All You Need is TCP – EtherSAN and Storage Networks, Part II

John Wakerly of Cisco was most kind in his comments – nice to get someone of his stature to read my paper (“All You Need is TCP: EtherSAN and Storage Networks“). His issue is latency. Time is money, right?

Both John Wakerly and Greg Pfister (who’s also come alive on this topic earlier this week) have the same issue, but are approaching it from different angles – with Greg, it’s geography, and with John I think it comes down to time. But I think it’s really the same answer, just like position is momentum, and energy is time.

John is right in saying that iscsi works. I don’t dispute that. It’s a good enough solution within the enterprise. And it was a very fast way to produce a product through reductionism. I approve of fast product cycles, since most of the time you’re just building the same thing with a small variation on the theme, so reductionism is the way I’d do it for a normal product cycle.

But the reason I did the paper was precisely because it’s about something that hasn’t happened yet – global network storage, so I’m not tied to reductionism. I’ve noticed when the slipshod send-it-again overallocate-the-bandwidth habits of the Internet meet the obsessive-compulsive control-freak tell-me-what-went-pop-and-fix-it-now enterprise, things just don’t seem to mesh right. So elements get thrown out and thrown in, depending on corner cases and product need. But that’s not really the way to get a spanning set across products – it only takes care of the current product crisis.

Dancing to the Street Waffle

Alan Saracevic’s article “Dancing to the Street Waffle” discussed the tendency in business towards “blaming the other guy” as a means to avoid facing hard business problems. So I asked him “One question – from my reading of your article, it seems that we’re heading towards a big fall again – maybe another Black October? Or do you think they can continue to invent more excuses easily digested by gullible investors until past the election?”

So what did Alan say? Well, he’s been around and I’m sure heard the “crash” worries time and again to be too worried about it. “I wouldn’t say we’re heading for a crash. A story I read today tells me a lot – insiders are buying stock at a pace unseen in two years. That means they believe it’s heading up – but if I knew anything about trading stock, I wouldn’t be working at a newspaper…”

All You Need is TCP – EtherSAN and Global Network Storage

It’s been a bit difficult to write this month with a death in the family, a product launch (“Valux to focus on MinutePitch “) with a partner (), a paper (“Lessons Learned in Massive Video Production (MVP) for University Alumni Outreach“) for ACE2004 in Singapore last month (at the same time as the death, sigh), a wedding, and a funeral. So I’m only now looking at some serious comments regarding my earlier paper (“All You Need is TCP: EtherSAN and Storage Networks“) for the global storage workshop.

Greg Pfister of IBM, Mr. “In Search of Clusters”, was kind enough to provide some feedback on the paper. His questions were to the point – I needed to explain better 1) “What is an EtherSAN?” and 2) “Why Should I care? As he said “Answer those two questions. It can be done in 6 pages. It can be done, in fact, in one page.” So here it is, in a page for everyone who asked me this.

Ethersan is unique in being a single, comprehensive technology object, used in processors, networks and peripherals, whose expression in each is different, yet each uses the same mechanism from a different perspective. Like Intel’s Pentium, the same core can be expressed with strikingly different products, yet is the same core.

Portable Video – It’s the Conduct, not the Content!

Sony’s new Vaio Pocket doesn’t do video even though it’s got a 2.2 inch color screen. Instead, Sony fell back to images of album covers and photos. Why? According to CNnet, “I tend to think it’s premature to get into this market in the United States right now, because of a lack of video services,” said Mike Abary, Sony Electronics’ general manager of Vaio marketing.

But in Japan, it’s different. A version that allows video downloads is going to be introduced there shortly. But not in the good old USA. The reason is that the usual downloaded video – movies and TV shows – are just too long according to Ross Rubin, an analyst with NPD Techworld. “But I don’t see consumers having long sessions with these devices.”

So it’s not long movies or TV – it’s short clips and highlights, produced economically for the even smaller screen that is the key to acceptance. As CNet concludes “So service providers will have to be creative to offer video content in a way that is appetizing to potential users.” And this means massive video production to scale to meet this need.

Denali, Space, and other Challenges for Women

While I’ve been talking to middle-school girls about physics and astronomy and the wonders of space, my sister-in-law has been taking up another challenge in a different space – climbing Denali in Alaska. I just got the word from my brother Greg Messner on her accomplishment today:

“SPECIAL NEWS FLASH!!!!! 3:25PM. The team tried Sat but encountered a storm at 19,000 feet and were unable to Summit and were turned back. They tried again on Sunday and Matt, Steve, Scott and a girl named Nicky [Messner] were able to reach the summit. They are now back at Camp 5 resting before heading down the mountain. They should be in Talkeetna in 2-3 days.”

So girls are doing simply everything these days. Way to go, Nicky!

Girls Just Want to Have Astro Fun

I was out of the office teaching what’s hot in astrophysics much of this week to a wonderful audience – the best and brightest middle school girls in science in California. The American Association of University Women of California (AAUW) sponsored a one week summer program for young women at Stanford University called “Tech Trek Science, Math, & Computer Camp” on July 11-17 2004. There were 125 seventh graders attending from all over California this year – all vital and curious.

I put together a presentation on current topics in astronomy and astrophysics. It’s a great time for a girl to consider this area as a career, with the Rutan’s SpaceShip One and the robotics successes of Spirit and Opportunity. Plus, as I mentioned in my presentation, there is very little gender discrimination in the field – in other words, equal pay and equal work is the norm in physics and astronomy, plus many mixed teams and interesting projects.

Let’s Arm Wrestle for Sniffing that Rock

Went over the PARC yesterday to hear Kanna Rajan of the Computational Sciences Division of the NASA Ames Research Center discuss “From Interplanetary Cruise to the Surface of Mars – The Challenges of infusing AI in Space”.

Integrating AI into anything has always been a tough proposition, because the generalized systems solutions are always in search of a problem that can’t be solved by breaking down the problem into simpler components or by the use of sheer massive computational grit. So it was interesting to hear it used – not for complicated analysis of navigation in spaceflight, for example, as intended but instead to resolve scheduling disputes between teams sharing time on an interplanetary robot by using a “mission-critical AI application on a NASA science mission”.

Google Stole Code? Is Social Networking that Hard?

I just saw on Cnet the following headline “Lawsuit accuses Google of code theft – Start-up claims an engineer stole software code to create the popular online social networking service” If true, I just don’t get why those Google guys would have to rip off someone’s social networking software. It’s not rocket science or OS architecture we’re talking about here – anyone can put together the basic mechanism using an off-the-shelf open source content management system, plus some python programming in about a month – 2 weeks if you full-time it. My son could do it, and he’s 14!

Of course, I never understood the open source guys ripping off old OS work either, when the chip architectures had changed, and you could do something a lot faster, better, cheaper. But that’s real work – not kiddie script stuff like we’re hearing about here.

I guess some folks would rather spend years stealing than a few hours thinking. Or do you think the Orkut engineer was just desperate for a date and couldn’t wait?

Valux, 3G and ExecProducer

Rob Enderle, industry analyst in his article The Death and Rebirth of the Movie Industry mentions my work at ExecProducer with one of our partners. “Even moving further down-market, a little start-up in Silicon Valley — a firm called Valux has introduced a product, MinutePitch, that allows you to take the raw videos that some cell phones and digital cameras create to produce video marketing collateral and measure the success of that collateral.”

It’s not just camcorders anymore – it’s 3G and Me.