Thursday, December 21, 2006

Your New Year's Resolution

ast January I made the first New Year's Resolution of my life--and it was an ambitious one. Inspired by my brother, I resolved to do one pushup and one situp (ok, one crunch) on January 1st. Two of each on January 2nd. Three on January third, and so on. All the way through the end of the year. Three hundred sixty five pushups and crunches on 12/31, and a grand total of 66,795 for the year.

Several of my friends and colleagues joined me.

Well, we're 355/365ths of the way through the year. How did I do?

Very well, if I say so myself. I've missed two days this year--the day before Thanksgiving, and Big Game day (and I later made most of those up). So far, I've done over 63,000 pushups and crunches.

Of course, my body has changed a lot. I don't have huge muscles by any stretch of the imagination, but I have definition like I've never had in my life. My wife is a big, big fan of this resolution!

I also have a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I never had to do anything difficult (even now, it's only about 20-25 minutes a day, and I tend to break it into 2 sessions)--but I've accomplished a great goal. As I said back in January, I wanted to see what I could accomplish through dedication, tenacity, and an incremental increase in effort.

As for my co-workers and friends, I don't think any of them has stuck with it entirely--but they have all changed their exercise program. Even though none is doing 355 pushups with me today, they're all doing something to improve themselves.

The Challenge
This has been a great experience for me. Now, I'm challenging you. Readers. Writers. Members of the blogosphere. Mostly, people whose blogs I read: It's time to think about what you are going to resolve next year. Why not do this one?

Savas and Pirillo: I know you both lost a lot of weight in 2006--maybe you're looking to firm up those newly svelted bodies? Shahar - how about getting the Excel Services team on board? Jim Benson, your cousin Robert sure did a lot of pushups this year; think you can top him next year? Brad Feld, you certainly know a thing or two about athletic goals (50 marathons in 50 states before he's 50), I'm sure you could do this without sweating. Carl Franklin, you think .NET rocks, but did you know that pushups rock? Dan Fay, Joe Duffy, Mark Schmidt, David Gainer: they won't be calling you Microsofties in 2007. Jason Follas, think you can manage 19 pushups the second day of CodeMash? Nick Carr, IT may be dead, but calisthenics are alive and kicking! And of course: Scoble made some big changes in 2006--how about making some more in 2007?

Challenge yourselves. Challenge each other. A pushup a day, that's all it takes. Pass it on.

Disclosure: I don't know most of the people I mentioned above, other than through RSS. As far as I know, you're all completely chiseled, do 500 pushups a day, and would laugh at the idea of doing fewer. No offense intended.

The Advice
I have a couple of pieces of advice for anyone who decides to try it. First, make the "workout" part of your routine. For me, that meant setting my alarm clock ten minutes early to give myself time for pushups and crunches. Getting my pushups and crunches out of the way that early in the day makes it much easier for me; the worst days are the days when I realize that I still "owe" pushups right before bed! Until the last couple of months, it really doesn't take more than 10 or 15 minutes.

Second - involve other people. After I got into this, 5 of my co-workers and friends started, too. We all served to goad each other along (sometimes we "guilted" each other along). But you definitely are more likely to make up missed pushups at the office if there is more than one of you doing it! It wasn't uncommon this year to walk into our office and see 3 or 4 people on the ground doing a set of pushups. Side note--of the six of us, I'm the only one who will be completing the challenge. But, while the other five didn't do 352 pushups this morning, they're all still doing calisthenics every day and are in much better shape than they started the year.

Third - when the numbers get higher, break it up if you need to. I did single sets of pushups until about day 60. Now, I do sets of 75 pushups and about 120 crunches. If I don't have time to do them all in the morning, I'll just do one or two sets, then I'll do the rest during the day. It's easy to find two minutes here and there throughout the day.

Fourth, and most importantly: if you miss a day, don't quit! Ideally, you can make it up later (that's especially easier earlier in the year--it's a bit harder when it would mean doing 600 pushups in one day). Even if you can't make it up, get right back on the horse that next day. Don't let more than one day go by, or you'll fall out of the good routine you established.

What's Next?
Now that I'm nearing my goal, I have to figure out what's next. I still haven't. I may add pullups and chinups to my daily routine, or I may resolve something that involves riding my bike. Any suggestions?

After this week, I'm heading off to Tucson to see my mom and my in-laws, so I'll be offblog for the rest of the year. Happy New Year, and I'll see you on January 2nd (or, as you'll be calling it, "Day Two").

Good luck!

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Grid & Virtualization: Different sides of different coins

  huck Hollis of EMC has some thoughts about Grid and Virtualization in a recent post.

He does a great job of describing the differences between grid computing and virtualization--probably the best I've ever seen:
Simply put, if your application is smaller than a server, then server virtualization makes sense, at least through this narrow lens. Take a computing resource, and dynamically partition it into smaller pieces that increase resource utilization (among other things).

But what if your application is bigger than a server?

One over-simplified view is that this is where grid comes in. How do I get an application (or a combined application) to span multiple servers and act as one?
It's a great summary: when your applications don't need their own servers, run them on part of a server. When they need more than a server, run them in a grid.

The problem is, the techniques involved in accomplishing those are very, very different.

Virtual machines (like EMC's VMWare or Virtual Iron's Virtual Iron) permit the former by allowing you to run several copies of the OS on one machine, effectively partitioning it. The best part about this from the application's perspective is that it doesn't even know it's running on a virtual server--it thinks it has the machine to itself. In other words, the application works without any modification.

But the technical hurdles in making an operating system run on many machines are myriad, complex, and get to the very root of the OS. The technologies that allow virtualization won't lend themselves to grid.

Not only that, but even if someone magically *did* rewrite the OS so it could make 1,000 separate servers run under 1 OS--what application could take advantage of that? Virtually none.

Because unlike apps running on virtual servers, apps that run on many processors (be they in one box or in many boxes) need to be designed that way. And there are very few developers out there who have the technical expertise to design an application that can run on many, many processors simultaneously.

So, are grids and virtualization different sides of the same coin? Well, probably not. They're more like different sides of different coins.

In fact, we have customers who implement their SOA not using virtualization, but using a grid. Got an application that doesn't need a whole server? No problem--let the grid know. It will take advantage of that server by giving it more to do. Got an application that will need 20 servers? Again, the grid can do it.

It's a very different proposition than virtualization--it has its own upsides and its own downsides.

Even though I view the situation slightly differently than Chuck, I still like where he goes with it: Minimum code re-write, common management tools, and ways to deal with data will be very important to users in the long run.

