Archive for July, 2010

An old man and money

I was just sent a link to this ConnectedPlanet article by Susana Schwartz, and given my background in mainframes and x86 asked what I thought of the central premise. The analogy that came to mind almost immediately was too good not share.

The question the article was addressing was “will the IBM zEnterprise make mainframes sexy again?” My analogy, Hugh Hefner! Do you think Hugh Hefner is sexy? He has all the money, is a great revenue generator has some good products, but mostly while they do the same stuff they’ve always done, are looking a bit long in the tooth. What’s interesting is what surrounds Hugh. Same with zEnterprise, only there are much better ways to get that smart technology.

After a few miss-starts with a google search for “old man and young girls” – that will have set off some alarm bells in Dell IT, I set Google safesearch to strict and search for “old man with young women” and here we have it, my analogy for the IBM zEnterprise.

Image courtesy and copyright of the sun.co.uk

Image courtesy and copyright of the sun.co.uk

Do you want Hugh Hefner in the middle? He’s worth loads of money…

Any similarity between Hugh Hefner and an IBM mainframe is entirely coincidental, after all we all know mainframes are older and come from New York. Hugh is from Chicago.

Feel free to use the analogy to argue either way… just be careful to keep the discussion work safe. I’ve still got that J3000 spoof press release somewhere as well.

Dell Palo Alto labs openings

Another area we are hiring for are the new Dell Palo Alto labs, aka Scalent. As part of taking Dell Advanced Infrastructure Manager (AIM) world wide, and some other developements we are looking to expand the team out there.

If you are interested in getting in at the right time and have virtulization and infrastructure skills, maybe one of these jobs would interest you?

If you are, take this link and enter either 1006ADD4 – for Core Engineering openings, or 1006HLQG – if you are a UI Engineer and Designer.

PowerEdge Malware Statement

I’ve had a few emails, a txt msg or two and some direct twitter messages about our recent disclosure that a very small number of our PowerEdge servers were shipped with the W32.Spybot worm in flash storage on the motherboard.

Contrary to much of the comment, the malware was not in the firmware. See the formal position and details here.

There is also a good summary, with some useful additional comment in this PCWORLD article.

Got ServiceMix?

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news and job position listings at Dell you’ll have seen a number of positions open-up over the last 3-months for Java and Service Bus developers, not to mention our completed acquisition of Scalent. We are busy working on the first release of the Dell “soup to nuts” virtualization management, orchestration and deployment software, one of the core technologies of which is Apache ServiceMix.

One of the open positions we’ve got is for a Senior Software Engineer with solid ServiceMix skills from a programming perspective. This job listing is the position, the job description and skills will be updated over the next few days but if you’d like to join the team architecting, designing and programming Dell’s first real software product, that’s aiming at making the virtual data center easy to use, as well as open, capable and affordable to run, go ahead and apply now.

If you make it through the HR process, I’ll see you at the interview…

WSMAN for the masses

Well sort of. We are starting to hear a lot of questions and interest in our implementation of WSMAN on the Dell PowerEdge 11g management products. Chris Poblete, a development engineer in our team has started the first of a series of simple’ish how-to’s on using WSMAN.

You can find Chris’s entries over on the formal Dell Techcenter blogs – the first entry serves and some simple background info, he gets into code in the second and subsequent blogs.

Deviation: The new old

104 modules in a Doepher A-100PMD12 double case sitting on top of the A-100PMB case

Deadmau5 Analalog Modular setup

IBM 360/40 at Attwood Statistics

IBM 360/40 at Attwood Statistics

Anyone that knows me, knows that I’ve retained a high level of interest in dance music. I guess it stems from growing up in and around London in the early 70’s and the emergence of  funk, and especially Jazz Funk, especially through some of the new music put together by people like Johnny Hammond(Los Conquistadors Chocolate), Idris Muhammed(Could Heaven Ever Be Like This) which remain to this day two of my all time favorite tracks, along with many from Quincy Jones.

Later, my interest was retained by the further exploitation of electronics as disco became the plat de jour and although I, like most others became disenchanted once it became metronomic and formulaic, I’m convinced that the style, type and beat of music you like and listen to create pathways in your brain to activate feelings.

As so it was that with time, and energy on my hands over the past few years I’ve re-engaged with dance music. Mostly because I like it, it activates those pathways in my mind that release feel good endorphins, I enjoy the freedom of the dance.

I’ve been to some great live performances, Tiesto and Gareth Emery especially down in San Antonio and Houston, and anyone who thinks these guys are just DJ’s, playing other peoples music through a computer or off CD’s is just missing the point.

However, one electronic music producer more than any other has really piqued my interest, Deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman from Toronto. I first saw Deadmau5 during South by South West (SXSW) in 2008, when Joel played at the now defunct Sky Lounge on Congress Ave. The club was small enough that you could actually stand at the side of the stage and see what he was doing, it was a fascinating insight. [In this video on YouTube, one of many from that night, not only can you see Joel "producing" music, but if you stop the video on the right frame at 16-seconds, you can see me in the audience! Who knew...]

I saw him again in March 2009 at Bar Rio in Houston. This time I had clear line of sight to what he was doing from the VIP balcony. It was fascinating, I actually saw and heard him make mistakes, not significant mistakes but ones that proved he was actually making live music. [You can read my review from the time here including links to YouTube videos.] It turns out he was something he was using during that Houston concert was either a prototype or something similar to a monome.

Joel regularly posts and runs live video streams from his home studio, and recently posted this video of his latest analog modular system. It and some of the other videos are a great insight into how dance music producers work. Watching this, this morning, I was struck with the similarities to the IBM 360/40 mainframe which was the first computer I worked on, especially I can remember the first time I was shown by an IBM Hardware Engineer, who might have been Paul Badger or Geoff Chapman, how the system worked. How to put it into instruction step, how to display the value of registers and so on. I felt the same way watching the Deadmau5 video, I got to get me some playtime with one of these.

And yes, the guy in the picture above is me and the 360/40. It was taken in probably the spring of 1976 I’d guess, at Attwood Statistics in Berkhampstead, Herts. UK.

The power and capacity of the IBM 36/40 are easily exceeded by handheld devices such as the Dell Streak. Meanwhile, it’s clear that some music producers are headed in the opposite direction, moving from digital software to analog hardware. The new old.

It’s now Dell Advanced Infrastructure Manager (AIM)

From branding update and partnership, to fully acquired company. I didn’t have much to do with the Scalent acquisition apart from some technical due diligence and strategy, but I was delighted to learn that we’ve closed on, and formally acquired Scalent today.

As anyone who has been involved in acquisitions, either as an acquired company, or the acquired will know, now the hard work starts. Keeping a focus on the business needs and product evolution, while completing the integration.

I for one would like to be amongst the first to welcome CTO Chandy Nilakantan and VP of Engineering Larry Stein to the Dell family, along with all the other great Scalent employees.


About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group. I was formerly Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell, and an IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.

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