Archive for the 'redmonk' Category

Time for a data freedom license?

Last week Donnie Berkholz, new guy on the team over at Redmonk, writing on his “The Story of Data” blog posted an entry entitled “Whither the GPL? Why we don’t need it anymore“. Today saw the announcement that Facebook was buying Instagram for a staggering $1-billion and so I thought it was worth tying these two things together.

Reading the comments and the content of Donnies’ post I was waiting for him to get there, and he never did. Reading the comments most of the people took his observations literally, and since I don’t know Donnie, and have not got the chance to talk to him, I guess we must. But that’s missing the point I think.

I’d like to think Donnie was saying the GPL should NOT be where the focus is anymore. The freedoms that come with it are well understood, as is the responsibility. And this is where I was expecting Berkholz to go, but he didn’t.

I wanted him to go on and talk about all the challenges of allowing access, maintaining, withdrawing, exporting and removing your personal data in the “cloud”. It’s no longer programs that are valuable, they have some value, but not without the data. If you have the data, you have the users. If you have users, you have instant value, it’s not about the users themselves, it’s not like you are able to charge them to access your own data, it’s about monitoring what you are doing, where you have been, where you are going, who you  are with and more. That’s value, whether it’s your facebook status updates, your tweets, to instagram pictures etc.

It used to be in the old days that software companies would find a business requirement,  develop software, go through a few releases of their software; build a user base and then get acquired for what they were, not what data and users they had aka the marriage of facebook/instragram. I for one have recently created a new blog to own the content that I would have formally posted directly on facebook. I’m increasingly concerned with what Facebook will do with the knowledge about what device, what OS, where, how I created the post, not to mention what I post.

And that is what I was half hoping Donnie was going to tackle, personal data freedom. That is what we need today, a meaningful personal data freedom that web 2.0 and cloud companies sign-up to implement, in a meaningful way. Before I give you my data, you sign-up you agree to treat my data according to the following freedoms, with deference to the GPL

Data is free data if originator has the four essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to store, or delete forever and irrevocably the data, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to manipulate, offload, change and re-load the data
  • The freedom to redistribute copies of the data so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). Meaning, data you create and store on any computer will be the property of the owner of that computer. Rather the data remains your property and you will have the ability to decide on the future use of said data.

I have a somewhat facetious disclaimer, privacy notice, data restriction on my facebook page. In the UK, I can remember back to 1980 when I was working for Canada Life Assurance, the UK Data Protection Act had just been enacted, and I can recall the seriousness with which the company applied the treatment and use of personal data. Today, where data is created everywhere we go, and we have technology that can access it from anywhere and anytime, yet we have almost no ability to control our data, where or how it is used, and even who actually owns some of your most personal and private data. And that is why we need a data freedom, and why this should now replace the focus on Linux and the GPL.

I made the same mistake as Donnie back in 2001 when I gave the keynote at the IBM Technical Conference that year. In my presentation I said that we should expect that in 5-years we are no longer talking about, or working on Linux as an Operating System. This wasn’t because I wanted Linux to go away, in fact the opposite was true, I wanted to move on from the discussion about Linux. We should assume it’s there, differentiation doesn’t come from the OS; we should all be complying with the rights that were inferred on us by users of Linux, but can’t we just move on?

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

Profiles in, err, courage

Back in March I caught an early morning bus on Saturday to downtown Austin to attend Bar Camp IV, suffice to say it’s mostly not a bar, and doesn’t involve camping(anymore).

I attend a few interesting sessions, I learned a few things about Windows 7, mobile development and attended a session on airships and blimps that I assumed was some kind of coded language for a session on clouds, but it wasn’t it WAS about airships and blimps and more.

Big-up to @whurley @sarad and @linearb for organising and to the various sponsors which included not only free attendance, but also free lunch and libations.

I was on my way out when I bumped into Texas Social Media Awards finalist and local tech analyst and sometime contact, Michael Cote from Redmonk. We passed the time of day, and he asked me if I wanted to be interviewed for a podcast, why not?