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Photo credit: Tatiana Tsokolova

Friday, December 08, 2006

Welcome Seattleite Readers!

  endmondians as well!

For those of you living in the 425 or 206 area codes, Monday December 11th (which happens to be my second wedding anniversary), is your first chance to get an in-person talk on grid computing for .NET.

Digipede Evangelista Kim Greenlee will be giving a talk on concurrency and software development at the .NET Developer Association Monday on the Microsoft campus.

This will probably be the most expert group of developers that Kim has ever spoken in front of; so why would they be interested in an outsider talking to them about concurrency and .NET?

Well, she's an expert, first of all. And second, she's going to introduce them to the wonderful world of Object Oriented Programming for Grid. When you combine that sort of technology with the .NET expertise that lives on that campus, you're bound to see some great things.

Details for the event are here (Print the invitation! Come early for pizza!).

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Benvenuti lettori italiani!

elcome Italian readers!

Update 2006-12-08 2:55 PST:
Vedo molti ospiti dall'Italia--dove è dopo la mezzanotte--grazie all'alberino del blog dello Stefan. Perchè state utilizzando i vostri calcolatori così in ritardo alla notte? ;-)

This morning I had the honor of participating in my first Italian webcast. Stefan Demetz, CEO of Decatec, had asked if we could support him in giving a webcast on grid computing for .NET. Decatec is a consulting firm that specializes in .NET development. Stefan is a very bright guy, so I was excited at the prospect of helping him.

The details proved to be a bit daunting.

Because I don't speak Italian (although my Spanish is passable), we decided that Stefan would do all the talking. However, because I have a grid of demo machines and a bunch of pre-baked code demos, we decided that I would perform all of the demonstrations. We rehearsed it, and everything went swimmingly.

This morning, however, Murphy's Law took effect.

First: I arrived at the office an hour before the webcast was scheduled to begin (7:00 AM Pacific Time), and I found that I had no internet access. As it turns out, this is a major problem when using LiveMeeting. I scrambled around for a while, rebooting things and getting help from our IT folks. We quickly realized that it was a DNS problem, but it still took awhile to resolve. In the end, I got internet access at 8:03 AM--3 minutes after the webcast had begun! It wasn't a problem for the attendees, because my demos weren't at the beginning of session.

Stefan had written a bunch of slides about grid computing for .NET, and he presented those. When it was time for the demonstrations, I took over LiveMeeting and conducted the demos while he narrated.

Even though I don't speak Italian, I could follow along with what he was saying (he pronounced all of the class names and programming terms in English, and I could recognize many Italian words are very similar to either English or Spanish).

However, here we hit our second glitch. I was listening to the internet audio broadcast of the narration; he was watching my desktop via LiveMeeting. As a result of all of the intrinsic delays, I was hearing audio that seemed to be about 30 seconds behind the action on my screen. So I had to keep my mouse about 30 seconds *ahead* of what I was hearing. For example, if I waited for him to say "Genero un nuovo oggetto" after I created a new object, there would end up being a 30 second lag.

So I attempted to move the demos forward at the correct pace--slow enough to be narrated properly, but quick enough to move along.

Stefan did an absolutely fantastic job of following along. A couple of times he was forced to "fill" a little bit when my pacing was too slow, and he never seemed to skip a beat.

The end of the session featured questions and answers; attendees submitted written questions. Stefan is very well versed in our system and was able to answer most of these, but I wanted to chip in. Again, the language barrier presented a problem--this time, technology had an answer. I had a browser window opened to Google Translate. I copied the questions in there, translated to English, then interpreted what the slightly-garbled result was supposed to ask.

For example, "il server digipeed può essere messo in cluster o load balance ?" translated to "the serveur digipeed can be put in cluster or load balance?", which I took to mean "Can you load balance or cluster the Digipede Server?" (The answer is "Of course, it can be clustered for failover or scalability [but unless you have thousands of agents, you don't need to cluster for scalability]).

In the end, the webcast went great. Stefan introduced Grid Computing for .NET to an entirely new audience, and he provoked a lot of interest (there were many good questions at the end of the session, which always indicates that the speaker was compelling). Thanks for putting up with the difficulties Stefan!

Photo credit: darnok

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

HPC in Finance Event Tomorrow in NYC!

All week I've been meaning to write about this, and now it's probably too late. But for those of you who wake up in New York and read my blog first thing in the morning just to see what you should to today, this post is for you!

Wednesday, December 6th, Microsoft is hosting an event called How to Harness the Power of High-Performance Computing in Financial Services at 1290 Avenue of the Americas - 6th floor, New York (that’s between 51st and 52nd street in the Axa Equitable building.

The event will include actual customers who are using high performance computing on Wall Street. There will be a couple of Digipedlians there and several customers--if you want to hear from a user's perspective, this is your chance. They'll talk about how customers are using our product along with Microsoft's cluster operating system (Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition).

Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Time: Welcome, 8:30; event 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Location: Tavern on the Green Conference Room, 1290 Avenue of the Americas - 6th floor, New York (that’s between 51st and 52nd street in the Axa Equitable building)

Register here.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The business of grid

  his blog tends to cover more of the technical-side of grid computing than the business side, and nearly every webcast I've given has been technical.

For those of you who are interested in the business side of grid computing, here's a webcast for you:

Grid Computing in Financial Services--Toward True IT Agility will be an executive level webcast on grid computing in financial services. The speakers include Eric Kristoff (Director of IT from UBS), Stevan Vidich (Industry Architect from Microsoft), and Digipede's own John Powers.

Date: Thursday, November 30th, 1-3pm EST (10am-12pm PST).

You can listen for free or participate for a fee. Either way, register here.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Super! Thanks for asking!

  upercomputing 2005 was my least favorite conference of that year--nothing wrong with the content, which was superlative, but the Seattle Convention Center just wasn't ready for a conference as big as this one was.

The content was great. Amazing numbers of incredible computers crowded the show floor. Bill Gates gave the keynote. I got to see a Blue Gene.

I'm hoping that SC06 in Tampa will be even better.

Even though more of our customers are doing what I consider to be enterprise computing (the storm simulations run by the Army Corps of Engineers are a notable exception), John Powers and I will be at the conference. We'll spend most of our time in the HP booth, where John will be doing some speaking and where I'll be demonstrating our software.

I'm looking forward to meeting more of the folks from Microsoft (I'm sure they'll have a big presence again), and possibly running into some of my fellow HPC bloggers.

