This is a blog dedicated to Sun Partner SE's - everything you need to know, along with some stuff you may find interesting along the way.

For those that don't know me, I'm Rabban, and together with my colleague Mike, we look after equipping you with the knowledge, tools and the assistance you need to enable you to support your organisations' sales efforts as efficiently as possible. From a technology perspective, I am most closely aligned with virtualisation and virtual desktops so don't be surprised to see these a little over represented in my blogs!

Now some of you may be aware that Sun recently held a small partner event in Sydney.... so small we had to host it at ANZ Stadium!

As most attendees will attest, this was one of the most enjoyable, fun and technically relevant vendor events that I have ever been to. There was plenty of positive buzz and that is due to the many successes that Sun partners are having out there, selling Sun's unique and differentiated technology.

What I wanted to do in this entry was give you a bit of an overview of the sessions I attended, serving as a reminder for those that were there as well as provide some info about the event for those that couldn't attend.

Drinks Night...

The night before the Summit kicked off with a ****tail party! There had to be at least a couple of hundred partners sales and technical guys present because the room was so packed! I had the fortune of chatting to some of the Partners about what products are making them successful against the competition, Remora are using Glassfish, MySQL & Solaris 8 & 9 containers on Solaris 10 to acheive some very cool cost savings for their customers as well as enabling hardware upgrades without expensive migration efforts. Network Help and CCL are busy virtualising desktops and addressing the question that many VDI providers can't: "With VDI, what is the best hardware to use instead of a PC to make my environment cheaper and easier to manage?". Some of the guys and girls of ED and I indulged in a bit of a convo about how some ISV's could optimise their licensing and software usage policies when it came to the EDU space, to make software access more equitable to students. We were kept well fed and hydrated and all-in-all, this was a fun, relaxed networking event and a great way to kick off the Summit (although dinner at the hotel afterwards was... well the food was less than ideal as the guys from NSC and Frontline will agree, as was the mislabled wine...!).

First Day

The event kicked off in earnest the following day, with thanks to all the partners for making FY09 such a successful year. Sun enjoys a very strong market share in Australia & New Zealand compared to the rest of the world, and we posted some very positive growth down in this region. This is due in large part to the partners that are out telling talking to customers about the differences and benefits that Sun technology provides, and being successful in doing so. A big shout out also went to the sponsors of the event, iTX, ED, AMD & LSI - we could not have enjoyed such a great event without them, thank you!!!

The room was packed, despite the fact that many were up in to the early hours of the morning discussing very important topics over a beverage! Sam introduced the event and went through marketing highlights, promo's, cert's and some of the things to expect from Sun in FY10(infoline, tech2tech, etc.) , he even gave us a definition of what "FY" stands for, thanks Sam!!! Its no secret that Sun has been undergoing some internal changes - the result of which is increased focus and resources for the partner community and into the distribution side of things.

Here is a summary of the sessions I attended:

Tech Session 1 - Systems - Data Center Architecture with Gary Kelly

Gary described the state of many of our customer's environment's - under utilised systems, ever increasing energy costs as well as the management effort and cost of a sprawling IT infrastructure. Datacenter building blocks include servers, storage, networking, site infrastructure (power and cooling) and that we need to align datacenter architectures to business drivers - business and application requirements, cost reduction, eco, aligning to blueprint/SOE, adapting to changing technology/trends.

Sun is very well placed when considering datacenter architecture as many of our server and storage products are designed to be more power efficient and typically require much less rack space to deliver the same performance compared to alternative brands and technology (eg. SPARC CMT based systems, X4440 Server, X4450 Server, 6048 blade chassis, openstorage & its implementation in the Unifed Storage 7000-series).

With such a diverse set of technologies, it is critical to understand your customer's target workload and select the most appropriate technology solution accordingly. Why is this is so critical? Well, IDC estimates that 60% of datacenters are running out of power, space and cooling and that the cost of powering servers will soon exceed the cost of purchasing them! Understanding the workload profile means selecting the optimal technology to host that workload, therefore requiring fewer units of hardware to deliver the same performance (and less server resource means less space, less power and less cooling and all this means less cost!).

