Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Concurrency: It's the New New Thing, Elvis

he last week has been way too busy for me to get any blogging done, which is unfortunate: I've had lots of things I've wanted to say about lots of things.

I've been paying a lot of attention to what people have been saying about concurrency recently. Kim has had a great series of posts (look here, and at the preceding few) on concurrency. Savas had a post on PLinq. My new new favorite blog is Larry O'Brien's He's also had some great concurrency posts recently, as well as a couple of articles up at DevX. He pointed me to Michael Süß's Thinking Parallel blog, which is jampacked with highly detailed info about concurrency.

In a related note, I spent yesterday at Microsoft, attending yet another briefing about Compute Cluster Server. Jeff Kahn and Bob Withers teamed up for the presentation, and it was by far the best CCS presentation I've seen yet. And yet...

...I still left feeling that, by making clusters so much easier to install and manage, Microsoft has only solved half of the problem. Or less than half.

I mean, sure: installation and administration is a big deal. Some would argue that it isn't hard with current technologies, but some would argue that it is and that needs to be fixed. Clearly, Microsoft falls in to that second camp, and they've done a ton of work to make it easy.

I'd argue: it isn't just about installation and administration. It's about the apps. How can you write applications to run on that cluster? How can you take clusters from the realm of the technical and scientific to the realm of the enterprise?

How do you make 16, 32, 64, 1024 processors available to regular developers? Not the world's greatest experts, but for Elvis and Mort as well as Einstein.

That's what needs to happen. Einstein can already write distributed software (and he already does). But for every Einstein out there, there are 10 Elvises. And for every Elvis, there are 20 Morts. Give them the ability to write software to run across the cluster, and you've got yourself a winner. (And in case you haven't seen the blatant self-promotion coming a mile away, here you go).

Sorry to only post once this week. We're due to release in a couple of weeks, and I've been slammed. This is only made worse because I'm taking the next couple of days off: I'm heading out to Knoxville to see my beloved Golden Bears take on the Volunteers in one of the most hostile environments in the country.

I'll return after Labor Day.

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