Just When You Think You've Got It All Figured Out

Last week was quite a volatile one for me. First Flashmob 1 crashed and burned, and then Sun decides to forgive and forget any perceived transgressions by Microsoft. Will this

April 12, 2004

3 Min Read
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Last week was a bit disappointing for me: Flashmob 1, the uniting of hundreds of "civilian" computers in an attempt to take a place in the Linpack benchmark of supercomputing, basically crashed and burned. Oh yes, it was probably fun to be included in this assembly of high-tech equipment, much as it is to take part in virtually any record-breaking stunt (although I am not sure about hot-dog eating contests). Roughly 700 participants were part of this attempt to gang computers in an attempt to perform calculations generally carried out by massively parallel supercomputers. Turns out the installation performed 180 billion operations a second " far short of the planned 500 billion operations a second. So this attempt by the little guy to do what Goliath (now that's a great name for a supercomputer) does, failed.

Ironically, IT's original "David," Apple Computer, is responsible for the most successful implementation of processors so far: the Big Mac installation of 1100 Apple G5 dual processors at Virginia Tech. But Apple's configuration is certainly more mainstream than that of Flashmob's, and so I felt a little consternation that "the man" (whoever that may be) had won.

But I moved on. Sun announced a new top exec, IBM kept talking about how great Linux is, and Microsoft was, well, Microsoft. But then

Microsoft and Sun formed a pact! An alliance of sorts. I thought this just could not be true. I have covered this industry since 1988, and the one thing you could always count on was Scott McNealy saying something clever, and nasty, about Bill Gates. But no more, at least for now. The two sides have opted to play nicely, and Sun has dropped its litigation against the Redmond giant. So much for counting on what John Loiacono, the company's new executive vice president of software, happily calls Sun's "disruptive actions." Together, the companies appear to be united in their fight against IBM, and that "renegade" operating system, Linux.

Linux, too, in a dubious coincidence, came under attack last week as potentially not being the bargain its rabble-rouser supporters say it is! (If I were a conspiracy theorist, I think I'd see what if any role Microsoft might have had in funding that report!) Once again, I thought, an illusion shattered.But one research point stuck with me: Of those surveyed, 90 percent of the 300 large enterprises with 10,000 or more end users say that a significant or total switch from Windows to Linux would be prohibitively expensive, extremely complex, and time consuming. The survey asked enterprises what their opinions were, and was not based on dissatisfied users of Linux. The answer here seems to be for Linux vendors to get their word out, before Goliath rolls over them.

Come to think of it, Flashmob 1 was successful in getting the word out about grid computing and clustering. And it got intelligent people thinking. So maybe Goliath hasn't won just yet. But we better keep on our toes.

If you have a David and Goliath story, I'd like to hear it.

This week, has started off with another alliance, BEA and Veritas. Not nearly as volatile an announcement as the Microsoft/Sun deal. But hey, it's just Monday.

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