Call me (510-816-7551) if you're in Tampa and want to meet up and talk grid! Or, stop by the HP Booth and catch a demo of our stuff in action.

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S-S-S-Something from the comments!

ast Friday's item about Amazon's web services being more important than YouTube generated some interesting comments.

First, of course, was Bill Boebel's comment that his company is now using all 3 of Amazon's web services (see my follow-up post).

Later, Jeff Richards (of Verisign, now blogging at Demand Insights) asked if I lump's AppExchange in with Amazon's web services. The answer is, by and large, yes. They're creating a platform on which people can build their own online apps. They've got a different angle, though. First of all, the applications built on AppExchange are "pre-integrated with Salesforce." What does that mean? Well, it seems to mean that they're encouraging companies to help Salesforce increase their footprint in the market. You don't write just any app with AppExchange--you write apps that use the principles and entities in Salesforce.

That's not a critique of the system, by the way. In a way, it's genius. They are encouraging other ISV's to increase the value of the Salesforce platform by adding functionality to it.

On the other hand, it doesn't seem like a general development platform--it's geared toward a certain set of applications (and toward people who are using Salesforce already).

Amazon, on the other hand, has developed a completely neutral set of services. Using them doesn't make you more likely to buy a book from Amazon. And, if you build a great app on top of AWS, there's no chance that Amazon will subsequently release software with the same features as yours--the developers running on AppExchange have no such assurances. If you write the next great add-on for Salesforce--you may find that Salesforce decided they need to compete with you!

Next comment: the always entertaining Muli Koppel notes that I missed the most interesting Amazon service of all: Mechanical Turk.
Personally, though, I consider S3, EC2, and SQS as examples for Innovative Execution - amazing, fantastic, chapeau etc. - and yet somewhat inferior to Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which is a sensational breakthrough not only on the practical packaging and delivering level (the other three), but also on the social, economical, existential, anthropological, philosophical and whatever else *-ical level that is relevant to our future life.
As usual, he hit the nail on the head. While S3, EC2, and SQS break barriers, MT breaks an entire paradigm: the idea that computers can't do what a person can do.

I have yet to hear how people are using MT, but I'd love to hear some stories.

By the way, I have to relate one secret about the concept of humans powering computers (a la Mechanical Turk): I invented it. Well, kind of.

As a kid, I loved to pretend I was an inventor. One thing I "invented" was a "computer" you could put any math problem in--you simply wrote the problem on a piece of paper and slipped it through a slot. After a while, the piece of paper would slide back out--with the answer written on it. Of course, the "computer" was a decorated shoebox, the "brains" behind the computer were my own, and it was limited to the math problems that my 2nd grade mind could handle.

It also, of course, lacked a web service interface.

Still, in my own way, I think it was prescient of things to come...

[Image borrowed from here. There's a good shoebox computer story there, too]

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Putting your money where my mouth is...

ill Boebel, CTO of commented on my post Friday about Amazon and YouTube. Apparently, he liked it a lot.

This morning he posted that he has sold half of his GOOG and is putting the money into AMZN--simply because he believes that the innovation going on at Amazon is the platform of the future.

Bill's betting a lot more than his personal account. As he indicated in his comment on my post, just released a new data backups system built on all 3 Amazon web services. (There's a great writeup here.) Bill isn't just guessing that Amazon's platform will succeed--he's experienced it, and he's bet his company on it.

Personally, I'd bet with him.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Believe it or not: it's even more important than YouTube

  hile the blogosphere has spent the last few weeks frothing at the keyboard about YouTube, BusinessWeek magazine has put out a thoughtful piece on Amazon's "WebOS" strategy. Check it out, and check out Read/Write Web's analysis.

For a month or so now, the web community has been holding up YouTube as the pinnacle of Web 2.0 successes; I may agree, but only in the everything-is-overvalued-during-a-bubble sense of Web 2.0. YouTube is not groundbreaking technology. It's not groundbreaking social networking. They did a great job of combining the two, however, and got immensely popular extremely quickly. However, like every other social networking site, they will lose that popularity soon enough. YouTube won't be cool forever. And their technology won't make them the defacto medium for video distribution--it's too easy to imitate.

Meanwhile, and with about 1/100th of the fanfare, Amazon has been putting forth some absolutely groundbreaking products: Simple Queuing Service, Simple Storage Service (S3), and Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). While the names are completely unimaginative, the products themselves define an entirely new platform for developing online software (I'll refrain from calling it Web 2.0).

By utilizing Amazon's platform, small companies gain tremendous advantages: they use a development platform specifically designed for online delivery, they get access to a scalable and robust hardware infrastructure, and (perhaps most important for startups) they get pay-as-you-go, only-pay-for-what-you-use access to that infrastructure.

And the innovation doesn't end there: Amazon is revolutionizing this industry by leveraging their own infrastructure in a way that enhances their business model. Over the last decade, Jeff Bezos and company have built one of earth's largest sets of datacenters to support earth's largest online retailer: now they are renting out time on that infrastructure. It's gone from being a cost center to a revenue generator. Their expertise in hosting, which was previously dedicated to keeping their uptime numbers up, is now helping to sell product (computer time, storage space, etc) directly.

And, of course, they've invented what is in effect a WebOS and development platform.

Sun is dabbling in this market too, but in a much less revolutionary way. Microsoft and Google have both built ginormous data centers, but neither has made such revolutionary steps toward selling time on them. And neither, as a matter of fact, has gone as far in creating a platform for other companies to use in creating their Web 2.0 software.

So the blogosphere can keep writing about YouTube, right up until YouTube ceases to matter because no one goes there anymore. In the meantime, Amazon is quietly changing the way we'll do business in Web 3.0.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What Does This Mean for .NET? (updated)

ed Herring is reporting that Microsoft and Novell are in talks, and that Microsoft is considering a plan to offer sales support for SuSE Linux. Also: Microsoft and Novell "plan to simplify running the Windows operating system and Suse Linux on computers."

Since both Windows and SuSE already run on computers, I can only assume they mean "on the same computer."

I think this is very interesting, and probably good news. The questions I have are all .NET related:

What does this mean for .NET on Linux? Mono? Something else?

I would love to see Microsoft promoting .NET on another operating system: it would be a tremendous boon to the .NET platform. This seems like the perfect opportunity to me.

Update 2006-10-31 3:25: Savas wonders if the references to "providing patent coverage" means that they are "letting Mono free." I hope he's right. I fear that Scoble is closer to correct: Microsoft is doing some CYA with respect to some of Novell's patents.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Unexpected Nuggets: Vogels and Norton

t's been about two weeks since I last blogged, which I think is a record since I started blogging. That just means that things have been very busy at work (oh, and I had an amazing trip to Vegas with my rock star friends).

