Last year I was doing mobile development and there was interesting Linux-as-smartphone-OS stuff going on. Now I’m doing Ruby on Rails development and there’s interesting server grid stuff going on. Here’s what I’m looking forward to finding out more about (all of these are things I’ve been watching or directly researching already):
Xen seems to have eclipsed VMware as the standard low-cost virtualization solution, and virtualization looks like a giant sysadmin time saver for people like me who want to start dirt cheap (tens of dollars / month for a single Xen VPS) and potentially have dozens of servers in multiple data centers a few months later. I’d like to see what people are doing with it, especially along the lines of turning distro ISOs into preinstalled Xen images, and making tools to ease the creation and deployment of existing custom Xen images.
I’m also interested in distributed filesystems like GFS. I was under the impression until a few months ago that gross ugly NFS was still the state of the art, but apparently somebody has finally addressed that. Correction: GFS is a SAN filesystem, not a distributed filesystem, so it isn’t really comparable with NFS.
ZFS is also interesting, because RAID has turned out to be complicated and expensive, mainly because it has to provide a transparent abstraction of a simple low-level block device. In classic time-sharing situations where many users run many applications on one volume that made more sense than it does now, where many users share one clustered application that has one dominant usage pattern across a large number of servers, each of which has several disks. The smaller set of requirements means that you can customize the clustered storage behavior and get major cost and performance savings, and ZFS seems to be a really good halfway point between application-level 100% custom clustered storage code, and kernel or hardware-level 100% generic RAID. The goal here would be to have dozens of cheap servers with several cheap drives each connected to cheap (motherboard-based) controllers, with HA and parallelization provided in software.
Also I’m becoming a total PostgreSQL weenie and I want to see how they’re presenting themselves, and who’s making closed-source enterprise add-ons, esp. since Sun is increasingly investing in PostgreSQL (in a way that benefits the PostgreSQL community, not just Sun and Sun’s customers). Sun’s wagon is no longer hitched to Oracle on Solaris on SPARC, and the open stack of PostgreSQL on Linux (or Solaris) on x86 is proving to be extremely cost effective without sacrificing features, data integrity, or SMP scalability (as has been the case with MySQL). I think the “who’s the big fast fancy database of choice” tipping point from Oracle->PostgreSQL is already here and the world just hasn’t fully recognized that yet. The only thing left is built-in multimaster clustering (there’s PGCluster but it doesn’t look like a healthy project, and it’s not built in) but I think that’s just a matter of time now, since it’s such a desirable feature for the kind of customers Sun is courting.