OT: it really focuses your attention on the important things

[Update below the fold]
My wife has this tongue-in-cheek “theory” on balance in the universe. Comes from being a physics geek I guess (yeah, we are a pair). Maybe I’ll tell the “spherical horse” joke some day again, in public.
Our opening of 2011 was, well, crappy. And thats an understatement.
We lost her father Frank to cancer. He had fought off one form, and 2 years later, it reared its ugly head. I remember packing him into the jeep early October 2010, bringing him to the hospital. He didn’t come home, and he really wanted to.
Saying this sucked doesn’t quite capture the depth, the range … But sucked it did. Affected all of our family profoundly.
Made me start considering mortality. I mean, in an abstract sense, I had before. I knew I would not be around forever. I have specific plans when I am 97, I want to see Halley’s return (yeah, I’m a physics geek) … first time, I was trudging across the NIST (then NBS) campus working on writing code for an experiment that would be famous later. I would really like to make it to at least that. And I would like my wife and daughter along with me.
This year has been bittersweet. I told you the bitter. Well, part of the bitter. The sweet has been familial and company. My daughter continues to grow … starting nearly 12 years ago, as a magnificent and terrifying creature able to fit from my hand to my elbow, now to a young lady with a formidable vocabulary, a ravenous curiosity about the world, and an intense eloquence and creativity. Yeah, all parents think this of their kids. Me too. The company has shattered all our previous records. This makes me happy.
Its the things that intrude upon that. Bitter never leaves. It just hides in the background, waiting for the moment to rear its head.
In a few hours I take my wife of 20 years to the surgeon and oncologist to discuss our options. Prognosis is excellent from all I’ve read up on DCIS, as long as we act quickly and get accurate information.
I’ve seen, first hand, with very dear friends, what can happen if something goes … horribly … horribly … wrong with this.

Read moreOT: it really focuses your attention on the important things

Senses of urgency

We do lots of business with customers who want things yesterday. We do what we can to accommodate, but we do build things in a just-in-time model. Avoids costly inventory, and keeps us nimble. This also means we have to micromanage our suppliers. Many don’t quite understand what a “sense of urgency” means. When we … Read moreSenses of urgency

Announcing dust v1.0

Dust has finally …. FINALLY …. been released. We’ve had the driver update packs out there for a while, but finally we’ve released DUST. What is DUST you might say? How about a way to automatically update drivers from source/distributions? But wait … isn’t that just dkms? Sort of. We’ve found … horrific problems … … Read moreAnnouncing dust v1.0

Uptick in requests for software only solution

Some locations are farther than others, and this makes shipping gear pretty expensive. We’ve been asked for a software only version of our stack from the 2 remaining continents we don’t have installs on (ok, 2 of 3 … not to much business in Antarctica right now).
I won’t get into the positives/negatives of this business model. Shipping bits lowers costs as compared to shipping atoms. But atoms are tangible, and require a cost to reproduce patterns that bits don’t impose.
This said, a great concern for us is the myriad of poorly designed very low end storage we see people designing and building, and pretending it is high performance. We get lots of inquiries from people who have built once, discovered its not fast, and then realize that mebbe there is an art/science to this.
There is. It ain’t easy to get good performance, and its real easy to get poor performance. Which is what most people get.

Read moreUptick in requests for software only solution

#SC11 benchmarketing gone horribly awry

OMFG … we were (and are) continuously inundated with benchmarketing numbers. These numbers purport to represent the system in question.
They don’t. We can derive their numbers by multiplying the number of drives by the theoretical best case performance, assuming everything else is perfect. Never mind that it never is perfect. Its that the benchmarketing numbers haven’t been measured, in a real context.
We do the measurements in a real context and report the results to end users. SATA SSDs which report 50k IOPs? Reality is 2k to 6k in most cases. And you know, we show, and at #SC11, we showed, exactly this, with the same tests that we ran on Flash (PCIe flash that is).
Our results were compelling. 10x SSDs in a RAID5, optimized for erasure block size, and other things, was 1/10th the performance on random IO (4k random reads and writes, 70% of them reads) as the PCIe flash.
This is tremendously compelling as I’ve pointed out before. PCIe flash blows the doors off of SSD flash for IOPs in real tests.

Read more#SC11 benchmarketing gone horribly awry

#SC11 interviews, observations, and thoughts

Yeah, this show had lots of folks talking storage. Obviously we did too. Nicole from Datanami (she had a terrible cold running at the time, I hope she is feeling better), asked me to give a short set of non advertising type interviews. Below is what I did, given no prep, no forwarning, and about 30 seconds to mentally prepare (and that might be generous).
Part 1: Big Data in Media and Entertainment

and Part 2: Accelerating Big Data using Flash and caching with siFlash

Read more#SC11 interviews, observations, and thoughts

#SC11 wrap up, part 1 (short)

Back in Michigan. ?Long flight, quite tired, but back.
This was a good show for us. ?A very good show. ?Gave away lots of siMugs, released siFlash, did demos and had discussions.
Generally speaking, we had good booth traffic, and many readers of this blog came by to say hello. ?Thank you for that! ?I very much enjoyed this, and meeting people in person for the first time.
Sponsoring Beobash was fun. ?Was too tired to hang out much longer, but it was nice to buy the beer for the community as compared to simply consuming it. ?And getting introduced as an “old fart”, yeah … well … if the label fits … 🙂
I am annoyed I never got the meters to work correctly on siFlash. ?Gonna spend some time on that next week. ?Looks like a simple caching bug that I can’t quite figure out right now, but I am also working on generalizing the meters, so that we can put anything on the speedometer … not just hardwire it. ?Going to tie this in to the other monitoring stuff we’ve done, and into Tiburon.
For those who missed my Tiburon demo, I talked (but didn’t actually show … my bad) the nodes booting, and the maximum level of configuration being, push the power button as you add a new node. ?This is exactly where we want to be. ?Of the cluster distributions out there, I think only Warewulf (the?resuscitated?Warewulf) is comparable, and there’s a good probability that the stuff we do around Tiburon may be also back-ended by WW.

Read more#SC11 wrap up, part 1 (short)

#SC11 T-1 and counting … Beobash, booth and stuff…

Tonight was/is Beobash. ?First time I stopped drinking the beer, and started buying the beer. ?Was very nice, but we were (collectively and individually) exhausted. ?Snapped a few pics. ?Will try to have them up tomorrow. ?Very nice venue. ?Very good crowd. Booth (#SC11 booth 4101) is up. ?Amazingly, everything seems to be working. ?Even … Read more#SC11 T-1 and counting … Beobash, booth and stuff…

#SC11 T minus 2 days : on the plane … yeah … on the plane

Somewhere over Montana, around Helena. ?Bumpy weather up ahead. ?Finished PR v1 for siFlash, Doug is editing. ?Will get this out tomorrow at a few venues (we’ve promised one specific one will be first). Working on the presentations for the booth. ?siFlash intro, the whole arc with big data, siCluster and our JackRabbit and DeltaV … Read more#SC11 T minus 2 days : on the plane … yeah … on the plane