* Posts by Colonel Zander

21 publicly visible posts • joined 25 Sep 2007

Intel sends 'Poulson' Itaniums to the shrink

Colonel Zander
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Easy answer: $$

Intel makes very large margins on these chips. HP makes very solid margins on the Itanium based systems. Customers use these systems for various reasons, but mostly because they do something that 1) is important and can't be done on cheaper boxes or 2) can't easily or inexpensively be moved to something cheaper.

Sure, Intel could dump it, but why? They're making $$ on it, as is HP. Will they be on time? History would say no, but supposedly THIS is the time when they're going to hit their schedule.

Maybe you could circulate a petition among your fellow shareholders asking them to drop Itanium development?

Ellison: Only Oracle can do OLTP clustering

Colonel Zander

You can pin them together, but does it scale

I'm definitely not a database expert or anything, but I've talked to my share of guys who are database gurus over the years. And, assuming I understood what they told me, Oracle RAC is really Son of Oracle Parallel Server. Back in the day, OPS was notorious for not scaling in anything like a linear way. From what I hear, RAC isn't much better for a transactional database. If it's read only, it might scale reasonably well to a handful of nodes. But for a read/write database, it falls over when you get to four or five nodes. It's not because it doesn't work, but due in large part to the fact that it's really hard to parallelize absolutely everything in a common database. Really smart database design and data placement helps, but you're probably still going to have some locks and contention arising from it. This same problem exists on databases placed on SMP systems too, the difference is that on a SMP system, everything happens much much faster using internal memory (vs. network speeds on RAC). With the use of so much flash memory, the Oracle/Sun box will do a better job, but for a truly transactional database (with reads and writes), it would still have problems scaling linearly.

RAC might make sense for some uses - read only apps or databases that don't need to scale much. But for databases that need to offer full read/write and also need to scale, SMP is a better option. It might even be cheaper when you take into account the effort needed to make a parallel database work for a particular need. And I don't consider TPC-C to be a valid proof point of OLTP scaling and thus not an appropriate proof point of how well or poorly something will work in the real world.

'Aurora' code circulated for years on English sites

Colonel Zander

It's the targets...

...that lead to at least the strong likelihood that the attacked originated in China and perhaps had some level of support from the Chinese govt. They were going after gmail accounts of anti-Chinese govt.dissidents - probably looking to find out their contacts and activities. These guys weren't trying to get credit card numbers or product plans to a new hot video game - they were target locked onto people who were critics of the Chinese government. That's not a typical hacker target and I think that lends a lot of support to the Chinese govt. being behind the whole thing.

Sun slashes (another) 3,000 jobs

Colonel Zander

What gives with the EU?

I don't get how it is taking them this long to pass judgment on the Oracle/Sun merger. I also don't get the importance of the MySQL issue. Is it now a vital human right to have access to a free relational database? Also, and tell me if I'm wrong, isn't MySQL still covered by a public license? Meaning that anyone can still use it and others can continue to develop it in whatever way they see fit - no matter what Oracle may or may not decide to do with it?

Sun taps ex-Merrill, ex-Fannie Mae exec for board

Colonel Zander

Pay the Piper, Call the Tune

When you own 22% of Sun common stock - like SAM does, and you are the largest shareholder by far in the company, then you get to call some shots. Shame on Sun for letting the company value go to the point where it could be bought for less than the cash they have in the bank. Shame on Sun management and insiders for not holding onto the millions of shares of options they have been granted over the years.

Brit consultancy wants to scrooge IBM out of mainframe upgrades

Colonel Zander
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Ballsy move...

but a smart marketing strategy. It'll certainly get them a bunch of attention from the mainframe community and a decent number of engagements. Can you ping them for a follow-up to see if their efforts actually pay off for users or if they're just blowing smoke. If it works, I imagine they'd be more than happy to provide details.....if it doesn't, then you'll probably never hear from them again It will also be interesting to see if IBM responds, although, on mainframe SW costs, much of it arises from non-IBM sources (CA, Compuware, etc.) who will defend their God given right to charge for each and every MIP - regardless of whether their SW is running on those MIPs or not - to the death.

Virtualization and HPC - Will they ever marry?

