I’ve finished building the four new GroupWise servers, which are VMware virtual machines in our IBM bladecenter. Three of the servers will be post office servers where users’ mailboxes reside, and the fourth will be a gateway server with the GroupWise Internet agent, Monitoring agent and WebAccess agent. I already have the post offices built, and I have successfully transferred a couple of users into one of the new post offices. Once I have the gateway done, I’ll start moving users over en masse.
We’re using an interesting approach to storing our mail in order to allow mininmum downtime backups and to ease the act of doing backups and restores. I’ve configured a blade running Sun Solaris, as a file server that serves storage to the post office severs, which are running SLES 9. The Solaris server is configured with three ZFS filesystems, one for each post office, and it serves those via NFS. The SLES 9 GroupWise post office servers then mount the storage over NFS and run the post offices from there. It’s slightly slower than using native SAN partitions for GroupWise, but it allows us to host the mail on ZFS, which I’ve raved about previously. To do a post office snapshot, using this approach, takes seconds. A simple shell script like this allows a snapshot to be made with minimal GroupWise downtime and no specialized backup tools.
/etc/init.d/grpwise stop po1.poa ssh -i ssh_key storageserver "zfs snapshot data/po1@snapshot" /etc/init.d/grpwise start po1.poa
Once this snapshot completes, GroupWise is up and running and we have a complete coherent snapshot that we can synchronize to our disk-to-disk backup server, while users continue to use the system unimpeded. It works great.
We went out to Rabbit Hill on Sunday for our first day of snowboarding and skiing (Mack’s the skier). We are starting a few weeks earlier than last year, because we’ve had way more snow. Snow started sticking and staying this year before Halloween, as opposed to last year, which was around mid-December. It was super-busy and not all the runs were open, but it was great to get the board out and take a few runs.
I waxed all our boards right before we went out. It was my first wax-job and all three boards turned out great. We got Mack a season’s equipment pass, so he can rent skis and maybe a board if he feels like it later in the year.
Next weekend we’re hitting Marmot Basin after the company Christmas party in Jasper, so that should be awesome. A few couples from work are all going.
The kids played at the Sask Open Waterpolo Tournament in Regina this weekend.
Emily and Mack’s Atoms (11 and under) team won silver, finishing ahead of five out of the six other teams. Emily also “played up” on the older Bantam girls team, and they also won a silver medal. Emily got billeted for the first time ever, with a local family in Regina. She really enjoyed that. Mack stayed with us in the hotel. He’s a bit young yet to be billeted.
The bus ride was brutal, and we were forced to endure many kids movies and chick-flicks as we rode there and back.
Last night I started working on our GroupWise 6.5 to GroupWise 7 upgrade. We are moving from a two-node NetWare cluster running GroupWise 6.5 with a third box running WebAccess and the Internet agent to a four node configuration on IBM Blades with SAN storage running SUSE Linux Enterprise Sserver 9 and GroupWise 7 virtualized under VMware hosted on SLES9.
The first step was to update the existing GroupWise back-end running on NetWare to version 7. That will allow me to create new GroupWise domains and post offices on Linux and add them to the existing system. Then I will be able to live-move the users from the NetWare post offices to the Linux ones, and finally decommission the NetWare post offices. That’s the plan.
The update of the back-end stuff from GroupWise 6.5 on NetWare to GroupWise 7 SP1 on NetWare took place last night and was entirely successful. The only glitch was that when I sent out a notice to the users at the end of the process early this morning using my Evolution client, the message got stuck somehow in my outbox and got sent to everyone three times. I just told them all that we had made our GroupWise system three times more reliable.
I wanted to go with the family to Rabbit Hill on Monday, but Emily got invited to a birtdhay party, so we did the next-best thing: We went tobogganing. It snowed a lot so the snow was packed underneath and loose on top. I did a few runs on the snowdeck while the kids rode their sliders, and I was starting to feel pretty confident on it. I could make turns back and forth all the way down the hill. Then, I slipped, as that thing likes to do, and it was just like in a cartoon when somebody steps on a banana peel. The deck shot out and I tipped 90 degrees in the air, and fell over sideways. I landed on my elbow, which pushed up my shoulder, and I heard my shoulder and neck make a whole series of cracks and crunches.
