Recently I attended LinuxWorld in San Francisco, CA and wanted to share my experience there. We at myhosting.com make it a point to attend these type of conferences to ensure we are providing the latest and greatest technologies to our customers as well as to stay on top of emerging technologies.
Although the conference was a combination of LinuxWorld and the NGDC (Next Generation Data Center) the keynotes and presentations were mostly about the challenges of running a Data Center.
One notable exception was the feature presentation we attended on Monday from Sebastian Thrun of Stanford University. If you have ever seen the PBS show about the “Grand Challenge” to get autonomous vehicles to drive themselves across the desert – this was an update to that show (with some insight into how they use computers running Linux to make the vehicles drive). Not content with having vehicles that can travel through the desert, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) later commissioned the “Urban Challenge” to have the various universities have their vehicles navigate city streets and obey traffic laws.
Naturally Cisco was promoting 10 Gigabit Ethernet for providing adequate bandwidth for servers hosting virtual machines, as well as consolidating infiniband (for connections in a high performance computing environment – also rated at a maximum speed of 10GigE) and FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet – fibre channel currently has a typical speed of 4 GigE).Â Both infiniband and fibre channel require special wiring and switching and are not likely to be found built-in to servers like Ethernet ports are.
Xen, as the standard virtual machine hypervisor, was well represented and promoted (directly by Oracle and Citrix, and indirectly by others talking about the need for virtualization to run data centers more efficiently). Xen is an open source and open standard hypervisor allowing multiple discreet operating systems to share Intel/AMD hardware. Xen is used directly by Oracle, Citrix, RedHat, SuSE, Virtual Iron and many others who provide their own management tools. Microsoft Hyper-V is also based on Xen. We offer both Xen and Microsoft Hyper-V Virtual Servers at myhosting.com.
Oracle with their Oracle VM product reminded us that now that VMware’s closed binary-translation hypervisor is free – Microsoft is now the most expensive currently available hypervisor at $28.
Oracle also told us about their new data center project being built in Utah. As data centers become more dense (it is possible to fit more computing power into a smaller volume, but consuming more power and producing more heat) they picked Utah because they can use ambient outside air for cooling rather than having to run chillers and air conditioners.
Oracle will use Oracle VM to completely automate provisioning and management of their cloud computing, SaaS (Software as a Service), demo and training infrastructure. Customer facing virtual machines can be suspended to disk on Friday at 5pm, and the now free machines can even be powered off for the weekend; further saving power and cooling until the machines are resumed on Monday morning following the weekend, or even weeks later, exactly where the servers were left.
The presentation with the most eye candy was of course from Lucasfilm. During the presentation were several clips of Star Wars (live and animated/rendered) and other special effects wizardry. Kevin Clark talked about the challenges of dealing with artists and tight deadlines and the constant need for more storage and performance especially from the network. He talked about how hidden Lucasfilm’s various studios were before they were consolidated into the Letterman Digital Arts Center, and how it is unnerving to be greeted by fans dressed as Storm Troopers at the gates on the way to work now.
We also sat in on Ubicon (Ubuntu Users’ Conference), a presentation from Luke Kanies the author of puppet (for configuration management and automation of *nix based machines including Mac OSX) and group discussions of zManda (and open source backup solutions) as well as Xen virtualization (the Xen roadmap and what Citrix is doing to promote Xen on the desktop and laptops).
SoftCom Technology Consulting Inc.