Sun’s Champagne Super Nova

January 31, 2010

Coincidentally, the acquisitions of the last two companies I worked at both closed this week.  The first is Sun Microsystems where I worked from 1995 to 2008 and which was purchased by Oracle.  The second is Lombardi which I left at the end of last summer and which was acquired by IBM.

Two very different acquisitions.  One a Silicon Valley trailblazer whose acquisition took 9 torturous months to close, the other a star in the focused field of business process management which closed in less than six weeks.  One company on the way up, one an icon on the way down.

Farewell Sun

While I wish the employees of both the best of luck, I particularly mourn the loss of Sun.  It was an amazing company to have worked at.  I joined the month that Java was introduced and rode it through its dot.com dominance and then down the other side.  Even when its economic dominance waned, its willingness to take risk such as its refocusing on open source made it a fascinating place to be.  The tech industry will be a less interesting place now that it is gone.

I take heart in the fact that the Sun diaspora now outweighs those still employed there.  Sun alums can be found across the industry at companies big and small around the world (in fact there is a hearty band of us here at Dell).  While there is no more Sun “the company” there are thousands of bits of it scattered throughout the high-tech landscape.

Aloha Stanford University Network, 1982-2010

Pau for now…


RightScale Part 2: Why the cloud? Apple Fanboys and Server Suffrage

June 18, 2009

Tuesday I listened in on the RighScale webinar: How to Build Scalable Websites in the Cloud.  This is part two of my thoughts and notes from the event.  (Note: it doesn’t look like it’s been posted yet but it should be available here soon).
The clouds providers that Right Scale works with.

The clouds providers that Right Scale works with.

As I discussed last time, RightScale acts as a management platform between cloud providers and Apps.

Which Cloud Providers do they work with?

If you double click on the IAAS bit in the yesterday’s slide you get something like the above.  Right Scale works on top of Amazon, coming soon to Rackspace’s Slicehost, Sun/Oracle’s cloud), Eucalyptus theEC2-compatible open source alternative that allows you to set up “private clouds” (BTW as anyone who attended Austin Cloud camp knows I’m using “private cloud” under duress, Gordon Haff does a good job explaining my heartburn) and VMWare.

Linux more robust than Windows

When asked about OS’s supported the answer was Windows as well as Ubuntu and CentOS.  Their CEO did admit that currently Windows support is not as robust as Linux.  They actually began with CentOS and according to one of their team have recently begun supporting Ubuntu more fully.   When I asked about other Linux flavors, Debian, SuSE etc. they said that there were “licensing issues” standing in the way.  I should have asked about OpenSolaris 🙂

Animoto, the well used example of how server demand can explode.

Animoto, the well used example of how server demand can explode.

Why do you look to the clouds?

During the webinar they polled the 200 odd attendees: “what’s driving you to the cloud?”  The results (as you’ll notice, you were allowed to vote for more than one):

  • 80% Scalability
  • 73% Cost Savings
  • 59% On Demand access
  • 28% Back-up and recovery
  • 06% Other

Not surprisingly Scalability came in number 1.  As if to underscore the point they brought out everbody’s favorite case study of exploding demand, Animoto.  Thankfully they had another example of uneven demand, iFixit (see below).  As an aside, one example I’d like to see charted is the attendee who mentioned that their agency is responsible for posting election results and were “not prepared for the interest worldwide, for Proposition 8.”

It was interesting to see that cost savings came in a close second, its always hard to measure particularly over the long haul but the perceived cost benefit is definitely strong in most folks mind.

iFixit's traffic could be said to be a tad "spikey."

iFixit's traffic could be said to be a tad "spikey."

Right Scale fighting for Server voting rights

And in conclusion…I’m always intrigued with the way English language morphs and evolves so I thought it was really interesting how the word “vote” is being used in the cloud (or at least by RightScale).  Basically they use a “voting process” when scaling.  Here’s how one of their team explained it.

Once a machine hits the scale up threshold  it places a vote to scale up.  When enough machines vote to scale up i.e. 51% if that that is what the decision threshold is set at, then new servers are provisioned and configured.  The same goes for scaling down.

Don’t know if this usage is new or a throw back from mainframes or from some other industry but I like it.

Pau for now…


RightScale part 1: Mickos joins and control moves up the stack

June 17, 2009

Yesterday I attended a webinar that RightScale put on entitled: How to Build Scalable Websites in the Cloud.  It was basically a welcome to RightScale, welcome to the cloud presentation but overall interesting and credible.

The presenters were their CEO, their head of marketing and a mini team of techies.  Below is part one of some of my thoughts and takeaways.  But first a slight digression…

Enter the Dolphin Master

One thing I noticed during the presentation and which warmed my heart was that MySQL played prominently in a bunch of the slides.  It was only today when I was poking around the RightScale site that I saw the press release from a few weeks ago announcing that Marten Mickos, former MySQL CEO and Sun employee joined the RightScale board of directors.  Its interesting but not surprising to note in the release that Marten calls out Sun and Canonical (the commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu) as two strategic partners helping to expand the RightScale ecosystem.

Where Right Scale fits within the tri-sected cloud.

Where Right Scale fits within the tri-sected cloud.

Where they play in the Cloud(s)

RightScale positions themselves as a cloud management platform or as I like to think of it “a cloud tamer.”  If you split the cloud in three — software as a service, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service — they play in the last space. Basically Right Scale sits on top of Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) and can handle all the tricky bits so you don’t have to.

Choose or choose not to choose

For those who want more control over their infrastructure RightScale will allow you to “choose among a variety of development languages, software stacks, data stores and cloud providers.” For those less intrepid in the cloud they have server templates that you can start off with.

One of the key benefits they stressed was getting rid of vendor lock-in, “so that you never get locked in to a single provider.”  You’ll notice on the X axis above they show lock-in decreasing and portability increasing as you move to the right.  My question however is that with Right Scale aren’t you simply locked in to a different layer of the cloud?  Doesn’t the control point simply move up the stack?  Just wondering…

Tune in tomorrow for part deux!

Extra Credit Reading/Listening

  • What is MySQL founder Monty Widenius up to post MySQL/post Sun? The Open Database Alliance and his MariaDB – May ’09
  • An interview with Marten Mickos, the day the MySQL deal with Sun closed — Feb ’08.
  • An interview with Marten Mickos after he keynoted Canonical’s first (and last) Ubuntu Live — Aug ’07.

Pau for now…


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