Constant Thinking | Technology Thoughts for the Quality Geek | by Constantin Gonzalez

Welcome back!

2017-10-10

A big, friendly, sign that says 'Hola'.

A lot has happened since I changed my job more than 5 years ago.

I learned new stuff, met a lot of customers, blogged and podcasted (though on other platforms), and I didn't get to give this blog much care.

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Getting Started with Amazon Web Services

2012-07-25, updated: 2017-10-10

Building under the Clouds of Munich

In the last few articles, I shared a few thoughts on how I think the world of IT is changing, which became the context for my good-bye to the world of physical IT altogether.

As of last week, I started working for Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a Solutions Architect, helping customers architect systems and solve technical problems using the latest cloud computing technologies. I'm very thankful to be able to work here, as it brings me back to the very center of IT innovation and gives me the opportunity to do lots of new and interesting things.

In the last weeks, I've been digging around AWS and its services, playing with stuff and meeting lots of inspiring people. So I thought I'd put together a few links for those interested in exploring the world of the AWS cloud computing platform for you to learn more about AWS:

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Walking my Talk

2012-06-14, updated: 2017-10-10

My Sun Badge

A while ago, I argued that the world of IT is changing, and that change is good. And that as a result of change, many people would need to change their jobs.

Well, I did it. Last Tuesday was my last working day at Oracle.

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Get Ready to Change your Job

2012-04-25, updated: 2017-10-10

Street signs: Business as usual or the cloud?
The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it. (Marcus Aurelius)

If you have a job in IT (and who among my readers hasn't?), then it is going to fundamentally change soon.

Why?

In my own job, I see the full spectrum from where IT innovation is created to the very last laggards who are still depending a lot on mainframes and other ancient technology. Some things in IT are new (like, every week there's a new startup/technology/trend that is shaking up the industry), and some things are just repetitions of stuff that has happened before, albeit in slightly different colors.

So now, the world of IT as we know it is changing (again) and this time, change will impact organizations, roles and jobs.

Let's dive a little bit into what's happening. Don't worry, change is good, but only if you prepare for it.

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exalogic_ib_network.jpg

While most customers immediately understand how the magic of Oracle's Hybrid Columnar Compression, intelligent storage servers and flash memory make Exadata uniquely powerful against home-grown database systems, some people think that Exalogic is nothing more than a bunch of x86 servers, a storage appliance and an InfiniBand (IB) network, built into a single rack.

After all, isn't this exactly what the High Performance Computing (HPC) world has been doing for decades?

On the surface, this may be true. And some people tried exactly that: They tried to put together their own version of Exalogic, but then they discover there's a lot more to building a system than buying hardware and assembling it together. IT is not Ikea.

Why is that so? Could it be there's more going on behind the scenes than merely putting together a bunch of servers, a storage array and an InfiniBand network into a rack? Let's explore some of the special sauce that makes Exalogic unique and un-copyable, so you can save yourself from your next 6- to 12-month science project that distracts you from doing real work that adds value to your company.

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The Business Value of Engineered Systems

2012-03-13, updated: 2017-10-03

Engineered Systems mean Business

If I had to formulate in one sentence what my job and that of my teammates is, I'd say something like:

"To show our customers the business value of Oracle's Engineered Systems"

Because at the end of the day, customers pay real money only if there's some real value they see in a solution.

And that is the problem most people in IT struggle with: How is what you do in IT related to your company's total value chain?

Most of the time, people, both those working in IT and those selling and supporting into IT departments are consumed with functions and features, tech specs, standards and other tech stuff. Worse yet: Some people look at Oracle's Engineered Systems like Exadata and Exalogic and they only see a bunch of servers in a rack, because all they know is components, servers, tech stuff.

This is dangerous terrain: Because if you can't show the business value of your IT to your company, you're going to be put on the list of cost centers to be squeezed, and budget cuts are never a good motivator for your job.

So what is the value of IT to the business? Or more specifically, what is the value of Engineered Systems for our customers' businesses?

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Introducing Sparse Encrypted ZFS Pools

2012-02-27, updated: 2017-10-03

Sparse ZFS Pools

Ever since I've been using a Mac, I enjoy using Sparse Encrypted Disk Images for a variety of tasks, for instance securely storing data that can be backed up somewhere else, say on a hosting server.

