challenge for data center designers today is not choosing a virtualization platform or a networking switch vendor or even a cooling technology. Those are implementation details (large details, to be sure, but details). The challenge is balancing the needs of the CTO or VP of Application Development to "go fast", creating more value in IT for the business, with the needs of the CIO, who wants to "go slow," controlling the rate of change, mananging risk, and squeezing as much utilization (and efficiency) out of the computing assets as possible. The path to achieving this balance doesn't involve Xen (sorry) as much as thinking about abstraction across the entire array of applications: networking, computing, storage, sessions, data caching and persistence, and language.

Moving up to a higher level of abstraction for the data center means that you're less concerned about how it's built and more concerned that it "just works" -- an artifact of what Sun CTO Greg Papadopoulos calls "Network Scale Computing." That's the intent of Project Caroline, and it's a message that has resonated with every CIO with whom I've met in the last two months.

About

Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

Search

Archives
« April 2014
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
  
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
   
       
Today