Category: conferences

EMCWorld 2008 Day 1 and Day 2 Recap

EMCWorld 2008 is well underway.  The keynote was much like last years keynote in that there was talk about how information growth is continuing to explode.  Unfortunately cloud computing was touched on only briefly and specific EMC strategy wasn’t discussed.

I did meet with Ryan Johnson who is the product manager for EMC’s Lifeline software.  Lifeline is “Network storage OEM software for the SOHO and Prosumer market.”  In a nutshell, this is home centralized storage done right.  You can store your music, movies and even surveillance camera data all on one device that will support remote backup to EMC’s Mozy online backup service.  The software is at release 1 today but a ton more features will be coming in version 2.  The Intel demo was really slick with about 4-5 HD videos streaming simultaneously to a TV, an iMac and an xbox 360.  Currently Intel has a product that holds 4 drives and is starting to ship today.  Iomega will have a device with 2 drives shipping in August.  The biggest challenges for EMC have been making a easy to use interface but giving the device a lot of features.  I did mention silent data corruption and ZFS to Ryan and he said they were looking at innovating in the data integrity area.

I attended a lot of VMware-specific architectual and performance engineering sessions since that seems to be my focus with my customers right now.  Some of the information was new but a lot of it I have heard last year.  Interestingly enough, it seemed that there were some mixed messages emerging from VMware folks who work on the same team.

A lot of my customers are just getting into centralized storage for VMware and are having a hard time deciding if they should do fibre channel, iSCSI or even NFS.  There are no performance differences between storage protocols (iSCSI, fibre channel or NFS).  Now there is a throughput difference between 1 gigabit iSCSI and 4 gigabit fibre channel.  Most importantly, if you’re going to consolidate a lot of hosts and could push the 1 gigabit barrier, 4gb fibre channel makes things a little easier without having to aggregate lots of smaller links.

That’s all for now, on to day 3.

Sun CEC 2007

Once a year Sun Microsystems invites select engineers and partners to its Customer Engineering Conference to share tons of information with each other. It was my first time going and it was pretty good.

The theme this year was Red Shift/Green Shift. The basic premise of Red Shift is that computing and data storage growth is exploding and there are companies riding this wave that are growing much faster than normal economic and computing trends. The Green Shift has to do with the rise of eco-responsibility.

Sun is positioning themselves to take advantage of this growth with the new Niagara 2 CMT (chip multi-threading) processors they have out as well as the forthcoming Rock processor. We were treated to a pretty cool public launch of the T5120, T5220 and T6320 servers. On the software side, things are progressing along very nicely with Solaris 10. Best thing about it all is that almost all of their software is opensource so anyone can take advantage of the R&D they’re doing.

Now on to my experiences… I sat through a number of really interesting sessions. Most notable was called “Web 2.0 – The Nitty Gritty” by Tim Bray, “A reference architecture for Web 2.0” by Shanti Subramanyam and “Concerning Capacity” by Bob Sneed. Unfortunately there were tons of other sessions I missed out on that did deep dives into DTrace which amazing for developers who need to look at what their code is doing.

Tim Bray was very engaging and it was good to hear him talk about the state of web development today and how Ruby on Rails makes sense for a lot of people. He also talked about how software development is changing because of the time to market with things like Rails. Enterprise software development will be headed this way too.

Shanti’s talk discussed the state of affairs with scalable database intensive apps like Webkinz, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and the list goes on. A lot of it comes down to understanding how applications interact with their infrastructure and building out accordingly. Things touched on were caching, proxying, webservers and differences between packages out there.

Bob Sneed had a couple of amazing sessions that all seemed to revolve around capacity and performance. He talked in depth about the right way and the wrong way to diagnose issues. One thing every manager, software developer and system admin should know is that cpu utilization and system load are not accurate indicators of performance. Always, always, always work off an SLA. People end up dumping money on hardware without realizing what they’re doing. This topic deserves another post later.

On the social side, I got to meet a lot of my Sun friends who I’ve known for a little while on Twitter and meet tons of new people. It was a great time and the party at the Palms wasn’t too bad. If you ever get an opportunity to go and you’re interested in Sun technology, go.  If you want to read more about this year’s CEC then hop over to and search for CEC.

Update: Pictures taken by Shawn Ferry here.