Microsoft: more open (kinda commercial) sourcery

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Microsoft's open technology credentials appear to look better ever day.

Are we all okay with this statement?

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Redmond has this month has spoken openly about its agreement to acquire open-source software company Revolution Analytics.

The firm is the leading 'commercial provider' of software and services for R, the world's most widely used programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics.

Perhaps our first line should read:

Microsoft's commercially-aligned open technology credentials appear to look better ever day and while the company is making much progress in some areas to engage with the "community contribution model" which drives and underpins the open source movement, the firm does appear to spend more time on strategic corporate moves in the open software application developer space than it does detailing its code commits and its approach to community enrichment.

The company says that this acquisition will help more users use the power of R (and data science) to unlock big data insights with advanced analytics within:

  • Microsoft data platforms on-premises,
  • In hybrid cloud environments (usually containing Microsoft technology) and on,
  • Microsoft Azure.

What about the community?

Commercial messages out of the way then...

... Microsoft moves on and promises to help foster the open source evolution of R and, particularly, the community of people that innovates to drive that evolution.

From here on in, Microsoft will continue to support and evolve both open source and commercial distributions of Revolution R across multiple operating systems.

Revolution Analytics provides an enterprise-class platform for the development and deployment of R-based analytic solutions that can scale across large data warehouses and Hadoop systems, and can integrate with enterprise systems.

Its Revolution R product line, combined with its expert advisory services and training, help people and companies realise the potential of big data using sound statistical, scientific methodologies.

Strange bedfellows?

"Now, Microsoft might seem like a strange bedfellow for an open-source company, but the company continues to make great strides in the open-source arena recently," wrote David Smith, Microsoft chief community officer recently.

But says Smith, "Microsoft is a big user of R. Microsoft used R to develop the match-making capabilities of the Xbox online gaming service. It's the tool of choice for data scientists at Microsoft, who apply machine learning to data."

Redmond promises to continue to support and develop the Revolution R family of products -- including non-Windows platforms like Mac and Linux -- for community altruism and philanthropic reasons, obviously.

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R visualisation of how the World Cup national teams are drawn from League players from around the world. Source: Guy Abel

Purism Librem: 100% open source crowdsourced 'high-end' laptop

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The Purism Librem 15 claims to be the first laptop in the world that ships without 'mystery software' in the kernel, operating system or any software applications.

This is because, the Librem runs 100% on open source.

Purism promises that it will:

• Only use free/libre software for the kernel, OS and all software applications.
• Manufacture hardware that only uses free/libre software
• Prioritise free/libre software for its users.

Purism has successfully crowdfunded the Librem 15 to produce what it describes as a 'high-end' laptop PC with a 3.4GHz Core i7 running an operating system that is a variant of Trisquel GNU/Linux.

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All hardware and software drivers are included -- all included applications are free and open.

According to its makers, "Every other consumer-grade laptop you can purchase comes with an operating system that includes suspect, proprietary software, and there's no way for you to know what that software does."

The device is set to launch in April 2015 and prices start at US $1500 or around GBP £1000.

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According to Purism, "[We] have the final prototypes and with your help can begin production at full scale in our South San Francisco facility -- the first batch will consist of 500 laptops. All laptops include free US domestic shipping. We also ship outside the US anywhere in the world for a flat $80 international shipping surcharge."

• 15.6" display in either 1920x1080 or 3840x2160
• 4 Core (8 Threads) 3.4GHz Intel i7-4770HQ
• Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
• 375 x 244 x 22mm 2.0Kg
• 4GB Memory (up to 32GB)
• 500GB HD (up to 1TB HD or 1TB SSD)
• CD/DVD ROM Drive (or extra drive bay)
• 65W power adapter
• Up to 8 hours usage

For more, Google @puri.sm

Has IBM made (hard) Hadoop easier?

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It has been said that Hadoop is hard.

More specifically, it has been said that the Hadoop framework for distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of computers using simple programming models is tough to get to grips with because:

  • Hadoop is not a database
  • Hadoop is not an analytics environment
  • Hadoop is not a visualisation tool
  • Hadoop is not known for clusters that meet enterprise-grade security requirements

Foundation fixation

This is because Hadoop is a "foundational" technology in many senses, so its route to "business usefulness" is neither direct or clear cut in many cases.

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IBM pays analyst firm Evans Data Corporation for what are widely regarded as worthy reports -- in this role, Evans has cited IBM as an "industry leader" for making Hadoop more accessible, scalable and reliable for developers in a new analyst survey.

In an attempt to justify its stance (and, presumably, its fee) in this regard, Evans data carried out a survey of more than 1,000 big data developers.

Impartial data or not?

The analyst house did not specify how it selected these developers and whether it specifically targeted and questioned confirmed existing users of IBM technologies.

Over 25 percent of respondents identified IBM's Hadoop as their principle distribution.

