The 5th Annual Year in Ideas

This collection brought to mind the annual Dubious Achievement Awards that Esquire magazine publishes in January of each year.   This, however, is a better collection residing in the full spectra of interesting, fun, specious and creepy.  It made for an enjoyable hour of reading.

Link: The 5th Annual Year in Ideas - New York Times.


Published: December 11, 2005

This issue marks the fifth anniversary of what is becoming a venerable tradition at the magazine: The Year in Ideas. As always, we seek to gain some perspective on what has transpired since January by compiling a digest of the most noteworthy ideas of the past 12 months. Like the biographer Lytton Strachey surveying the Victorian Age, we row out over the great ocean of accomplishment and lower into it a little bucket, which brings up to the light characteristic specimens from the various depths of the intellectual sea - ideas from politics and science, medicine and law, popcorn studies and camel racing. Once we have thrown back all the innovations that don't meet our exacting standards, we find ourselves with the following alphabetical catch: 78 notions, big and small, grand and petty, serious and silly, ingenious and. . . well, whatever you call it when you tattoo an advertisement on your forehead for money.


Microsoft says it won't support SAML 2.0

While I was at SC05, I missed reading a lot of trade press, and while I'm sure that I will never "catch up", going through a few of my most frequently traveled RSS newsfeeds found this.

The bickering between MSFT and the anti-MSFT factions within the WS-* standards is getting very tiresome.  The result in WS-Man / WS-RF battle seems to be a pair of competing standards that provide almost exactly the same functionality.  Now this regarding SAML and WS-Federation.  Sigh.

Link: Microsoft says it won't support SAML 2.0 - Computerworld.

... Microsoft has backed WS-Federation protocols for the next generation of message-based applications because it offers a full suite of security, message and transaction protocols, said Don Schmidt, senior program manager for Microsoft's Identity and Access group. The company's stance is not about which protocol set is necessarily better but rather which offers wider flexibility in accommodating federated identity, he said.

Schmidt conducted a session today on ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services), Microsoft's software for federated identity, at the company's IT Forum 2005 in Barcelona.

The WS-Federation protocols compete with the SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) 2.0 specification, which so far has strong footing in the race to create secured identity federation across organizations. SAML 2.0 is backed by consortiums such as the Liberty Alliance and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

SAML 2.0 protocols are fine for strictly Web single sign-on, Schmidt said. But the WS-Federation protocols are better equipped to deal with a distributed Web-services environment for message reliability, transaction support and security, he said. SAML 2.0 does not have reliable messaging or transaction support, he said. ...


IBM looks to make middleware SMILE

Interesting approach.   Could this be turned upside down, yielding a similar streaming approach for in-bound data and extracted data sets from remote, distributed sensors?  In situations where a (logically) centralized analytic process must deal with massive amounts of data, or seriously overburdened "last 100 meter" networks?

Link: IBM looks to make middleware SMILE | InfoWorld | News | 2005-11-21 | By Paul Krill.


SMILE (Smart Middleware Light Ends) technology enables stream-based queuing of information sets. For example, a query can be made that asks for the 20 most actively traded stocks in the last 10 minutes, with SMILE memorizing the state of events from the previous 10 minutes, according to Chitra Dorai, manager of Distributed Messaging at IBM (Profile, Products, Articles) Research.

"The SMILE system is a distributed stream-processing engine that processes messages in memory without requiring databases," Dorai said. SMILE also features a declarative programming model for distributed application programmers that relies on SQL. ...


MySQL AB to counter Oracle buy of Innobase

When Oracle made the move a few weeks ago, I wondered what MySQL would do about it... and how public they'd be about it.  Looks like MySQL is making it pretty clear that they don't want to be backed into a corner.

Link: MySQL AB to counter Oracle buy of Innobase | InfoWorld | News | 2005-11-22 | By Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service.


Database industry watchers have speculated what the impact of Oracle's buy-out would be for MySQL's open-source database. But MySQL, the Swedish company that provides support services around the open-source software, is maneuvering for a replacement option.

"Obviously because Oracle made that acquisition we are evaluating options to replace that functionality in some way," said Richard Mason, vice president of MySQL for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). "We're not at the point yet where we can go public with what that plan is but we will be shortly." ...


Scalent Enters Data Center Virtualization Market

I don't exactly think of Scalent as a "new entry", since they've been clearly positioning for this kind of offering, and have been "in the market" with beta's and proof of concept installations for quite a while.

I would question any uni-dimensional value proposition like "improved utilization" as dangerous.  The total cost/total return calculations need to take into account not only the cost reductions implied by increased/improved utilization, but also the resulting delta in operating, administering and managing the data center after implementing the virtualization technologies.

I don't know the answer in Scalent's case.  For their sake, I hope that it proves out to decrease the OAM costs over time, rather than add to them.  That said, the guys responsible for Scalent are very smart, and very experienced...many of them are graduates of  I'd be willing to take it on the basis of their backgrounds that they know what the appropriate targets are.

Link: Scalent Enters Data Center Virtualization Market.

A new entrant jumped into the data-center virtualization market on Thursday when Scalent Systems Inc. introduced its Virtual Operating Environment, which promises to improve data-center utilization and reduce complexity.

Scalent's VOE tackles three critical facets of virtualization with software aimed at automating virtualization of servers, networks, and storage allocation, says Ben Linder, chief executive and a co-founder of Scalent.

"We can radically raise utilization," Linder says. "Customers are seeing a tripling of resource utilization that provides a meaningful and substantial reduction in the number of new servers they have to add into their infrastructure because they can more effectively and powerfully use their existing infrastructure."

The Scalent software is designed to work with other virtualization products from companies like Microsoft, VMware, and Zen Source to create a true virtual infrastructure that unites all major IT systems into a single virtual fabric, he says. ...