Thursday, September 27, 2012

POWER Double Stuff vs SPARC Critical-Thread

[Sun UltraSPARC T3 16 core CPU Diagram]
Computing processor models differ in architecture from one company to another, each trying to gain an edge in the market over their competitors. Often, chip foundries will attempt radical approaches to conquer a problem, but incremental improvement will often bring radical ideas back to similar conclusions in the end. A comparison between SPARC and POWER architectures is no different.

Oracle Today: SPARC T4
It seems that Oracle/Sun approached performance from one direction, from massive thread counts & high throughput, eventually growing to fast cores with a critical thread api - so single threaded bottlenecked software gets more hardware resources dynamically (and only when needed or optionally provisioned at the VM layer.) This was available for a year in the SPARC T4, due to pressure from customers for better single thread performance.

IBM Tomorrow: POWER 7+
Then it seems IBM approached performance from the other direction, from massive single thread speed, incrementing cores, and eventually appearing with a physical socket architecture swap of more cores or less cores (and only at purchase time.) Oddly, this option is only being made a year after the SPARC T4 was released, possibly because of pressure from their customers for higher throughput?

Which way looks better in practice?

That is a good question. When the SPARC T5 is released, around the same time the POWER 7+ is released - the question will be begged... was IBM's new choice offered to the customer at POWER 7+ purchase time better than the 1+ year old choice offered to the customer while SPARC software at run time (or VM restart time)?

We will have to see what the benchmarks suggest.

Monday, September 24, 2012

EMC: Shakeup and Network Managment Implications

[image courtesy: blog of Chuck Hollis, EMC VP --Global Marketing CTO]
Changes at EMC

EMC has been going through a great deal of changes over the years.

2003-12 - [html] - EMC Purchases VMWare for Hypervisor
2004-12 - [html] - EMC Purchases SMARTS for Network Fault Management
2007-11 - [html] - EMC Purchases Voyence for VoyenceControl
2009-11 - [html] - VMWare, EMC, Cisco Announce VCE (Virtual Computing Environment) VBlock Architecture
2012-05 - [html] - EMC Purchases Watch4Net for APG
2012-06 - [html] - Cisco, NetApp Announce FlexPod Architecture
2012-06 - [html] - EMC Produces Own Blade Servers

Some of internal changes are more political rather than product infrastructural.

2012-09 - [html] - EMC CEO Succession Politics

During EMC world, Oracle was made to look like the red-headed bastard step child, while SPARC hardware probably drives more EMC storage than either company cares to acknowledge.
Implications to Network Management

EMC had normally played well in the multi-vendor environment, because they were a software and storage company - they would sell disks and software to anyone who used any vendor's equipment. This started to change in 2003.

With the acquisition of VMWare in 2003, there was an internal drive to virtualize more software in the proprietary Intel space, rather than play in the Open Systems space. With the VCE announcement, using Cisco to push into the carrier space further pressed the Open Systems vendors.  In 2012, with the announcement from Cisco to partner with NetApp and EMC producing their own blades, the internal political pressure to abandon Open Systems will continue.
Ironically, historical analysis of performance, configuration, and event data from Network and Systems Management platforms drove the need for robust disk storage systems... Telecommunications Market -was one of the original Big Data platforms. Big-data using off-the-shelf network management software requires Open Systems (with massive vertical [socket-count] and horizontal [blade-count] scalability.) No robust system implemented under traditional Open Systems platforms would be done, without external EMC storage. The push away from Open Systems platforms (to lower-end Linux & Windows platforms) ironically drives EMC storage out of the solutions... yet this [increasingly] is the direction from EMC.

Will the investment of Open Systems management tools from SMARTS, Voyence, and Watch4Net continue to be made by EMC - with the transition from EMC CEO Joe Tucci? EMC recently killed cross-vendor object storage. With VMWare CEO Paul Maritz assuming a higher profile, will the traditional EMC suffer greater loss in their EMC Network Management and EMC storage customer bases? Pat Gelsinger, president and COO of EMC's Information Infrastructure Products, became CEO of VMware, which may offer greater influence for Open Systems management in VMWare's proprietary Intel sphere.

