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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Mudslinging at InsideHPC

Read the open letter to insideHPC readers.

Pure mudslinging about conflicts of interest based on things that don’t seem to be true. I won’t mention the mudslinger, but I can tell you that if I bothered to read that other blog — which I don’t — I would unsubscribe.

Build your brand on merit like InsideHPC did, not on publicity stunts.

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Resolver One on Digipede Sample

As I noted recently, I have been working with Giles Thomas and Glenn Jones at Resolver Systems on a sample mixing distributed IronPython objects with Resolver One spreadsheets. 

I like those guys.  They are smart and do excellent work.

Anyway, they released the sample earlier today.  From their site:

As of version 1.5 (which is currently in beta), the world’s coolest spreadsheet can use Digipede Network grid computing to distribute and execute workbooks in parallel. The example on the Exchange is based on the excellent IronPython sample created by Robert W. Anderson of Digipede. The Digipede Network is a brilliant way to get distributed, parallel computation on Windows. It only took a few minor changes to convert Resolver One to run on the Digipede Network and to get the IronPython sample to execute Resolver One workbooks.

Giles gives some more background to the path that got us here on his recent post, Resolver One and Digipede.

The combination of our two products offers a pretty elegant solution.  Like I said before,

Try doing that with a spreadsheet or grid that isn’t based on .NET . . .

. . . like Excel and Windows HPC Server.  No, don’t. Trust me.  It is really hard, complex, and brittle.

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A Microsoft pawn? Me?

John has an excellent post wrapping up his trip to SC ‘07 — the bashers’ ball. He is tired of all the Microsoft bashing:

It is amazing to me the level of religious fervor that Microsoft still inspires. The bashers out there can be perfectly calm and reasonable about a wide range of topics – but say the word “Microsoft,” and they turn bright red and irrational. I have watched this phenomenon for years, and still find it inexplicable. Microsoft is a company. That company makes software. Some of their software is very, very good. Some of it is remarkably bad. I don’t understand why some people find it so hard to remain objective (or even civil) when discussing their products and market presence.

Statement of fact.  Nothing new exactly, but then he goes on how this relates to our company (emphasis mine) . . .

Many Microsoft bashers think that all of us at Digipede are mouthpieces for the Evil Empire, and that we are just pawns of the Microsoft machine. On the other hand, while we have plenty of fans within Microsoft, there are also some Microsoft employees who think we are difficult annoying troublemakers . . .

Pawns of Microsoft? Please. But maybe we are misunderstood. The other day I found myself convincing Steve Gillmor that I’m not a Microsoft fanboy (I don’t think I succeeded). But John says it well,

In fact, none of us at Digipede love or hate Microsoft – we work with Microsoft. We do so for real-world business reasons that help us change the world for the better while building a great company. We work with other companies too, but Microsoft occupies a special place in the technology landscape, and we work very, very hard to understand how to work with them to our mutual benefit. There are some great people there doing great things, and the bashers only hurt themselves by blinding themselves to these very real contributions.

Yeah, I don’t love or hate Microsoft; however, I do really like Microsoft .NET.  Does that make me a pawn of Microsoft?  .NET isn’t my religion.  I’m not a zealot about it.  It doesn’t mean that I think everyone should be using .NET / Windows nor does it require that I go around bashing Apple / Sun / IBM / Google / Linux / Java / PHP / Rails / whatever. 

I don’t think Microsoft bashing is a requirement for entry to the HPC and Apple fan clubs either, is it?

As long as I can remember, I have detested the religion of the OS (or programming language, or platform, etc.). Passion for technology is great — it’s a requirement for success in this field.  But I’m tired of people using their passion to bash, bash, bash. 

Maybe I just don’t get it, but if you’re a basher, please just move along.  And if you still think I’m a Microsoft pawn, well, I’m not going to convince you, now am I?

Note to Robert Scoble: you had the temerity to criticize Apple and the zealots came out in force — even called you a Microsoft shill. Welcome back to our club, Robert — though I’m not sure you ever really left.

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Windows HPC Server 2008 & PFX

Two exciting announcements at SC07 came out of Microsoft today.  I wouldn’t normally lump them together into one post (because they are only peripherally related), but Microsoft announced them in the same press release here.  None of this is news to those who follow Microsoft closely, but it is worth a mention.

