In case you spent June 16th in a cave and missed IBM's cloud computing announcements, I'll cover a couple of the highlights here. As an employee and stockholder, this is one of those happy times when we have a great product and services story.
If there's anything better than a cloud, it's a cloud in a box. Cloudscape is a combination of hardware and software that lets you build and manage a private cloud. This was first announced at IBM IMPACT! last month, and it's gotten a lot of interest already. The hardware is a lovely, purple rack-mounted box that manages virtual machines for you. The software part includes WebSphere App Server Hypervisor Edition. You can create virtual machine images and use the included Tivoli software to define when VMs should be started or shut down. There has been enormous interest in this since it was announced, it's great to see the product hit the streets.
The Smart Business Test Cloud
The figures on how much time and money development shops spend on testing machines are astonishing. The Smart Business Test Cloud works with Rational or Eclipse tooling so you can run multiple tests on multiple VMs automatically. The development shop pays for the test machines while it needs them, then they go away when testing is done. This will be a huge benefit for lots of customers.
Other things were announced, but those are the two big ones for me. This stuff is a great complement to the Amazon Machine Images preloaded with IBM software that have been out there for a few months.
Cloud vs. Grid: I've seen several discussions and questions about how cloud computing and grid computing compare to each other. The answer I give is that both of them try to run CPUs at 100% capacity; the difference is that cloud computing tries to do that on as few CPUs as possible, while grid computing tries to do that on as many CPUs as possible. The focus of grid computing is to find unused CPU cycles and do something useful with them. The focus of cloud computing is to find unused CPU cycles and see if that CPU can't be shut down entirely. A massive oversimplification, but it works for me.
Today's presentation tip: Export your slides as JPEGs. I use this all the time with my iPhone (and previously with my iPod). In PowerPoint you can do Save As... and select "JPEG File Interchange Format." (NB: On planet Earth that four-word phrase is usually pronounced "JPEG." ) Next you'll be asked if you want to export every slide or just the current one; tell PowerPoint to export every slide. This stores all of the files as Slide1.JPG, Slide2.JPG, etc. in a directory with the same name as your .ppt file.
I store the slides in a directory of photos that's automatically synced with my iPhone. I can open the Photos app and see a directory for each presentation. I can then open the directory and start a slide show, and if I have my [$50 ripoff] Apple video cable with me, I can plug it into the projector and do my presentation from my phone.
Here is the list of presentations on my iPhone:
And here's one of the slides from my RSC presentation:
I like this because it's a great way to review my presentation wherever I am. This is also useful if, heaven forfend, your laptop should crash. It's possible that my Win XP machine will fail someday, as unlikely as that seems.
One final tip: PowerPoint exports the slides as Slide1.JPG, Slide2.JPG, ... Slide9.JPG, Slide10.JPG, etc. The iPhone sorts the slides by filename, which means it displays the slides in the order 1, 10, 11, ... 19, 2, 20, 21, etc., which is not what you want. You can rename the slides through Windows explorer, or you can use the command line (as everyone should). The relatively obscure Windows for command will do the trick:
for %f in (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9) do rename Slide%f.JPG Slide0%f.JPG
I feel it's my duty to help the younger set build their command line skills. Given the vast audience of this blog, I'm guessing thousands of pairs of young eyes are rolling.
Today's Playlist: I've been listening to Elvis Costello's new album Sacred, Profane and Sugarcane throughout the day. It's a reunion with T-Bone Burnett. It's very well-written, with a top-notch band of roots music virtuosos (fiddle, dobro, mandolin, double bass). I bought the iTunes version, which includes a cover of The Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale." [I remember now that I have an R.E.M. cover of that song somewhere.] It's drawing lots of comparisons to King of America, the first record Elvis and Mr. Burnett (aka The Coward Brothers) made together. Highly recommended.