Archive for June, 2011

App Internet and the FT

Picture of various walled gardens

Walled Gardens

former Colleague Simon Phipps reports on the FT(Financial Times) move to escape the app trap, that I discussed in my earlier App Internet post. Simon useful covers a number of points I didn’t get to, so it’s worth reading the full article here on ComputerWorld(UK).

This is a great example, they’ve clearly done a great job based on their web page feature list, but since I don’t have an iPhone or iPad, couldn’t try it out.

Simon makes an interesting point, that the FT is incurring some risk in that it is not “in” the app store, and therefore doesn’t get included in searches by users looking for solutions. This is another reason why app stores are just another variation of walled gardens. Jeff Atwood has a good summary of the arguments on why walled gardens are a bad thing here. In Jeffs 2007 blog, he says “we already have the world’s best public social networking tool right in front of us: it’s called the internet” and goes on to talk about publicly accessible web services in this instance rather than app stores.

One of the things that never really came to pass with SOA, was the idea of public directories. App stores, and their private catalogs, are directories, however they have a high price of entry as Simon points out. What we need now to encourage the move away from app stores is an HTML5 app store directory. It really is little more than an online shopping catalog for bookmarks. But it includes all the features and functions of walled garden app store catalogs, the only exception to which is the code itself. In place of the download link would be a launch, go, or run now button or link.

We’d only need a few simple, authorized REST based services to create, update, delete catalog entries, not another UDDI all encompassing effort, although it could learn from and perhaps adapt something like the UDDI Green Pages. This is way out of my space, anyone know if there are efforts in this area? @cote ? @Monkchips ? @webmink ?

OSGI and simplicty

from my conversation with James Governor after my flying visit to London for Dell Tech Camp, I’d known James was interested in OSGI from our conversations when it was an emerging technology and I was still at IBM; I hadn’t realized how much though until our recent discussion, and his blog entry for today, James quotes Kevin Cochrane, VP of marketing, CEM at Adobe. Kevin says of OSGI:

“There are 3 OSGi use cases relevant to customers:

1. updates. ie bug fixes to customer production systems. there is no need to bring them down.

2. extending new services. you might have 12 services, and a huge user community – you can still roll out extensions with no downtime.

3. discovery of new services. find a pre-packaged piece of code. browse, integrate and deploy.”

And yes, those are the key benefits that I can see us exploiting and delivering direct customer value through what they enable, rather than simply what they are. OSGI has many other “technical” benefits in the architecture and development space, but these three deliver the most value to the customer.

OSGI features, functions

Image from @kkirk.com

Dell Tech Camp London wrap

Dell Tech Camp London

Talking, Talking, Listening

I’ve been meaning to just say “hi” and thanks to everyone who stopped by Dell Tech Camp last week.

The picture shows the Design center team which included a complete cross section of our design team across Enterprise and Consumer groups. Tom, Scott and myself were there from Enterprise. I must admit, Tom and Scott outclassed me as they were from the h/w design side of the team and bought “things” along for touch and feel. If I’m going to do this again next year, I need to think through how we show off some of our software. Having a play penof inanimate objects and mock-ups works great for hardware.

The event itself was actually 3x separate events. A Customer event, a Press/Analyst event, and on the last evening, a Team Dell event. The good news about being the software guy, no parts or demo’s to break down when it was all over. Over in the Virtualization zone, they had our delivered stuff covered, they had a pre-release version of vStart, our all in one rack based virtualization solution; Running on it was a virtualization stack from our partners, and DELL Advanced Infrastructure Manager(AIM), plus a number of other simulated software demos.

Each of the “events” were very different. For the customer events I got to talk to some great folks about what they are doing, where they are with virtualization, perhaps the most interesting was with the folks from a UK Government agency who didn’t use virtualization at all. We had a great discussion about how they could gain greater flexibility and optimization while not compromising on their important data analysis mission.

Now I remember how I dislike standing up all day

The Press/Analyst briefing was more formal, the Dell AR had grouped the attendees into interest groups, and they were cycled through every 45-mins. I had some great discussions with the guys from the451 Group and IDC as well as a number of others on our use of agile, some of the technology selection and challenges in working towards being more visible(as opposed to embedded) software company. We also talked about how we were approaching some of the complicated issues in the automation and orchestration of work to deploy and manage multiple hypervisors and physical servers and storage.

I had a frantic last day, up early and run in Regents Park, shower, pack, check-out and hoped on the London Underground over to Liverpool St station to meet and have coffee with James Governor of Redmonk aka Monkchips. James had been at Dell Tech Camp, we acknowledged each other across a briefing and left the catch-up for today. As always our discussions ricochet’d all over the place, but as always around our common interests, data center efficiency and complexity vs simplicity. Then it was back on the Underground, pick-up my case from the the hotel, Underground, Paddington Express and then the familiarity and comfort of the AA Flagship lounge and AA service back to Austin.

It was great meeting folks again, either to argue the pro’s and con’s of what we were doing, or to hear what they were doing. I’d forgotten though how hard work being a “booth babe” was, and how my lower back hates me for it.

Dell Tech Camp Europe 2011

I’m looking forward to heading to London, specifically to the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm for next weeks Dell Tech Camp. The event is invite only for customers, Press and Analysts, but at least according to the briefing I got yesterday is jammed and for the opening session the Dell employees will have to watch from an adjacent room.

Tom Garvens a Director from the Dell Server hardware design group and I will be in be in the design lab section of Tech Camp to talk about innovation, our approach to design for both software and hardware. We’ll have some examples of what we’ve been working on, both past, present and future.

If you are coming please come find us and say hello. I can’t promise it will be as exciting as the last time I was at the Roundhouse, and I certainly won’t be getting wet to entertain…

NeuralSoft and Dell VIS — Improving IT Efficiency

One of our customers, NeuralSoft, gives a high level overview of their use of VIS/AIM.


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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