And now I have time for just a quickie.

In the last two days I learned something unexpected from two feeds that I read: Ken Norton's Hey Norton and Werner Vogels's All Things Distributed.

First: I learned where Ken works. I read his feed because he's one of the few people around who write a meaningful product management blog. While I've found his content (both about product management and about more personal things) interesting, I've never delved deeply enough to even find out where he does his product management. Well, this week he announced that his company, JotSpot, had been acquired by Google. It's funny that I never knew where he worked--we may have crossed paths at some point: JotSpot and Digipede were both featured at Demo@15. Anyway, congratulations to Ken and the JotSpotters newest Googlers.

Second: I read Werner's feed primarily for his insights into distributed computing. Today's post, however, gave me a new insight into product management. Werner discusses Amazon's process for product definition (whether that product is something that faces the public or even an internal web service): they work backwards. First they write the press release, then they write a FAQ, next they define the customer experience, and finally they write the user manual. Only then do they begin development.

The result?
Once we have gone through the process of creating the press release, faq, mockups, and user manuals, it is amazing how much clearer it is what you are planning to build. We'll have a suite of documents that we can use to explain the new product to other teams within Amazon. We know at that point that the whole team has a shared vision on what product we are going the build.
It's a great perspective on how to ensure that you are building the right product for the right reasons. I can't wait to try it out.

To sum up: two great writers, two great blogs. If your oapmeal doesn't include some Norton and some Vogels, subscribe!

(oh, the picture of the Lamborghini Murcielago. Part of my amazing weekend was having my buddy Sam take me for a ride in one of those. Umm--wow).

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Yes, Mom, your copy is in the mail...

'm a published author!

After reading of Nick Carr's hilarious take on the word "blogger" this weekend, I'm proud to be able to give myself a different moniker this week: published author.

Robert and I wrote an article for Dr. Dobb's Journal, and it's in the November issue (which, with the time-travelesque publishing schedules, is already out).

The title of the article is "Scaling SOA with Distributed Computing;" it's a look at a real-world customer who implemented a Service Oriented Architecture on a grid. It's worth reading for anyone who is in the process of implementing an SOA or is considering the scalability issues of SOA.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Bigger Is Better. But Two Is Twice as Nice.

 veryone is all a-flutter about the study (commissioned by Apple, reported here in Computerworld) that found that 30-inch monitors make users more effective.

Some people doubt the validity, but I don't doubt it at all.

Have you ever walked onto the trading desk of any financial services firm? Four flat screens per person is considered a normal workstation. Six isn't unusual. I was at one of our customer sites recently, and many traders had eight monitors (two rows of 4). The reason? It makes them more productive. It puts more information in front of their eyes rather than behind other windows. It allows the users to multitask.


I only use a paltry two-monitor set up, but I can tell you that adding that 2nd monitor had a huge effect on my productivity.

I'm always amazed when I walk through Microsoft's San Francisco office and I don't see two monitors on every desk--I know Scoble used to harangue management to give 2 monitors to employees, but it hasn't happened yet.

Now, the funny thing about Apple's study is that they didn't study increasing screen real estate in general--they studied the effect of having a $2,000 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display. Granted, these are beautiful monitors.

But: pssst! Here's a secret: You don't need one! Buy a second 17" display, and see how much you like it.

Photo credit: kinderkram

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Code Camp Redux

  any thanks to the enthusiastic learners who showed up to my session at Silicon Valley Code Camp over the weekend. It was early on a Sunday morning, and I'm glad 15 or so of you found your way into my classroom.

The topic was .NET Development and Excel Services, and I think it was very well received. It had a better curriculum than the MSDN Webcast (which is available for download here) I had done the previous week. In my MSDN session, I bit off more than my audience could chew. I was explaining uses of grid computing to scale UDFs behind Excel Services. It's a very cool topic, and in the coming couple of years it's going to help a lot of people...but it's too early for that now.

Most people (even developers and Office power users) don't really know what Excel Services is all about. Informal polls at both my webcast and my Code Camp session proved that. So, in trying to explain why grid computing will be an important tool for people writing UDFs, I was really a few months too early. At Code Camp, I just talked about writing .NET add-ins for Excel Services, and that in itself was plenty to fill up an hour!

All in all, I had a great time at Code Camp. Attendees are always very enthusiastic, so the atmosphere is great for speaking. I received an invitation this week from Jason Mauer to do a session at Code Camp Seattle v2.0 (I spoke on grid computing at v1.0).

Arg! I wish I could. I've got a bunch of travel coming up, both personal (hanging in Vegas with my rock star friends) and professional (no links here, but some exciting trips on the near term horizon). Have fun at camp, Jason.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

"We Are the CITs So Pity Us...

...the kids are brats the food is hideous!"

So sang the counselors-in-training in the 1979 movie Meatballs. I assume that the conditions at this weekend's Silicon Valley Code Camp will be better! Silicon Valley's best and brightest certainly won't be brats--they're all attending on a weekend because they like this sort of thing. Plus, the food is being provided courtesy of Microsoft, Amazon, and Exact Software--they'll do better than the "some kind of beef" served at Bill Murray's summer camp back in 1979.

I've got a good hunch that the instruction at SVCC will be better than at Camp Northstar, too. Taking a look at the presenters page, I see .NET notables like Juval Lowy; evangelists from heavy hitters such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo; Bay Area developer stalwarts like Chuck Berg; and a ton of other folks, too.

My colleague Kim and I are both giving sessions. Kim is giving two: VS2005: Debugging Tips and Tricks at 10:45 on Sunday, and Concurrent Software Development at 1:15. My talk is Sunday morning at 9:15, and is entitled .NET Development and Excel Services.

There are terrific sessions both days, and it's being held this Saturday and Sunday at Foothill College in Los Altos. I highly encourage software developers in the Bay Area to attend this totally free event!

Register here.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Webcast Resources

hanks to everyone who attended my MSDN webcast today.

The intro was really quite exciting (although people on the webcast couldn't tell). For some reason LiveMeeting wasn't working properly on my machine; I couldn't "share" applications or my desktops. Since the idea of giving a talk with no demonstrations wasn't appealing to me, I had to reinstall and reboot--all of this in the 10 minutes before the webcast began! As Tracey was beginning the introduction, I was still setting up the two Visual Studios, two command prompts, remote desktop session, Excel 2007, etc. We cut it close, but we made it!