In fact, most of my project/personal data on my Mac sits on sparse encrypted disk images that are regularly rsynced to an external storage service, Strato's in particular.

The beauty of this solution lies in it simplicity:

Sparse encrypted disk images show up just like any other hard drive. But on the back end, they translate into a bunch of flat files that store all the data in an encrypted manner. By rsyncing the backing store, sparse encrypted disk images can be easily backed up across the net, while ensuring privacy and convenience.

Here's how to do similar things with Solaris and ZFS, including some extra data integrity magic:

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Bricks

After having gone through TOGAF training and certification, I've now caught the Enterprise Architecture bug, as you can probably tell by this article. It is a really neat way to add structure to the IT development process and to better understand what it really means to solve business problems with IT.

One of the first things TOGAF recommends architects do when establishing an Enterprise Architecture practice within a company is to formulate Architecture Principles that guide the development of solutions. During the last few workshops and during some discussions with other architects, three principles in particular struck me as being key to successfully developing a Cloud solution:

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Standardization

Recently, I attended a customer workshop where the customer declared that they standardized on x86, VMware and Linux.

That got me and my colleague thinking about what standardization really means and whether that actually makes sense.

The workshop was actually about defining a PaaS platform for the customer, and early in the process they just said: Fine, but it's gonna be x86, VMware and Linux, because that's our standard. WTF?

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Iron Sky: The Trailer is Here!

2012-02-09, updated: 2017-10-03

Iron Sky Poster

In Summer 2010 I learned about a cool new geeky movie called Iron Sky that was crowd-funded. I decided to help finance it with a small sum.

Then the second Iron Sky teaser came out and I thought: Wow, this is looking really good! And I invested some more.

In December 2010, I was invited to attend the Iron Sky shootings in Frankfurt together with my brother. This is where we got to meet the crew, the actors, the people behind the movie and other investors. And I thought: Wow, this is not only cool, this is for real! Everybody was 100% determined to make this the coolest movie ever, and everybody put in so much attention to detail, love and true craftmanship that I thought: "Yep, this is going to be a true movie milestone!" And I also got to shoot an interview with the director and the inventor of Iron Sky. This time, my brother and I together invested a bit more to help this baby fly.

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Running stats over running path

Don’t worry, this is not a desperate attempt at SEO for my blog (although I do appreciate your likes, Tweets, RSS subscriptions and other ways you help me reach a wider audience), nor is this my entry into the latest contest of IT BS Bingo.

It just occurred to me yesterday that Big Data is everywhere. Even during your weekend jogging run.

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A dog. And the TOGAF ADM cycle.

One of the first things that customers and sales teams realize when dealing with Engineered Systems is: They fundamentally change the IT architecture of a business.

Change is good, it means progress. But change is sometimes seen as a bad thing: Change comes with fear.

The truth is that Engineered Systems really empower IT architects to add value to their business, application and data architectures, without worrying about the technology architecture.

To understand this, we need to dig a bit deeper into Enterprise Architecture, specifically the TOGAF flavor of it.

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The Rise of Engineered Systems

2011-12-07, updated: 2017-10-03

Mercedes car, broken down into components.

I changed into a new role at Oracle: I now work for the EMEA Engineered Systems Architecture Team (ESAT). We support Oracle’s EMEA Engineered Systems business by engaging with customers, enabling our field organization with trainings and through evangelization.

You can call me biased towards Engineered Systems now, but that would be like accusing a Mac fanboy of suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome, when it’s actually the other way round.

The other side of the “biased” medal really is that I have a choice of where I want to work, and one of the reasons I changed from my cozy SPARC/Solaris Technology camp to the Engineered Systems crowd is: I believe the world of IT is changing.

Let me explain.

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Solaris 11 Launch Blog Carnival Roundup

2011-11-12, updated: 2017-10-03

32 Solaris 11 Blog Posts

Solaris 11 is here!

And together with the official launch activities, a lot of Oracle and non-Oracle bloggers contributed helpful and informative blog articles to help your datacenter go to eleven.

