Memories of Sun

By , January 30, 2010 18:48

In 1996 and 1997 I was part of the customer alpha and beta program for Solaris 2.6 (both, on Sparc as well as x86!), which led to my review of that version of the world’s best OS in Germany’s monthly publication iX. That review in turn made my person interesting for Sun, so they asked me, if I wanted to join, and I agreed. So, on February 1st, 1998 was my first day at Sun, which means, I can not succeed in celebrating my twelve year employment anniversary as part of an independant company. Still, in Germany, the legal entity “Sun Microsystems GmbH” will continue to live a bit longer, as the buying and integration process could only be started after the US entities became one. But another of my dreams will never be able to fulfill itself: Being part of Sun for more than half its existence. I will miss the fulfillment of that dream by approx 3 years… Still, I hope to see that 15 year anniversary as part of Oracle!

In the beginning, I was a bit afraid, if I might be “good enough” to join the forces of a company, that I started to love as a customer over the years. Rest assured, it has NOT been love on first sight! Before I joined Sun, I was working at a publicly sponsored R&D company for more than a decade, and had the advantage of being able to play with most of the interesting computers at that time: Apollo, Auspex, Convex, DEC (both, VMS and Ultrix; as well as OSF/1), Parsytec, Sony, SGI, to only name the most known brands… My thinking at my first contact with Sun’s systems was: Build in a to cheap way. OK, DEC’s vt100 keyboard was even worse, than Sun’s first keyboards, but only with SunOS 3.5 and the type 4 and then the type 5 keyboards, Sun became better than Apollo’s OS and keyboards. The migration from SunOS 4.1.4 to Solaris 2.X was a tedious one, but we all succeeded, as Sun put an enormous effort into making sure, that binary compatibility was working. Over the years I kept a copy of /usr/games (which was no longer available in Solaris 2), and put it on all my Solaris boxes (sadly, Sparc only, as there was no SunOS 4.X for x86!), and it still works up to today. Try to find another OS on this planet that can claim binary compatibilty for more than close to 20 years! Even Linux had not been born, when SunOS 4.1 came out… And try to run a Linux kernel 1.0 program on today’s Linuxes…

So, this finishing week, the acquisition of Sun by Oracle has finished, and we all will be members of a way larger company, and a company, that knows, how to monitize R&D. I’m looking forward to tons of new opportunities, and will let SMI (Sun Microsystems Incorporated) rest with a little tear in my eyes.

So, goodbye Sun Microsystems Inc., hello Oracle!


Thoughts on Home-Server RAID

By , January 25, 2010 10:35

Constantin has a very nice entry on the silliness or usefulness of RAID levels in cheap home-servers. I cannot agree more! Read his blog post entitled: “Home Server: RAID-GREED and Why Mirroring is Still Best”


More on Death of Sun… ;-)

By , January 25, 2010 10:32

My colleague Isaac Rozenfeld also has a nice writeup of his ideas and feelings after Jonathan’s email and James blog post entitled: “The Last SUNday?”


Death of Sun?

By , January 23, 2010 15:35

My colleague Jörg Möllenkamp did comment on the “So long, old friend…” blog entry by the father of Java, James Gosling: “Ideas are mergerproof”. Again, well written, good comment! But: Don’t forget, James did also create a newer blog: “OK, it’s time to look forward…”, where he starts looking forward!


OpenSource und Akquisitionen

By , January 22, 2010 11:10

Mein Kollege Stefan Hinker hat einen schönen Artikel über die Sinnhaftigkeit von OpenSource im Zusammenhang mit Akquisitionen geschrieben, besser hätte ich es auch nicht ausdrücken können. Zu finden ist das hier:

Und mein Kollege James Gosling, Vater von Java, hat einen schönen bildhaften Abschied von Sun erzeugt, den man sich auch auf Tassen oder T-Shirts bestellen kann. Der wiederum findet sich hier:


VDI and its future

By , January 15, 2010 19:13

Today I had a very interesting talk (as always!) with Dr. Bernhard Tritsch.

