Jul 29, 2007

Rob's Most Excellent Tape

In 2006, we were discussing ways to distribute small software add-ons that complement our current products. Rob Gingell, our CTO, talked about the "utility tape" that accompanied Solaris and other UNIX operating systems. The top utility was never part of the operating system by default, but it was found on "the tape." However, everyone used top, and top eventually found its way into the standard operating system distro.

So, the RMET, or Rob's Most Excellent Tape, was born! Now, we don't actually use a tape to distribute it, but the name was kinda catchy. (And I think Rob liked it.)

One of the first things that found its way to the tape was the Scripting SDK (SSDK). We needed a way to extend Collage functionality with small scripts written in a UNIX shell or Windows batch program. So, one day Mukund wrote the SSDK. It hid the complexities of the Collage Web Services interface and exposed a small and simple set of commands. The SSDK is now a standard product offering and even has its own documentation on InfoCentral.

The Java dashboard is another item that is found its way into the SSDK. Last year, we were giving a demonstration to the executive staff of a large company, and we decided that we needed a high-level dashboard rather than the detailed web UI. So, Mukund developed a Java Swing app that used the Collage Web Services interface to expose a high-level dashboard that showed how servers were allocated to different application tiers. His dashboard also showed servers powering up and down. Recently, the Java dashboard found a new audience with our Sales Engineers, and its now installed in a partner's executive briefing center in New York.

And a few months ago, Jason became a new contributor to the RMET. He developed a Reporting application that extracts data from the Collage database into an external data warehouse. Jason then used Active Grid to develop a reporting application that allows you to track server usage by cost centers. The reporting tool allows you to track depreciation and operating costs (e.g., electricity) by the cost centers you define. Since Collage allows you to allocate servers to applications on a dynamic basis, you can adjust the capacity allocated to each application. So, now you can have a centrally managed IT pool and charge back to different groups for their actual usage.

The RMET provides a convenient way to introduce these add-on functionalities. And one day some of these add-ons might find their way into the standard product suite-- just like the top you know and love!

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