Here are the links I promised:

Excel Services overview

Free Developer Edition of Digipede Network
  • Full-featured version of the Digipede Network, free for developers: here
Great Excel blogs
  • Shahar Prish writes about Excel Services here
  • David Gainer (and many other members of the team) write about Excel 2007 here
My only regret with this webcast was that I had too much material: an introduction to Excel Services, an introduction to grid computing, and "two great tastes that taste great together" was a lot to accomplish in 55 minutes. For people who felt like they want more of an introduction to grid computing, I highly recommend reading all of my posts. ;-)

Alternatively, I suggest you watch my previous two MSDN webcasts: Object-Oriented Programming for Grid: Grid Computing for .NET and Advanced .NET Programming for Grid Computing.

They're each an hour long. They give a good grounding in grid computing on the .NET platform.

And, of course, if you're interested in a webcast about our product, you can always sign up for one of our webcasts here.

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MSDN Webcast This Morning

  re you looking for a good time this morning? I'm giving my third MSDN webcast at 10:00am; the title is "Using Grid Computing to Scale Excel Services". Register here.

Sign up!

Friday, September 29, 2006

MSDN Webcast: Excel Services and Grid Computing

  ack in April I did two MSDN webcasts: Object-Oriented Programming for Grid: Grid Computing for .NET and Advanced .NET Programming for Grid Computing (both are available on-demand at those links).

I had a blast doing them and had more than 100 attendees at each. Recently, they asked me if I could do anything regarding the upcoming Office 2007 release. Given the very cool work we've been doing with Microsoft's Financial Services Group with Excel Services and Compute Cluster Server, I jumped at the chance!

I'll spend an hour giving a general introduction to Excel Services, talking a bit about grid computing, then bringing the two topics together and explaining why the two technologies complement each other so well.

Using Grid Computing to Scale Excel Services (Level 200)
Wednesday, October 4th, 10:00AM PDT

Register here

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Scoble Is Dead Wrong about DEMO

  esterday Scoble had a post about DEMO (in which he was responding to a post over on Webreakstuff).

The issue? The DEMO conference charges money to demonstrate. The question? Does that mean that DEMO isn't relevant, because only funded companies can go?

It started with Fred (of WeBreakStuff) saying:
I’d much rather go to an event where companies were invited for their merits instead of the money they can cash out in order to tell me how great they are.
Scoble disagreed with him: he thinks the fact that companies are charged to demonstrate acts as a filter (and he needs filters because he sees so many pitches).

They're both dead wrong.

First, Fred: Companies aren't invited because they have money. To participate in DEMO you undergo a rigorous application process and a very critical evaluation. When my company demonstrated in 2005, there were over 700 applications--and around 70 were accepted. That's close to an Ivy League acceptance rate! Chris Shipley and the team have a great eye for technology, and you have to pass their sniff test (and outshine the competition) to get in. Their track record is fantastic (products like Palm, Java, and TiVo were all featured at DEMO in the past--prior to their great success).

Second, Scoble (and this is really just a corollary to the previous point): money would be a crappy filter, anyway! There are tons of companies with bad ideas, bad products, and buckets full of cash. The fact that they could scrape together the $15K (or $25K or whatever it is) to go to the conference means very little.

The fact that a tech luminary like Chris thinks that these products may have the ability to fundamentally change their markets means a lot.

And that is why DEMO is a good filter.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bay.NET Concurrency Talk on Wednesday Thursday

  or those of you Bay Area developers who keep hearing the terms "concurrency" or "concurrent development" and aren't sure exactly how they may apply to you, here's the talk for you.

This week's Bay.NET talk is "Concurrent Software Development - The Next Big Thing." My colleague Kim Greenlee will take a look at concurrency from the ground up: from multi-threaded applications running on a dual-core box to massively parallel grid applications.

For finance developers in the Bay Area, or anyone else who needs concurrency in their applications, tomorrow night's session is a must-see.

When: Thursday, 9/28/2006 at 6:30 PM
Where: San Francisco, 1 Market Street, Landmark Building, 2nd Floor

Click here to register

Update: Fixed day in the title. Really, Kim's talk is Thursday.

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Grid and SaaS: Callidus and Sun Say Yes

  came to SaaScon hoping to find an intersection between grid computing and software as a service. In this morning's session from Sun and Callidus, I found the nexus.

Callidus provides compensation tools for very large (> $1B annual sales) corporations; their tools use models to figure out compensation for individuals, to fine-tune incentive programs, to improve the channels, etc. For the last several years, they've offered both on-premise or on-demand versions of their toolset.

In the session this morning, Callidus VP Shanker Trivedi detailed how Callidus dealt with the widely-variable resource need that their on demand customer base creates. Everyone does payroll at the same time, and they have to handle millions of transactions to properly account for payroll. That means that twice a month they have immense computational needs.

Their solution, by the way, is Java based.

So what did they do? They turned to Sun Grid. As far as I could tell, Sun was already helping them with hosting their applications on its servers. For Callidus's huge computational needs, they simply ported their app to run on SunGrid, Sun's on-demand compute utility. Now, they have dynamic access to all of the computes they need--and they pay by the CPU hour.

This is the reason I came to SaaScon: to find out if there is an intersection between grid computing and SaaS. Just as I had imagined, the need is out there.

For Callidus, the choice to use SunGrid was an obvious one: they didn't want to host it themselves, and their app was written in Java. Sun had the perfect tool.

Of course, not everyone is in the same situation. Dan'l Lewin wrote a column the other day espousing the view that Microsoft has a great platform for SaaS; you should check it out.

Now, if any of those companies that have made the decision to use the Microsoft stack would like to investigate options for grid computing on that platform...well, they should send me an e-mail.

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Wait. I thought "S-a-a-S" spelled "panacea."

  hat splashing sound you heard at 9:30 this morning was a big, cold bucket of reality being poured on the heads of the SaaS vendors here at SaaScon.

The second morning keynote was a panel featuring not SaaS vendors and pundits, but rather CIOs of "real" companies--companies that buy both SaaS and on-premise software.

Tom Murphy of AmerisourceBergen, Jesus Arriaga of Keystone Automotive Industries, and James Woolwine of Majestic Insurance were the CIOs. Their 45-minute panel was interesting, informative, and grounded in reality.

Are these guys down on software as a service? Not at all. They think it holds great promise for certain applications. But they're CIOs: they're pragmatic, they're realists, and ultimately they're responsible for all of the software that gets implemented in their companies.