I got up and was OK for the moment, but I knew with certainty of experience that I would be half paralyzed later. Later, I was most definitely half paralyzed. I had to resort to ice and Robaxisol.
I’m getting ready to deploy new servers for GroupWise 7, updating our existing GW 6.5 servers running in a NetWare cluster to a set of virtual machines in VMware Server running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on the Bladecenter, with GroupWise 7.01 for Linux.
The first step, which I’m planning for Tuesday night next week, is to upgrade the back-end NetWare boxes to GroupWise 7 so that the primary GroupWise domain will be version 7, allowing me to then add Linux GroupWise 7 domains to the sysetm. Then, I will create the new GroupWise secondary domains for GroupWise 7 on the Linux virtual machines, create post offices on them, and start migrating users over. The hundred gigabytes of live email on our existing GroupWise systems is going to take a while to move over.
Saturday I took Mack and Emily, and Emily’s friend Kendra to “Seven Hills”, the local toboggan hill where we live. Emily brought her snowboard and did a few runs, and we all rode the snow sliders. Emily and I also had a go at the snowdeck, but the snow was soft and loose, which made for poor conditions riding the snowdeck.
Sunday I took Emily and her friend Christina to thill again, and they sledded the whole time while I worked away at figuring out the snowdeck. Someone had build a small kicker and Emily and Christina were trying to hit it with their snow sliders. There were a few other decks there, but nobody who seemed to be really good at it. I saw one guy who could ride all the way down, but he couldn’t turn much, especially heel-side, without losing it. The snow was a bit more packed down so I was able to ride a bit better, and by the end I was able to go all the way down, linking turns, and even stop at the bottom without wiping out. I’d like a longer deck, because this one, at a typical skateboard length of about 75 or 80 cm, is way to small for my weight. There’s not enough edge to hold a hard turn.
By the end we were all worn out from hiking up, but it was great fun to spend so much time with the kids over the weekend.
Here is what looks to me like the first indication of Microsoft extortion for other Linux vendors besides Novell. Steve Ballmer is offering to help other Linux vendors reach patent agreements with them too, but to me it sounds like he is essentially saying Novell thought it necessary to protect its customers from patent lawsuits by Microsoft. That validates that we might have something to sue Linux companies and users over. Now all the other Linux vendors better get in line and sign up for “protection” too.
I admit that I don’t like Windows or the way Microsoft does business, and my views are slanted with my own experience working in a mixed network environment. I’m concerned about what this business agreement between Microsoft and Novell might do to the open source community, even though it will probably benefit our company overall, at least in the near term.
Update to this post: Wow, please forgive the horrible language of this post. I wrote it while watching the webcast live, and apparently my journalistic skills are not up to the task of simultaneous watching, listening and writing blog entries while building SLES virtual machines on another face of the cube on my desktop.
I got an email that essentially said Come to a Novell CEO Update Webcast today at 5 PM EST. I was confused slightly by this since it is now Daylight Savings Time, which made my brain break trying to figure out when to connect.
I went to the URL http://www.novell.com/webcast at 15:00 MDT, and there was no stream available yet. I waited a few minutes, reloaded and found a flash stream, which I connected to.
The stream showed the Microsoft Press Announcement. WTF?
I waited with bated breath…
At 15:22, a bunch of pointy-hairs from Novell and Microsoft came on and started off talking about a Microsoft / Novell joint announcement. Steve Ballmer was there as well as John Dragoon, Jeff Jaffe, Ron Hovesapien and several big-giant customers. The announcement is a big mystery so far.
The first speaker was Steve Ballmer. He started with thanks to a bunch of different people, including customers. He announced a set of agreements that he said would enhance interoperability between Windows and Linux. As CEO of Microsoft I recognize that Linux does and will continue to play an important role in IT infrastructure.
Microsoft and Novell are joining together on a series of solutions including virtualization, management and document compatibility.
Second, the new collaboration creats an intellectual property bridge between the open source and proprietary model. Microsoft and Novell have found a solution they say will respect both models.
Thirdly they are announcing a business agreement to promote and sell their products together as an interoperable stack. They focussed on Virtualization and Management.
