Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oracle dumps Itanium. -1 for HP-UX, +1 for Integrity

I'm no longer involved with HP-UX and Itanium but I've been an HP-UX geek for 10 years, and some of the readers of my previous blog (aptly named Technocrat-UX) were following me specifically for my comments on that market. I'm no analyst, but anyway my advice is free so here are my thoughts on this story which was unraveled today.

I'm not surprised about Larry's decision to stop development of Oracle on Itanium. It was just a matter of time before Oracle would try different stunts and measures - any measure - to try to save their SPARC platform and lock in customers. This one is a desperate measure indeed. I know a lot of SAP system administrators who won't be delighted to learn this. Some have been claiming for a while that Oracle is the new CA, and this couldn't be more true. If I was still an HP-UX admin, I'd be directly targeted by this decision. But I wouldn't say "Fuck HP". I'd say "Fuck Oracle", big time.

How does that look for HP-UX? Without an enterprise RDBMS, not good. Not good at all. But all is not over for Integrity. Rob Enderle picked up the story today and revealed some interesting information that was shown to him under an NDA:

Unfortunately for Oracle, HP just had a massive analyst event and in the server break-out had showcased under NDA the future for Itanium in new products. While I can’t share that future, it is NDA, and for those of us in the session there was no doubt that Itanium is going to continue. More importantly, the changes being made should make it vastly more cost effective than anything Oracle can announce on SPARC. You’ll understand what I mean in a few months, or if you have an HP relationship, ask HP what I’m talking about and you’ll have a big “ah hah” moment. But you won’t be able to share it any more than I can.

I've been thinking about his statement, trying to read between the lines. Here is my own speculation of what may be ahead. Note here that he's talking about the Itanium platform, there is no mention of HP-UX anywhere in his post. What can I make of this?

Here is what I know:

1. Enderle says that the new platform will be "vastly more cost effective than anything Oracle can announce on SPARC".

2. I bet that Microsoft are probably annoyed by Oracle (sorry, no time this evening to find an article to back this up).

3. I've learned from a trusted source (without signing a CDA) that the DL785 will retire and only the DL580 and DL980 series will be left. Which anyone can deduct from HP's web site, there is currently no G7 offering of the DL785.

...and here is what I predict:

1. Microsoft will be looking for an enterprise-level platform to harness MS-SQL, which has become over the years the "other" enterprise RDBMS.

2. All my current architecture projects are based on MS-SQL and I've learned a little about its licensing recently. This is software priced per CAL or per processor/socket (your choice), and each processor costs - well, costs a lot of money. Customers with thousands of users will want to get the most bang out of every processor they use. Does that sound like a return of Windows and MS-SQL to the Integrity platform? Hard to say if MS keeps a similar pricing with Tukwila's four cores, but it is possible. Microsoft could offer this as a vertically integrated solution pitched to customers who are currently relying on Oracle (or IBM's) solutions.

3. To cater to these mid-size Microsoft customers who aren't interested in blades (let alone Superdome 2s) for a reason or another, HP will release something like the rx5800 and rx9800 which will be based on the industry standard components of the big Proliants - namely, the 580 and 980. These are reliable and huge workhorses. By swapping only a few components, they'll save plenty and be able to offer these servers at a small premium over the x86 versions.

4. As for HP-UX? While the outcome isn't clear, I frankly don't expect Oracle to really stop releasing their RDBMS on HP-UX; I'm sure there are plenty of customers left and some bean counter at Oracle will realize the high risk of loosing them forever if a migration to SPARC is shoved down their throats. If they keep their stance, their loss. I haven't cared about Oracle for a while now.

These are my thoughts.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Building a PI Lab for SharePoint 2010 and Excel Web App (Part 2)

Didn't have as much time today, but here are my findings:

1. A standalone ProcessBook installation requires a huge dependency package. So if you intend on deploying this on hundreds of PCs, better think of it. It should be installed on a TS, or deported using Citrix. Of course, for large scale deployments, it is better to plan using Web Parts over ProcessBook...

2. PI Datalink 2010 is supported on Excel 2010 32-bit only. It's documented in the Release Notes but as usual I didn't RTFM, and had a 64-bit installation. The PI-DL installer doesn't tell you anything about this, and it results in the add-in not being installed in Excel as it should be.

3. If SharePoint was a blind date, I think I would stay polite, possibly pay the whole bill, then say goodbye with a kiss on the cheek... i.e. leaving all options open while sending a clear message at once. Web page editing is sluggish, which is unacceptable in 2011 for a web application and I don't care how slow the back-end is. And it is hungry as hell. Even a vanilla installation revealed a lot of clunkiness with some "oops" error messages and dead links. Bottom line is I don't like SharePoint as of now, but I'll have to get used to it.

4. The drawing on my first post isn't right. I'll need to fix it in an update.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Building a PI Lab for SharePoint 2010 and Excel Web App

I finally had some spare time today. No meetings, first time in a while. I had the chance to continue building my PI Lab and try to see how I can use SharePoint 2010 and Excel Web Services. My intentions are to harness the Web App version of Excel as much as I can, so that users can get PI data without needing Excel or PI DataLink at all. Developers will also be able to publish some pre-formatted reports on SharePoint.

I reinstalled almost everything from scratch to start afresh. It's not completed yet but here's what it should look like. Maybe it could inspire some of you. As a bonus, it shows the interactions between various OSISoft layers, which is not always clear to a neophyte such as I.

This is by no means what we'll have in production, everything has been installed with standard and typical (i.e. non-secure) settings and it is used to test and evaluate the interaction between Microsoft and OSISoft components only.

At the bottom, you have your honest-to-goodness vCampus PI System. It doesn't have any interfaces, but can provide some mock points such as good'ole CDT158 and BA:TEMP.1.

In the middle, a default dumb SharePoint 2010 server has PI-SDK feeding PI Data Services, and PI DataLink Server 2010. They, in turn, feed Web Parts and Office Web Apps (which, in fact, only has a usable Excel).

On the top, two terminal servers used to house the various clients. Why? Because The Man only installs and support IE6 and Excel 2003 in our PC environment. Nothing more. So I basically need to set up VMs which have the clients we need: ProcessBook, Excel 2010, and IE8 with the Adobe SVG player. One replicates the system which will host the clients used by our Joe Average User, which is web-only, and more worthy "Power Users", which can use Processbook if they like. Developers have their own environment with Excel 2010 from which they can publish directly on SharePoint. Hint: our production will go along the same way, using Citrix to deport the required applications. Screw The Man.

That's what is on my radar for now. I haven't finished making all these things work but when I'm done, I'll update and correct this post.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My build of iperf is back

Update: You can get my build of iperf on Windows here:

Wew! My post concerning my own build of iperf for Windows has proven to be the most popular of my blog up to now. And the file got downloaded so many times, it actually busted the download limit of (my domain) 12 hours before me leaving on vacation overseas. I had to renew my hosting package in a hurry, as I was keeping it grandfathered to 2004 transfer quotas - 1 gigabyte, anyone? Now I have 10 times more and the download link is back (thanks to, my hosting provider, pay them a visit; they're great).

Such a response shows me that there is a need for a more "official" page for the Windows build of iperf, which is a matter of 30 minutes of handwritten HTML. I'll be working on this soon, I promise. In the mean time, my earlier blog post is a nice placeholder.