Wednesday Jan 27, 2010

So long, Sun! Farewell!

Sun is now finally part of Oracle.

Its hard to put final thoughts about Sun into words. So I'll leave with this Sun RIF image (get commerative T-shirts and/or mugs here) that Sun uber-software-architect James Gosling drew as part of his farewell message.

Having worked at Sun for 21+ years, its hard to leave without a few words that I'd like to mumble out, anyway. I like Scott McNealy's parting words ("Kicked Butt, Had Fun, Loved our Customers, Never Cheated, Changed Computing forever"), but I'd like to put in my own. So here goes:

  • Sun was one of the best employee friendly company I know. Sun gave me an environment that nurtured my own technological and personal pursuits.
  • Sun always took the high road, sometimes even to the detriment of its own business model.
  • Sun could look forward and had a clear vision of where the technological world was headed and was ready to lead the road there (sometimes, again, to the detriment of providing help in immediate, present day matters). Its amazing to see, in retrospect, how often Sun got it right.
  • Sun innovated like crazy, and is perhaps the most shining example of Silicon Valley technology opening up new and expanding present markets.
  • Sun was decent. With its own employees. With managers and engineers alike. With customers. And even with its competitors. Sun (and sometimes I) had to fight FUD from other 3-letter companies (eg) but we never did it by putting them down. It wasnt just the decent thing to do, it was the Sun thing to do.
  • Sun was friendly and even-handed. Up and down the organizational chart. I even remember when Scott McNealy (then-CEO) talked of how he proposed to his future-wife. I remember Scott giving out beer at early beer busts. I remember Scott in Sun's cafeteria and cosying up to the engineering types, who were a bit shy about wanting to talk to him (what do you say to the one guy who's the overwhelming reason you came to Sun in the first place?). Sun was open-door. And it taught me as a manager to be equally friendly and open and that there was immense value in the (considered) opinion of every employee, from the newly-graduated to the most distinguished, industry-recognized leader and that the best ideas dont come from personal job-titles but from applying intelligence and knowledge to the problem at hand.
  • Sun was forgiving. If you made an honest mistake, you never got dinged for it but had a chance to learn from it. Learning from stumbles gave us all a chance to make Sun even better as a company.

And Sun was a fun place! From the innumerable April Fools pranks to water fights to Christmas parties to Beer Busts to "All Hands" meetings to too many other events to remember and enumerate, working at Sun was such joy. When you combine technological excellence with enabling employees to do their best, to caring for their families in the best way to being the most open and open-minded workplace anywhere, ever, you create an environment that is unmatched.

There will never be another Sun. Never. So, thanks for the 21 or so years. On a personal note, I know I will cherish my time here like none other.

PS. Folks who have subscribed to my blog, thanx for listening for all these years. Another chapter will emerge, but this one is now over. See you on the other side.

Monday Nov 30, 2009

Check out NetBeans 6.8

NetBeans 6.8 is now available as a Release Candidate for developers.
For C/C++ developers it now boasts a number of new features, among them:
  • Integration of Project Kenai, a collaborative environment for hosting open-source projects.
  • Profiling: New Microstate Accounting indicator, Thread Map view, Hot Spots view, Memory Leaks view, Sync Problems view
  • Faster synchronization during remote development
  • Support for gdbserver attach and easier attaching to already running processes
Other attractions are Java EE 6 support, JSF 2.0 new features and PHP 5.3 support. From my own trial of this, I find the new NetBeans release to be more robust than the old ones in C/C++ features, particularly those introduced in the last 2 releases, like remote development. I've been using it as successfully as any previous IDE releases (although, I must also admit that I'm not a heavy-weight IDE user... particularly because I can certainly work within its workflow but its not my own preferred style).

Check it out. You can download it here.

Friday Oct 23, 2009

Oracle and Cloud Computing: bluster v offerings

We all know and have read that Oracle and particularly Larry and the Cloud Computing hype have been somewhat at odds.  Some examples:
Undoubtedly there are several other assertions to this effect. Granted, Larry doesnt seem to like the term. And many of Cloud Computing's avid followers do admit that he has a point. Yes, googling for Ellison+Cloud+Computing yields millions of hits.

Does this mean Oracle refuses to do Cloud Computing? Not at all. Follow the money trail instead. Google for Oracle+Cloud+Computing and you can see a very different picture. I was impressed by the prominent presence of On-Demand versions of all Oracle products at the OOW DEMOgrounds. Virtually, all products (at least ones I know about) had On-Demand versions on display. And talking to various product managers reinforced this feeling. Oracle may be influenced by Larry's disdain for the Cloud Hype and Hyperbole, but it is run by how much money is on the table. As it should be. And in this regard, it has plenty to offer. Consider these broad references:
Oracle had a preso at the recently concluded Oracle OpenWorld where the presenters outlined Oracle's On-Demand portfolio, "including Oracle's cloud, software as a service (SaaS), and on-demand vision to outline how customers can use unparalleled flexibility to their advantage in the purchase, deployment, support, hosting, and managing of their Oracle solutions" (words from their abstract). It makes for an interesting reading (requires membership or fees to access). Moreover, had a HUGE and prominent presence in Moscone West.

My conclusion: forget the hype and the bluster surrounding Larry and Cloud computing. Focus on where Oracle is delivering products, datacenter services and a very flexible set of offerings. My guess from reading Oracle's 10K is that it makes a ton of money (in the hundreds of millions of dollars) on it and expects this trend to grow. So, expect more from Oracle, not less, in this regard. The company knows there is plenty of money to be made by showing leadership in this domain and it isnt going to ignore such a juicy opportunity.