The survey also focused on key growth areas such as machine learning and streaming analytics, where 18 percent of developers cited IBM InfoSphere Streams as their preferred application for machine learning, making it the second most popular choice in the category.

IBM also recently conducted an independently audited benchmark (1), which was reviewed by third-party Infosizing, of three popular SQL-on-Hadoop implementations and the results showed that IBM's Big SQL was the only Hadoop solution tested that was able to run all 99 Hadoop-DS (2) queries.

"Our platform for Hadoop helps data-intensive applications manage and analyse petabytes of big data by providing clients with an integrated approach to analytics, helping them turn information into insight," said Beth Smith, GM, analytic platform, IBM.

Smith says that this new report and benchmark are proof that customers can ask more complex questions of IBM when it comes to Hadoop implementation.

IBM real world efforts?

More than 200,000 developers regularly use Big Data University, an online educational site sponsored by IBM and run by new and experienced Hadoop, big data and DB2 users who want to learn or contribute course materials.

Thousands of developers also participate in IBM big data meet-ups held around the world, which are free events offering developers an opportunity to learn about and experiment with Hadoop, SQL-on-Hadoop, and other big data technologies.

Yes things might just be getting more accessible thanks to some of these efforts and those of other firms in this space other than IBM.

Embeddable reporting with operations-optimised geospatial analytics anyone?

Image credit: IBM

007 DevOps: Ansible's secret agentless route to IT automation

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No not runcible, this is Ansible.

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What is Ansible?

An ansible (lower case) is a fictitious machine capable of instantaneous or superluminal (faster than light) communication.

... on the other hand

Ansible Inc (upper case) is a company that makes "agentless" orchestration and configuration management tools in the form of an automation engine designed to help deploy both applications and the wider software systems that they exist within.

Agentless you say?

What is a software agent?

A software agent is a 'persistent' (i.e. always present) piece of software application code designed to run with a specifically defined goal so that it can react to its wider data and software environment and serve internal system needs such as initiating, monitoring and if needed terminating other software applications or indeed other agents. An agent is capable of running without continuous direct supervision and may or may not have its own user interface.

The software here from Ansible demands no custom scripting or custom code and indeed no agents.

Instead, it uses an automation language that its makers claim is easy to learn.

Ansible project founder Michael DeHaan has said the he, "Wrote Ansible because none of the existing tools [would] fit my brain. I wanted a tool that I could not use for 6 months, come back later, and still remember how it worked."

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AnsibleFest comes around at an interesting time i.e. every major software player from CA to HP to IBM and onwards is currently trying to sex-up the abilities of its software orchestration engines, configuration management tools and continuous delivery offering -- and the term DevOps is never far away.

Then there's open source in the configuration management space from Red Hat to Puppet and Chef and Salt and onwards, but this is not a cross vendor analysis -- so what of Ansible?

Core technology proposition

The core technology proposition here is a developer play yes -- but it's also an opportunity for less technical users to get involved with IT automation because Ansible avoids the need to write custom scripts or code to manage applications.

Why is IT automation important?

Well, with less code scripting, users can start to influence the life of applications because Ansible uses a language that champions the concept of building workflows that most people can understand.

Why is application life important?

The theory is, if more stakeholders can help get applications into shippable shape, then applications can a) get to market faster if they are being sold or b) get implemented faster and do what they are supposed to do.

AnsibleFest itself a day-long conference bringing together users, developers and industry partners to share best-practices, case studies and news.

Who is Ansible targeting?

• DevOps engineers (therefore developers & sysadmins),
• Operations & network engineers,
• Systems engineers, release engineers and DBAs,
• System administrators and,
• All open source evangelists & users.

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In pre show news, the firm that exists as Ansible Inc. has said it has finished its first full year of sales with over 300 customers and the Ansible open source project has had over one million downloads in 2014.

Ansible Tower - Ansible's enterprise IT automation solution - has been downloaded over 5,000 times and is in production managing tens of thousands of servers, VMs and cloud instances across enterprise verticals that include financial services, government, high-tech manufacturing, education, web & e-commerce and media.

"2014 was an amazing year for Ansible and our customers," said Saïd Ziouani, Ansible CEO. "The customer adoption of Ansible Tower exceeded our expectations and validated that enterprise customers and DevOps groups are ready for a simple, secure and agile approach to IT automation that is easy for sysadmins to adopt and provides a near-instant ROI to the business."

Also in this last year, Ansible released agentless support for managing Windows environments, using PowerShell remoting -- now Ansible can be used in mixed Linux, Unix, Windows & cloud environments.

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Editorial disclosure: Adrian Bridgwater has worked for Ansible Inc on blog content for its conference events.

What is a software forge?

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As we know, use of the term "infographic" generally causes involuntary gagging and may result in unwelcome skin irritation.

Paradoxically, open source licensing and vulnerability management solutions company Protecode (pron: pro-ta-code) appears to be using the "information graphic" (to use the old school expression) approach to good effect.

