Monthly Archives: February 2005

McNealy and Best Blog

The previous meeting was so good, I almost missed Scott’s presentation, as I entered the Hall I bumped into Ken Pepple who said that I’d missed a presentation to me and I’d won an award. I thought he was winding me up so I told him to go away. “Yeah, Yeah – pull the other one its got bells”, so Ken decided to ignore me. So we listened to Scott, present to us, and again I offer you some belated highlights.

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Service Management Facility

Popped in to see Liane Praza present on the Solaris 10 Service Management Facility. Its awesome, I really must get going on the Laptop Diaries and build a Sybase service. Steve Hahn was also present so the three of us had a chat about SMF and N1, what it enables, and how/who to convince. I mentioned the work I did with Sun Cluster at what was then ING Barings, and the application/data services boundary clash in the hope that the insights might inform the engineering of services/cluster integration.

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Searching the Net

I dropped in see Tom Clark at the Sun Library stand, who was demonstrating “Grokker” (released by Groxis (nice favicon)), a search visualisation package that the library staff have put in front of some of their collections. He ran a couple of queries which just showed how lazy “page rank” has made us. Grokker presents its findings in a series of concentric circles. We discussed the fact that colour and size should be significant, otherwise, its pretty much an explorer hierarchy using encapsulated circles, rather than the expanding/contracting explorer. Its quite dramatic

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Sun’s Products and Solutions

Today’s gone very quickly, but this morning my highlights were John Fowler and Mark Canepa. As previously their slides are at the Sun Analyst Summit site. These guys were preceded by John Lociano, (VP Software) who has recently visited the UK, he introduced us to his CTO, Juan Carlo Soto. Juan Carlo went through a couple of things but his emphasis on the Predictive Self Healing features of Solaris 10 was interesting but it’s hard to sell and understand features (such as availability) that customers take for granted.

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Sun’s new utility

Robert Youngjohns, spoke arguing that Applications will conform to the Utility platform (Solaris or J2EE), Is this true? Robert uses his own personal solution to his electricity problem after moving to the US where he had to get rid of his lovely solid UK plugs for the nasty dangerous easy to fallout US plugs, with one exception. Robert reckons there’ll be exceptions in IT as well, although his domestic example is a legacy appliance. My concern is the new applications that deliver compelling competitive advantage and are written in house.

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Management by Soundbite

Jonathan (Swartz) spoke for a couple of minutes and then took questions. You all know he  {used to} blog here… and can find out what he wants you to hear by using the blog. My highlights are ….

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Technology Futures

Sadly Greg Papadopolus, SUN CTO was not available, but a video of his pitch was presented. (His slides are here… ). He starts by exploring the change in software economics from shrink wrap to service and from their shows how organisations can leverage network organisations and immersive supply chain management to great new applications fabrics by assembling service. Unfortunately, he uses the word “Outsource”, which in some places remains sensible, but is often a dirty word for dumping cost (& inefficiency) somewhere else. The search for excellent business performance is required, so crude outsourcing is never a good thing; businesses can always save their outsourcers margin, and if they’re lazy the customer pays for that as well.

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Confidence & Strength

Marissa Petersen : “Your confidence is our strength!”

She also stated that in measuring the causes of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction, they’ve discovered the top two causes of both are the same (and obvious), “Effective Support” and “Competitive Product”. This is good, because it proves we can do both well, so we only have to get it right more often.

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Solutions or Service

One of Sun’s internal debates is what “Solutions” are. Currently in my mind there seems to be ambiguity between a Solutions or Utility proposition, and what Sun seeks to organise around. Bob Macritchie (EVP Global Sales) opened the conference with a presentation on Sun’s sales model. He spoke in balanced terms between solutions (consultancy/project) and programme (commodity/utility) . He was clear that he wanted GEM (geographic organisations) autonomy, presumably using both loose and tight controls, but he did describe them as billing engines. This does not imply a lot of faith in their intellectual property generation but it may have been a throw-away remark.

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Technology as a service tomorrow

And on to CEC, opened by Hal & Jim. In Hal’s speech, he referred to some research undertaken by Brenda Laurel about how teenagers consume technology, my take away point is that they love their phones, my personal experience is that they don’t use e-mail. He illustrates how kids are consuming technology as a service (albeit transactional service) and that they perceive companies and offering differently. Apple is a design company, not an engineering one. This service orientated computing needs to occur, but the consumers thinks technology is cool, and they’ll be the only buyers years in 20 years time. Again my experience is that having held out for many years, I’ve just bought Sky, internet broad band and a web site (including disk rental).

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Predicting Outage

Mike Harding (Sun Preventive (sic) Services) presented on his groups new offerings. The highlight for me was his very dramatic illustration that standard availability metrics i.e. Four or Five Nines are historic and cannot be changed, in order to manage, leading indicators are needed which is why Sun has developed the Operational Risk Index (ORI). This may not be new to some of you, but it is to me despite Richard Morgan’s attempts to keep me up to date.  Mike also had a very dramatic illustration of risk dimensions, differentiating between probability and severity (or cost). Interestingly the bulk of the audience chose to minimise probability not cost.

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Some musings on programming languages

Over the last few days, I bumped into Tim Bray, (well, more accurately arranged to meet him). Somehow or other we got onto scripting, had a chat about languages and purpose. I’ve been mucking around with TCL/TK over the last few years and struggling to make it look right under my Linux builds. (The Laptop Diaries series may get there when I return to it). I reflected Tim’s view that TCL had probably missed its adoption window to Mike Ramchand, and he showed me ‘zenity’, which he uses to build the GUI for his dynamic system configurator. (‘zentity’ is part of Sun’s S10 Gnome distribution, although not its not on my Red Hat build.). Its obvious that I’m going to have to move on. Frankly, I should find perl or python easier than tcl; I started with COBOL and now use SQL or shell.

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Stern, Management and taking Solaris as a feed

The meeting today was opened by Hal Stern (Sun Services CTO). He repeated & re-inforced several themes about utility and annuity or subscription services but interesting highlighted several things. Firstly he argued for an enlightened, liberating management style to harness talent, “Think XP, not waterfall” because waterfall involves management saying no or re-work it a lot and “does not scale”.

He also in a discussion about mapping AIM onto “Customise, Standardise, Utilise” raised the goal of offering Solaris as a service based subscription. The language I’ve been using is to make Solaris a real-time feed, enabling Sun’s customers to take advantage of the newest, most reliable and best as it becomes available.

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