Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ice Skating and Persistence

Another week of ice skating with my son, but it was THE day. The day which he let go of my hand and made his own way. He let go and went round and round the rink. He fell a few times, got up and said - "No big deal, you get up and you try again". I skated behind him the rest of the time, my eyes tearing up with joy. I had made him a promise, when he skates the rink by himself he gets a hockey jersey. We left the rink went right to the store and bought that jersey.

Blue had a good weekend and I implemented a dynamic capability to add new hosts, services, contacts, groups, ... This is an important step for blue, dynamic ability to acquire new inventory and persist it. Next step is to build an addition to plugins so you could start from scratch and just dynamically add inventory - no more brute force configuration. Important point though.... The persisted configuration is done in a nagios format, so you could pick up the configuration and just use it in a nagios installation!!!! This will also allow you dynamically to add nagios configuration files to blue as well.

So both events were excting to me, but only one made me tear up with pride.

Friday, February 9, 2007

RPM, Java and frustration

First in the past 6 months for whatever reason I ditched my windows box and completely living my life on Fedora. There have been some painful moments, but overall experience has been good. After getting into the groove of things I can develop, work and play as always. Open Office is good I just crave for it do more and do it faster. Marcf (blog) has a differnt opinion, and I hear you Marc, it just takes a commitment and ability to forget some of the key strokes engrained in your brain by years of using a single OS (one step back, then two steps forward). So I am now one of the converted, not yet religous, but converted.

Great, and I should probably talk more about my experiences in the conversion, but today it's about RPMs. Not using RPMs, installation of RPMs are GREAT, SIMPLE, QUICK. I have been using yumex and life is pretty good.

As a java developer RPMs feel wrong and more specifically rpmbuild is annoying. And if you suggest jpackage, DON'T. I believe in well defined and slim containers with application isolation. I believe in 'rpm -i' and RUN. I believe that an application should have one requirement - the JVM. I am confused by the desire of jpackage to have all my libraries referenced, leading to DLL hell. I am confused by rpmbuild as a driver for my build system as opposed to a tool for building an RPM. I am confused that the LSB model is pushed all the way up to the application level.

I like the RPM model and in this case would really like to see two things (1) a solid ant integration with RPMs so I could skip 'rpmbuild', 'spec files', 'faking rpm dir structure', ... and (2) RPMs for applications rather than core OS. Maybe something for me to tackle.

So... what did i do/hack for blue...
1. I build my rpm information within ant task
first creating RPM directory structure
second load spec file in rpm/SPECS
third layout files into my 'buildroot' which will be rpm/INSTALL

<mkdir dir="${build}/rpm/RPMS" />
<mkdir dir="${build}/rpm/SPECS" />
<mkdir dir="${build}/rpm/SOURCES" />
<mkdir dir="${build}/rpm/BUILD" />
<mkdir dir="${build}/rpm/SRPMS" />
<mkdir dir="${build}/rpm/INSTALL" />

<copy todir="${build}/rpm/SPECS" file="blue-plugins.spec" />
<copy todir="${build}/rpm/INSTALL/usr/lib/nagios/plugins/" >
<fileset dir="${dist-plugins}" />

2. call rpm ant task

<rpm specfile="blue-plugins.spec" topdir="${build}/rpm" command="--bb --buildroot=${build}/rpm/INSTALL" />

3. the simple spec file!

Summary: Blue Java Plugins, Blue is a port of Nagios to Java
Name: blue-plugins
Version: 0.8
Release: 1
License: GPL
Group: Applications/System
Vendor: Blue
Packager: Richard Friedman
Prefix: %{_prefix}/lib/nagios/plugins
BuildArchitectures: noarch

bla bla bla





Monday, February 5, 2007

HP Acquires Bristol

Another acquisition, this time HP (HPQ) buys Bristol Technologies.

Bristol's Transaction Vision, is defined as follows.
TransactionVision® provides Business Process Monitoring that dramatically increases visibility into your customer facing transactions. Just as you would track overnight packages from origination to delivery, TransactionVision tracks customer transactions throughout their entire lifecycle. [source]

One of the interesting points in their literature, which I found useful, is ability to track transaction information through MQ and J2EE. Having been responsible for a large scale middleware environment using both J2EE and MQ we faced this very problem. We were able to build significant monitoring capabilities around our J2EE platform using some of our stuff and Wily's Introscope. However, as soon as the message left and went to the bus we lost a lot of visibility and information about how much time it spent where. The tools around MQ only provided for us general information. If Bristol's Transaction Vision helps look deeper, than that is good. However, not sure I could have justified more tooling around monitoring MQ as we already had incurred the expense of monitoring our middleware environment. In this case, IBM should have better out-of-box tools for deeper monitoring within MQ. Maybe they do today, it has been a couple of years since I last touched that environment.

So while Transaction Vision seems to have bridged visibility across some environments, I am still confused as to HP's acquisition. They seem to have quite a bit technology in this space 'Transaction Analyzer' and 'Business Process Insight' being two of them. Does Bristol complete, complement, or replace for them?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Dell and Systems Management

Earlier this week there was 'Symantec acquires Altiris' and in the latter half of the week I read the article about Michael Dell taking the helm. It was in the article "Can Michael Dell find his Mojo?" on page 4 that they suggest that for Dell (the company) to move ahead it needs to build its strength in systems management. Will this really help Dell? I guess from a purely dollars perspective maybe they gain more adoption because they can complement it with their own systems managmenet software, reduce the cost for large installations and have a more complete one shop packaging for mid to large business. But did it help HP to have OpenView, IBM to have Tivoli?

At some point in time it probably did, but if it is critical to have those type of systems how did Dell get that far? How did they gain a leadership position over HP and IBM? How come IBM sold off the PC business since they had Tivoli (the largest player in systems management). HP's renewed momentum is because of leadership, not because they have Open View. What people want from DELL is the best DELL product and service, how Michael Dell defines the culture of the company will define how they deliver that.