Archive for the 'big data' Category

Serverless computing

I’ve been watching and reading on developments around serverless computing. I’ve never used it myself so only have limited understanding. However, given my extensive knowledge of servers, firmware, OS, Middleware and business applications, I’ve had a bunch of questions.


Many of my questions are echoed in this excellent write-up by Jeremy Daly on the recent Serverless NYC event.

For traditional enterprise type customers, it’s well worth reviewing the notes of the issues highlighted by Jason Katzer, Director of Software Engineering at Capital One. While some attendees talk about “upwards of a BILLION transactions per month” using serverlesss, that’s impressive, that’s still short of many enterprise requirements, it translates to 34.5-million transactions per day.

Katzer notes that there are always bottlenecks and often services that don’t scale the same way that your serverless apps do. Worth a read, thanks for posting Jeremy.

(My) Influential Women in Tech

Taking some time out of work in the technical, software, computer industry has been really helpful to give my brain time to sift through the required, the necessary, the nice, and the pointless things that I’ve been involved in over 41-years in technology.

international-womens-day-logo1[1]Given that today is International Women’s Day 2016 and numerous tweets have flown by celebrating women, and given the people I follow, many women in Technology. I thought I’d take a minute to note some of the great women in Tech I had the opportunity to work with.

I was fortunate in that I spent much of my career at IBM. There is no doubt that IBM was a progressive employer on all fronts, women, minorities, the physically challenged, and that continues today with their unrelenting endorsement of the LGBT community. I never personally met or worked with current IBM CEO, Ginni Rometty, she like many that I did have the opportunity to work with, started out in Systems Engineering and moved into management. Those that I worked with included Barbara McDuffie, Leslie Wilkes, Linda Sanford and many others.

Among those in management at IBM that were most influential, Anona Amis at IBM UK. Anona was my manager in 1989-1990, at a time when I was frustrated and lacking direction after joining IBM two years earlier, with high hopes of doing important things. Anona, in the period of a year, taught me both how to value my contributions, but also how to make more valuable contributions. She was one of what I grew to learn, was the backbone of IBM, professional managers.

My four women of tech, may at sometime or other, have been managers. That though wasn’t why I was inspired by them.

Susan Malika: Sue, I met Sue initially through the CICS Product group, when we were first looking at ways to interface a web server to the CICS Transaction Monitor. Sue and the team already had a prototype connector implemented as a CGI. Over the coming years, I was influenced by Sue in a number of fields, especially in data interchange and her work on XML. Sue is still active in tech.

Peggy Zagelow: I’d always been pretty dismissive of databases, apart from a brief period with SQL/DS; I’d always managed fine without one. Early on in the days of evangelizing Java, I was routed to the IBM Santa Teresa lab, on an ad hoc query from Peggy about using Java as a procedures language for DB2. Her enthusiasm, and dogma about the structured, relational database; as well as her ability to code eloquently in Assembler was an inspiration. We later wrote a paper together, still available online[here]. Peggy is also still active in the tech sector at IBM.

Donna Dillenberger: Sometime in 1999, Donna and the then President of the IBM Academy of Technology, Ian Brackenbury, came to the IBM Bedfont office to discuss some ideas I had on making the Java Virtual Machine viable on large scale mainframe servers. Donna, translated a group of unconnected ideas and concepts I sketched out on a white board, into the “Scalable JVM”. The evolution of the JVM was a key stepping stone in the IBM evolution of Java. I’m pleased to see Donna was appointed an IBM Fellow in 2015. The paper on the JVM is here.(1).

Gerry Hackett: Finally, but most importantly, Geraldine aka Gerry Hackett. Gerry and I  met when she was a first line development manager in the IBM Virtual Machine development laboratory in Endicott New York, sometime around 1985. While Gerry would normally fall in the category of management, she is most steadfastly still an amazing technologist. Some years later I had the [dubious] pleasure of “flipping slides” for her as Gerry presented IBM Strategy. Aside: “Todays generation will never understand the tension between a speaker and a slide turner.” Today, Gerry is a Vice President at Dell. She recruited me to work at Dell in 2009, and under her leadership the firmware and embedded management team have made steady progress, and implemented some great ideas. Gerry has been a longtime advocate for women in technology, a career mentor, and a fantastic roll model.

Importantly, what all these women demonstrated, by the “bucketload”, was quiet, technological confidence; the ability to see, deliver and celebrate great ideas and great people. They were quiet unlike their male peers, not in achievement, but in approach. This why we need more women in technology, not because they are women, but because technical companies, and their products will not be as good without them.

(1). Edited to link to correct Dillenberger et al paper.

Open Source @ Dell – Doradus

I’m delighted to announce that last week Dell Software group made available it’s first major open source project, Doradus.

Doradus is the next and biggest release so far from the software group at Dell and it joins Blockade, discussed in this blog. Through 2014, I hope to be in a position to announce at least a couple more big projects, and numerous smaller ones. We are pulling together a coherent approach to this, as well as a number of smaller tools.

What is Doradus?

Doradus is a set of tooling that started out ~2.5 years ago and is, and has been used by a number of our Dell software products. It has not been available as a product itself. Doradus provides a REST API on top of the Cassandra NoSQL database, adding a number of high level features. As a pure Java service it simplifies and extends NoSQL database functionality with a graph-based data model with bi-directional relationships and full referential integrity.

Included are a powerful query language supporting full text and statistical queries; Automatic data aging;  and Two storage services that target specific application types. An  OLAP service provides ultra-dense storage and fast analytic queries. There is a client library that allows Java clients to use POJOs to access Doradus DBs. It scales horizontally with Cassandra to provide NoSQL benefits of elasticity, replication, fault-tolerance, low cost, etc.

What was open-sourced?

The Doradus components included in the OSS offering are:

  • doradus-server: Source code and config files for the server.
  • doradus-client: Source code and config files for the Java client library.
  • doradus-common: Source code for doradus-common.jar, used by both the client and server modules.
  • docs: PDF versions of the main Doradus documentation. The build scripts in the root directory also build Java docs for the client library in the folder ./doradus-client/docs.

These components are released with the Apache License 2.0. Currently, we are working through the legal issues on enhancements and contributions, and will add an Apache based CLA to encourage larger contributions. In the interim we are happy to accept bug fixes for inclusion in the next code base rev. We are also looking to add the regression test suite that we use for continuous integration build integrity.

Where can I get it?

Doradus source code, documentation, and build scripts are available here: . You can use any Git client to download the files, or click the Download ZIP button to get everything as one .zip file. The root directory has both Ant and Maven build scripts, which download dependent jar files and build the binaries. In the near future, we will post pre-built source code, doc, and binary bundles on Maven Central to simplify downloading and installing.

What is dell-oss?

One of the things we’ll be doing this year is pulling together our open source projects and contributions, to make them easier to find, and to simplify for the Dell teams that will be contributing OSS projects. Personally, I’d like to also include a section where we store copies of our incoming and outgoing licenses, templates, and completed licenses. At least as of now we’ll be doing that through dell-oss, with Ant and Maven as needed. More detail on this when we make our next project announcement.

Congratulations to Randy Guck, James Bumgardner who made the OSS effort happen, also to the other Doradus developers.

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 am a Fellow of the British Computer Society ( 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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