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The firm has produced infographics to compare the attributes of open source projects held in organised, tightly governed forges, such as Apache and CodePlex, with free-for-all forges having little or no project governance, such as SourceForge or GitHub.

What is a software forge?

DEFINITION: A software forge is generally defined as a collaboration platform hosted as a website designed to facilitate, stimulate and concentrate community (and often, but not always, "independent") software application development projects -- the forge is home to software application development tools, management functions and access to a particular piece of software's SDK and IDE as well as source code management and version control features. Forges can be unregulated or supported by a governing organisation.

For example, GitHub is currently the world's largest code repository and has little or no governance -- it does not require projects to confirm to "The Open Source Definition" set by the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

SourceForge was the world's first centralised location for the management of free and open source software projects. SourceForge is another ungoverned forge that encourages developers to choose an OSI approved license for their projects.

A forge state of the nation

The following information is attributed to Protecode and its analysis of the forge state of the nation in the firm's Global Intellectual Property (GIPS) Database -- a database containing over 2.2 million open source packages, gathered from 4,000 sites around the web.

Launched in 2006, CodePlex is a Microsoft owned repository for open source projects. While the repository hosts a wide variety of projects, the most prominent are Microsoft driven (.NET, SharePoint).

Apache Software Foundation (ASF): Launched in 1999, the Apache Software Foundation develops and supports a variety of open source projects. Projects that are hosted at Apache are selected and approved by the Apache foundation and are licensed to the ASF with a grant or contributor agreement.

The firm's latest infographic displays the distribution of five popular license families in all of the forges scanned - namely MIT, GPL, BSD, Apache, and LGPL. Combining all forges together, GPL (various versions) appears to be the most widely used license at 43%.

In the two lightly-governed repositories, contributors to GitHub prefer the permissive MIT license, while SourceForge users prefer the copyleft GPL.

As for the two tightly governed forges, each prefers the license of the sponsoring organisation.

CodePlex complexities

In CodePlex, Microsoft Open Source Licenses are preferred and Apache licenses are prominent among contributors to the Apache Software Foundation's forge. GPL usage was lowest among the CodePlex community, since GPL has only been an option since October 2013.

Finally, the total number of permissive and copyleft licenses in each forge was tallied.

According to Protecode, the large number of GPL projects in SourceForge gives it the distinction of the forge with the highest percentage of copyleft projects. CodePlex is not too far behind due to the prevalence of projected licensed under the copyleft Microsoft Public License (MPL). GitHub users tend to prefer permissive licenses, while Apache has the lowest number of copyleft licenses since the vast majority of their projects are licensed under the permissive Apache license.

"In the open source domain, GPL and LGPL still rule, but more and more projects are licensed under non-reciprocal licenses such as BSD, MIT, and Apache. Generally, loosely governed forges, such as GitHub or SourceForge, support more copyleft licenses than more tightly governed forges, such as Apache," said Protecode in an press statement.







IoTivity, it's where developers do IoT activity

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The Linux Foundation has said that it will host developer collaboration space and services for IoTivity, an open source project sponsored by the Open Interconnect Consortium.

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What is IoTivity?

IoTivity is an open source software framework providing connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoTivity has just announced its Preview Release.

The project will be hosted by The Linux Foundation as a formally designated 'Collaborative Project' (meaning there is an emphasis on code development) and will plan to release a reference implementation of the IoT standards being defined by the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC).

IoT technologies here will span multiple industries including:

  • smart home,
  • automotive,
  • industrial automation and,
  • healthcare.
"The ability for devices and machines to communicate will unleash a whole new world of technology innovation. Open source software and collaborative development are the building blocks to get us there," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation.

Open openness

The project is open to all and includes RESTful-based APIs. It is expected to be available in various programming languages for a variety of operating systems and hardware platforms.

"We believe that an open source project combined with the OIC's standards efforts is critical to driving true interoperability for the billions of IoT devices that will be coming online over the next few years," said Mark Skarpness, Director of Embedded Software in Intel's Open Source Technology Center, and the chair of the IoTivity Steering Group. "We are pleased to be working with The Linux Foundation and the open source community to advance the project."

As a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, IoTivity is governed by an independent steering group that liaises with the OIC.

The IoTivity project is licensed under the Apache License version 2.0.

Cascading Harry Styles Sheets: DjangoCon Europe plays around One Direction

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The open source focused DjangoCon Europe 2015 conference and exhibition has been rescheduled within the same working week to avoid a clash with touring dates set by boy band One Direction.

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Organisers confirm that six days of talks, tutorials and coding will be staged in Cardiff, Wales - from the 31st of May to the 5th of June 2015.

The 'Best Song Ever' popsters will be responsible for bringing in extra 140,000 people (Cardiff's population is only 340'000 to begin with) to the Welsh city over the two nights of the band's concerts, which will now be staged on the 5th and 6th of June.