Colonel Zander

They kind of do it...

...with grid software. Grid software automatically dispatches jobs to whatever nodes are 1) able to run the workload (right hw, o/s, etc.) and have the capacity to run the workload (free cpu, memory). The grid manager node constantly monitors client systems to make sure they're still alive and doing the tasks they are supposed to be doing. If one of the worker bee nodes dies, the grid manager can send it's tasks to another node and even reboot the failed system. It's pretty cool stuff that hasn't really caught on in commercial data centers yet. It's not quite hypervisor-based virtualization, but it can provide many of the same benefits - higher hardware utilization, lower management effort, and, ultimately, more bang for the buck.

IBM chief talks change, and a little politics

Colonel Zander

Double Damn

Good comments and a good story. I think there is also a strong case to be made against the rating agencies that blessed a huge number of these these SPCs (subprime crap) with AAA ratings - on par with US govt bonds. Then, of course, the bond insurers who signed up to guarantee these pieces of crap - without having near the capitalization to handle even a tiny fraction of the potential defaults. With these two safety nets, investment banks, insurance companies, pension funds, and every other investor in the world now had the paperwork they needed to justify investing in these things.

The fundamental error, as Paul Kinsler points out above, is the idea that default risk in any individual underlying mortgage is unique to that mortgage. This is the uncorrelated risk assumption, which basically says "sure, some of these loans might go bad, some of them always do, but we know how many and we'll price that in. There isn't anything that points to big slews of these things all turning to crap at the same time." Except that the quality of the underlying loans was astoundingly bad. Many of these loans were no qualification, no down, no income verification, and allowed the mortgagee to pull out loads of cash. The fact the the quasi-governmental Freddie and Fannie were originating and/or buying these toxic loans, plus the high ratings and insurance coverage, made it OK for everyone else to jump in with both feet - and lose their asses (or actually, our asses, since we're bailing out everyone involved).

Sun, Novell, and Cray - Time to go private?

Colonel Zander
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Nope, it's possible

Looking at Sun, if we're talking a price of $6 bil in round number, it isn't all that hard to make a case for someone to assist them in going private. First, they have about $2.5 bil in cash and an additional $2 bil in short term receivables. If you consider that they could sell a major asset (say storage) for $2 bil (they bought StorageTek for $4 bil, if I remember correctly - too lazy to google it). The above would raise more than enough money to do the deal and a bridge loan could probably be arranged when times get a little less scary. The upside is that the 'buyer' (Sun + investors) get as much as $9 billion (after selling storage - but also too lazy to look up storage revenues, so this number could be wrong) in cash flow. With some cutting, the company could reliably generate pre-tax profits north of $1 billion....So, at the end of the day, a billion dollar profit on a six billion dollar investment is pretty good these days. However, the major investor who makes this happen should stipulate in the contract that they get to personally cut off Jonathan's pony immediately after the deal is signed and right before they fire him without any sort of parachute, golden or otherwise.

Colonel Zander

Ooops, forgot this point...

...besides KKR, there is another very interested party. A company called Southeastern Asset Management and their fund affiliate, Long Leaf Partners, now owns almost 19% of Sun common stock. It looks like they purchased it earlier this year, and they are significantly underwater on their investment. 19% is a damn big number for one investment group to own - so far, they're passive, but you have to wonder about longer term plans....

Red Hat sprints past ESX on VM running

Colonel Zander

Hypervisor benchmarks

You won't see any vendor or customer provide a head-to-head comparison of VMware to Hyper-V or Xen (or anything else). There's a clause in the VMware licensing agreement that prohibits any disclosure of performance data without VMware's approval.

Sun double teams Xeon chip

Colonel Zander

That's nice, but..

...were the PrimeServer (I think that's the right name, but am not sure) guys there? I heard they were going to have a whisper suite at the show....perhaps going to preview their plans for their new HPC boxes. This is all rumor, but I heard triple and five core chips choices in 3, 5, 7, or 13U chassis...at a price that should be very competitive

Sun profits evaporate as darkness falls on US economy

Colonel Zander

Dudes, it's kind of obvious...

