Lessons from Sun Live 2007

Sun had a customer jamboree today, and I documented my attendance on my Sun Oracle blog in a couple of articles, covering sustainability, teleworking & productivity, James Gosling on Java and CPU architecure, design and specialisation and the nature of innovation.

It was kicked off by Sun UK’s public policy officer, Richard Barrngton who had majored on aligning with environmental CSR goals of Sun’s corporate customers. I don’t remember whether his WEEE speech had been made by this time, but it shows an examination of the supply chain to minimise waste and maximise sustainability, including the reduction/elimination of the use of plastic and the minimisation of package waste. It was sadly, characterised as “obsessed by power”. Richard, not to prove a point, introduced firstly a video of Jonathan Porritt, talking about climate change and the need to act. Richard is very articulate on this himself arguing that the key policy for both the public polity and the private is to consume less power. If we can do that, we still have a chance of avoiding disaster. It was interesting to me that this was one of the central themes of Sun Live’s opening session. Today’s Guardian reported on the Government’s announcement that the carbon reduction commitment of the UK ( 60% reduction by 2050) is going to become law, Brown & Cameron are having a duel by press release to prove their green credentials and George Monbiot nails the Channel 4 documentary based on the countervailing view from last week. I missed the news that Curry’s are going to stop selling incandescent bulbs.

The opening key note speaker, Steve Nunn from Accenture also picked up on the climate change commitments that governments are making and importantly added the system utilisation dimension. The easiest way to reduce the demand for power by data centres is to drive up utilisation using the co-hosting, consolidation and virtualisation policies, and retire and reduce the number of systems required to perform the work. The final part of the jigsaw is that the acquisition costs of computer systems continue to fall, but the cost of power will increase. Today, there are many systems which will cost more to power during their working life then they cost to buy, and data centre managers need to adopt policies to manage this expanding part of their (or their employer’s) budget.

I visited the Commercial Industry break-out room and was pleasantly surprised to experience three interesting and in the final case hilarious presentation. John Blackman announced his company’s Carbon Balance Sheet audit. I have been looking at how I can adjust the TCO tools we’ve been using to talk in terms of carbon footprint so its good to see others looking at helping companies understand their carbon consumption. Bernard Taveres of Unilever spoke about collaboration and long slow death of the office driven initially, at least in Sun by reducing the time and cost of the commute, the consequent benefits include the reduction in space budgets, although realising this is both hard and takes time, but it allows a company to hire the best, not merely the best within travel distance of an office. Robert Hamilton of Orange then spoke, starting with the assertion that, “offices are pretty lousy places to work”.  He argued that the main use of an office is to take delivery of snail-mail and parcels. Well, that and meeting people, which makes the web-cam (or X-Coffee application) very useful, because you can check out whose in, before travelling to work and decide not to if the office is empty or full of boring people. Hamilton also offered the wisdom to a company/client who had banned chat because it can be used inappropriately, “I can be in appropriate with a pencil”.

Over lunch I looked at Adobe on Solaris, and after lunch, James Gosling, the inventor of Java presented and took us through some “What are Web 2.0” slides, its a short and to the point presentation. Among several asides, he pointed out that scientific computing which used to drive IT innovation is now leveraging the games industry, since the Sony Playstation 3 has the highest floating point performance in the world, (or on the planet as it seems is the current Sun mot-de-jour). I wonder what this example says about the economics of the appliance vs. the general purpose?

To close, John Maeden of BT spoke about the nature of fundamental change and how organisations react in dealing with the problems that cause the change, indicating that data centre architecture was such a problem today, due to its complexity and the requirements of today’s applications. He also quoted Henry Ford about radical change, “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have chosen a faster horse”.

ooOOOoo

Originally posted on my sun/oracle blog and reposted here in consolidated form in June 2016.Here are the original links.

  1. https://blogs.oracle.com/DaveLevy/entry/is_this_a_technology_vendor
  2. https://blogs.oracle.com/DaveLevy/entry/empowering_people
  3. https://blogs.oracle.com/DaveLevy/entry/inappropriate_behaviour
  4. https://blogs.oracle.com/DaveLevy/entry/james_gosling_at_sun_live
  5. https://blogs.oracle.com/DaveLevy/entry/a_faster_horse

3 Comments.

  1. I argued that the cost advantages of virtualising real estate would set the norm, however the countervailing force today is that companies need to prove their actions and can only do so in the office, i.e. phone calls are recorded, and private phone calls prohibited, data leakage programs need to be effective, chat must be logged and business must only be conducted on office mail; these controls are more easily enforced if you watch them.

  2. Running ADOBE on Solaris, via Linux,

    adobe on linux on solaris

    Didn’t we realise that this was over the top, the adobe story actually shows how mad we were wrt solaris as a consumer platformwere

  3. As a postscript on Gosling’s speech albeit 9 years later, grids are now built using graphic chips as the calculation engines, not quite the Sony playstation; the story was not so much about the appliance, but a harbinger of specialisation of CPUs, and there was no role for SPARC.