[Graph courtesy: article]
Traditional Network, Systems, Storage, and Security Management may be losing the last viable multi-vendor player, as the industry consolidates into vertical, proprietary stove-piped systems. It is really EMC's choice as to whether their political structure decides to carry the Open Systems banner and say "we are different - we manage everything on everything" (and are worth the premium we charge) or whether they choose to lose the moral high ground offered by Open Systems and suffer the lower profit margins of a solely proprietary Intel platform [which offers no marketing differentiation.]

[Tombstone of Elizabeth in Yangzhou courtesy:]
If EMC's SMARTS, VoyenceControl, and APG will not "manage everything on anything" in the near future: EMC will lose their main competitive position against dominate industry players like HP & IBM. Without "everything on anything" - EMC will not be worth the money they currently charge. Any two-bit open source network & systems management framework supports "management of everything on anything"... so if EMC continues to choose vertical isolation [with the abandonment of Open Systems such as Itanium, POWER, and SPARC] - EMC's may soon no longer be "the only game in-town" and there will no longer be the need to even consider EMC as a competitor to Tivoli and OpenView. Ignoring a great marketing feature and poor management decisions will result in the death of EMC NSM.

Virtualizing the Data Center (SPARC)

Data Centers are often filled with racks of servers. Deployed servers are often poorly utilized or undersized for virtualized loads, in order to mitigate license costs. Legacy servers often run older operating systems, dedicated to older servers with high operating costs. Virtualization of the data center is made ever simpler when following Best Practices on SPARC hardware leveraging freely available software such as Oracle Enterprise Ops Center.

SPARC Cloud:
The Oracle "Systems Group" collaboratively authored the guide "Best Practices for Building a Virtualized SPARC Computing Environment". Included in the Best Practices guide are uses and guidelines for:
• SPARC T4 Systems
• SPARC T4 processor configurations
• Oracle VM for SPARC hypervisor
• Solaris 8, 9, 10, 11 configurations
• Oracle Ops Center 12c for GUI control
• Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance for data reliability
• Oracle network switches for infrastructure visibility
Implementing the best practices facilitates a dynamic, virtualized infrastructure which supports:
• GUI-based provisioning on bare metal, VMs, and OS's
• License mitigation through resource capped VM's
• Automated HA failover with physical server failures
• Automatic/Scheduled load balancing across a cluster of VM hosts
• Cluster Analytics and Performance Management]
• Complete end-to-end Fault Management
• Patch management

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Huge Loss: WeSunSolve Closed

Several huge losses have occurred to the Solaris communities.

Oracle ceased publishing source code updates to OpenSolaris.ORG in August 2010.

The GenUNIX.ORG web site closed some time back in 2012.
An old snapshot can be found here.

The WeSunSolove.NET web site recently closed in September 2012.
An old snapshot is unfortunately unavailable.
Thomas is still around on twitter, linked-in, and email.

Let's hope to see what will take their places.

Friday, September 21, 2012

New Tab: SPARC

A new SPARC tab was recently added to the Network Management blog - to assist in the set up of network management platforms and resources.

New reference content includes:
[pdf] - SPARC International, Inc. Membership Form
[pdf] - 2012-08 - UA-2011 or Oracle SPARC Architecture 2011
[pdf] - 2008-07 - SPARC64™ VII Extensions
[pdf] - 2007-04 - SPARC64™ VI Extensions
[pdf] - 2002-05 - JPS1 or SPARC Joint Programming Specificataion 1: Commonality
[pdf] - 2002-07 - SPARC JPS1 Implementation Supplement: Fujitsu SPARC64™ V
[pdf] - 1994-?? - SPARCv9 or The SPARC Architecture Manual Version 9

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oracle SPARC Architecture 2011


SPARC has been a multiple vendor central processor unit standard for decades. It is owned by SPARC International, Inc. CPU architectures, such as SPARC, go through various revisions over time. Oracle is in the process of releasing the 2011 Architecture update for SPARC.

Oracle T4 Specification Release:

With the release of the Oracle T4 processor, there was a unified specification, which encapsulates all previous SPARC releases. Darrel Grove, a senior principal software engineer in the Solaris Studio team at Oracle, had posted an updated PDF to the Oracle SPARC Architecture 2011 in his blog at the end of August 2011.