But Wait, There's More
Bob Young Steps Down from Red Hat Board
Bob Young, Red Hat's co-founder and former CEO and chairman of the board, has decided to leave Red Hat to chase other dreams and business opportunities. Young was running a small publishing company when he ran across Marc Ewing, who had created his own version of Linux in 1994, and in 1995 Young bought that Linux distributor and created Red Hat, becoming its first chairman and CEO. Ewing stayed on as chief technology officer until Red Hat bought Linux clustering specialist Cygnus Solutions in November 1999; at that time, Red Hat had gone public and tapped Matthew Szulik and Micheal Tiemann, executives from Cygnus, to be the CEO and CTO for Red Hat. Szulik is still in that role, Tiemann handle's Red Hat's interface with the open source community, and as I reported last week, Brad Stevens, a hotshot Unix engineer from the former Digital Equipment and Mission Critical Linux, is now CTO.
Young, who was a funny and vibrant spokesperson for the commercialization of Linux during the dot-com boom, obviously put the company into good hands, and he feels pretty confident about that. "In a funny way, my resignation is perhaps the finest compliment I can pay to everyone associated with Red Hat today," he said in a statement. "I have complete confidence in the future of the company." Young was one of the people who got way rich when Red Hat went public spectacularly in July 1999, and he has been spending his efforts on open source publishing company Lulu.com since 2002. Lulu.com is a very interesting little business, and gets Young full circle, back into publishing.
SGI Delivers Linux Clusters Based on Altix 330s, New NAS Arrays
Linux supercomputing maker Silicon Graphics this week will be putting its relatively new Altix 330 entry supercomputer nodes into preconfigured clusters. SGI is also rolling out another entry midrange array, fleshing out an entry storage line that SGI debuted back in July when the Altix 330s were launched.
The Altix 330 is a rack-mounted, 1U box that holds up to two Itanium 2 processors and up to 16 GB of main memory. The Altix 330 has a single PCI-X slot and has an external I/O chassis that provides and additional eight PCI-X slots. Up to eight Altix 330s can be linked together into a shared memory cluster using SGI's NUMAlink NUMA interconnect, providing up to 128 GB of memory for applications to play in with 16 Itanium processors supporting that memory in a fairly large supercomputer node. Altix 330s have prices that range from $7,000 for an entry box up to about $150,000 for a heavily configured 16-processor node. With the Altix 1330 cluster, customers buy racks of Altix 330s that are preconfigured with either Voltaire InfiniBand interconnect, Quadrics QsNet interconnect, or use the built-in Gigabit Ethernet interconnection to create a cluster of Altix 330s. The Altix 1330 clusters can be configured with Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, SLES 9 plus SGI's own ProPack 4 performance extensions for Linux, Red Hat's Enterprise Linux 4, or SGI's own Advanced Linux Environment with ProPack 3. On top of this Linux, SGI adds Scali's Scali Manage cluster management software and Platform Computing's LSF and Rocks clustering software. A 16-processor Altix 1330 node with 2 GB of memory per processor (32 GB total) costs $90,000, with the InfiniBand interconnect costing somewhere around $12,000 to $15,000 including a switch and host adapters.
SGI is also announcing a network attached storage (NAS) disk array to complement the Altix 330 servers and Altix 1330 clusters. The InfiniteStorage NAS 330 is based on the Altix 330 server, and it hangs 400 GB SATA disk drives off it to create a RAID 5 array. The entry NAS 330 is 4U box with the 1U Altix 330 with two Itanium 2 processors, 8 GB of main memory, and 14 SATA drives hanging below it. It has two Fibre Channel and two Gigabit Ethernet ports for linking to servers and four PCI-X slots for additional connectivity. The base machine comes with 2.8 TB, expandable to 5.6 TB; it costs $25,599. A beefier configuration includes two Altix 330s and three 14-drive bays, maxxing out at 16.8 TB. The base midrange NAS 330 has two Altix controllers (four Itanium processors and 4 GB of memory on each controller) and seven disks with 2.8 TB of storage. It costs $34,599.
