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. …

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. …

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.  …

Applications’ Citizenship

I’m still at Sun Engineering and I ran a BoF on my Applications’ Citizenship theory. For those (all?) of you who’ve not heard them, I attempt to classify an applications sociability by observing its behaviour. Applications can thus, be good citizens and co-exist with all apps that do not themselves exhibit some form of non-social behaviour. The three classes of non-social behaviours are bad citizens, which jeopardise the operating system, anti-social citizens which cause a limited, known and bound list of applications to fail and a special class of the anti-social where an application cannot exist with additional instances of itself …

Everything, Now and Free!

Ron Jefferies (XProgramming.com) presented a keynote speech about Agile software development. I enjoyed his pitch, although I’m no longer a developer. He delivered some great slogans. Despite describing them as slogans, these are based on important insights. I like “Ship early, ship often”. I was also interested in his view (reinforced by John Nolan) that team co-location is very important. I also enjoyed his definition of the customer requirement as “Free, Now & Perfect”.  …

Sun’s Software Engineering Summit 2005

Greg Papapdopolus (SUNW CTO), opened the conference and talked about some developments and forecasts on which Sun medium term plans are based, he only took a couple of minutes and will be speaking at length later in the week. One of his points is the growing support for “the Network is the Computer”. Greg argued that we’re reaching a world in which people think that if they can’t get google, the computer’s broken. You can read his own words here….. …

Utility Computing

I attended an all day seminar in Utility Computing. Couple of interesting presentations, the day was opened by Jim Baty and closed by Bill Vass. Frankly, its been a patchy day and I’m still not sure how firms requiring competitive advantage from their IT can leverage utility offerings because the suppliers will need a degree of homogeneity. It was definitely interesting and heartening to hear that several customers, who have the expertise to build the complex grids on which today’s utility offerings are to be based, are still coming to Sun;  …

Real Options & Flexible Planning

Kieron Bradley, one of my colleagues at Sun, during a piece of client consulting recently had reason to use financial option theory & language to justify why CPU’s in Sun’s large systems are more expensive to buy than those in the smaller ones. He and the customer had examined all the TCOO factors they thought were relevant and the fact remained that if one wanted to take a utility view of CPU supply, it was cheaper to buy and run smaller systems rather than larger ones. (This particular analysis did not perform a variable utilisation analysis. It was assumed, (or defined as policy) that all CPUs would run at a given % utilisation. Contradicting this assumption, it is a fact that large (and flexibly partitioned) systems are easier to keep busy.) …

Consulting! Profession or Trade?

Over the Xmas break, I had fun by reading Elizabeth Edersheim’s “McKinsey’s Marvin Bower”, a biography of the de-facto founder of “McKinsey & Co.”. He not only co-founded McKinsey & Co., but also arguably founded “Management Consultancy” as a profession. The book argues that McKinsey’s success is based on putting Clients first. …