DjangoCon Europe staff were worried about hotel availability and, presumably, the wider impact of the teen popsters on the coding community.

We'll laugh about this later, right?

"We'll probably find this funny, when we look back on it (perhaps as soon as fifty or sixty years from now) but at the moment we're not enjoying the situation," read an official statement from the organisers.

Django itself is described as a high-level Python language web framework for coding web applications that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design.

The software is available open-source under the BSD license.

It requires Python version 2.7 or higher, but it has no dependencies on other Python libraries.

Web developers can get the latest Django-1.7.2.tar.gz release using this shell command, which requires Git:

git clone https://github.com/django/django.git

Where to get your bubble gum pop

Teenage One Direction fans can get the bands latest's song releases on iTunes, or somewhere, probably.

Django is free and open source.

One Direction is not free and is not open source -- the band and were not available for commentary on the subject of community coding practices for web application frameworks and their resultant applications and usage.

Take two 'medtech' apps & call me in the morning

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Your technology term of the day is "medtech".

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Obviously not too hard to work out, medtech (possibly sometimes 'meditech' or 'medetech') is the slightly less than fluid portmanteau of 'medicine' and 'technology' coming together...

... usually (these days) in the form of an application -- and often (these days) coming in the form of software linked to intelligent health sensor devices, such as those classified as falling within the so-called Internet of Things.

Medtech on Android

We want medtech on open platforms of course -- and so now we have the free Medelinked app available for Android smartphones and tablets in the Android Market on Google Play.

Made by Medelinked Ltd, Medelinked is said to provide users of devices including the Samsung Galaxy and Nexus with peace of mind that if they need urgent medical treatment at home or abroad.

But how?

Because users secure medical history can be quickly and safely accessed and shared from their Android mobile device.

Medelinked enables individuals to record a range of medical details including allergies, conditions, immunisations, medications and tests and the ability to store images of scans, and x-rays to complete their health profile as well as storing insurance and other documentation.

The app stores customers' medical records securely using the Medelinked Health Cloud system. The user has sole control over the information that is stored and whether they wish any healthcare individual or organisation to view any part of their medical history.

The customer (let's call them a 'user', its more human) can also choose any information they would like to store in a password-protected Emergency Records area, which a chosen family member or colleague can immediately access in the event of an emergency.

No more doctors by 2020?

According to its recent report `Healthcare and Life Sciences Predictions 2020` management consultancy Deloitte believes, that by 2020 consumers will accept they are largely responsible for their own health and that informed and demanding patients will be partners in their own healthcare.

Deloitte notes in the report that US consumers' use of electronic health records across all age groups has doubled in the last five years - from eight to 16 per cent - with over half the US population being `very comfortable` or `somewhat comfortable` with the idea of electronic interaction with medical professionals .

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Ian Gallifant, founder and CEO, Medelinked has claimed that we are now seeing a "dramatic shift" in healthcare where individuals have a heightened interest in their own wellbeing and are increasingly interacting with personal technology to manage their lives.

"At the same time, people are realising they have choices, are gaining control and knowledge and proactively engaging with health issues. The realisation of support and education from online technology and apps and their increasing availability is driving new opportunities for improved healthcare services and better outcomes," he said.

Gallifant concludes, "Personal electronic health records are the way forward for effective healthcare in the future. It starts with past health information being stored in an easily accessible way but offers the prospect of future health scenarios being generated through predictive analytics from large databases of information including lifestyle data, as well as medical intervention choices."

Open source intelligence (OSINT) iBrabo tracks Syrian tweet location of ISIS suspect

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Reports in the Independent newspaper and elsewhere suggest that the open source intelligence research group iBrabo has helped with information capture technology in the quest to pin down a suspected ISIS militant.

A New Zealand born individual, Mark John Taylor (who uses the names Mohammad Daniel or Abu Abdul Rahman) is said to have now suspended his Twitter account after inadvertently tweeting his location while in Syria.

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According to Twitter's location service FAQ:

  • Enabling location services allows you to selectively add location information to your Tweets. This feature is off by default and you will need to opt in to use it.
  • Once you've enabled location services, you will be able to attach a location (such as a city or neighbourhood) of your choice to your Tweet. When you are using Twitter for Android or Twitter for iOS your Tweet will also include your precise location (latitude and longitude).

According to iBrabo, "It's a rookie social media mistake and one that intelligence and law enforcement agencies pray for when tracking criminals. This week one of New Zealand's well known jihadists, Mark Taylor (Twitter aka: Kiwi Jihadi or @M_Taylor_Kiwi), removed 45 tweets after he discovered that he was broadcasting his twitter location to every intelligence agency (and others) keeping tabs on him."