SGI is already selling high-end InfiniteStorage arrays as well as the S330 array, a less capable box that was announced in July. The entry-level configuration of the S330, which does not use the Altix 330 as its controller, comes with one or two SATA disk controllers and 7 or 14 400 GB, 7200 RPM SATA disk drives. A base unit with 2.8 TB of storage capacity costs $12,599. Like the NAS 330, customers can add up to two storage enclosures to this array that boost maximum capacity of the S330 to 16.8 TB.
Gartner Says IT Spending to Rise 5.5 Percent in 2006
Let the prognostications for 2006 begin!
The analysts at Gartner have dusted off their crystal balls and taken a gander into the hazy future to declare that IT spending will increase by 5.5 percent in the United States in 2006. Gartner's preliminary results are based on surveys of IT departments, who are saying that some of this increase will be dedicated to application development and integration (of what, Gartner doesn't say). The 1,500 customers surveyed by Gartner say that spending on security and storage is going to level off, but they will boost spending on mobile computing and related infrastructure as well as on middleware and development tools. The survey results indicate that companies will boost spending on IT personnel in the areas of project and program management, systems management, and network management, but that they expected to spend less on contract employees.
While the average increase in spending among those U.S. companies surveyed was 5.5 percent, companies in the services industry set the high water mark with an average expected increase in IT budget of around 11 percent, with all other industry sectors expecting to grow in the single digits; banks and financial institutions expected, on average, to increase spending by only 3.4 percent. "On the surface, these results paint an optimistic picture of long-awaited IT spending recovery," explained Barbara Gomolski, the vice president of research at Gartner who created the spending forecast. "But the increases involved are relatively modest. Many industries will see revenue growth outpace IT budget increases in 2006. As a result, although absolute dollars spent on IT will increase in 2006, IT spending as a percentage of revenue will actually decline in some organizations." Gartner presented its first pass on 2006 predictions at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Fla., last week.
IDC Predicts Virtualization-Related Tech to Balloon to a $15 Billion Biz by 2009
Sometimes, I wonder about the projections being made by IT market researchers. Last week, IDC released a report that claimed that "virtual servers translate into real dollars: and that spending around virtualization technologies would "balloon to nearly $15 billion worldwide by 2009." IDC reckons that a "disruptive change" is at hand and that soon two-socket and four-socket servers will become routinely virtualized. In other words, server virtualization will go mainstream.
I have no qualms with that statement, but I do have some serious issues with those projections and the way that people are thinking about money in the server virtualization game. When you consider that VMware is at a $100 million or so run rate per quarter and may be at a $150 million to $175 million run rate next year, and maybe a $250 million rate per quarter in 2007, and then maybe $325 million per quarter in 2008, and then may even approach $400 million per quarter by the end 2009, that still only works out to a $1.6 billion-a-year business. And those back-of-the-napkin estimates I just made assume that VMware grows its shipment volumes by an order of magnitude and radically drops its prices, because I can tell you, only enterprises with cramped data centers are going to pay $5,000 for a virtual machine bundle for a server that itself may only cost $2,500. I will agree that server virtualization is very important, but it is like mufflers: All cars will have them, and people will not pay a lot for them. That $15 billion projection, even if you want to be generous and throw in storage virtualization, seems ridiculously high. Unless, of course, IDC is counting the value of the servers as well as the virtualization software. And if it is, then this is folly.
What probably will turn out to be true is this: There will be multiple server virtualization technologies available, and more companies will probably join the fray. Already there are a number of players besides VMware, including Microsoft, SWsoft, the open source Xen project, and now Parallels all peddling virtualization tools on X86 and X64 boxes. Unix boxes all have their own virtualization technologies and so do IBM's iSeries servers and mainframes. These latter machines do not have much of a premium for virtualization technologies, and I believe that over time, the premium that vendors can command for these logical and virtual partitioning technologies will diminish--just like every other server technology you can think of. The other thing to think about is this: as the server market uses more virtualization technologies, the box count footprint will shrink--big time. So while vendors may make some dough selling virtualization software, they are going to lose a lot more dough because they are going to ship a lot fewer physical server boxes that used to run at 15 to 25 percent of CPU capacity. IDC's and Gartner's server projections had better count on this effect, and if they believe that virtualization software will make up for lost server hardware sales, both the IT vendors and the IT consultants are going to be sorely and surely surprised. Ask yourself this: how much of a premium can a server maker charge for simultaneous multithreading support in their processors? Or integrated RAID cards? Or ECC on the main memory? The answer is very little.