Wednesday Oct 14, 2009

OOW, day2: Sun, Oracle performance showcase

It was heartening to see a lot of Sun Hardware at Oracle OW.  For years, I've tried to persuade Sun TechDays and other folks to showcase Sun hardware at these developer shows, but its never really materialized in any meaningful way. Sure, theres the odd server for virtualization, etc at the shows, but that was mostly it.
By comparison, there was plenty of Sun HW here. I'm going to try and list out some of the big, hunking boxes I saw in the Sun booth and elsewhere. I'm sure my list isnt complete; I expect I will update this blog to make it more so. For now, here goes, what I saw.
  1. Top of the list, of course, is the Sun Oracle Exadata Version 2(tagline: Hardware from Sun, Software from Oracle). Basically an OLTP database machine billed as twice as fast as its predecessor. This was the treat of the show, showcased just outside the Keynote location. Impressive piece of iron and it drew a lot of crowds (both onlookers as well as buyers, from what I hear).
  2. StorageTek Modular Library system with 200 to 3000 cartridge slots (machine on display had 700). With a robotic arm that was continuously in motion, this machine made an impressive demo. And it was placed right next to our SunStudio booth, which drew curious onlookers.
  3. Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage, aka Amber Road. This is an amazing amount of data (those on display were 12TB systems) in a small form-factor and with some amazing ease of administration to go with it.
  4. Sun Storage Flash Array system. This is the secret sauce that makes the Exadata database machine tick! Flash speeds are the talk of the town since they have the potential to increase IOPS by an order of magnitude and save $$$ by making disk/Flash tradeoffs for throughput, storage and price.
  5. Rackmount Servers: Mostly featured at the Demo stations were rackmounts systems based on UltraSPARC T2 (Enterprise T5240 servers), or Nehalem (Sun Fire X4450 servers) or AMD servers (Sun Fire 4240 servers)
Besides this, there were banners about the Sun branded database machine built out of UltraSPARC T2 5440s that recently claimed #1 status in all 7 key benchmarks (follow this link). The message was clear, from what I could tell: Sun is going to bring performance to the game and Oracle will optimize all Software to work efficiently on Solaris and Sun systems. In view of recent press announcements touting World Record TPC-C performance and a promise to keep Sun customers happy by investing even more in Sun technology than previously, this showcasing of Sun hardware bodes well for Sun customers as well as for Oracle's enterprise partners and customers. Best of all, there seems to be a palpable excitement in both companies about the synergies around this acquisition that was hard to miss both from the Sun booth as well as the Oracle booths.

Tuesday Oct 13, 2009

First impressions from Oracle OpenWorld

Yesterday was my first day at OOW. Even though there were some scintillating events over the weekend, in particular these keynotes from Sun's Scott McNealy & James Gosling(view here) and Oracle's Larry Ellison (view here), I wasnt at that portion of OOW.
My first impressions, even before I entered Moscone, was Wow! The place was entirely taken over by Oracle. Buses ran billboards advertising Oracle and the event, there was even a huge tent between Moscone North and South, reserved as dining area and essentially closing Howard Street (picture here). There was even the scale model BMW Oracle Racing High-tech Catamaran on display at the Fourth and Howard Streets intersection. Exhibitions were in Moscone South AND Moscone West. Essentially, that 6 block area was nothing but Oracle OpenWorld.
My second impression was suits. Lots and lots of them. Essentially different from IDF, which billed itself as the next, next, next big thing, and JavaOne, which is clearly a hacker's conference (and where James reminded Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz that he was out of place in his suit at the keynote and got huge applause from the audience), this one is a carefully and well-scripted conference. I could not listen to the entire keynote from Phillips and Catz (view here), but what I could hear was very carefully laid out and executed. One astounding fact I gathered (and later could relate to): Oracle has over 3000 products and the portfolio is growing ever faster!
So, I had booth duty on the exhibition floor. Moscone South. Essentially a technology, but even more importantly, a services showcase. All the major partners were there: HP, IBM, Dell, AMD, Intel and of course Sun. And also, networking and wireless partners like Cisco, Brocade, AT&T, Blackberry and Verizon.  But also, Infosys, CSC, NetApp, Deloitte, Wipro, EDS, Accenture, KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCooper, Tata Consulting (TCS). I'm singling out that last list because I havent seen them at any of the developer conferences I usually go to (Sun TechDays, JavaOne, IDF, LinuxWorld, etc). Oracle itself was fairly hidden (or backgrounded), giving their partners essentially all the glory and topspots on the floor.  [Moscone West has a HUGE, HUGE presence which I intend to check out today].
There was a Cloud booth (for those of you who think Oracle is anti-Cloud) and I engaged in some interesting and long discussions with vendors in that booth (except Amazon, I'll corner them today, because they are more of a known quantity as far as I'm concerned, so unlikely that I'll learn anything new). On-Demand computing seems to have a big presence in what Oracle calls "DemoGrounds" (see this picture, eg).
The Sun booths were very strategic and visible. Right next to the main entrance. We had some foot traffic, but for the Sun Studio booth, mostly non-existent. I probably talked to about a dozen to 15 non-Sun folks and some of them were even Oracle folks, who I knew by email before. Given that the crowd was a suited, mostly business IT type crowd, I am not surprised. A few that came by were disappointed that we didnt run on Windows, but were suitably impressed by the offering and demo when I showed them what we had.
An interesting day. Tiring, since the shift turned out to be a 5+ hour shift without a lot of interesting traffic, but I think I learned a bit from others there. Which makes it entirely worthwhile.
More details tomorrow, I hope.


I have worked with Sun and Oracle for 25 years now; in compilers and tools organization for most of these years followed by a couple of years in Cloud Computing. I am now in ISV Engineering, where our primary task is to improve synergy between Oracle Sun Systems and our rich ISV ecosystem


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