Thursday Jan 17, 2008

We're hiring

As we continue to ramp up, invest more, and kick ass with Sun xVM, we need some great people to join the team. I've got three open reqs posted, and the team in general has way more. We can use any and all help.

Since job postings are often a little hard to decode, I thought I'd help by giving the blunt skinny on each of my jobs:

  • Virtualization Management Product Manager
    I'm looking for a senior, kick-ass product manager. You've been doing this for a while. You live and breathe customers and requirements. You've been in the system management space, you're hooked on virtualization, you think it's going to change the way systems are run. Maybe you're at a big company, and tired of being one of a hundred on a team. You want a leadership position, to have a MASSIVE impact on the direction a hot new product is going.
  • Sun xVM Product Marketing
    You are a writing machine. You blog (or twitter, or tumblr, or whatever), you write whitepapers, you grok what's going on, and you want to make sure that everyone else out there does too. You might be a bit more junior, looking to make an impact, or you are seasoned and ready to take over and control. Either way, you know how to talk the talk, and more importantly write the content. Messaging, value prop, customer presos, you've got them all down so pat it's scary.
  • Business Lifecycle Product Manager
    Numbers mean something. The only way to know how the product is doing is to follow the metrics. Sales is the king - they bring home the bacon, and you're here to make sure that this product is MOVING. You're detailed oriented, like process, and live to view the business side of a product. Technical depth is not required, but a passion for following the business is.

Go ahead, take a look at these jobs, and either apply or pass them on to someone else! Each one of these is going to make a HUGE impact on the group, on Sun, and frankly on enterprise systems as a whole.

Tuesday Dec 04, 2007

Open Sourcing Sun xVM Ops Center 1.0

As the first product from Sun to be released under a GPLv3 license, there's a ton of interest and questions coming up around our Ops Center open source plans. Consider this blog post my attempts to help answer any questions. I'll queue up a podcast in a few weeks to discuss the open source process and what we're doing with Ops Center as well. Please let me know any questions you want answered. What we're open sourcing
  • The agentry infrastructure, AKA "CAC" or Common Agent Code. CAC is the basis and building block for the agent itself. This is the first component to be open sourced, and will be available on OpenxVM December 10, 2007
  • The agent itself. The agent does the actual work. The agent sits on each managed operating system instance
  • The proxy server. The proxy server provides both scalability and network efficiency. It has an embedded DB and a web server.
  • The satellite server. This is the main act - where all the UI is performed, the logic, and everything that makes ops center so great.

When we're open sourcing it

Turns out, open sourcing code is hard work. We need to scrub the code for 3rd party, copyright, encumbrances, etc. We need to pull out any non-relevant information. We need to do the actual physical process of getting code outside our firewall. We need to deal with lawyers. All of which means, it takes a while. We've been working on it for a few months, and we'll keep working on it for a few more.

Net net - we're going to do this in phases. To start, we're releasing the aforementioned CAC on December 10th. This is both a sign of good faith, plus demonstrate our commitment. It gives people a set of code they can start to evaluate and play with, and help expand some of the functionality. As we continue to get the code base approved and in process, we'll then be in place to release the entire product open source by 2Q 2008 (that's calendar year, not silly Sun financial year)

What about xVM server?

It's already open source! xVM is integrated into every nevada build now. We're working tightly with the community, and developing this further all the time.

If I missed anything, let me know via email or the comments. I'll either update this post, do another one, or even add it to my next xVM unscripted podcast!

Monday Dec 03, 2007

Sun xVM Ops Center 1.0

With the stroke of midnight, Sun xVM Ops Center 1.0 is launched to a joyous world.

So what is it? It's a highly scalable datacenter management platform that runs across cross-platform Linux and Solaris OS-based x86 & SPARC systems to help customers improve efficiency, and save time & money by:

  • Better managing datacenter consolidation, keeping guest OSes up-to-date and monitoring for virtual assets on a network
  • Automating provisioning & updating OS instances (Solaris & Linux) to increase availability & utilization & minimize downtime
  • More effectively deploy, manage and monitor security and compliance in IT operations, either locally or remotely

You can see the features here, click the image for a bigger version.