I learned a ton about Cote from the interview, mostly that he doesn’t forget anything. We’ve met probably 5-6 times in the past and he seemed to pull 1x question from each discussion. I mostly laughed the whole way through, I thought it was going to be a tech discussion, and we did touch on a few topics, but it was just a fun way to spend 10-mins. You can hear the podcast and read the liner notes here on Redmonk Radio Episode 55. – And no, I have no idea why the series was called “profiles in courage”, why I was selected, a why I giggled all the way through. It’s been a while since I did my press training, I don’t remember them telling us about giggling as a technique!

Market dynamics and IBM vs IBM

Yet again I find myself handcuffed in terms of what I can say about my current projects, but inspired to respond to long time buddy James Governors blog or twitter posts.

In a blog entry, James takes up the cause of the underdog, in this case, Nick Hortovanyi who is working down-under to sell IBM hardware and software. Nick complains in a blog entry about trying to sell IBM Software and IBM System x servers, while IBM System x are running adverts in the press advertising Windows software and middleware.

So James, you as much as anyone knows that IBM is a big company, measured in small pieces by their own PNLs. Do you hear Power Systems VARs and Partners bleating because System x (x86 servers) advertise and promote Intel Inside and Windows ? Did you hear mainframes complaining about SWG making Windows enterprise ready?

For that matter, when was the last time you recall seeing IBM SWG extol the virtues and scalability of IBM System x Enterprise Servers? The iDataPlex is an awesome machine for running Windows and Linux web infrastrcuture, but you wouldn’t know from IBM SWG advertising. You’d be surprised who pays whom to run these adds, but the x86 marketplace is fiercly competitive and if IBM only sold IBM, we’d be out of that business before you could spell b-u-s-i-n-e-s-s i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-c-e.

I’d be more interested and concerned about the support and incentive Nick and his peers were getting to sell IBM products, than what IBM was doing in advertising. If we fail in the former, we fail, period, no matter what advertising we run.

RedMonk IT Management PodCast #10 thoughts

I’ve been working on slides this afternoon for a couple of projects, and wondering why producing slides hasn’t really gotten any easier in 20-years since Freelance under DOS? Why is it I’ve got a 22 flatscreen monitor as an extended desktop, and I’m using a trackpoint and mouse to move things around, and waiting for Windows to move pixel by pixel…

Anyway, I clicked on the LIBSyn link for the RedMonk IT Management Podcast #10 from back in April for some background noise. In the first 20-mins or so, Cote and John get into some interesting discussion about Power Systems, especially in relation to some projects Johns’ working on. As they joke and laugh their way through an easy discussion, they get a bit confused about naming and training.

First, the servers are called IBM Power Systems, or Power. The servers span from blades to high-end scalable monster servers. They all use the Power PC architecture, instruction set RISC chip. Formally there had been two versions of the same servers, System p and System i.

Three operating systems can run natively on Power Systems, AIX, IBM i (formally i5/OS and OS/400) and Linux. You can run these concurrently in any combination using the native virtualization, PowerVM. Amongst the features of PowerVM is the ability to create Logical Partitions. These are a hardware implementation and hardware protected Type-1 Hypervisor. So, it’s like VMware but not at all. You can get more on this in this white paper. For a longer read, see the IBM Systems Software Information Center.

John then discussed the need for training and the complexity of setting up a Power System. Sure, if you want to run a highly flexible, dynamically configurable, highly virtualized server, then you need to do training. Look at the massive market for Microsoft Windows, VMware and Cisco Networking certifications. Is there any question that running complex systems would require similar skills and training?

Of course, John would say that though, as someone who makes a living doing training and consulting, and obviously has a great deal of experience monitoring and managing systems.

However, many of our customers don’t have such a need, they do trust the tools and will configure and run systems without 4-6 months of training. Our autonomic computing may not have achieved everything we envisaged, but it has made a significant difference. You can use the System Config tool at order time, either alone, with your business partner or IBMer, and do the definition for the system, have it installed and provisioned and up and running within half a day.