NOTE: Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is intelligence collected from publicly available sources.

iBrabo's Jeff R. Weyers (a researcher/consultant at iBRABO: Specializing in terrorist use of social media, violent extremism prevention and OSINT) continues, "Unfortunately for him we captured all of them prior to him removing the tweets and will discuss the value of the intelligence they contained. Taylor isn't the first jihadist to broadcast his whereabouts via social media and in fact looking at the battlefield in Syria we see fighters from Canada, France and other western countries making the same mistake."


Java datacentre resolutions, or less cheeseburgers

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The global IT industry marketing machine is likely to spend the first week of 2015 spinning its best gyrations in the direction of New Year technology resolutions.

Picking three from the many hundreds likely to fall from the skies, how about the following:

1. eat less saturated fat and stay away from excessive carbs & cheeseburgers
2. be nicer to people even if they are aggressive
3. bring more automated IT monitoring into enterprise IT for Java apps

Pass the mustard

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Obviously hamburgers and antagonistic troublemakers have their place, but why would automated monitoring be worth a mention?

LogicMonitor and its marketing division clearly forgot that it was Christmas and spent some of the holiday talking about how its tools are allegedly capable of improving the security and monitoring functions we need for running Java applications.

Plus, they are free...

... which judging by the swell in the amount of credit card advertising seen in January, can't be a bad thing.

First up its DNS Change Tracker, this tracker technology provides security within datacentres by acting as a "revision control system" for the DNS, so you can keep track of your DNS (Domain Name System) changes.

But why do DNS changes happen, what are they and why do they matter to datacentre security?

"DNS is the traffic director of the Internet. It essentially tells the Internet where to go for your website. Changes are made when companies add infrastructure, change their network topology, need to add domains and more. If DNS is changed maliciously, you'd want to have a notice of it as it could change where your customers go, for example, sending your traffic to a third party site disguised as yours that collects your user's passwords or downloads viruses onto their systems. Both ICANN and Craigslist have recently suffered from these types of issues. And the change does not have to be malicious. Small typos in DNS entries can cause havoc or outages that last days as incorrect DNS entries can take a while to propagate through the Internet," said Jeff Behl, LogicMonitor's chief network architect.

Also here... second up in the LogicMonitor pressie pile there is a product suite of JMXtop and JMXstat.

What on Earth is that?

This is a command line base tool that will allow anyone (i.e. a software application development professional but more likely a sysadmin or a network engineer) to monitor Java applications.

The tools are best utilised during debugging or troubleshooting because they collect real-time performance metrics on Java applications using JMX (Java Management Extensions).

NOTE: JMX are a set of specifications for software application and network management in the J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition for mainframe computing) development and application environment.

Nobody else offers a command line tool for Java applications this way says the firm.

It's Christmas in datacentre network engineer programming land, all year.

Deeper dive clarifications

Additional colour and explanation on this topic is provided by Russel Ridgley, head of cloud services at Pulsant -- a company that specialises in managed cloud hosting, colocation and application hosting services.

Why do DNS changes happen? What are they?

DNS is a service that everyone uses but perhaps doesn't realise. It turns your friendly web address that you type into your browser into an internet address your computer can understand. This process is a fundamental part of what most network-based services use to communicate between each other.

Providers using DNS as a method of helping users reach their services use this mechanism in many clever ways. These include making multiple devices appear as one simple service to customers but also as a method of redirecting users to a new location or version of a service when it is available. This switch over involves changing the network address that is given back to users when they ask for a particular name. DNS changes of this type are commonplace on networks, including the internet, but occasionally run into problems especially when users or systems remember, or "cache", the addresses that are returned and potentially don't receive the updated address. This can result in an apparent loss of service for some users.

Why do they matter to data centre security?

DNS changes have very little impact in terms of overall data centre security as it is normally the services themselves that are protected rather than their naming. Certain attack methods do, however, hijack primarily end users' DNS in order to return faked addresses and have users log in to systems believing them to be legitimate, using their actual login credentials, but having their details stolen and potentially used against them. There are several methods to prevent such end-user breaches from affecting security, from simple items such as certificates that confirm the identity of sites, to two-factor authentication with systems such as those in widespread use in banking.







Santa for sysadmins: I/O, shake it all about

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Question: What does every IT network administrator or sysadmin want for Christmas apart from a nasal hair trimmer and a local pizza shop gift card?

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Answer: A new network interface card (NIC) that does more than just add ports to a server but also offers access to additional processing power and 'on-circuit-board' capabilities capable of offloading a variety of application functions directly onto the card itself.

Emulex Corporation is hoping it may be capable of playing Santa for sysadmins.

The network connectivity firm has now proffers forth gifts from lands afar including its ExpressConfig products to help optimise I/O connectivity for cloud, hyperscale and enterprise environments.

Pardon me? Hyperscale environments?

The term hyperscale computing is generally used to describe any huge/humongous/hefty (hence: hyper) - scale computing environment where distributed processing, compute and storage elements are coalesced such that workload levels can be amplified/enlarged/augmented (hence: scaled) when needed -- basically, it's often another way of talking about cloud.

