Innovation at Work and at Play


I’ve finally taken the leap into the blogosphere. I’ve been promising to do this for about a year, and the launch of our new community web site seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to strike up a conversation with the Actian community. The title of my blog, “The View from 25B”, came to me while stuck once again in the middle seat in the last row of a JetBlue flight. I’ve clocked up hundreds of thousands of miles meeting with customers, partners, prospects, and other Actian folks, and for a while there, I thought my travel profile had specifically requested that non-reclining middle seat that I’ve come to call home. Recently, I was in Vegas at CA World, my first CA World where I wasn’t carrying a CA badge. My goal in going to CA World was to put that “legacy” tag to rest for good by highlighting the real innovation that we’ve been focused on for the past year. The Actian of today is a world away from the Actian that lived within CA, and this was our opportunity to highlight that difference to folks who perhaps haven’t been paying attention to what we’ve been doing. Some companies dust off old ideas, have their graphic artists draw up new slides and present them once more under an “innovation” banner. What we’re doing at Actian is truly innovative and will redefine how products, services and support are delivered.

We crammed a lot into the 30×30 Actian booth, but without a doubt the big draw at the booth was our PlayStation 3 demo. We set up a mini-theatre in one corner of the booth and invited people to play PS3 games on our 60 inch plasma TV. As soon as we got them on the hook, we rebooted the PlayStation under Linux, and ran through our fairly compelling demo that highlights the rich functionality that the Eclipse Data Tools Platform provides Actian application developers. It’s a great bait-and-switch and one that we’ll probably repeat at other shows. For me, the most impressive thing about the demo is that the PlayStation 3 comes with only 256MB of RAM, and we have an operating system, a full featured database, a Java Runtime Environment and an application development framework running comfortably in this memory footprint.

We had a hard time getting Actian related sessions onto the agenda at CA World this year, so I submitted a paper that I felt would resonate with CA’s customers, “Debunking the Myths Around Open Source Security”. The 5:15pm time slot I was allocated was definitely going to test its appeal, but I knew from experience that there is a lot of genuine interest in understanding open source security better, and my session drew a reasonable crowd. At the end of the session one of the questions raised was about the impossible task of securing a general purpose operating system. I had made sure not to make the session into an Actian product pitch, but I could not resist this opportunity to talk about Actian Icebreaker. If you haven’t heard about Icebreaker yet, here’s the 2 second description – limits the operating system to just those components required to support Actian, creates only the user account required to run Actian, and opens only the ports required to access Actian. We have built the security administrator’s dream database deployment platform. I hear that Microsoft is adopting a similar approach with Longhorn and I suspect that we’ll see this trend grow in the enterprise.

I just got back from Dublin having spent time with family, and while there I took the opportunity to call upon one of my favorite Actian customers to check that their plans for rolling out a new business-critical application were going smoothly. I also met with one of our open source BI partners in Dublin. It’s interesting to hear directly from our customers and partners, and I’ll share more of those stories in this blog too. I’m finally back in Long Island for a couple of days in the office.

Given how much time I spend on the road I’m sure that I’ll have plenty of fresh material to blog about. I started this blog because I want to have a place to continue the great discussions about Actian and open source that I have in person. I’d love to know what you’re comments and questions are about Actian, so please, fire away, and tell me what you’d like to hear about. I’m moderating comments, but only for spam and anything really inappropriate, so drop me a line and let’s make this as interactive as we can.

About Emma McGrattan

As SVP of Engineering at Actian, Emma leads development for the Actian Vector team, including the Ingres and X100 components, and the Actian Matrix Planner team. A leading authority in DBMS technologies, Emma is celebrating 20 years in Ingres and Actian Engineering.

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