Red Hat Offers Certification for Security on Linux
Commercial Linux distributor Red Hat has created a new certification focused on security for system administrators and other Linux managers called the Red Hat Certified Security Specialist (RHCSS). Red Hat already has certifications for system architects and administrators, namely the Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) and the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE). The special certification for security is an acknowledgement that security is a separate and important issue at Linux shops, particularly since Red Hat has added Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) to its Enterprise Linux 4, as well as the add-on Directory Server and Certificate System, which are part of a complete secure Linux setup. The RHCSS certification proves that techies know how to secure network devices, set up directory services, authentication, and single sign-on, create SELinux policies, and use certification management to configure firewalls and virtual private networks based on Linux.
IBM Acquires XML Appliance Maker DataPower
Last week, IBM acquired a privately held maker of XML appliances called DataPower for an undisclosed amount of money.
When people talk about services oriented architectures (SOA), more times than not what that means is using XML as a glue to connect disparate file systems, Web servers, application servers, and transactional systems that might span multiple companies into a giant, integrated, hybrid application. But XML is not the fastest language in the world, and like many other technologies, it could use a little boost. And to that end, DataPower has created a line of appliances to not only speed up the performance of XML parsing by a factor of ten or so, but also to add a tight layer of security to it and to take non-XML data such as flat or binary files and wrap them into XML so you don't have to put code on your servers to do this. These are very interesting gadgets. And they might just end up as co-processors in future Power-based servers and mainframe servers from IBM. And down the line, the XML smarts that DataPower has will undoubtedly be used to add XML acceleration to future Power processors, which is being speculated about in the Power6 or Power7 generation of chips.
Azul Adds Unix Support, Other Gizmos to Java Appliances
Azul Systems, the creator of Java acceleration appliances that burst on the scene a year ago, announced last week that is has now added support for its network-attached processor Java engines for the HP-UX and AIX Unix variants from Hewlett-Packard and IBM, respectively. The Azul Compute Appliances were launched with support for Sun Microsystems' Solaris Unix as well as Linuxes from Red Hat and Novell.
The Azul Compute Appliances have 16 of Azul's homegrown 24-core chips, which are designed specifically to run Java Virtual Machines very efficiently, and a maximum of 256 GB of main memory, all in a single SMP image and crammed into an 11U rack form factor. JVM workloads that would be running at the application server layer in enterprise applications are offloaded to these appliances, which cost a lot less than a full-blown server.
According to Shahin Khan, chief marketing officer at Azul, the latest release of software updates for the appliances also includes support for Java Standard Edition 5.0 and for an open source automation tool called Radius, which will give the Azul appliance role-based permission and access control. The software in the appliance has also been equipped with software that provides application detail records that are analogous to the call detail records that phone companies created decades ago to figure out how much of the phone network you use and what to charge you on your phone bill. The idea is to allow customers to aggregate their Java VMs, but then keep track of who application servers are making use of the appliances and then charging back the appropriate departments. There is no way most companies will aggregate computing power of any kind unless they can bill the users proportionally to their use. The software has been tweaked to provide what Azul is calling transactional quality of service. The typical online transaction involving Java takes about two seconds, but the Azul appliance can see where a loading might be high on a transaction and then allocate resources to that transaction within 10 milliseconds. The effect is to smooth out the response times on transactions even if the density of the Java code changes from transaction to transaction.
Khan also said that Azul is spearheading its drive into the Europe by opening up an office in England--in Slough, Berkshire, to be specific, outside of London. Khan says that Azul will be expanding through Europe in 2006. The contract that Azul negotiated for IBM's Global Services unit to provide tech support for the Azul Compute Appliances in North America in May has now been extended to EMEA. Khan was a little coy about how sales are going so far for these interesting machines. "I would say that we are more or less where we planned to be around now," he said, saying that the appliances only started shipping in June and it has "double digit" engagements. "We are still going after the earlier adopters who have the biggest pain points." To find out more about the Azul appliances, see Azul's Network-Attached Processing to Shake Up Server Market.