They've all had experience with SaaS, and certainly some of it was positive. But they seemed to find that SaaS vendors just aren't owning up to the reality of implementing software. They particularly took to task some of the mantras that SaaS companies repeat ad nauseum: "It's easier to implement," "It's easier to use," and "You can pay as you go and stop at any time."

These CIOs know that implementation is always difficult. Whether that software is running on-premise or not, you still have to integrate with the same systems. Ease-of-use isn't guaranteed just because the software is coming in a browser. And the idea that, when all of your critical data is stored in a SaaS vendor's database and datacenter, you could just change your payroll app one day is, well, ridiculous.

One interesting point: these CIOs wanted different things out of SaaS. Woolwine, the CIO of a $100M insurance company, would love to outsorce e-mail. Murphy, the CIO of a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical supply company, would never dream of outsourcing e-mail.

What do they like about SaaS? Well, naturally, it's ease-of-deployment. For anything that's delivered in a browser, there's no install, and that's nice.

But, for them, installation on desktops isn't the hard part about an installation. Integration with existing systems and the training of users on the system are two huge components of any roll-out, and those feel the same for them whether it's a SaaS system or not.

They raised two big concerns: first, data. Not so much security, but who owns it? What happens when the vendor goes out of business? What happens when the contract ends? It's a big concern.

Second, Murphy doesn't like the idea that software can be updated "underneath" him. He's got tens of thousands of employees, and the training and education necessary for rolling out new versions of software is a difficult task: they have strict procedures in place. His question for SaaS vendors: how do I control upgrades and updates? With all of the vendors here preaching "one code base" and "multi-tenancy," it's a great question.

Ultimately, as I said, these guys weren't negative about SaaS. But to them, it's just a delivery model. It's still software. It's got the same difficulties.

Photo credit: justcola

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SaaScon: I Know You Are, But What Am I?

atching a panel discussion this morning break into friendly argument between an SAP representative and the CEO of RightNow Technologies, I realized that it typified my experience at SaaScon (the Software as a Service conference).

I've heard conflicting opinions about, well, just about everything. Some of things I've heard:

I've heard 3 different companies claim to be the "largest Software as a Service company in the world."

I've heard that software is dead. I've heard that enterprise software is dead. I've heard that, with its current 20% CAGR, SaaS will become a $25B market by the end of the decade...roughly 10% of the enterprise software market.

I've heard that the biggest hurdle for SaaS is security. I've heard that the biggest hurdle for SaaS is compliance. I've heard that the biggest reasons to use SaaS are security and compliance.

I've heard it's cheaper in the long run to buy software (on premise). I've heard it's cheaper in the long run to buy software as a service. RightNow Technologies charges the same, hosted or on premise.

I've heard that it's easier to get companies to buy SaaS faster. I've heard that the problem with SaaS as a revenue stream is that it takes a long time to get customers. I've heard that SaaS customers are "stickier:" more likely to stay with the vendor. I've heard that SaaS customers can leave at any moment. I've heard that customers with on premise software are more likely to stay with the vendor.

I've heard that SaaS is the on-ramp to on-premise software. I've heard that SaaS is the off-ramp from on-premise software.

What does all of this point to? Clearly, this is an immature and not-well-understood market. Many companies have many different ideas.

The biggest point that jumps out at me was the CAGR--with huge growth over the next 4 years, SaaS will become 10% of the enterprise software market (leaving 90% on-premise).

This hasn't soured me on SaaS at all. Companies are learning their way around the technologies as they figure out new business models. Disagreement is natural. A lot of what's happening here is so new that the standard answers haven't been agreed upon yet.

A sure sign that SaaS is still defining itself? I've heard several people refer to "SaaS 2.0"--a not-so-subtle attempt to grab on to the coattails of Web 2.0. When your marketeers are grabbing at meaningless labels that have been attached to other technologies, you know that you haven't found your own identity yet.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

GP and FC: SaaSing it up

(if you missed my previous post, that rhymes with "jazzing it up")

P and Fred Chong gave their typical, very informative session about SaaS Architecture this afternoon. My only complaint? Too short. Attention, SaaScon: 45 minutes is not long enough for substantive technical sessions! It's fine if the business track sessions are only 45 minutes, but any technical session worth its salt will need more time than that. Still, GP and Fred powered through, leaving us hungry for more.

Along the way, GP asked an interesting question: How related are SOA and SaaS?

My opinion: of course they are related, but there are some fundamental differences. Similarities? Obviously, they both have a service-enabled interface. Both have a great need for scalability. You may need to be able to provide some sort of metering and billing for each.

But the differences are big, too: SaaS implies multi-tenancy, and that's a big deal. That means writing something that's configurable/customizable for different tenants; for SOA, you don't have multiple tenants. Well implemented SaaS also means defining meta-data so that your customers can have customized data (or some other mechanism for running on different schemas)--SOA doesn't require this.

So it feels as though SaaS has all of SOA's needs, along with a whole lot more complexity.

Back to GP & Fred's talk: they talked about the their three headed beast of SaaS: Scalability, Configurability, and Multi-Tenant Efficiency. These guys have done a ton of work on this (see their white papers), and it is really good content.

By the way, one other thing I'd like to call out about their session: I think, in their 45 minutes, they said the word "Microsoft" exactly once. This wasn't a thinly-disguised commercial presentation: this wasn't a commercial at all. This was an honest, platform-independent discussion of architecture for SaaS. It wasn't specific to the platform, nor did it contain veiled references to the platform--the concepts could be implemented on any platform. I commend them for knowing the difference between a commercial opportunity and a technical session, and I congratulate them for doing it right. An earlier talk from Buell Duncan from IBM contained way too much IBM, and it came across as a commercial.

Back to SaaS: I'm still looking for the best way to exploit grid computing as a means to provide the scalability solution to that three-headed beast--and it looks like my opportunity is coming.

In October, Microsoft is going to release a CTP of a reference architecture of a SaaS application. This will be a living, breathing set of code, implementing a production-quality SaaS application. I can't wait for this. When I talked to GP after their session, he made it clear that they're hoping to release a final version of this code early next year so that people can branch, add their own improvements, etc.

It will be a great opportunity to show how SaaS can take advantage of grid computing to provide the tool to attack the scalability head of the three-headed monster.

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How do you say that?

learned an important lesson during Bill McNee's (founder and CEO of Saugatuck Technology) talk this morning: a new pronunciation of SaaS!