Here are some notable blog postings, sorted by category for your Solaris 11 blog-reading pleasure:

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Join the Solaris 11 Launch Party!

2011-11-02, updated: 2017-10-03

solaris_11_road.jpg

In about a week, on November 9th, 2011, the long-awaited final version of Solaris 11 will be launched. If you happen to be near New York that day (and assuming there'll be no power outages), you're invited to join the official Solaris 11 launch party!

Solaris 11 has been in the making since 2005, when Solaris 10 was launched. In fact, every major Solaris release is just a fork of the ongoing Solaris development train, so the very first uber-pre-release of Solaris 11 was actually generated only weeks after Solaris 10 hit the shelves.

Since then, Solaris 11 (or: Project Nevada as it was called) has seen a lot of OS history: An open source adolescence called OpenSolaris, growing adoption and community work, a broad range of ground-braking new features, long overdue re-writes, brand new concepts, controversial discussions, a major acquisition, rules changed and rules kept, siblings and offsprings, lots of investments, entire companies built on top of its source code, generations of processors and hardware, lots of systems in production, the Cloud and what not.

And all that before it was even born. Quite an achievment, eh?

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Solaris 11 Available for Early Adopters

2011-09-12, updated: 2017-10-03

solaris_11_road.jpg

Maybe I should write more frequently, though that would mean shorter, less elaborate articles. This is the first one of that kind. Let me know what you think!

Recently, the Oracle Solaris 11 Early Adopter Release became available on the Oracle Technology Network (BTW, can I have a date with that Java Developer, please?). Here's the gist:

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ZFS: To Dedupe or not to Dedupe...

2011-07-27, updated: 2017-10-03

dedupecost.jpg

...that is the question.

Ever since the introduction of deduplication into ZFS, users have been divided into two camps: One side enthusiastically adopted deduplication as a way to save storage space, while the other remained skeptical, pointing out that dedupe has a cost, and that it may not be always the best option.

Let's look a little deeper into the benefits of ZFS deduplication as well as the cost, because ultimately it boils down to running a cost/benefit analysis of ZFS deduplication. It's that simple.

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The Solaris Eco-System is Expanding

2011-06-13, updated: 2017-10-03

illumosopenindiana.jpg

More than a while ago, I wrote about the birth of Illumos, a project that aims at substituting the last non-open-source bits from the OpenSolaris kernel with replacements, in order to create a 100% open source Solaris kernel.

On May 20th, I had the opportunity to attend the Nexenta European User Conference 2011 in Amsterdam, where Solaris and storage enthusiasts from all over the world met to discuss their favorite technology: ZFS. Of course there was also a lot of talk about Illumos and related projects.

Now I've given a lot of Solaris presentations to customers, always highlighting the big, growing and powerful community behind the Solaris OS. But this conference added a new dimension to the Solaris Eco-System for me!

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mandelbrot.jpg

First of all: Apologies for not posting for a long time. The reason? I was having too much fun with node.js and the Joyent Cloud :).

What started as a small experimental hack turned quickly into an exciting new pet project involving the good old Mandelbrot Set, as a web service, running in the Joyent cloud, programmed in node.js.

But first things first: Let's take a look at node.js as a language and programming model, at the Joyent Cloud and how it relates to Solaris and finally some details on how the picture you see was rendered inside the Joyent Cloud, including an interactive Mandelbrot Set explorer you can play with now, written as a web app.

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rack_full_amplidata_devices.jpg

Last week during WorldHostingDays, I had the opportunity to visit Tom (@tomme), a former colleague of mine who came with Q-Layer to Sun, then to Oracle. Today, he works for a new Belgian startup called Amplidata, a company that specializes in building storage clouds. He introduced me to Wim, their CEO and we discussed their optimized object storage technology, some parallels to ZFS and the newest trends in cloud computing storage. Amplidata is a spin-off of Incubaid, a technology incubator which is responsible for the success of two good old Sun friends: Innotek (VirtualBox) and Q-Layer (The company that powered the Sun Cloud).

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Welcome!

This is the blog of Constantin Gonzalez, a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, with more than 25 years of IT experience.

The views expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my current or previous employers.


Copyright © 2017 – Constantin Gonzalez – Some rights reserved.
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