Steve said that Microsoft wants customers who are choosing to use Linux and Windows to choose Novell’s SuSE Linux. He said if you asked him the right answer would still be Windows Windows Windows from his perspective, and something different from Jeff Jaffe’s perspective.
I have to say at this point it’s freaking me out to see Steve Ballmer speaking in front of a Novell backdrop. I can hear the ranting of the Linux zealots already. “Novell’s sold out!”
The first Novell speaker was Ron Hovesapien. He said that he initiated the discussion with Microsoft to discuss customers and the needs of the customers. He said he was impressed with the committment of Microsoft to the initiative. He said Microsoft will redistribute about 70,000 SLES licenses in order to help customers see they have a choice. They have also dedicated a team of Microsoft marketing people to help push the initiative. Microsoft has also partnered with Microsoft to collaborate on software patents in order to facilitate interoperability solutions.
Next was Jeff Jaffe who was there to present some of the technical aspects of the agreement. Novell’s opinion is that the agreement will strengthen the open source community in three ways. First Microsoft is going to work on interoperability between Linux and Windows. Next, Microsoft is announcing a covenant “not-to-sue” on patent infringement for open source developers. Third, Novell and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain open source projects in management and document compatibility.
There are three areas of technology collaboration. First is virtualization. SLES on Windows and Windows on SLES are going to be worked on in the collaboration using paravirtualization. Second is web services management. They are going to collaborate on web services management technologies and in eDirectory / Active Directory. Third is document compatibility. They are going to be jointly developing translators between ODF and Microsoft Offce formats.
Next was Brad Smith, an IP lawyer from Microsoft. He talked about patent issues with Microsoft and Novell. The issues were about building a bridge between the two models. Both Novell and Microsoft have large and important patent portfolios. They worked out a bunch of arrangements that remove barriers from the two companies collaborating without compromising their portfolios, so that they could jointly develop open source projects that help interoperability.
One of the agreements is that customers who purchase support from Novell for SUSE Linux will also get a patent covenant from Microsoft. There will be a financial exchange between the companies as part of this agreement, but they didn’t explain how it would work.
He also mentioned that they need to address the needs of developers. The first is a promise that they won’t assert patents against individual developers in a non-commercial role. The second thing is that they promise that they won’t assert patents against developers for OpenSUSE.org. That allows open source developers to work in areas that may have Microsoft patents and get that code into Linux without worrying about infringing on patents.
John Dragoon came back and introduced some partners to discuss their perspective. The first partner up was Shane Robinson from HP. He spoke about how excited HP was about virtualization and interoperability between Novell and Microsoft for future datacenters.
The last remarks were from Randy Cowan from Goldman-Sachs. He said he was grateful to industry leaders working together on interoperability solutions. He is pleased that the burden of ensuring interoperability for their stratigic platforms was being moved from their shoulders to Microsoft and Novell’s.
At the end John Dragoon entertained questions.
The first question was to Steve Ballmer. Someone asked if they are considering making a similar deal with Redhat. Steve said that the deep work involved was with the patent portfolio. They were pressured by their customers to deal with Linux vendors to resolve the patent issues and provide interoperability. They started directly communicating about it in April. It sounds like Redhat hasn’t been in the picture at all.
The next question was when did this agreement start and who initiated it. Ron Hovesapien said he initiated teh discussions with the CIO at Microsoft, around April.
The next question was about how it has been going from competitors to collaborators. Steve said first things first, we’re still competitors. Microsoft recognizes Novell as a sort-of proxy for the customer, and as a way to work with the open source community that is respectful of that community. Ron H said that the agreement should accellerate the uptake of both Novell and Microsoft products.
Next question was regarding if the agreement would resolve the Microsoft / Novell Word Perfect lawsuit. The answer was no.
Next was what’s a short summary of this agreement. Steve said that they have agreed to work together on the technical levels of interoperability, and that they have agreed on a way to ensure both sides’ intellectual property is protected. Microsoft doesn’t license their IP to Linux users, but they have agreed to this agreement to provide patent peace-of-mind to customers.
There were more customer touchy feely questions as well that I haven’t written about.
Update: Novell has put up a large FAQ regarding this deal.