Recently in brainshare Category

This was posted earlier this year, but I only just ran across it.

Summary: Alcohol seems to pervade (javascript) culture. Big boozy events are at every conference, and this is exclusionary.

Is this a problem at Sysadminly conferences?

An older problem

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I deal with some large file-systems. Because of what we do, we get shipped archives with a lot of data in them. Hundreds of gigs sometimes. These are data provided by clients for processing, which we then do. Processing sometimes doubles, or even triples or more, the file-count in these filesystems depending on what our clients want done with their data.

One 10GB Outlook archive file can contain a huge number of emails. If a client desires these to be turned into .TIFF files for legal processes, that one 10GB .pst file can turn into hundreds of thousands of files, if not millions.

I've had cause to change some permissions at the top of some of these very large filesystems. By large, I mean larger than the big FacShare volume at WWU in terms of file-counts. As this is on a Windows NTFS volume, it has to walk the entire file-system to update permissions changes at the top.

This isn't the exact problem I'm fixing, but it's much like in some companies where granting permissions to specific users is done instead of to groups, and then that one user goes elsewhere and suddenly all the rights are broken and it takes a day and half to get the rights update processed (and heaven help you if it stops half-way for some reason).

Big file-systems take a long time to update rights inheritance. This has been a fact of life on Windows since the NT days. Nothing new here.

But... it doesn't have to be this way. I explain under the cut.

BrainShare returns for 2010?

Novell just posted the Call For Participation, essentially soliciting session proposals, for BrainShare 2010. So it sounds like they're at least planning on going for it for 2010. Obviously, what with this little project I'm working on I won't be going. But it is nice to see it up and running.

Posting will be light. I was out sick last week, and I have family arriving later this week and in to next week.

Novell wants your BrainShare input

Just posted on the Cool Solutions community page:

Novell BrainShare 2010 Advisory Board

Since BrainShare took 2009 off, they're planning on bringing it back in 2010. And they're looking for end user input into what it should look like. Should it stay in Salt Lake City? Should events be dropped? Should events be added? This looks to be an online colaboration rather than physical presence, so proximity to Provo, UT shouldn't be a problem. Though, proximity to the US Mountain Timezone may be a good idea.

If you get selected for the board, a perk is a pass for BrainShare 2010.

Novell marketing

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Looks like they're continuing to follow their grassroots marketing strategy. Novell recently created a Novell channel on YouTube. They always made many videos for BrainShare, and I see some vids from BrainShares past up there already. So if you were wandering the internet looking for the Novell PC/Mac spoofs, now you have an official channel to find them.

BrainShare, what next

As promised, some additional information.

The BrainShare Forum announcement of the cancellation. I've met Mr. Groneman. He works with the BrainShare crew, as does a lot of Novell, as he has to get the Support and SysOp areas set up. He's also the guy who is (I believe) in charge of the whole thing. He states clearly that this is not the end of BrainShare for good, this year's step was taken due to the apparently marked decrease in registrations they've received to date.

Brainstorming some replacement ideas for the short term. One item mentioned a lot in the above thread was to have an ATT Live event during the same week as BrainShare is now, presumably to allow the people with nonrefundable air tickets to get SOMETHING out of the travel.

GWAVACon is offering discounts to BrainShare attendees, now that their travel budgets suddenly have more room. They claim they have more than just GWAVA and GroupWise there.

There are some hard economic factors that figure in here, I'm sure. Until this year, I understand that BrainShare attendance had been growing. From personal experience, the groups that had seen the most growth were the IDM and Linux portions of the conference. More than once I've heard BrainShare attendees say it feels more like a Linux conference than anything else, any more. Still, they were seeing regular growth. To see a sharp decline? That's clearly overall economics at work.

I know that the Sponsors for BrainShare expect to reach a certain number of attendees, and if Novell can't deliver the head-count, it could go poorly. Also, the $1695 reg-fee is heavily subsidized by both Novell and sponsors. While direct per-person costs such as food-service are rather low, the sunk costs of the Salt Palace and other such items are a fixed cost, so having fewer people around means the apportioned fixed-cost-per-head is much higher when attendance is down a lot. A lot of those contracts were probably signed months ago and have no back-out clause, or those that do have punative penalties associated, so Novell isn't saving a lot of money by doing this.

Also, Novell is not the only group cancelling a big trade show. MacWorld will be Jobs-free this next time around, and there are others. I guess travel-bans are one of the first things that employers are putting in place in light of reduced income, and that's really taking a bite out of the convention-business.

I wonder how the big Las Vegas hotels will make out?

Novell has canceled BrainShare 2009

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I didn't find out about it until this morning, as I was snowed in yesterday and wasn't paying as much attention as I should. But still. I'm one of those people who cited travel-budget shortages for not coming. This is major news!

This begs the question, "is BrainShare dead, or just this year?"

It could be either, but from what I'm hearing in the Novell Forums it sounds like there are still plans to put on a BrainShare 2010, should conditions improve. I can't go to BrainShare 2010, those aforementioned economic concerns ($5.6Bn budget shortfall in the state budget for fiscal 09-11), so it's kind of moot for me. But still.

There is a lot of stuff going on over in the forums. As they're web-based these days, and the interface doesn't suck, I might be able to link to interesting bits. In another post.

Still. duuuuuuuuuuuude.

The NetWare 7 that never was

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My last post generated some comments lamenting where NetWare has gone. I hear ya.