  1. Microsoft announced version 2 of Compute Cluster Server, renamed Microsoft Windows HPC Server 2008.  Ever since I saw a preview of this a couple months back, I have been excited about some of the enhancements they’ve made in terms of manageability and interactivity.  Mostly, I’m excited about new interop scenarios between the Digipede Network and HPC Server.  As some resources become available, I plan to do an internal proof of my idea — I hope I’ll have more on this soon.
  2. Microsoft announced their Parallel Computing Initiative with the mission of enhancing developer productivity for multicore and distributed systems.  Most exciting (to me) is the announcement of their Parallel Extensions to the .NET Framework.  These extensions include mechanisms for expressing parallelism inside managed code.  One thing that will be built on top of these extensions is P-LINQ.  Expect previews of this technology will begin to come out over the next six months.  Why am I excited about this?  Because the more tools that are made available to .NET developers to express parallelism, the easier it will be for the Digipede Network to fit in and managing varying workloads across a large number of disparate computing resources.

Note to Wagg-Ed:  there is no such thing as Visual Studio 2007.

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The Linux Religion . . .vs. Windows (yawn)

The Linux-guru crowd continues to discount the complexity of installation, maintenance, use, and actual cost of Linux-based OSes. 

It would be a full time job to debunk these arguments over and over again.  Occasionally, Dan takes the time to do just this:  see him dismantle another one of Joe Landman’s CCS attack pieces in Yet another poof piece.  And Dan doesn’t even mention the developer-productivity story . . .

Personally, I tend to ignore the “I hate Microsoft, Linux is the answer to everything” arguments.   You can build a feasible solution with either platform.  As Dan said in his post (specifically about HPC):

Look, I’m not deriding Linux as an OS, or as an HPC OS. It’s been very successful, and it will continue to have success.

The fact is: if you’re using UNIX or Linux, it probably doesn’t make sense to port to Windows.

But if you’re already using Windows, it certainly doesn’t make sense to port to Linux.

They are different toolboxes full of different (albeit similar and overlapping) tools.  Depending on all sorts of criteria, different organizations will do better with one platform than the other.

There is huge growth potential in the market for both platforms.  Can’t we just get past this? 

Or has this truly become a religion?

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HPC Presentation in Denver

If you will be in Denver on April 5th, come by and see my good friend Nathan Trueblood present on the Digipede Network.  

From John: 

The presentation is part of a Microsoft HPC event in Denver on April 5, 2007, featuring the new Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 (CCS), the Digipede Network, and other Microsoft HPC partner offerings. 

All details about this free event, as well as the link to register, are here.

Source: Digipede and Microsoft — HPC Presentation

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HPC event in NYC

John and Nathan will be presenting at a Microsoft event in New York City this coming Wednesday.  The event targets fHPC for financial services companies. 

John and Nathan will . . .

. . . present information on how the Digipede Network integrates with and adds value to Microsoft’s entire technology stack, including the new Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 (CCS), Visual Studio 2005, .NET, Excel 2007, SharePoint 2007, and more.  (They’ll) run through some real-world examples of how our financial services customers use the Microsoft / Digipede solution to make more money by dramatically improving application performance and scalability.

One of our customers will also be a speaker at the event. 

You can read more about this (and find registration information) on John’s blog (here: HPC event in NYC).

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Evolutionary Approach to Grids

A paper, entitled, Evolutionary Approach to Realizing the Grid Vision has been published by Marvin Theimer, Savas Parastatidis, and Tony Hey of Microsoft, Marty Humphrey of University of Virginia, and Geoffrey Fox of Indiana University. Presentation from the authors and a link to the document itself can be found here.

This paper suggests several areas of focus to bring the grand vision of the greater Grid down to a practical level that can be accomplished in smaller steps. Not surprisingly, the authors suggest starting first with computational grids. The paper focuses on the basics of this area where the problem set is fairly well understood and puts off those areas that are strictly outside the requirements of a computational grid.

It is partially the “overarching intellectual context” with which the OGSA Working Group is charged that keeps the greater Grid outside the interest of much of industry. This kind of focus articulated in the paper, properly executed, really helps progress towards the greater Grid.

BTW: I still think we don’t know what Savas is actually working on at Microsoft 😉

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John Powers interviewed at WindowsHPC

John Powers, the President of Digipede (my company) was recently interviewed by WindowsHPC about the Digipede Network, how it fits into the distributed computing market, and how it is a good fit with SaaS providers. We designed it with SaaS in mind. After all, we came from a company where we had a SaaS product (and enterprise products) that needed scale-out (I mention the product briefly in my previous post).

You can read the full text of the interview, here: An Inteview with John Powers, President of Digipede Technologies.

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