I know lots of people who use SAS Software, and it's always bugged me that SaaS tends to be pronounced the same way (rhymes with "pass").

One possible alternative would be to make it rhyme with "moss" (such as the Haas Pavilion on the Berkeley campus). But "soss" doesn't have any zing to it and just doesn't seem likely to fly.

But Bill McNee had a different take on it, and I loved it. When he says it, it rhymes with "jazz." So it kind of sounds like "sazz." It's perfect: it's jazzy, it's snazzy, and it doesn't conflict with SAS.

From now on, I'm using it. Thanks, Bill!

By the way, there are another couple of acronyms that need pronunciations, and I've been bold enough to step up and offer some:
HTML: hot meal
OPML: oapmeal (sounds like oatmeal)

Any others?
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Wait. I thought O-S-S spelled "Panacea"

ust found the Grid Computing blog by Nikita Ivanov (I'm not sure how I missed that before), and I stumbled on this old (but still topical) post about Open Source Software (he refers to it as "OS" in the quote). He's talking about an event he had just attended with CxOs of major corporations (like Wal*Mart):
OS was practically laughed at on this event... Explanation was pretty simple: any serious mid- to large-business would use OS product only if it would have IBM-style support for it. Period, end of story. In order to get IBM-style support you need to pay - and pay a lot, to the point where free licensing in many cases stops making economic sense. This is rather obvious and blunt explanation but the one that fits reality: companies pay > $100K for Linux installation/maintenance/support from major vendors such IBM, HP and Novell...
I don't have anything huge to add to that--it's a view I've long espoused. Open Source Software has some great success stories, and some great technical successes. But it's not a panacea, and, on an enterprise scale, isn't as free as it sounds.

I've heard people here at SaaScon refer to SaaS and Open Source as if they are somehow inextricably linked, and it's a bit annoying. SaaS can be implemented on any OS on any platform--free or expensive, open source or not.

(More posts on SaaScon to come, including an exciting new pronunciaton of SaaS!)

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SaaScon 2006: Keynote 1

oday and tomorrow find me at SaaScon: The Business to Business event for Software as a Service.

The morning started off with Paul Gillin introducing Tim Chou (formerly of Oracle). Tim is a polished speaker and he was a wise choice for the opening keynote. He has an easygoing manner, and he delivered his entire talk with no notes and no slides. He just spoke--it was a very compelling delivery...

...and yet, I found myself quite uncompelled by his talk. Interesting, because I agreed with his general point: Software as a Service is succeeding today, will continue to succeed, and will change the software business top-to-bottom.

My first issue with Tim's talk was his take on customization: customization is dead. He gave the example of a dial tone: no one was ever offered a "custom" dial tone, so everyone is happy using the same dial tone. He then gave an anecdote of a customer they analyzed at Oracle: the customer had added 2,000 customizations to their software, but in two years had only actually used 2 of them.

Frankly, I found his examples to be almost condescending to enterprise software vendors. The idea that "because we all use the same dial tone, we can all use identical software" is just silly. Customization is definitely a part of life. If, as an enterprise software vendor, you pretend that you won't need to customize for your customers, you are kidding yourself and doomed to fail. Personal software is a different matter entirely, but this is a "Business to Business event."

I much prefer Gianpaolo Carraro and Fred Chong's take on customization: architect your system so that customization can be handled in a standard way so that you can customize without losing the benefits of shared hosting.

I had another disagreement with Tim's talk: the old "83% of organization's software IT budget goes to supporting existing software" saw. I've heard this before (with different numbers, but all of them large and over 70). The implication seems to be that 17% of a budget on new software isn't enough. But it always makes me think: how much should an IT department be spending on new software every year? Fifty percent? A hundred percent? Can you imagine buying all new software every year, constantly training your users on new software?

Moreover, moving to SaaS may change this number, but it's not as meaningful as you might think: it means that, rather than paying money on managing, you're paying more annual money for license and the cost of managing is built in to that license. And if you are able to get that software cheaper (because your SaaS provider is doing a good job of taking advantage of economies of scale and passing that savings on to you), that doesn't mean that the you now have more budget to spend on new software: it means that you now have a smaller budget. The part of your budget that was paying to maintain that software is now built into your license cost (and, ideally, it's smaller).

There seems to be this myth among companies in SaaS discussions that if we can lower software cost through SaaS, customers will be able to spend more money on software.

Wrong. Customers like SaaS when it saves them money. It doesn't free up huge IT budgets--it helps them decrease their IT budget.

Anyway, I'm glad to be at the conference, and I'm exciting to see the sessions (especially GP and Fred's talk later today)

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Excel Services Is Cruising the .NET Waters; Excel 2007 Missed the Boat

have blogged pretty extensively about my experiences writing .NET code for Excel Services (the server-based version of Excel that will be part of
SharePoint Server 2007). To sum it up: it's awesome. It is a fantastic idea, and the seamless way they've incorporated .NET programmability (with attribute-based model) is elegant and functional.

I've been writing .NET code behind spreadsheets pretty much since they released VSTO in 2003, and this is a tremendous improvement. To make a .NET method available in Excel Services, you simply add a [UdfClass] attribute to your class, and a [UdfMethod] attribute to your method. That's it. Deploy the DLL (or EXE) to the SharePoint server, and you can now use that method from within Excel cells in Excel Services.

This is, well, amazingly simple. I was (frankly) astounded at how easy it was--and I've been using VBA and VSTO from the get-go. Finally, a very simple way to do real programming behind a spreadsheet. VSTO was great, too, but you needed an add-in for Visual Studio, and you had to deal with all sorts of .NET permissions restrictions and deployment difficulties. This, on the other hand, was quick, painless, and elegant.

The only hitch? When working with Excel Services, you build your spreadsheets in Excel 2007 (naturally). And Excel 2007 doesn't know anything about tyour User Defined Function. So when you're working in Excel, your function calls look like this:

See all of those #NAME? values? That's because Excel doesn't recognize the function.

I asked Shahar Prish, Excel Services developer and blogger extraordinaire, about this, and he promised to write some posts about how to make that same UDF available in Excel. And, in the last few weeks, he's kept his promise.

As he explained here and here, there is a "simple" way to make your .NET method available in Excel:


That's right. COM. The technology of the 90s. And, it's a typical COM pain in the ass. I'm borrowing liberally from Shahar's post for the code below. You simply:
  • Decorate your class like so...

  • Add register and unregister methods...

  • Use regasm to register your COM server

  • Tell Excel to enable your Automation Server as an add in

  • Whew!