I have friends and have spoken with people at BrainShare who were closer to things than I was regarding how the next version of NetWare evolved. And to be truthful, it sounded a lot like how Microsoft moved from XP to Vista. If you'll recall, "the version of Windows after XP," was something of a moving target for many years. I recall media reports of Microsoft scrapping the whole project and starting afresh at least once.

My very first BrainShare was 2001, and that was the release party for NetWare 6. It was in 2003 when Novell bought Ximian, and bought SuSE, so it is clear when Novell probably decided to bet the house on this whole Linux thing. Yet at BS01 there was talk about NW7, or if there would be a NW6.1 version out. The rumors I remember from back then had NW7 being a progression towards a more application-friendly environment. I also remember hearing the L word around once or twice.

What we actually got was NetWare 6.5, which solidified NetWare 6 and made the core services better and more mature. What it wasn't was any more application friendly than NetWare 6 was (or even NetWare 5.1 for that matter). NetWare 6.5 released in August of 2003, the same month as the Ximian purchase. This is what tells me that Novell had decided on a path for NetWare 7, and it was green, not red. Open Enterprise Server arrived in 2005, which gives OES a solid year and a half dev-time between when SuSE was bought and when we started seeing public betas of OES. The NetWare version of OES was NetWare 6.5 SP3.

What happened to NetWare 7? It got lost on the roadmap. When NW6 came out, Novell probably had 6.5 on the roadmap as the next rev, with NW7 next down. The rumors we were hearing were very provisional, as the spot on the map held by NW7 was at least 3 years away. Sometime between BrainShare 2001 and when Novell started buying its way into the Linux world NW7 was dropped and the decision was made to port to a completely different Kernel. That decision was probably made in the summer of 2003, as the NetWare 6.5 development was entering final beta, and the task of allocating developer resources for the next full rev needed to be made.

Which brings us to today. OES2 SP1 is going to drop any day now, probably in time for Novell's quarterly earnings report. SP1 finally brings the Linux-kernel 'NetWare Services' to feature-comparable with the NetWare kernel. There are still a few things missing, like an eDirectory integrated SLP server, but now all the major points are covered. If you count it up, this has taken Novell a bit over 5 years to get to this point.

In my opinion, that's about right for an organization the size of Novell. Porting over the proprietary NetWare services to completely new kernel requires a LOT of developer attention, and Novell is a lot smaller than Microsoft. Also of note, it took Microsoft 5 years to give us Vista after XP, including the presumed nuke-and-rewrite they did. Novell got a boost in that they had already ported eDirectory to Linux, so that helped out the NCP side. But that didn't help the NSS folks, who had to figure out a way to do a NetWare-style rich metadata file-system on a kernel and driver model that expects POSIX-spartan file-systems. The problems Novell had with this were amply displayed in the performance problems reported with OES1-FCS. Samba doesn't scale to the same levels as CIFS-on-NetWare did, so that meant Novell had to create their own CIFS stack from scratch. The AFP stack on Linux is a joke, and the resurgence of Apple since 2003 meant they had to do something about that as well; by making a proprietary AFP stack. All of this represents nuke-and-rebuild-from-spec, which takes time.

Novell probably should have started the migration in 2000 instead of 2003. They already knew that Exchange 5.5 upgrades were driving a LOT of customers into Active Directory, which was triggering migrations away from NetWare. But, there are business concerns here. Novell managed to survive the fall of NetWare by diversifying their product portfolio enough that GroupWise, Zen, and Identity Management could support the company. It took until this year to return to the black, but they did it. Had they shot the NetWare cash cow two years earlier, it is entirely possible that Novell couldn't have survived the lean years.

No BrainShare for me

Last week I asked my new boss if getting me to BrainShare was in the cards. I also threw out the alternative of the ATT Live sessions, which are fewer days and relatively cheaper than BrainShare. I also floated the possibility of me covering the plane expenses. As it happens Provo is about as expensive a city as Spokane, and Salt Lake City during BrainShare is equivalent to Bellevue. This is important since the travel ban is for 'out of state travel'. If I cover the plane tickets, that makes the cost the equivalent to having it in Spokane/Bellevue! Thus, I can go!

Unfortunately, not really. Quoth the new boss:
I highly doubt this'll work. Even Vice-Presidents are canceling travel plans.
If the grand high muckitymucks are honoring the travel ban, then the chances of me getting permission is next to zero. And is fully zero if I don't get buy off from my boss. Drat. Considering that the budget outlook for 2010 is even more grim than it is for 2009, the next probable BrainShare I can get to is 2011. Double drat.

Budget crunch update

The University President has just sent out an email describing what the university plans on doing in light of the Governor's memo. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot in there.
  • There WILL be a hiring freeze.... and this will manifest by having newly vacant positions have to go before a Provost/Vice-Provost review before being filled.
  • Salary increases will still be given per negotiated contracts.... for classified people, which I'm not. We don't know what us Professional types will get. And won't know until the State passes the next budget during the coming winter.
  • Out of state Travel WILL be restricted.... and this will manifest by having travel requests go before a Provost/Vice-Provost review before being approved. Like they always do.
Almost all of this comes down to, "we'll be looking even harder at expense requests, so be careful." We really won't know how bad it'll get until the Legislature convenes and starts working on bills. They open, if I remember right, just after the new year.

So, I may yet get to BrainShare 2009, but it may require my boss to talk a lot faster than normal. We just won't know until we get a feeling for how much pressure the Provosts and Vice-Provosts are under to contain costs.

On the plus side, the SAN upgrade is pretty clearly critical to the function of this university, so that'll get approved. Or there will be riots in the halls outside my office.