A trapped animal is always dangerous

I initially wrote the following a version of this as a comment to John Meyers blog entry over on sun.com – Somewhere between starting the comment on his blog and finishing it, comments were closed and it didn’t get accepted.

A number of people over the past few weeks having been egging me on to respond to John’s blog entries comparing SUN and POWER offerings. It’s great being an evangelist, being the ultimate believer in a product, technology, cleaning equipment or life saving gadget, you can’t fail, the world is your oyster, your vision is world domination and your business allows you to do it, better still, they encourage you. I’m certainly not going to do a line by line analysis and deconstruction of his writings, it’s just unproductive. He has an opinion, and he is entitled to it.

Over the next few weeks though I will post some thoughts on the general assertions. Here though, is the response I originally wrote to this blog post.

John, it’s been fun reading your POWER and virtualization analysis, you are obviously passionate about your position and the technology at SUN. SUN have clearly done a good job at filling some gaps in their product portfolio over the past few years, some in response to competitive pressure from IBM and others, and some as industry leadership.

There is no doubt that SUN have done some things that have meant IBM has had to respond. However, what you seem to have glossed over, in direct comparison to POWER Systems, rather than IBM Virtualization in general, is the real need for some of the features, and their real usability, rather than just the technical implementation. Hey, but thats life through “rose-tinted spectacles”. Oh yes, this isn’t “hubris”, I didn’t create logical partitioning, but I did contribute to it as well as a number of other important virtualization technologies.

Matais, I assume you mean CTSS which was developed at MIT to run on an IBM 709 computer between 1959-1961.

One of the programmers on that project, Bob Creasey, went on to become the project lead for CP40 the first ever IBM Virtualization implementation. CTSS was really more of a time sharing system, rather than “virtualization.”

Gene Amdahl, then Chief Architect for the S/360 product line at IBM, visited MIT a number of times and had meetings with the Professor and the CTSS team with a view to making enhancements to the hardware architecture. It is reported that they didn’t see eye-to-eye over a number of things.

There is a written history and more of this than you’d ever want to know at: http://www.princeton.edu/~melinda/25paper.pdf

The concept of “domains” and logical partitions isn’t included in the above. It would not be correct though to state that Amdahl created LPARS. He actually lead a company that created a firmware/hardware implementation of multiple domains. IBM’s implementation of logical partitions differed significantly although used a similar basic premiss. Further discussion with revisions, corrections and updates probably belongs elsewhere, where it can be maintained, and not a reply to a blog post where it cannot.

There are number of companion documents that show the roll of other important users and customers which helped IBM improve its’ virtualization offerings.

Regards.

For the record I also wrote comments on the Solaris/Linux/AIX conspiracy theory here

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About & Contact

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


I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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