Emulex says that by providing architecture, components, features, analysis, configuration settings and software drivers, its ExpresConfig technology can extract "the most value" out of a pre-designed integrated system.

I/O optimised

According to Emulex, the ExpressConfig solutions improve I/O optimisation through the use of bespoke firmware that works on I/O-intensive services to partition and use some of the multicore CPU architecture on the card to execute specific application services, rather than tying up main system CPU cycles - without compromising the remaining cores that are driving the card's port handling.

This is potentially critical (or, useful at least) in cloud environments where maximum capacity utilisation is critical and where speed of I/O response is equally important for customer satisfaction and maintaing SLAs.

ExpressConfig for OpenStack core networks provides a blueprint using the firm's own I/O connectivity capabilities for:

  • allocating bandwidth,
  • converging multiple protocols,
  • isolating OpenStack core networks or applications and,
  • efficiently managing the multiple networks typically associated with large-scale datacentres.
"Emulex sees OpenStack as an I/O development platform that allows us to provide workload optimisation services, orchestration management tools and engineered solutions that are ready to deploy for new hyperscale data centres and public or private cloud environments," said Shaun Walsh, senior vice president of marketing, Emulex.


"The Emulex ExpressConfig Solutions leverage industry-leading Emulex Universal Multi-Channel™ (UMC) Network Interface Card (NIC) partitioning with the open ecosystem of tools available in the OpenStack community to deliver on the growing demands for flexibility, scalability and lower operating costs."

Today, OpenStack users can use Emulex UMC NIC partitioning to optimise bandwidth allocation between the necessary public, private, storage and management networks.

Emulex UMC can ensure minimum bandwidth allocations are maintained, eliminating the potential for tunnel networks to be inadvertently starved by external traffic. For smaller configurations, those safeguards also prevent performance imbalances, enabling the shared use of hardware so the compute and storage nodes can reside on the same server.

Image credit: rocketcomplex

MongoDB puts a wild (wired) tiger in its tank

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The open source cross-platform document-oriented database company MongoDB has acquired WiredTiger for its database storage engine technology.

Available for free under the GNU Affero General Public License, MongoDB is claimed to be among the world's fastest growing databases.

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The company (MongoDB) sells additional significant supplementary services on top of the free software such as:

  • advanced software elements,
  • production and development support,
  • certifications,
  • MongoDB Management Service (MMS) for cloud environments,
  • consulting and training.
MongoDB 2.8 supports "pluggable storage engines" so that the core MongoDB database can be extended with other capabilities and optimised for use with different hardware architectures.


"As a result, users will be able to build and run a wider variety of applications, with lower cost and complexity," claims the firm.

The company says that WiredTiger will contribute to the performance, scalability and hardware efficiency of MongoDB for all users with the upcoming release of MongoDB 2.8 when it arrives.

WiredTiger, is an open source storage engine that powers many high-performance systems, including services at Amazon.

The WiredTiger storage engine is available today in MongoDB 2.8.0 RC2 and will be included with MongoDB 2.8 and MongoDB Enterprise 2.8 soon.

"For many applications, WiredTiger will provide significant benefits in the areas of lower storage costs, greater hardware utilisation, and more predictable performance. Upgrades to the WiredTiger storage engine will be non-disruptive for existing deployments; applications will be 100% compatible, and upgrades can be performed with zero downtime," said the company, in a press statement.

Image credit: Disney http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Tigger

Spiceworks free Network Monitor system health check

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Spiceworks is offering its "free" (no, it actually is) Network Monitor software as 'now available' for download.

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The application claims to allow IT professionals to monitor and manage server and network devices in real-time.

GEEK NOTE: All time (as we know) is relative and, as we also know, the concept of real time does not physically exist in IT data transport in the real world, but data can be shared over networks fast enough for us mere humans to perceive it to be, in fact, provided in real time.

The product can be up and running (on a Windows-based server) in 10 minutes, or so they say.

The tool helps IT professionals understand what's happening in their environment by providing a dashboard showing network utilisation and server activity including:

  • Disk and CPU usage,
  • System memory,
  • Active services and processes and,
  • Other environmental data.

Sanjay Castelino, VP of marketing at Spiceworks says that real-time alerting and configuration options for a series of network conditions are also built in.

"This allows IT professionals to configure how they're alerted when individual issues arise, either via the Network Monitor dashboard or email depending on the severity of the problem and the preferences of the user. When issues arise, IT professionals can take action to resolve the problem and in the future, users will be able to use remote desktop capabilities to address issues from wherever they may be," he said.

National Geographic takes Raspberry Pi to Botswana

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Newswires this week suggest that a team National Geographic explorers have taken open source technology into the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Africa.

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The team of African wilderness specialists will use a Raspberry Pi and a selection of 'other' open source software and hardware to complete their studies of the area.