There's a huge amount of cool stuff in here, but one of the enhancements we've put in place that I'm most excited about is the new network architecture. It's cool for a few reasons:

  1. Firewall friendly. All communication is up and out, and it's all XML over HTTPS. So what? This means that the agent talks to the proxy, the proxy to the satellite. And it's all over the same ports that your network admin already has open, and is managing. No custom firewall rules, no custom network config, no painful installations!
  2. Scalability. You can now have hundreds of agents talking to each proxy, and hundreds of proxies talking to each satellite. Put a different proxy in each location, or use multiple in one location to really scale into the thousands of nodes.

So go ahead, check it out!

Wednesday Oct 17, 2007

Recursive VM

Recently decided to try out VMWare ESX.
  • ESX offers two management interfaces, a desktop client or a browser interface. Neither support the Mac.
  • It looks like you must use the "Virtual Infrastructure Client", a windows app, to get started using ESX
  • Took me a little bit to figure out how to get ESX running inside Fusion. Virtualization.info had some good pointers. Watch out if you're copying from the web for "smart quotes". Curly quotes will crash VMware right quick

The results: a really silly screenshot. What, you may be asking, is that? It would be Joomla appliance from rPath running on ESX running on Fusion, with the VI client running on Windows running on Fusion. It worked amazingly well, though joomla booting was a bit slow - about 30 min.

In case you're wondering, the key lines to add/edit in the vmx file are:

scsi0.VirtualDev = "lsilogic"
ethernet0.virtualdev = "e1000"
monitor_control.restrict_backdoor = TRUE
monitor_control.vt32 = TRUE

Monday Oct 15, 2007

Transparency into confusion

Be careful of the windows you look through - sometimes you won't be happy with what you see. Sun has posted review widgets on our site for a few months now. In keeping with our blog philosophy and our open source culture, it makes sense to solicit feedback direct from the source. One of the keystones of a review is a fair basis of understanding - the reviewer knows and understands what it is they are reviewing. So what do you do when that breaks down?

One of my products, Sun Connection has had a spate of bad reviews recently. As soon as they came up, we looked closely at each one. And each one has the same problem - it's not for the product that we have listed! To a tee, every review was really feedback on a feature in Solaris that provides single system patch updates, confusingly called Sun Update Connection (vs this product - Sun Connection). Sun Connection is an enterprise patch management tool that works across Linux, zLinux and Solaris systems. Sun Update Connection is a simple interface into downloading patches from Sun for a single machine.

Choice reviews inlcluded such pointed feedback as:

  • Extremely buggie product. It hangs very often and sometimes is very difficult to put the tool working again.
  • I will never use Sun again. I have been migrating my business and my customers from Solaris to Linux. This is absurd. No more patch clusters. Register for this. Register for that. Sun used to be a great company. No more. I can't get security updates without remembering my username for this, my username for that. Ubuntu and Debian, here we come!
  • While the GUI is nice in theory, I hate it. It gives no feedback on what it is doing and which machine it is doing it on. I would much rather have a CLI based method that give proper feedback and syslogging. Plus updatemanager is unreliable
  • Unusable. Would much rather download clustered patches, which doesn't seem to be an option anymore

Ouch. Frankly though, fair. All these comments point out very real deficiencies in the built in patch management tools with Solaris. They also point out frustration with our patch policy. What they don't point out is any feedback on the product the reviews show up on - Sun Connection, our enterprise patch management tool. Clearly, this is our (SMI's) fault. We haven't done a good enough job naming and describing our products, we haven't communicated out patch policy well, and we apparently haven't given customers enough options on how to use the system. We're working aggressively on addressing all of these - with Project Indiana, launching new products and restructuring the web site.