    And, get this, that's only if you have zero-dimensional inputs or outputs. If you have 1 or 2 dimensional inputs (my first real UDF had 10 inputs, including a 2-dimensional array), it's even more complicated.

    What does all of this mean? Well, I understand that Excel Services and Excel are two different products, and that one was born in the .NET era and one came of age as the earth was cooling. Let's face it: Excel has a legacy of code older than college freshmen.

    And yet, Microsoft has been pushing .NET on all of us for 6 years. They've had lots of time to improve Excel's integration with it. Forcing developers in 2006 to go through all of that COM work is, well, enough of a pain that people just won't do it.

    Shahar, by the way, is a great guy and did a great job with his posts. I continue to be impressed with that team and with their product.

    I only hope that the rest of the Office teams catch up with them.

    Photo credit: matthew_hull

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    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    New Feature Roundup!

    he last few weeks have been crazy busy and, as usual, blogging has, for the most part, fallen by the wayside. I even let the Digipede Network 1.3 product release slip by with nary a mention!

    John and I were at GridWorld (he was giving talks and receiving awards, I was learning about data grids and talking to partners) when the press release went out.

    There are some very cool features in this release--here are a few (and why I think they're cool). Note that this isn't a comprehensive list; shoot me an e-mail if you're interested in one of those.

  • Task Progress Reporting: The Digipede Framework now allows distributed applications to report progress information back to the server during tasks--so those long running tasks can give feedback on how they're going

  • Windows CCS Integration: Want to use the Digipede Network to run jobs on those hot new CCS nodes, but make sure that you're not stealing cycles from the cluster's important jobs? No problem. The Digipede Agent can now monitor the CCS job scheduler and stop using the node whenever it's being used by CCS.

  • Major API Additions: This list is long! Now you have programmatic access to the pools on the system and to all jobs on the system. There are many new helper methods that make grid-enabling your .NET applications (or, as Greg Nawrocki would say, "virtualizing your applications") easier than ever.

  • Improved Debugging: Speaking of .NET applications, those are easier than ever to debug, thanks to some new methods on the DigipedeClient and JobTemplate.

  • AsyncResult pattern: In addition to the asynchronous pattern that we featured in previous releases (XXXXAsync), we're now supporting the BeginXXXX/EndXXXX pattern.

  • Monitor system from Workbench: Digipede Workbench is a job submission tool, not a system administration tool. Still, you might want to start Workbench in the morning and look at all the jobs that ran last night, right? Maybe attach it to a running job and follow its progress, or see which tasks ran on which machine? Bingo. It's in there.

  • Everyone here did a great job on this release, but special thanks go out to Rob, Mark, and Jeff.

    No time to celebrate, though...we've got product plans to finish for upcoming releases. And evermore publicity, too. Look for a post soon that details some exciting upcoming events: MSDN webcasts, magazine articles, and more!

    Thanks to the Web2.0 Logo Creator by Alex P for the logo.

    Update 2006-09-20 9:50pm: At Rob's suggestion, I clarified the description of the async pattern.

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    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Grid Computing in Action!

    or people who want to see some "grid computing in action," here's a quick video:

    The video below shows a grid computing race: on the left, you'll see a calculation of a portion of a Mandelbrot set in real time on my machine. On the right, you'll see the exact same code executing on a testbed of fivenine machines.

    Update 2006-09-20 10:24: Changing video to one with narration.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that fivenine machines are much, much faster than one.

    How easy was this? I simply wrote a class that could calculate a portion of the Mandelbrot set. On the left side, I started a thread that called that class 25 times in succession (iterating over the coordinates for this graph). On the right side, I iterated over the coordinates and created 25 instances of my class, then shipped those off to the Digipede Network.

    Before my local thread can even complete one calculation, the grid has returned a bunch of calcs (the black squares take the longest--that's why the bright ones get returned so much faster). In the end, the 59 machines finished in 15 seconds, and my local machine took over a minute.

    I may produce a bunch of these videos. It's pretty quick and easy with SnagIt and YouTube (and, yes, as soon as I get into the SoapBox beta, I'll use it).

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    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

    Well, that's what the craps dealers in Vegas might say.

    It was a good day for us at Grid World 2006.

    John gave a talk, and it was SRO. Apparently, lots of people are wondering how it's possible to offer a grid solution that SMBs can buy, too.

    Then, there was an Awards Ceremony for GridToday's first annual Readers' and Editors' Choice Awards. It was not a very glamorous event--Joan and Melissa Rivers' calendars must have been full--but it was rewarding, nonetheless.

    The Digipede Network received an Editors' Choice Award for "Best price / performance middleware solution for a grid implementation." Well, we actually shared that award with United Devices, but let's not quibble over details. It's great to be recognized, especially with a company who has been doing this for so much longer than we have, and especially when so many other companies were considered for this award. (And, by the way, if anyone is actually doing price/performance benchmarks, I'll put our solution up against absolutely anything in the market. Go ahead--make my day).

    I attended plenty of interesting sessions (great data grid sessions from Tangosol and GemStone), too. More later about the synergy between compute grids and data grids...

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Preparing for a release? Get out of town!

    eleasing software wreaks havoc on my blogging schedule! I've been meaning to post all week to follow up on my last post about concurrency, but with the imminent release of the Digipede Network 1.3, I simply haven't had time.

    Here's a synopsis of what I would have said, had this not been the week before release: Go read Joe Landman (here and here) for some really interesting stuff on the future of concurrency, from a software AND hardware perspective...

    As the Director of Products (and product manager for the Digipede Network), release time means something different to me than it ever has before (as a developer or manager of developers). Now, I'm not fixing bugs (thankfully, there have been few bugs in the last couple of weeks). Instead, I'm fixated on the myriad details that surround the software: API references (for our ever-growing .NET and COM APIs), user documentation, administrator documentation, ensuring that the test suites are covering everything, monitoring the bug database (we use Gemini) to make sure nothing's popped up, etc. Add to that one of our busiest sales months ever, and it leads to some thinly stretched employees and some long nights.

    In addition to releasing software next week, John Powers and I are headed to GridWorld in Washington, D.C. John's giving a talk which sounds like it's going to be terrific; I'm just attending. There are a bunch of exciting sessions (in fact, I don't think I'm even going to have time in my schedule to see John's talk!).

    If you're attending next week (or if you're just in DC), and you're interested in talking grid with me, feel free to give me a call (510-816-7551) or send me an e-mail (dan AT digipede DOT net).

    Photo credit: chelle

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