Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thanks SDN! -- Sun's University World Tour - Meet our Rock Stars

Sometimes, very rarely for me, when you are googling around, you find something that is both a surprise and makes you feel great at the same time. I was discussing just how bogus MTBF is with my oldest son John, when I told him he needs to read Dave Trindade's GREAT book on Applied Reliability. Many years ago, Sun had some challenges with e-cache. e-cache is the abbreviation for external cache or cache that is not directly on the microprocessor. I was the lead in terms of delivering the detailed message to customers. Dr. Dave Trindade is a god in statistics and a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems. It was Dave Trindade who did the statistical analysis and told us all at Sun the right way to think about this challenge that really made ALL OF THE DIFFERENCE with conveying the message to customers.

Back to the story :-) While googling for Dave Trindade, I found this link called Sun's University World Tour - Meet our Rock Stars that was at Sun's Developer Network page that is also known as SDN.

When I saw that the folks at SDN honored me by being on the same page with these other legends at Sun it absolutely made my night. My sons said that I had to actually bribe someone to be on the page :-)

Below is a snippet of this page in case this page goes away at some point :-)

Sun-1 at the Irvine, CA Office

I was at the Sun Office in Irvine, CA a few weeks ago and they had a 1982 Sun-1 in the lobby. Below are two photos I took from my cellphone.

As Wikpedia states: Sun-1 was the first generation of UNIX computer workstations and servers produced by Sun Microsystems, launched in May 1982. These were based on a CPU board designed by Andy Bechtolsheim while he was a graduate student at Stanford University and funded by DARPA. The Sun-1 systems ran SunOS 0.9, a port of UniSoft's UniPlus V7 port of Seventh Edition UNIX to the Motorola 68000 microprocessor, with no window system. Early Sun-1 workstations and servers used the original Sun logo, a series of red "S"s laid out in a square, rather than the more familiar purple diamond shape used later.
The first Sun-1 workstation was sold to Solo Systems in May of 1982.[1] The Sun-1/100 was used in the original Lucasfilm EditDroid non-linear editing system.

As I have first personally heard Scott McNealy say, "the first serial number was 15 so customers did not think they were getting one of the first systems."

Something cool to check out is the SUN Workstation Architecture, Andreas Bechtolsheim, Forest Baskett, Vaughan Pratt, Stanford University Computer systems Laboratory Technical Report No. 229, March 1982

Another interesting tidbit of Sun history that I learned at the 25th anniversary of Sun Microsystems at The Computer History Musuem was that Vaughan Pratt was the person who designed the famous Sun logo.

As Wikipedia points out, the Sun logo, which features four interleaved copies of the word "sun"; it is an ambigram

The Right Way To Think About Open Source

There are many individuals who are confused about open source and monetization.

The first two rules on open source and monetization come from Marten Mickos in 2007 who was CEO from MySQL at the time:

“Success in open source requires you to serve:

1. Those who spend time to save money
2. Those who spend money to save time."

The important concept that Marten Mickos is driving home is that just like every other topic on planet earth, open source monetization is not black and white, but a gray scale continuum that we are still discovering some of the finer points.

1) There is no guarantee of monetary success just because you have lots of users.

2) If you ask someone about their monetization strategy and they come back to the concept of lots of users, then they have not a clue what they are talking about. There is no direct cause and affect between lots of users and guaranteed monetization. Yes, there is tremendous potential, but just like voltage - which is called potential, what you really want amperage. If you think this is not true, go google Xerox PARC's history and let me know how well the ROI went there.

3) There are analogies between open source monetization and every day products that you used today. Do you buy a warranty for a product that has a reputation for never breaking down? Probably not, unless your duty cycle is much more strenuous than the typical user. If you are running a business and you are using free software that never needed to be updated and never broke down would you worry about service? Probably not. Are there very many examples of software that you never update? Unless you are talking about a black box aka embedded application, the answer is not too many. There is an important analogy between home devices/appliances and enterprise software. That analogy is duty cycle.

My uncle, Merle Edstrom owns his own Welding business called Cannon Welding in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. One of the metrics that Merle cares about is the maximum duty cycle for a welder. The welding duty cycle is defined as the percentage of time in a 10 minute period that it can be operated continuously before overheating. As a professional businessman, Merle's duty cycle needs are very different than your typical home owner. Quick advertisement for my uncle. If you live anywhere near the mid part of Minnesota, Cannon Welding is the best and you should call Merle for all your welding needs!

In software, duty cycle is defined many different ways, but a common link to hardware duty cycle would be the reliability of the software expressed in the classic SLA or Service Level Agreement. If my business is running a mission critical open source application (as most are these days), then having a single throat to choke, 24x7x365 support, hot patches, professional services, value added services for massive scaling or vertical industry specifics are just some of the things that I would be willing to pay for.

At Sun we are clearly defining our Community Version and Enterprise Edition software.

More on my favorite (ok, one of my favorite topics :-) later....

The Stimulus Package and The Win/Win For Americans/Healthcare/IT

The Wall Street Journal reported that early reports are the stimulus package may have the following amounts for Healthcare:

  • $39 billion in subsidies to health insurance for the unemployed; providing coverage through Medicaid
  • $90 billion to shore up state Medicaid programs
  • $20 billion for health-information technology systems
  • $4 billion for preventative care

This will be a great opportunity for companies like Sun Microsystems that has a very strong software infrastructure stack and known for our secure and scalable software. The canonical quote is that 40% of Healthcare costs are administrative. The other statistic that is often quoted is that nearly 98,00 Americans die each year due to medical mistakes. President Obama stated on Monday the 9th that healthcare premiums have doubled for the average family in the past eight years.

There is an article at Sun where Bill Vass brings out the following:

"So, here is the background: If the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) is the information highway for health data exchange, CONNECT is the universal on-ramp for federal agencies. CONNECT is a software solution that lets federal agencies securely link their existing systems to the NHIN. More than 20 organizations collaborated to build CONNECT through the Federal Health Architecture (FHA), and as a result, agencies are heading down the road toward interoperability.

Using Sun's entire Open Source middleware stack as its foundation, including our SOA and IdM technology, the FHA built the CONNECT gateway software from open-source code. Talk about an Open Source poster child! The solution was jointly developed by federal agencies yet it will be deployed individually at the agency level. The decision to build the solution in open source provided the usual benefits (I know you have heard these from me before):

· Cost reductions for each agency and taxpayer savings

· IT consistency and compatibility across multiple agencies

· Decreased deployment times

· Security"

One of Wayne Gretzky's famous quotes is:

"A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be."

Healthcare is where the IT puck will be going....