When I first started in Power Systems, I didn’t take any classes, was not proficient in AIX or anything else Power related. I was able to get a server up and running from scratch and get WebSphere running business applications having read a couple of redbooks. Monitoring and debugging would have taken more time, another book. Clearly becoming an expert always takes longer, see the wikipedia definition of expert.

ps. John, if you drop out of the sky from 25k ft, it doesn’t matter if the flight was a mile or a thousand miles… you’ll hit the ground at the same speed 😉

pps. Cote I assume your exciting editing session on episode 11, wasn’t so exiciting…

ppps. 15-minutes on travel on Episode #11, time for RedmOnk Travel Podcast

And so on Amazon and clouds

Here is the post I mentioned in yesterday’s Clouds and the governor post. I’ve deleted some duplicate comment but wanted to publish some of the things left over.

It was an unexpected pleasure to catch-up with Redmonk maestro and declarative liver(?) James Governor over Christmas, while back in the UK. It wasn’t a tale of Christmas past, but certainly good to see him at Dopplr mansions in East London. Sorry to Matt and the Dopplr guys for busting in on them in my xmas hat and not introducing myself.

James and I didn’t have much time together, I’d just got through handing in my IBM UK badge, and returning all three of their laptops, bidding fairwell to Larry, Colin and Paul, and wanted to head off to see my parents. We squeezed in a quick coffee and a chat, James was keen to discuss his theory on Linux distributions, I didn’t have any reason to really pitch for, or against this and just told him what I knew. We didn’t have time for much else, we did discuss erlang briefly both as a language, but also on explotation of multi-core, multi-threaded chips, and I’ll come back to that one day. What we didn’t get to discuss was Amazon, cloud computing and James on/off theory on IBM and Amazon.

There is no doubt in my mind that on demand computing, cloud, ensembles, call it what you will computing is happening and will continue apace. I’ve been convinced since circa ’98, and spent 6-weeks one summer in 1999 with now StorageTek/Sun VP, then IBM System z marketing guy, Nigel Dessau getting me in to see IBM Execs to discuss the role of utility computing. After that I did a stint in the early Grid days, and then on demand architecture and design.

So, whats this with Amazon? Yes, their EC2 and S2 offering are pretty neat; yes Google is doing some fascinating things building their own datacenters and machines, so is Microsoft and plenty of others. One day, is it likely that most computing will come over the wire, over the air, from the utility? Yes.

Thats not just a client statement, there is plenty of proof that is happening already, but a server or applications statement. Amazon API’s are really useful. I wish we had some application interfaces, and systems that worked the same way, or perhaps as James might have it, we had Amazons web services, perhaps without the business that goes behind it. Are we interested in Amazon, don’t know, I’m neither in corporate or IBM Software group business development.

It comes back to actionable items, buying, partnering or otherwise adopting Amazons web services, really wouldn’t move the ball forward for the bulk of our customers.

Sure, it would open up a whole new field of customers who are looking for innovative ways to get computing at lower cost, so are our existing customers. This would be of little use short term as there are few tools built around. I work at a company that helps customers. There are some things we are doing that are very interesting for the future, but what is more interesting is bridging from the current world and the challenges of doing that. Like every new technology, cloud computing will have to be eased into. We can’t suddenly expect customers to drop what they have and get up into the clouds and so that means integration.

Clouds and the governor

I’ve been meaning to respond to Monkchips speculation over IBM and Amazon from last year his follow-up why Amazon don’t need IBM. James and I met-up briefly before Christmas, the day I resigned from IBM UK but we ran out of time to discuss that. I wrote and posted a draft and never got around to finishing it, I was missing context. Then yesterday James published a blog entry entitled “15 Ways to Tell Its Not Cloud Computing”.

The straw that broke the camels back was today, on chinposin Friday, James was clearly hustling for a bite when he tweeted “amazed i didn’t get more play for cloud computing blog”.

Well here you go James. Your analysis and simple list of 15-reasons why it is not a cloud is entertaining, but it’s not analysis, it’s cheerleading.

I’m not going to trawl through the list and dissect it one by one, I’ll just go with the first entry and then revert to discussing the bigger issue. James says “If you peel back the label and its says “Grid” or “OGSA” underneath… its not a cloud.” – Why is that James? How do you advocate organizations build clouds?
Continue reading ‘Clouds and the governor’

Appliances, Stacks and software virtual machines

A couple of things from the “Monkmaster” this morning peaked my interest and deserved a post rather than a comment. First up was James post on “your Sons IBM“. James discusses a recent theme of his around stackless stacks, and simplicity. Next-up came a tweet link on cohesiveFT and their elastic server on demand.