We were discussing Cloud Computing and Virtualization, and came to the conclusion, that due to the massive speed-bump of CPUs and the not so massive speed-need-bump of the software, and due to the fact, that also memory is getting cheaper and cheaper, and also due to the fact, that PDAs are getting better and better (Power-saving, more CPU-cycles, better screen resolutions) and finally due to the fact, that hypervisor technology is also getting better and better, we will see way more client virtualization than VDI-like solutions that are based in Datacenters. With that will also come the dead of the “Cloud”, as we know it today. Currently there are discussions around whether “Private Cloud” should better be called “Internal Cloud” (I agree!), and what the real “features” of Cloud Computing are (besides those, that we already know from traditional IT-Evolution).

So, what are the drivers and technologies, that might enable such a change?

Classical VDI solutions were and are introduced due to a couple of drivers or reasons:

  1. Save on people resources for system management
  2. Save energy, reduce consumption
  3. Have greater flexibility in moving to newer hardware
  4. Have a better utilization of systems
  5. And many more

These need to be rectified in order to survive as a reason for doing something. Let’s look at those in detail:

Save on people resources for system management

This requirement was translated into re-centralization and consolidation, because systems management software at that time was not capable of doing distributed and efficient system provisioning and management. This is changing rapidly, and is supported by virtualization, as virtualization enables a “unique” or “unified” platform and therefore “special configuration” tend to vanish.

Save energy, reduce consumption

In order to achieve this, the idea was to get rid of systems on the desktop that only worked 8 hours a day, but were consuming energy over 24 hours, and were way oversized for the ordinary task at hand. But, if you look at the power consumption of for example the Intel Atom series, combined with the ability to physically (but controlled by software) switch off unused parts of the system, even down to the CPU-core, most of these systems nowadays even use less power then the so-called thin-client used in VDI infrastructures.

Have greater flexibility in moving to newer hardware

This requirement is now solved with providing a unified or unique platform by using hypervisors, that do provide an exactly same hardware abstraction regardless of underlying hardware. And with the advance of putting the hypervisor already into the BIOS of the system, this will make virtualization even more widespread adopted.

Have a better utilization of systems

This is driven by two main aspects: First, most systems are very expensive, and therefore you get a better TCO or ROI, if you really use it to its full capabilities. Second, it was also perceived to help with the first aspect on this list. Putting more tasks onto a single system reduces the overall number of systems that need to be managed. But: The fact that CPU-speed-bumbs are way faster then software needs, the cost of acquisition (CAPEX) goes down from generation to generation of those systems. And, combined with the fact, that the newer systems are capable of switching off unused parts during operation also reduced the operation expenses (OPEX), at least on the energy side.

And many more

So, all these combined lead to the question, if all those solutions to the original problem definition still apply, or will still apply going into the future.

If we now combine it with technologies like “system transportation” or “live migration” (for the end-user perspective, even a cold migration might be sufficient), for example to enable the movement of my desktop (here not only the “GUI”, but the “whole system” by using its “image”) onto a PDA (because the PDA runs a hypervisor, and is capable of running a complete VMware image (for example)), when I leave the office, or transfer it back to the system on my desk, when at home or in the office (all these PDAs do have a lot of memory, and a do have WLAN), why should I host that image on a centralized hypervisor in a big Datacenter?

Let’s transfer all of this onto Cloud Computing. Most of the arguments above also apply to the hopes and spirits behind the current trend to “cloudify” things. Most of the underlying and used technologies can be seen as an evolution of current technology, and therefore need to be put into context. Read for some more ideas around this topic.

So, thanks to Benny for a vivid and entertaining discussion this morning!


