Posted in Personal

I must work for Amazon

Well, I’ve worked myself out of another job, mostly, as I assisted the current company into the Amazon cloud. They were operating their system from a hosting environment, so they were mostly in the ‘Cloud’ anyway. And as you might guess I dislike the whole ‘Cloud’ hype as it’s mostly a marketing term. So what I convinced them to do, is improve their scalability by moving the server into the equivalent systems in the Amazon ‘hosting’ environment.

As part of the exercise the database from move from a MySQL database on Windows server, to the Amazon RDS the the webserver/application servers (windows) to EC2 instances, with additional storage in the Amazon S3 facility.

The process was, as usual, a learning experience, and Amazon still has issues with their interfaces to their corner of the Cloud. But it all works, I managed to defrag the database, and apply more indexing and SQL revisions to the point that it runs so smoothly, they don’t need me anymore. Hence the working myself out of a job. Amazon should hire me to sell their services.

 

Posted in Personal, RDBMS

Apache Web Projects

Having just escaped/exited from a brief encounter with a company utilizing some of Apache’s Web Projects. I keep being struck by the feeling that I’ve seen the issues before. Over a fairly long run in the IT industry I have the feeling that Apache and it’s contributors have been busy re-inventing the wheel. The Apache Hadoop as a distributed file system designed for large data sets. Apache Solr a full text search server and indexer combined with Apache Lucene supplying the search libraries. Coordinated by Apache ZooKeeper all begins to sound like a description of your average Relational Database System (RDBMS) 

All these elements being created by the Apache Foundation  have been, sometime in the past, been solved by most of the Relational (Big) database vendors. All the bugs and missed steps have all been made by previous developments which only reminds me of the old saw

“Those who do not learn from the past, are destined to relive them (ie repeat the same mistakes)”

 

Posted in IT Issues, Linux, OpenBSD, Personal, Solaris, SUN

Streching the EOL on old hardware.

A couple of weeks ago a friends from work was clearing out their place, I assume she had something to do with it, but in any case my collection of computers grew a bit when he offered to gift them to me. So now I own a Sun SPARCstation 5 and a Sun SparcStation IPX along with other bits and bobs. Now as a rule I only take systems that work, and they do, however the passwords have been lost in the annals of time.

So I was left with a marginal SparcStation 5 with a missing CD drive, which booted to Solaris 2.7, but no further. But I’m a geek, and undaunted by this minor setback, I set out looking for a workaround. The googling net is full of solutions for password recovery … if you have a bootable cd (yes CD not DVD), Ok, next does eBay still have Solaris stuff that old … not cheaply, so what next.

While googling, OpenBSD presented itself, and I downloaded and burned some generic ISO’s of version 4.8. and then to solve the other hardware issue, the Sun IPX was delivered with a cartridge loading CD, but the IPX drive was housed in an external SCSI 1 case, and the SS5 was wired with a SCSI II system externally. so I dismantled the CD drive and searched for a CD cartridge carrier which as any self-respecting Geek, I had stashed away for a rainy day. Then armed with the hardware I jumpered the SCSI CD drive into the SS5 chassis, and bingo a complete and bootable SS5.

Now attempting to boot the OpenBSD was no problem, which surprised me to no end. But then I attempted a password recovery on the Solaris disk and no joy. but I did manage to mount it, and more or less destroy it (latter I found a way to fix it) and determined to go ahead and install the full OpenBSD system. Which more or less worked, there were issues with the X-Fonts archive but I found the tarball contained another version, which worked. It now booted on the internal disk, but I had to add and modify the XF86Config file to find the display, mouse and keyboard. My result does not match the examples of this file you might find on the net. So if you are interested, contact me, the Sun GB keyboard was hell to make work. but TADA:


And I even now have a browser in the form of Links

However, while it can compile most anything, there isn’t much left on the 1GB disk to compile TO. So unless I find some pre-compiled SMALL binaries, or a very cheap internal SCSI Disk to upgrade with, I’m stuck.