Virtualisation plays a major part in this, extracting the most performance from our servers generally means needing fewer servers. Virtualisation however, encompasses much more than just virtual machine technology. Sun's approach to virtualisation is end-to-end:
* Hard Partitions (dynamic domains)
* Logical Domains (LDOMS)
* Virtual Machines (xVM, VMware)
* OS Virtualisation (Solaris Zones)
* Resource Management (Solaris Containers combined with Zones)

Sun also advocates and demonstrates the approach taken in our own datacenters, with innovations in things like in-rack cooling vs. entire datacenter cooling (ie. cool the fridge, not the kitchen).

Gary also covered various Cloud models and offerings and his entire presentation should be made available to partners soon, I'll post a link to it when its online.

Tech Session 2 - Systems roadmap - Sam Tan & Shane Sigler

Tech session 2 was all about the systems roadmap, so clearly there isn't much I can share here!

Shane discussed Oracle's intentions for Sun's hardware business, referencing this Reuters interview with Larry Ellison

Shane also covered some interesting topics such as trends in compute technology (core, process shrink, clock speed), data retention, network & connectivity standards, software (opensolaris, zfs, lustre, etc). Storage stuff around dedupe & compression, encryption software added to openstorage, see for a video of an openstorage product specialist as captured from the kernel conference in Brisbane recently.

For a recap of this info, contact your friendly partner manager to arrange an NDA roadmap update.

Session 3 - Case Studies

The last elective session for the day saw me at the Case Studies preso. Rod Walkerden gave us a great overview of the Sun Solution Center(SSC), what it is, what it does, how it helps.

The SSC is basically a sales accelerator - a prototyping lab containing all sorts of hardware and software available for specific testing engagements. This allows your customers to "test before they invest", putting together their exact hardware and software target environment and testing their intended applications for integration, performance/scalability, etc, including 3rd party hardware components. This removes many of the typical roadblocks that delay a customer from moving forward on their infrastructure projects.

In a specific engagement, a global customer needed to diagnose performance issues with their primary business application. Without having the time or a replicated production environment, this customer was unable to effectively diagnose this performance issue themselves. With the SSC, the prod environment was replicated, the issue could be identified and was subsequently resolved. With the performance issue out of the way, scalability testing proved that the mid-range systems they were considering were actually too small - there was much more headroom in the application to scale beyond mid-range and into enterprise systems and this was also tested.
The customer purchased the larger enterprise systems within a week of the the process concluding. The SSC was engaged at no cost in this circumstance.

Darren (formerly of HP fame) told us all about how HP's answer to almost any problem is a blade solution. In a recent competitive sales engagement, HP proposed blades (surprise surprise) even though the customer had a relatively small workload requirement and very strict cost, power and space constraints. Darren made it very clear that it is imperative to spend the time understanding the customer's actual requirements and determining the optimum solution based on those requirements. This is because in many circumstances, rackmount servers are actually more appropriate as you can scale the floorspace and power requirements incrementally rather than having to invest in the footprint and overhead a blade chassis can bring with it if it is not fully or close-to-fully populated.

Redundancy needs to be considered also - dont place a cluster or horizontal scaled solution all in a single chassis! Yep, most blade chassis have very good MTBF, but its also important to check things like UPS capacity, power distribution etc. if the chassis loses power due to an external factor, it really doesn't matter how long the MTBF is!

James Cove of Remora Technologies gave us an overview of some of their recent wins with Sun software solutions including products such as Glassfish, MySql, Solaris 8 & 9 containers on Solaris 10. These types of solutions aim to significantly reduce customer cost and the open source products also reduce the barrier to exit due to open standards compliance. Implementing Solaris 8 & 9 containers on Solaris 10 has enabled Remora to accelerate sales of CMT & M-series servers to customers 'stuck' on sol 8 or 9 on older hardware.

So if you have customers with applications running on older SPARC systems on Solaris 8 or 9, Solaris 10 containers running on new Sun hardware can usually host those applications unmodified and without lengthy and expensive migrations. If you need any help with this, check out the documentation here, or contact your partner account manager to put you in touch with consultants that can assist with this.