These are very timely, I’ve been working on a effort here in Power Systems for the past couple of months with my ATSM, Meghna Paruthi, on our appliance strategy. These are, as always with me, one layer lower than the stuff James blogs on, I deal with plumbing. It’s a theme and topic I’ll return to a few times in the coming weeks as I’m just about to wrap up the effort. We are currently looking for some Independent Software Vendors( ISVs) who already package their offerings in VMWare or Microsoft virtual appliance formats and either would like to do something similar for Power Systems, or alternatively have tried it and don’t think it would work for Power Systems.

Simple, easy to use software appliances which can be quickly and easily deployed into PowerVM Logical Partitions have a lot of promise. I’d like to have a market place of stackless, semi-or-total black box systems that can be deployed easily and quickly into a partition and use existing capacity or dynamic capacity upgrade on demand to get the equivalent of cloud computing within a Power System. Given we can already run circa 200-logical partitions on a single machine, and are planing something in the region of 4x that for the p7 based servers with PowerVM, we need to do something about the infrastructure for creating, packaging, servicing, updating and managing them.

We’ve currently got six-sorta-appliance projects in flight, one related to future datacenters, one with WebSphere XD, one with DB2, a couple around security and some ideas on entry level soft appliances.

So far it looks like OVF wrappers around the Network Installation Manager aka NIM, look like the way to go for AIX based appliances, with similar processes for i5/OS and Linux on Power appliances. However, there are a number of related issues about packaging, licensing and inter and intra appliance communication that I’m looking for some input on. So, if you are an ISV, or a startup, or even in independent contractor who is looking at how to package software for Power Systems, please feel free to post here, or email, I’d love to engage.

neat podcast or should that be Monkcast?

A couple of weeks back, I met with Cote, or more correctly, Michael Cote, Analyst from Redmonk, for lunch. I wanted to try out some acronyms with him, talk WSDM, OSGI, SOI, Platform Management, and generally have lunch.

Turns out that Cote was off a couple of days later to Microsofts Tech Ed conference in Orlando, along with my longtime buddy and Redmonk co-founder James Governor. So it was with some interest when Cote posted a twitter entry about the MonkCast #4: ‘URL-based computing’ closer to reality (and so too is the GPLv3) – I was interested in what Cote had heard about MS management efforts.

I had a conference call late in today and right after giving a presentation on SOA and IBM System p. I found my way to a visitors desk over at the IBM Briefing Center and while waiting for the call, clicked on the link for the “monkcast” and listended to the first few minutes. After the conference call I restarted the podcast and while it was playing, I closed the lid to my IBM Thinkpad and as hoped, it kept playing. I walked down the stairs, out the door and across the street and it kept playing. Once in the car, while it was still playing, I reached into my glove compartment and found the 3.5mm to 3.5mmlead and connected my laptop the the AUX port on the GM’s stereo. I listen to it all the way home.

Then it occured to me, was I online via Wireless all the way home? Unlikely. So I guess it must have been cached on my laptop. Either way pretty neatto. No clicking on links to download, no saving files and replaying.

Despite lots of good comments and observation from Cote and the other Redmonk co-founder, Stephen O’Grady, there wasn’t much on the topics I was interested in. Worth listening though.

Monkcast #4 is here.

Zelenka on Open Source ESBs

RedNun’s report on Open Source ESBs is published and it has some useful updates and additional information from her earlier web piece which elicited my “I’m a centrprise architect” response.

In her intro, Anne says “Lightweight open source enterprise service bus (ESB) implementations offer a low cost, scalable, and practical approach to enterprise application integration.” – I’m so with that, but as always with a spin on it. Actually an ESB would make the perfect vehicle(bus geddit?) for system infrastructure integration.

Still much to do on standards, implementations, h/w runtimes etc. but I still firmly believe this is the direction we should be going to implement genuinely interoperable hardware based components. Common messages formats, industry schema, common messaging protocols and one or more buses to intermediate for the components and manage pub/sub etc.. Dynamic, autonomic, vendor neutral hardware, we’ll get there.

My 2003-2004 book on “Virtualization and the on demand Business”, Chapter-3, spells this out a little more…

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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