Category Archives: Sun

sun ray – end of an era

sunray1GHaving spent most of 2000 – 2010 using Sun Ray machines for everyday working, you can forgive me if I’m not a little sad that these great tech machines have been EOL’d and are no longer available for purchase.

The Sun Ray was a networked display device, with applications running on the server – which meant you could go from machine to machine with just a smart card and your session would pop up. It was the ultimate portable computer, as long as you had a networked machine to plug into.

With Secure Global Desktop, Virtualbox and Oracle Virtualization technologies, it was always a crowded space within Oracle and with the switch to tablets, mobile and cloud computing it makes sense to let software connect to virtual sessions, rather than tie to a physical box on a desk you had to plug into.

Now you can use laptops, phones and tablets to seamlessly connect to any session, whether you’re at your desk or on the move.

essbase on solaris – are you mad?

Several years ago Sun began a project to update and consolidate the business intelligence tools used at Sun and we decided on Hyperion as we had a variety of Hyperion tools already: Brio, Essbase.  This was a few years before the Oracle acquisition of Hyperion and we wanted to run on Solaris.

This meant we were one of the first customers to run the Hyperion suite on Solaris and I frequently had conversations with other Hyperion experts similar to the title of this post and was also told that Essbase was designed on windows and would therefore run best on windows.

While the original implementation had it’s difficulties being one of the first on Sun hardware, software and operating system it undoubtedly laid the groundwork for the recent Hyperion Essbase ASO World Record on Sun SPARC Enterprise M5000.

The Oracle Essbase Aggregate Storage application employed for the benchmark was based on a real customer application in financial industry with 13 Million members in the customer dimension.

The benchmark system was a M5000 server with 4 UltraSPARC64 Vii 2.53 Ghz (quad core) and 64Gb ram running Solaris 10 update 8 and Oracle Essbase 11.1.1.3 (64 bit) combined with a Sun Storage F5100 Flash Array consisting of 40 x 22 GB flash modules in a single zpool.

The benchmark compared 500 and 20,000 users and showed that usage based aggregation improved response times, while adding the extra users showed similar performance with no signs of degradation in query timings.

What is interesting in the benchmark is that this seems to be one of the first to combine a variety of Oracle technology and provide a benchmark for John Fowler to beat:  Solaris ZFS, SPARC M9000 server, Storage F5100 Flash Array and Essbase.

For more information check out the whitepaper here(pdf), Note: the BestPerf blog has an incorrect link since the recent update to the Oracle Technology Network.  More details on Hyperion applications here.

Welcome

As a somewhat irregular blogger at blogs.sun.com, I’ve moved my blogs and content here (thanks to Suns ownership policy).

For me blogs.sun.com has been a high-tech water cooler moment, where I can observe and interact with other Sun employees on Sun, technology and related items.   The beauty was that while most items have been Sun related, which have been a wonderful fountain of knowledge over the years, the truly inspiring items can be un-Sun related and help in generating a feeling of community and knowledge.

I will still post Oracle related items on blogs.sun.com and here on my personal site, this will become my main avenue for blogs from now on.  Please bear with me while I go through and update the prior posts as not everything was migrated correctly.

Thanks for reading to those that have and welcome to those that are new 😉

last Sun entry

This is my last Sun post, as the Sun Oracle integration takes another step forward tomorrow with the Legal Entity Combination of the UK entities.  In the coming weeks there’s new systems to learn and integrate with as well as finding out what the longer term goals are and how I fit in.

This road has been long, with the initial Sun-IBM rumours breaking a year ago and the eventual Oracle offer in April.  Having seen other Oracle acquisitions I know that it takes 12 to 18 months for real change and development to occur, so expect that to be the same in this case – although I hope that the last 9 months of planning were used very productively 😉

I’m excited that Oracle has a large marketing presence and hope that the Sun technology, innovation and engineers get more than their fair share of deserved exposure.

I also hope that Sun Ray technology is shown to more users and business buyers.  Others think so too.  Just image what Oracle could do with this internally for the 85,000 employees (pre Sun) in terms of power savings – as units use just 5% of what a normal desktop computer uses.

Although you don’t have to run just Oracle Solaris on them, as these success stories from ResMed, Screwfix and Microsoft demonstrate.  In the ResMed example, they had a return on investment within 12 months and saved an estimated $270,000 all while providing a variety of users with a highly flexible, highly secure virtual desktop environment.  There are many more Sun Ray stories here.

Even better still if the Oracle users were migrated off Windows imagine the savings in licence fees!

