All You Need is TCP: EtherSAN and Storage Networks

It’s always fun trying to get feedback on a paper due to be talked up few days later, but that’s always seems to be the way it is, at least for the UMN DISC Intelligent Storage Workshop coming up next week.

Anyway, what’s the paper about? The idea is think of the big Internet as being your storage channel. Getting the world to work like, say, fibrechannel, but you don’t use fibrechannel or some specialized separate network. Nope, we just use a really really low-latency layer1-4 dataflow processing mechanism but like Billy Joel would say “it’s still TCP to me”.

Hierarchical State Machines

Dropped by Miro Samek’s talk “Hierarchical State Machines: a Fundamentally Important Way of Software Design” at PARC last week, and still thinking about it. While the title is a bit over-the-top, some of the ideas such as a “quantum language” fit quite nicely in an RTOS. Of course, it’s architecture, architecture, architecture.

Mr. Samek himself sees the “framework” as applicable to many areas, such as real-time embedded systems, GUIs, or networking servers. He also is working on a realtime preemptive kernel which he says he will release soon. Why? As he put it himself “Obviously, what I’m doing is cottage-industry, but that’s all I can do alone.” Sounds like a good enough reason – just to try and see if it flies. That’s what exploration is all about.

Trials and Tribulations

Well, I’m beginning to make preparations for Singapore to talk to people about my paper Lessons Learned in Massive Video Production (MVP) for University Alumni Outreach on the yearlong trials of using Massive Video Production we created at ExecProducer to encourage alumni participation through produced video by students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the department.

Working with the Physics Department of the University of California at Berkeley, ExecProducer created an entirely new mechanism to subscribe, process, and approve up to 2,500 video productions viewable via the web internationally on a custom website, with links to news and information on endowments and donations. The trials were launched as part of former Chancellor Berndahl’s rejuvenation of the department after an official report critical of the future of the department was released.

Tommy, Can You Hear Me?

Norimitsu Onishi’s article in the New York Times entitled “Japanese Find a Forum to Vent Most-Secret Feelings” is fascinating. According to Mr. Onishi, “In a society in which subtlety is prized above all, face-to-face confrontation is avoided, insults can be leveled with verbal nuances and hidden meanings are found everywhere, there is one place where the Japanese go to bare their souls and engage in verbal combat: Channel 2.”

What is “Channel 2”? Simply an anonymous Internet BBS where secrets can be unburdened and read by others without retribution. Unlike American “talk radio”, where people actually want to be known, Channel 2 is a way to reveal oneself and others with no concern for social or business status.

In the DataCenter: A Tale of Two Opinions

Santa Cruz Operation, the company that purchased the rights to Unix from Novell and then launched a series of lawsuits against IBM and high profile users of Linux, has had a somewhat difficult time of it enforcing what they claim is their “rights”, enduring reactions ranging from denial of service attacks from hackers to legal wrangling over just what rights they bought from Novell in the first place.

So it’s no surprise that once again, they are tacking into the wind. But is SCO sailing into calmer legal waters, or is it simply a lull before the storm? Did the “Eldred” case championed by Dr. Lessig of Stanford Law School provide the key to a new approach? Please join me In the DataCenter as I examine SCO’s new direction in A Tale of Two Opinions. [Format: mp4/Unix or QT6+/Mac or Windows].

California, Missions, and Astronomy…

One of the nice things about Silicon Valley is the plethera of colleges and universities who offer all kinds of unusual lectures. Where else but here would we get to hear a talk combining, for example, astronomy, ancient cultures, and the California Missions?

My 4th grade daughter, an amateur astronomer, also did a California missions project this year as mandated for all California elementary students. She did a movie on Mission San Jose, a walking tour through the recently renovated mission describing all of it’s interesting history and features. One viewer said she was the “next Sister Wendy”.

The Dying American Dream and Irrational Joylessness

Mike Cassidy of the Merc wrote a nice essay on the casualties of the dot-com bubble selling out and leaving Silicon Valley. Not all of the people who worked hard here cashed out or got rich – actually, only a few did really well, although most everyone here likes to pretend they did better than everyone else. It’s a peculiar SV conceit.

I’m fourth generation Californian, born in Fremont and went to Berkeley. I’ve always lived in the Bay Area. I remember the orchards, now long gone, and how I used to ride my bike through them coming home from Parkmont Elementary school.

What, me worry?

This little article just in from a dedicated Cisco engineer. Looks like Cisco is taking a “broadside” from Broadcom in the “TCP offload” universe.

Of course, notice the weasel words of “”selected network streams”. In contrast, at InterProphet we showed a 10x advantage of all network streams on NT at Microsoft in their offices in Redmond in 1998 with a patented design. So it’s taken Broadcom and Microsoft working together about 6 years to kind of make something work but not really. Not very impressive.

Reliable Wireless and Link Layers

It is often the case that a “different” puzzle presents an opportunity for a young scientist to say “Oh, I can solve this problem because it’s different”. Well, sure…but is it simpler, or simply different?

The question begs in a discussion of using reliable link layers in wireless to solve the problem of retransmissions and poor QOS. The problem is that artifact of retransmission distorts the use of the medium, because too many retransmits / congestion events occur, biasing the statistics and becoming unfair. The solution for the wireless approach is to use the same thing that causes artifacts of noise as an architectural solution.

Flamethrowers and Memories

Alex Cannera dropped an interesting paper on my desktop discussing congestion control in grid networks. And it’s results confirm what I and others have seen over the years – Vint Cerf seriously saw in 1998 that hop-by-hop reliability preserving end-to-end semantics in the routers was the real key to handling this issue. Vint also is a renowned wine expert, and treated me and William to a wonderful tour of fine wines at the Rubicon in San Francisco where we had a memorable discussion on exactly this issue.