...Dell, HP, and IBM have all turned in decent to good results while living in the same economy as Sun. Sun hasn't been able to grow revenues (when you take out acquisitions) in a meaningful way since 2001. They are treading water, essentially operating at break even, while their competitors are prospering. This is why their stock is falling - they don't look good on the fundamentals. Investors, whether they be individuals or institutions, put money into stocks to earn a return - Sun isn't providing that return.

Power6 meets Tukwila meets Rock meets SPARC64 in chip death match

Colonel Zander

ServerPrime guys?

Ashley, have you heard if the ServerPrime guys will be there? I don't have many (any) details, but I've heard that they're a startup working on 3, 5, 7, and 11 core processors...have you heard anything?

Sun shrinks Constellation for HPC run

Colonel Zander

They just barely beat...

systems that are dubbed "homemade" on this list. Sun had a total of four entries and edged out "homemade" - which had only three. I'd like to insert a joke here, but I don't think I can top that one...

Dell issues virtualization wonder box despite AMD

Colonel Zander

Be thankful..

that Ashlee didn't go all the way with the pun....we could have suffered through..."our sauce ladled out further details, thickening the savory stew of Dell's announcements" or "our sauce spoon-fed us..." I could go on and on, but am even annoying myself. I've always held that puns are the lowest form of humor - except for Carrot Top and Pauly Shore..

IBM smacks rivals with 5.0GHz Power6 beast

Colonel Zander

Yeah, but...

How does this compare to the new Macs from Apple? Shoddy reporting as usual from Mr. Vance, he never looks at how these so called 'enterprise' systems stack up to the best computers on the planet....what is he afraid of? Is he thinking his overlords at Sun, IBM, and HP will crush him like a bug? Or that they will withhold his monthly stipend?

Sun's xVM virtualization wares run red with catch-up

Colonel Zander

More like early, then late...

Sun was one of the first Unix vendors to approach virtualization at all, mainly based on the E10k, domains, and early versions of Solaris Resource Manager in the mid-late 90's. These efforts sold a lot of hardware, but weren't sophisticated enough to allow most customers to really get much benefit.

These initiatives lost steam in the early 2000's, as Sun had bigger problems on their mind. The also attacked the Unix virtualization market with o/s virtualization (containers) rather than with a hypervisor. IBM decided to go with the hypervisor approach first and, along with the addition of a lot of other feature/functionality, gained the lead in the Unix virtualization race. They're still ahead now, IMO. For some reason, HP seems to always get left out of this conversation, even though they have much of the same virtualization mechanisms as Sun/IBM, but just haven't done a good job of marketing them.

On the x86 virt front, Sun does have a pretty good story, but they need to get their hypervisor out the door pronto, also the pricing/support needs to be solid. As for buying SWsoft/Parallels, it would have been a good idea a year ago, but it would take some time to get Solaris support into the products - time that Sun might not have now. I expect that Microsoft and other players might be sniffing around Parallels now...

IBM touts low-end Power6 and fresh mainframe onslaught

Colonel Zander

I'd like to know...

...how they stack up to what Apple will be coming out with this year...we never seem to get these comparisons from the industry press or any (non Apple) vendors. What are they afraid of?

HP goes octal with workstations

Colonel Zander

No one gives a crap about your Mac

...for most apps, there may well not be a performance increase. But you don't buy a workstation to run stupid iTunes or iPhoto or iEmail or whatever kind of stuff you run on those overpriced, application deprived, but oh so stylish and cool boxes. You buy a workstation to do the work of men (and some women), not to download graphics for your scrap booking project....A little harsh, yeah, but my day sucked and I needed to vent. Besides, I'm getting sick and tired of some Mac zealot chiming in on every article "Yeah, the super computer at Lawrence Livermore might be big, but my Mac Pro uses less power and has a really good monitor! Mac rules!"

Sun crams four sockets worth of Xeons into 2U box

Colonel Zander

Wow, what a subtle marketing message

Hey, person with the post right above this one. It's pretty obvious that you're with Sun marketing or sales. I get that you want to dovetail with Ashlee's article and pimp your product, but understand that your heavy-handed message above is really obvious - sounds like you're quoting straight from the brochure. Please don't turn the comment sections of The Reg into an infomercial...