In the meantime, we've taken the reviews down off our product page. I want to apologize - this is a failing of my team that we've needed to do this, and we're working overtime to relaunch our pages with a clearer delineation on what exactly our products are. The point of the reviews is to help spark the conversation, and keep it open even among the disenfranchised. Reviews will return soon (before the end of the calendar year). In the meantime, please take advantage of the comments, and let's have a discussion on the issues and merits of our products! We know we're not perfect, and we do want to make it better!

Friday Jun 15, 2007

Sun Connection Inventory Channel launch wrap up

Thanks to everyone who made our Sun Connection Inventory Channel launch go over so well. The team really pulled together, and I'm extremely pleased with the end result.

During the hectic weeks leading up to our release, Michael Coté took the time to sit down and listen to our pitch around Sun Connection Inventory Channel. He's posted a very cool video interview/demo. Go check it out, and let me know what you think!

The Sun team has put together some amazing resources as well that should cover any questions:

We received some good coverage across the web. Original articles can be found at:

Thursday May 24, 2007

I have what?

I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but yesterday was one of those days that makes my soul happy. Got home, took the dog for a walk to the grocery store, picked up some dinner, ate outside, and all is good.

When the weather turns nice like this, thoughts seem to go to "spring cleaning". I have no idea why, maybe opening the windows, airing the house drives some need to air our psyche as embodied by our closets. My closet is... interesting. I seem to have 1000 hangers. Some have clothing on it. Some are empty and sad. Some are on the floor. Some of the clothing is so old it deserves a more dignified retirement than a crumpled ball. Some has been missing for months. Nothing is folded and organized like I wanted anymore after a few months of use.

I'd argue that IT labs/datacenters/whatever are like my closet. I started my career as a sysadmin, and nothing brought me more joy than the perfectly organized new racks with pretty color coded cabling. (yes, that is as sad as it sounds). But after just a few months (days?), everything looked, well, like the image on the left. . And if the cabling looked that bad, you can only imagine what the machines themselves must have been like. We had NO idea what was running, what wasn't. We didn't know what OS we had, what software was running. What machines had died and been removed, nothing. Like my sad closet.

It would have been great if we had an easy automated way to discover what we had. Barcode scanners be-gone! Zap! to the stupid paper sheet taped to each rack for tracking. And beyond just finding what we have, discovery has hundreds more uses. Programs can use it to discover other copies, do smart things like maybe cluster or auto-configure, or any one of a million other things. Maybe even figure out how to clean up my closet?

We here thought this would be a fun problem to try and solve. So starting Real Soon Now (TM), we'll be embedding discoverability into all of our products. Want to know what you have? Easy! Want to do something really clever? Done. If you're curious to find out more about the technology, you can read the faq on service tags. Steve has a more serious look at service tags, and the value of discovery as well, well worth a read ASAP. Look for more information on how we're using this technology soon! And in the meantime, clean up your datacenter, AND your closet.

Tuesday Mar 13, 2007

Management is the future

Some say kids are our future, but I think it's management. (sorry Daniel and Taro). Despite the apparent hatred of Virtualization buzzword by many, it's clear it's hear to stay. Just ask yourself when the last time a new layer was introduced into the enterprise software stack.

I installed RHEL 5 Beta 2 last night in advance on the release tomorrow. It has built in Xen support (Xen inside my VMware fusion session on my Mac... makes the head spin). They even included a cute little basic management utility that allows you to create and destroy xen domains, as well as do some basic monitoring:

With the proliferation of os instances that virtual appliances seem to herald, I've been wondering why there is so little huy and cry. Before anyone actually starts using these things (and is anyone using virtual appliances yet except in testing?) good solutions need to be in place for overall management, and especially around updating.

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Sunday Mar 11, 2007

Old Links are new again

Three guys providing virtual appliances:
  1. Virtual Appliances
  2. Jump Box
  3. rPath
It's all about the management

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