I’m proud to have been part of the blogs.sun.com community and grow what has undoubtedly been one of the foremost blogging sites.  I’m also both excited and a little nervous about the future.  Not sure if I’ll continue to blog here or move elsewhere as others have done.

To misquote The Bard:  “Alas poor Sun Microsystems! I knew him “.

i for one welcome our new Oracle overlords

So it’s happened.  Sun is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle.

Oracle announced a live event for customers, partners, press, and analysts, to take place today, on January 27th from 9am PST, to provide an Oracle + Sun strategy update.

Details on how to watch the Webcast are available on the Sun and Oracle acquisition website.

OpenOffice 3.2/StarOffice 9.2 around the corner

While it seems that in some respects the world has been standing still with the Oracle acquisition, there is lots of hard work being done by dedicated engineers inside and outside Sun Microsystems.

One more example is the soon to be released OpenOffice 3.2/ StarOffice 9.2 updates, this is both a feature and bug release with some of the key items that I’ve picked out are:

  • faster start up times
  • enhanced ODF 1.2 compliance
  • improved MS Office compatibility and support
  • over 750 bug fixes

For those of you who are really keen you can download the latest OpenOffice versions from OpenOffice.org. Note: OpenOffice Release Candidate 4 is currently being tested and will be available shortly.

One of the regular items I’m asked is what is the difference between OpenOffice and StarOffice?

They both use the same code base (at the binary level) however StarOffice is Sun’s professional distribution of OpenOffice.org (OOo) and has the following added features and benefits:

  • Hot fixes, patches and updates (OOo is full installation).
  • Extensions and mail/calendar functionality comes with StarOffice
    Software, with OpenOffice.org you have to download each extension
    separately.
  • Sun warranty and indemnification.
  • Committed timelines.
  • 3 free warranty support calls (in retail).
  • Customization, if business opportunity is big enough.

Check out to see if OpenOffice or StarOffice can help you today!

UPDATE: Thursday 5th Feb, RC 5 has just been released. Available from the same link.

UPDATE: Thursday 11th Feb, The final version has been released, with 776 bugs fixed.  You can download it from the main page.

open source software and survival of the fittest

There has been lots of recent discussions about open source and how that either helps or hinders proprietary software, depending on your point of view.

Open Source Software (OSS) is starting to gain more momentum:

  • Firefox has almost 25% market share in December, 440 million downloads of Firefox 3.5
  • OpenOffice has over 100 million downloads since launching version 3.0

Most folks may think they are open source users and contributing, but to download and use is not contributing, you must actively test and supply bug information with repeatable test cases.  I know from experience that trying to narrow down and confirm bugs takes time and effort, especially when you need to remove all plugins and extensions to test the base program then add back on or having to search for the exact nightly build that caused the issue/bug regression.

Similarly a lot of the proprietary software world also thinks they are open source friendly but in reality only support Firefox 2.0 and in one bad case I know only on Windows!

Granted a lot of proprietary vendors code only for IE (and old IE at that) and MSOffice, given it’s large business use.  However to ignore or pretend to be OSS friendly is a bad way to do business. Others think so too. At best it’s naive, at worst it’s lazy.  I’ve seen plenty of code that either hard code specific browser rules or manually attribute document states in code.

It might be a quick way to get code out the door, but it’s not future proofing the code longevity.  Although it probably does mean fat upgrade fees and unhappy customers.

The next big wave is making applications and tools available to a
variety of devices, not just computers but PDAs, iPhones, iTablets, eBooks and
anything that can connect via wifi.  So while the luddites are making
code for IE and MS Office they’re missing a big growth sector and
making more work for themselves in the long run.

The best way for software developers (both open and closed source) to make sure their software works with a variety of browsers or other OSS is to download and test development builds.  Most OSS sites have easy to find info on development builds and how to contribute:

It might take some initial effort to get up to speed, but that effort should save time and user frustration if your application suddenly breaks with a new release of software.

I know from several folks at Sun, be they involved in Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice or OpenSolaris that they’re very happy to have help and are usually generous with their time helping answer queries to get you started.  This willingness to help is just one of the reasons I love the Sun community, the other big one is the sharing that goes on – especially on a multitude of topics as you can see by browsing the main blogs.sun.com page.

So lets all help each other to ensure Open Source is the big winner so that technology is the enabler to a sharing future and doesn’t exclude anyone.

Bootnote: Although generally thought of as Darwin’s words, “survival of the fittest” actually comes from Herbert Spencer, who summarized Darwins “natural selection”.