There may be more coming for this system, but just to make a comparison with modern hardware;

SparcStation 5 Nokia N900 smartphone
Screen 1024 x 768 (9 screens) 800 x 480 (4 screens)
Memory 64 MBytes 256 MBytes
CPU Freq 110 Mhz 600 Mhz
Storage 1 GByte 32 Gbyte
Price (new) 8,000.00$ to 10,000.00$ ~500.00$

UPDATE: I found amongst the archives another external 1.2GB SCSI disk, which fits nicely in the same connector that the CD-Drive was in, so now the SS5 is without the CD-Drive but has a massive 2.2GB of disks, Impressive 🙂

Posted in Economy & Business, IT Issues, Personal

The Tao of IT problem solving

At the Cork Open Coffee today there was discussion about how the University of Cork could be utilized to solve real world business problems, with a counterpoint that the University also was a resource for IP that was underutilized or not exploited at all. Answers without questions that had been explored and solved, but not yet marketed and deployed. And I thought of how that could happen.

I have always been boring, in most conversations I almost never initiate a subject, but I can always contribute (read; shoot my mouth off). This is true in my IT skills. I know many things, but I don’t create many new things, but I can solve most puzzles and resolve problems. And in reviewing them, I find it’s more to do with not having an agenda, or operating under a set of predefined solutions. I examine the issue, then produce an alternative resolution. I become creative in my solutions, I invent extraordinary resolutions. I remain empty, of any preconceived notion of a solution (not empty of ego mind you) but I exploit the Tao of the problem. Hence I don’t project a topic of conversation, or add a new project, or imagine anything extraordinary until I have a problem to solve.

This was my dilemma about the university folks, creating answers, where there were no questions (yet?). Applications, without anywhere to apply them. For me, IT problems ARE the mother of invention.

The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

Posted in IT Issues, Oracle DBMS, Personal, RDBMS, Sybase

Working for the Underdog

I always find it interesting that I seem to be in the position of supporting the underdog when it comes to computing, I own Apple’s and work with Sybase. Two systems that can’t manage a marketing strategy to move them into the main stream. Both manage to be on the opposite end of competition with Microsoft Software. I assume that each should be flattered that MS has chosen them to steal code and ideas from, but I’d rather hoped they had the market share back. Set aside the quality issues, credit, vindication and validation of their ideas is sadly lacking in the IT world with the exception of those that work with them.

Posted in IT Issues, Oracle DBMS, Personal, Solaris, SQL, Sybase

Sybase vs Oracle

I’ve seen some discussion around the internet about the age old argument about which is best Sybase or Oracle. I have been reading Mr. Talebzedah article on Sybase vs. Oracle: 10 reasons to use Sybase on Linux and I would agree with many of his statements. Having installed and used both over the years, I would pick Sybase. Why more companies don’t use Sybase more, has always been a mystery to me. Sybase is cheaper to install, and operate both in hardware resource usage, and manpower utilization. As an example, which can be repeated ad finite, one of the companies I worked at required 20 DBA’s to support a single Oracle Financials system in version 7 Oracle. And they were terrified to upgrade to Oracle 8 as Oracle does not supply a migration path. Sybase in this same company was used extensively in 7/24 environments, and only had 18 DBA’s supporting more than 800 Sybase databases, with more than 15,000 logins. In Mr Talebzedah article he mentions 2.5 Oracle DBA’s to one Sybase DBA, and since you and I know that 0.5 DBA’s don’t really exist (see mythical man month) I would put that, rounding factors aside, to 3+ Oracle DBA’s to one Sybase DBA.

Oracle supporters always mention the ‘sophistication’ and maturity of Oracle features, and in the same breath include the requirements for learning more, and of it’s complexity. This complexity extends to it’s high requirements in installation, and operating Oracle databases. Ask an Oracle DBA why they have to maintain backup configuration files three or more times to feel safe? As an example of this heavy requirement for installation, Oracle makes more money consulting on how to install it, than selling the actual RDBMS product. As another cost Oracle DBA’s are higher paid than Sybase DBA’s you do have to pay for all this sophisticated knowledge. That’s not a fault of the DBA, but is is still a business expense, and adds to the TCO.

As for the maturity and sophistication, Oracle may win here, but I am not comparing ASE 15 as I have not used this, but in almost every environment I’ve ever worked in, this sophistication is never utilized. This is not a lack of programming skills in the staff. It has to do with not being locked into any particular RDBMS feature. Many companies are completely heterogeneous with regards to Databases, probably due to corporate merger mania. And database transportability is prized much more than any particular database feature. In some cases junior programmers utilize databases more as file systems than RDBMS systems and hence, gain nothing from the mature, sophisticated features Oracle might provide.

Ultimately Oracle grants nothing in the benefits column when the costs are taken into perspective. Oracle is more expensive, fragile and harder to develop applications for. Sybase is cheaper faster, more stable, and requires less hardware and manpower to operate.