FRAOSUG Treffen…

By , January 14, 2010 12:49

Die Infos für die nächsten FRAOSUG Treffen und alles rund um die FRAOSUG finden sich ab sofort auf: Ja, so einfach kann es manchmal sein… ;-)

Nebenbei erwähnt: Das nächste Treffen findet, wie alle Treffen, immer am 3. Dienstag des Monats, und das ist diesmal der 19. Januar, statt. Diesmal wieder in der Sun Geschäftsstelle in Langen. Näheres aber, wie gesagt unter:


POTS, VDSL and Consolidation

By , January 6, 2010 16:57

On Friday, I expect to get VDSL 50, which is the DSL offering of T-Home (the Deutsche Telekom End-User Branch) providing 50000 KBit download and 10000 KBit upload. I did order an upgrade to my existing contract (in a bundled offering, which currently is only available for registered DSL customers), which is called “Call & Surf Comfort Plus VDSL 50/Universal (ISDN)”. As it’s only available from the online “Kundencenter” for contracted subscribers, I can not provide a link here. The “Plus” option was the one, that I needed, and that’s also the reason, why I waited so long for upgrading my “Call & Surf Comfort Plus DSL 16000” contract, as VDSL up to now was only available in bundles with IP-TV (which is useless to me, as I do live in an appartment, where I already have digital Cable-TV (including radio, not only TV, as IP-TV does!) (as part of the rent for the appartment)) or without IP-TV but then also without the “Plus” package. This offering is currently only available to those, that already do have some sort of DSL contract. For me the “Plus” pays off, as it contains a WiFi HotSpot Flatrate for all T-Home and T-Mobile WiFi Hotspots in Germany, which allowed me to select a cheaper contract for my iPhone from T-Mobile, as there I did not need the HotSpot Flatrate. What use are two such Flatrates, if you are a single person?

As for that newer version of DSL I also did need a new DSL router (the old didn’t do VDSL!), and as the only attractive offering is a lease from T-Home also (the SpeedPort W920V) I choose the larger one, which did offer a couple of features I needed at home. There’s also the SpeedPort W722V, which would not have offered as many consolidation features as the W920V. Also, looking at the differences in prices (2,95 EUR/Month versus 3,95 EUR/Month) and given the fact, that these prices are valid only in the first year (rates go down in the following years! And you’re not BOUND to a duration, you can return the router whenever you like!) I never ever thought about buying an AVM Fritz!Box. And also sadly, AVM’s top of the line VDSL product still is not shipping… ;-(

So, that SpeedPort W920V does offer an integrated VoiceBox, an integrated DECT basis-station, an integrated analog phone-system, an integrated WLAN, an integrated router, an integrated printserver or CIFS server (if you connect those to the USB port), and especially an integrated ISDN S0-Bus, I was able to retire my old VoiceBox, I was also able to retire the phone-cable running from my old phone-system to my old handheld basis-station, and I was able to retire my close to 20 year old ISDN system (a remarkebly reliable Ackermann Euracom 181 system) plus my old DSL router. Retiring 3 systems (the old DECT basis is only needed as a charging station, so I could not retire that completely) and replacing them with 1 new will save energy, and especially it did reduce my need for cables running through my appartment (wireless DECT phone basis station and VoiceBox). Also positive is, that I now have a Web-based configurator for the Phone-System, whereas the old one did require a serial cable (or the ISDN line) to configure. The integrated ISDN-S0 Bus is needed, as I still have ISDN cards in many systems, needed for Faxing (and seamlessly recording of TelCos) and stuff like that, so this was the real first option to upgrade my ISP speed (to something more speedy then some of my old systems at home…) and keeping functionality at the same level then up to now at a competitive price…

Let’s see, if I will be able to really get the advertized speed, but I’m optimistic, as the DSL 16000 (with 1Mbit upload) also worked to full specs here at my appartment. It’s really amazing, what can be quenched through those old phone cables nowadays. I still remember running analog modems with 14400 Baud across the same copper…


Update: Discussion partially continued in german on:

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