Water & wildlife

The National Geographic team will be looking at water quality in the area as well as wildlife sightings.

The Okavango Wilderness Project portal will exist as a data and information portal where all findings will be shared openly.

This project, in contrast to others, will be truly open -- the team states: in the past, scientists would go on expeditions and gather data, just to return and fiercely guard the data until they can publish it for scientific accolades.

The site itself is to be found at link: http://www.okavangowildernessproject.org/

Unnecessarily proprietary designs

Speaking to opensource.com this week, project member Shah Selbe said that his rationale for championing open source came out of seeing previous projects undertaken with what he called "a lot of innovation and opportunity being stifled by unnecessarily proprietary designs" and expensive solutions.

"That sort of climate tends to lock the system architecture into something driven by the patents and not necessarily what makes the best sense for the mission," he said.

You can read the complete story here.

Microsoft plays more open games

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The all-new "we love Linux" Microsoft company has continued its sluggish crusade into openness by talking up plans to open source Project Orleans.

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Project Orleans has been used by software application development pros to build the type of essentially distributed (but highly connected) cloud-based services (on the Microsoft Azure cloud) that are used by online players in the Halo 4 game.

The glitterati fraternity

Key international programming glitterati were invited by Microsoft to its Build 2014 conference to learn more of the minutiae behind this project itself, when it was first announced.

Sources suggest that some were even given a new Xbox.

For those still watching from afar, the http://orleans.codeplex.com/ pages note that the team has been working hard to fix issues with the code base.

Brought to you by the fine folks at the eXtreme Computing Group inside Microsoft Research (using the .NET platform as its foundation),Project Orleans claims to provide a "straightforward approach" to building distributed high-scale computing applications, without the need to learn and apply complex concurrency or other scaling patterns.

Open source: it had to happen

The Orleans team notes that the open sourcing move was "the next logical step" and the thing that many programmers had asked for.

The team blog reads, "The preparation work has already commenced, and we expect to be ready in early 2015. The code will be released by Microsoft Research under an MIT license and published on GitHub. We hope this will enable direct contribution by the community to the project. We thought we would share the decision to open-source "Orleans" ahead of the actual availability of the code, so that you can plan accordingly."







VMware is nuts for clusters (and containers)

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VMware has announced a batch of integrations with a number of technology entities as it strives to create a common platform for building and operating applications at scale.

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VMware VP Kit Colbert has said that the firm seeks to minimise the integration costs, time and effort to securely run and manage containerised applications wherever needed.

VMware is now integrating with:

Docker -- the open developer/sysadmins platform for automated deployment of distributed applications

Kubernetes, -- the open-source "container orchestration project" initiated and managed by Google (Ed - it's Greek for ship helmsman or pilot)

Mesosphere -- a so-called DataCentre Operating System (DCOS) is a new kind of operating system that spans all of the servers in a physical or cloud-based datacenter, and runs on top of any Linux distribution.

Pivotal Cloud Foundry -- to simplify enterprise container deployment and management.

The integrations hoped to enable "turnkey deployment" of Docker containers across the following elements of VMware infrastructure:

• VMware Fusion
• VMware vCloud Air
• VMware vSphere

VMware says it is collaborating with Mesosphere to provide broader choice for the deployment and scheduling of containers, containerised applications, and related applications datacentre services such as Hadoop, Spark, and Cassandra.

TECHNICAL NOTE: Mesosphere organises physical servers, virtual machines, and cloud instances and lets applications draw from a single pool of intelligently- and dynamically-allocated resources, increasing efficiency and reducing operational complexity.

According to VMware, "By enabling enterprises to quickly deploy containers, virtual machines or containers within virtual machines along with associated management solutions on a common platform, VMware helps DevOps teams to build, deploy and scale their applications with confidence."

These integrations follow VMware's collaboration with Docker, Google and Pivotal (in August 2014) to help run and manage containerised applications on VMware infrastructure or VMware vCloud Air.

"By offering enterprises a common platform for running virtual machines and containers, developers gain needed agility and speed while providing IT teams with the control they require. Additionally, VMware will bring to bear its compute, management, storage, networking and security capabilities to container environments," said the company, in a press statement.

How do you solve a web-scale deployment problem with MariaDB?

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MariaDB Corporation (the artist formerly known as SkySQL) is polishing up its open source database products this month.

A new version of MariaDB Enterprise has arrived, but so what?

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Luminescent luminaries

Well part of the "so what" factor is that MariaDB was built by an "engineer-led team of luminaries" behind the MySQL project, so we one could argue that this lot knows its transactional database technology onions.

The rest of the so what is that this is subscription-based product that combines certified, tested and installable binary distributions of MariaDB with advanced tools and support services for ongoing maintenance.

MariaDB Enterprise is claimed to be "the fastest-growing open source relational database that is application compatible with MySQL" today.