SSDs to the forefront

Following up my recent posts concerning SSD and flash based disks, there seems to be a growing understanding of the power of SSDs and also some confusion over the pricing and whether some are faster than others.  I’ve compiled a summary of some other posts and info:

Are some SSDs faster/better than others?  YES, it starts with the cell memory:  single-level cell (SLC) flash memory is better (and hence more expensive) than multi-level cell (MLC) flash memory. Then there are the other components that make up the SSD.  From some recent reviews/blogs Intel, Samsung, OCZ and RunCore seem to make some fast ones.

Check out this comprehensive AnandTech article and another recent article.  Both comprehensive and very detailed.

Last FM: Installed SSDs into a SunFire X4170 to massively increase their streaming customers served from around 300 for a 7200 rpm SATA disk to 7000 for a 64Gb X25-E Intel SSD.

ZFS super charging: L2ARC for random reads,
and the ZIL for writes. OpenSolaris 2009.06 and Solaris 10 U6 with ZFS have super capabilities
for very intelligent use of fast storage technology, especially when serving files. Thanks again to Brendan.
Correction: while some items for ZFS were added to Solaris 10 update 6, it was only in the delivery of ZFS version 13 that it was complete, these changes made it into Solaris 10 update 8.

Setting up a mirrored SSD OpenSolaris system:  A very comprehensive how to guide for migrating from an existing system.

Making the most of your SSD: Easy steps to set up SSD on OpenSolaris –  thanks Arnaud.

Future of Flash: How flash storage is a disruptive technology for
enterprises. Hal Stern, VP Global Systems Engineering @ Sun hosts this very
informative podcast.

Seeing the performance upgrades that others are getting out of flash makes me want to try it out to see the impact to my 4 year old desktop, which is still going strong (AMD 4200 Dual Core, 4GB Memory and 200GB HDD).  Alternatively if anyone has a 64GB SSD they’d like me to test I’d certainly appreciate it 😉

The secret flash sauce

After the announcements from Oracle Open World and new TPC benchmark, a lot of focus has been on Sun and the innovation DNA that drives the company.  The announcements focus on flash and their increasing use in computing:

So what is the secret sauce in these?  These are essentially caching data and are made up of 94GB (4 x 24GB modules) of single-level cell NAND flash, in the F20 card and a staggering 1.92TB (80 modules) for the F5100 flash array.

The F5100 Flash Array has 64 SAS lanes (16 x 4-wide ports), 4 domains and SAS zoning, It can perform 1.6m read IOPS and 1.2M write IOPS, with a bandwidth of 12.8GB/sec.

This read IOPS figure is equivalent to 3,000 hard drives in 14 rack cabinets. The F5100 uses 1/100th of the space and power, of such a collection of hard drives.

This is an amazing database accelerator for Oracle and MySQL. The unit can be zoned into 16 partitions, one for each of up to 16 hosts. The device can form part of a Sun ZFS hybrid storage pool, embracing solid state and hard disk drives.

Further Notes: Sequential Read = 9.7GB/sec; Read/Write Latency (1M transfers) = 0.41ms/0.28ms; Average Power 300 watts (Idle = 213W ; 100% = 386W).  More spec info here.

So if you have need to speed up your Databases, Storage grids, HPC computing or Financial modeling look at what flash SSDs can offer.

Download the Sun Flash Analyzer and install on your server and see where SSDs can help accelerate system performance today.

It won’t be long before all computers come with flash as standard as either a separate or hybrid disk to speed up response times . . . OpenSolaris can already do this today with ZFS Storage Pools.

Sun Java Communications Suite 7 released

Sun last week announced the release of the latest version of the Sun Java Communications Suite (what a mouthful), it’s now version 7!

So what are the key products and features?

  • Calendar Server 7, with CalDAV support, enabling interoperability with Mac iCal/iPhone and Mozilla Thunderbird.
  • Sun Convergence 1 U3,  provides an AJAX rich client web experience for all the components.
  • Indexing and Search Service 1, provides real time indexing and search of messaging and attachments.
  • Instant Messaging 8, supporting standards compliant IM for fixed and mobile users.
  • Messaging Server 7 U3, the latest highly scalable, secure and high performing messaging platform.

 Interested?  

  1. Do you have over 1,000 users of communications/collaboration software?
  2. Is your Communications/Collaboration solution critical to the success of your business?
  3. What is the total cost of ownership of your current communications/collaboration implementation? Or, how much are you spending per month to keep this solution up and running?
  4. Are you locked into a single vendor’s proprietary communications solution or do you have choice through open standards?
  5. Are you worried about your implementation’s susceptibility to viruses, worms, and spam?

What to learn more and see some demos?

Here is the main Sun Java Communications Suite page http://www.sun.com/comms