The latest version supports IBM's Power Systems architecture.

There is also a new Notification Service to simplify upgrades and security alerts.

Cluster buster

A second version of the product, MariaDB Enterprise Cluster, adds tools that make high-availability clustering for MariaDB easier to deploy, monitor and manage.

CEO of MariaDB Corporation says that web-scale applications are a commonplace element of enterprise IT, but selecting a data infrastructure that meets the web-scale challenge is complex.

"With new platform support, convenient notifications, hardened, certified binaries and easy configuration, MariaDB Enterprise delivers a solution to the web-scale database challenge. It blends the innovation of cutting-edge, open source technology with proven tools and services and decades of real-world implementation experience by our talented team," he said.

Pydio: open source alternative to Dropbox & Box

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Pydio (pron: 'pi-dee-yo') has released version 6.0 of its open source file sharing platform.

The firm's development team promise "the most workable solution to date" for corporate IT departments and developers seeking a controlled, open source alternative to consumer cloud services such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.

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Pydio 6.0 an open source file sharing solution that is said to offer "tight control of information" on the scale demanded by enterprises and service providers.

"Until now, open source file sharing solutions have failed to deliver a workable alternative to consumer-focused cloud storage services," explains Charles du Jeu, Pydio CTO and founder of the original open source project.

"Pydio 6.0 reinforces enterprise scalability, multi-device flexibility and extends the platform's centralised administration controls. But more importantly, we have combined this with a complete reworking of the front-end user experience."

A "controlled" service

The firm suggests that companies are currently exposed to massive liability, with employees using uncontrolled, consumer services to share and store sensitive company information.

"Without offering an intuitive, user-friendly alternative, IT departments will find it impossible to prevent employees reverting to these free, easy-to-use online services," continues du Jeu.

Formerly known as AjaXplorer, Pydio is now an established open source project in the file sharing space.

The tool is designed to focus on common day-to-day tasks.

Short video guides for sharing options are embedded into the user interface.

Power user pleasures

It also features deeper, enterprise-focused features for power-users and system administrators, but these have been moved to a second level to avoid confusing the majority of users.

With full functionality licensed under the AGPL, Pydio also provides a solution for developers looking to build multi-platform file sharing into their own products or cloud service offerings.

"Whether applications are installed in-house or delivered as hosted, cloud services, customers now expect to be able to work on the same content across multiple devices," continues du Jeu. "Pydio, provides developers with a ready-made, open source solution for integrating different client applications (PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, etc.) into a unified, multi-device platform."

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Samsung's strategic commitment to upstream open source development

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Samsung's open source team and developer technology proposition has grown.

Started two years back by one solitary Linux and FOSS advocate in the shape of Ibrahim Haddad, the Samsung Open Source Innovation Group now boasts 40 employees.

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As many as 30 full-time developers are said to now be working on upstream projects as they concentrate on "shepherding" open source development into the company.

The Linux Foundation's Linux.com website reports that Samsung's open source group is now "hiring aggressively" and plans to double the size of the group in the coming years.

According to Haddad, "[The] first targets are project maintainers and key contributors to 23 open source projects that are integral to Samsung's products, including the Linux kernel, Gstreamer, FFmpeg, Blink, Webkit, EFL, and Wayland. But they plan to eventually start hiring more junior open source developers as well."

Speaking on Linux.com, Haddad continued, "When Samsung approached me about starting the open source group I thought there was a big opportunity there to create a success story," he said. "This is a huge company, there's a lot of potential to unlock for the open source community."

Just about all open source

"Just about every Samsung product, from phones and tablets to home appliances, uses open source software," said Guy Martin, senior open source strategist at Samsung.

But what matters now, suggests Martin, is that until now.... the company hasn't had a strategic commitment to upstream development.

You can read the complete story at the embedded link above in this post.

DataStax bids to be THE Internet of Things database

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The Cassandra Summit Europe 2014 held this week in London has seen DataStax announce the general availability of DataStax Enterprise 4.6 (DSE 4.6).

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DataStax is a company that delivers open source Apache Cassandra at an enterprise level with maintenance and support.

The firm says that DSE could be the "leading database platform" for Internet of Things (IOT), web and mobile applications.

Really, why?

By offering integrated Apache Spark analytics and advanced enterprise search, DataStax says it combines innovation with "operational simplicity" in the new distributed database technology market.

Also of note, DataStax announced OpsCenter 5.1, the latest version of its visual monitoring and management tool for backup and restore capabilities to safeguard critical and distributed customer information.

"Data comes in all shapes and sizes making it increasingly challenging to find a database that can accommodate enormous amounts of information while scaling simultaneously," said Robin Schumacher, vice president of products, DataStax.

"With its new capabilities, DataStax Enterprise 4.6 customers have the confidence that their database platform can continually handle today's modern applications, especially in the event of unexpected downtime."

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