This post was written by News Contributor, Pam Derringer.
Sometimes writing or reading tech stories about entirely different products can uncover new trends and ideas. I was intrigued with the JBoss Open Choice Java Application story last week because Red Hat officials said its new framework would enable customers to add specific functionality like clustering, caching, messaging and security in “microcontainers” or do without it, according to their needs.
In addition, for the first time, JBoss customers would be able to choose between three levels of application complexity, and move from one to another within the same management framework. By offering customers choice, JBoss will create major disruption in the Java application world, according to Aaron Darcy, JBoss product line director. Darcy added that customers are moving away from the bloated, one-size-fits-all applications that must contain code capable of doing everything, and opting for slimmer versions more tailored to their needs.
Darcy’s words struck a chord because last fall and again more recently, I wrote about rPath, a startup birthed by former Red Hat staffers who saw scaling problems with large deployments first-hand, and decided to solve the problem by upending the traditional all-purpose horizontal stack, creating a vertical, app-centric Linux-based stack with only the elements that a customized application needs to run. Obviously, rPath-constructed applications, too, are a lot slimmer than all-purpose counterparts. They are also a lot easier to maintain and update, saving time for IT operations staffs say rPath folks.
Although their approaches are somewhat different, the two companies are both reacting, it seems to me, to similar needs for more choice and customization rather than a hefty one-size-fits-all, “that’s all we offer” approach. Is this a trend that will reshape the software industry as we know it? What do you think?
This post was written by News Contributor, Pam Derringer.
A May 5 story on SearchEnterpriseLinux.com about the decline of Sun Microsystems and its recent purchase by Oracle Corp. drew some thoughtful, diverse views from readers. The article concluded that Linux didn’t cause Sun’s downfall, fiscally speaking, but provided a low-cost x86-based OS that offered companies a cheaper hardware/software alternative, indirectly undermining Sun’s overall business.
David Marsh, an IT architect with a custom chip company, said his firm is planning to replace its outdated Solaris systems with cheaper, more powerful x86-based hardware, a decision that has nothing to do with the pending Oracle/Sun merger. Marsh expects to migrate its Oracle e-Business suite from Solaris to Linux at the next upgrade, probably virtualizing some portions of the application, and potentially all of it, on VMware.
Marsh’s firm also uses Sun Solaris instead of Windows to run Citrix XenApp, which functions as the front-end for its designers, who use many Linux-based tools. Marsh would prefer to migrate them from Solaris to Linux because the licensing for the Windows version of XenApp is “triple” the cost on Solaris. However, a Citrix spokeswoman said Citrix currently has “no plans” to add a XenApp version for the Linux platform.
Marsh was dismayed with Citrix’ response and predicted that “quite a few high-end customers will switch to other products,” like X-Windows display software for Windows or free, open source Xming software.
But Rich Rutkowski, whose small firm makes point-of-sale systems for retail outlets, hopes that Oracle will leverage Solaris and Java at Linux’s expense. Rutkowski’s firm was using Linux for development but was disappointed with Red Hat and Novell’s SUSE open source OSes. Red Hat doesn’t support Sun’s application server directly but, instead, refers users to Sun forums, he complained. And SUSE has a complex install process for nVidia drivers and, worse, a SUSE desktop upgrade caused a kernel panic, he said.
“After experimenting with OpenSolaris and the full production Solaris, we realized that everything we added to Linux (Postgres, Java Application Server and Java) came packaged with a full install of Solaris,” Rutkowski said. “Buying from Sun makes sense and the costs were actually cheaper. We will stay with Sun hardware and software and observe Oracle’s actions. There is no reason to go to Linux if Oracle keeps Solaris open.”
Oracle’s $7.4 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems is expected to be finalized this summer.
Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is a global program that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source software projects. Since 2005, the program has brought together nearly 2500 students and 2500 mentors and co-mentors from about 100 countries worldwide. The program works with open source, free software, and technology-related groups to identify and fund projects over a three month period. This year, 1,000 students have been selected to work on projects for over 130 open source organizations – see a full list of the GSoC sponsoring organizations for 2009. Through Google Summer of Code, accepted student applicants are paired with a mentor or mentors from the participating projects, thus gaining exposure to real-world software development scenarios and the opportunity for employment in areas related to their academic pursuits.
Zonker Brockmeier, Novell’s openSUSE Community Manager, is heading up the Novell participation in GSoC. Three of Novell’s sponsored open source initiatives are participating in the GSoC, hosting 24 student projects. The students with accepted projects will be mentored by Novell employees and community contributors with the openSUSE and Mono projects. The goal is to get students interested and potentially recruit future open source code contributors.
“I would say at least 25% or higher of past summer of code contributors have remained involved in projects,” shared Brockmeier. “We’ve seen fairly good return on the openSUSE project.”
Greg Lund-Chaix at Oregon State University’s open source laboratory has similar experiences with the GSoC program.
“We’re a bit different than most Summer of Code organizations in that we aren’t focused on one specific project,” Lund-Chaix explained. “We want to get more people involved with and support in open source in a broader sense. We certainly benefit internally from the work of our students, but the real benefit is the exposure of the students we mentor to the broader open source community.”
Participating organizations dedicate employee hours to help mentor the student developers. Neither Brockmeier or Lund-Chaix could quantify the hours spent, but both agreed the time was well-spent considering the outcome. For the students, the GSoC is supposed to be a full-time job, although it pays only a $1,000 stipend, making it attractive to only those dedicated students who can afford to give up a summer of potential earnings to gain coding experience.
After four years of experience, Google has improved the application process, improving the quality of submissions for the sponsor organizations.
“There were fewer proposals overall,” said Brockmeier. “But most organizations expressed they were seeing better quality this year.”
Lund-Chaix concurred, giving credit to the Melange tool team for streamlining the application review for sponsors.
“The quality of many of the proposals this year were definitely improved from previous years,” said Lund-Chaix. “There was no doubt whatsoever in our minds who we wanted to accept based on their applications. While we got the usual crop of frivolous or unacceptable applications, I was extremely pleased with the quality of many of the applications.”
I would love to hear from any past GSoC participants. If you have been a mentor or a student participant, share what you learned in the experience and how it has helped you in your career.
In light of the global economic situation, IBM is putting a greater emphasis on the Linux market. This was an obvious shift that I noticed today while attending the COMMON User Group Annual Meeting and Exposition in Reno, Nev. I sat in on a panel discussion with Ian Jarman, IBM’s Power Systems Software Manager, and he plainly stated this fact. Jarman shared the Linux focus of IBM’s recent announcements, including increased focus on the PowerVM Lx86 product, which was created to help combat x86 server sprawl. PowerVM Lx86 creates an x86 Linux application environment running on POWER processor-based systems by dynamically translating x86 instructions to Power Architecture instructions.
On the exhibit hall floor, Anirban Chatterjee, IBM IT Specialist in the Executive Briefing Centers Systems and Technology Group, demonstrated how the tool works along with the PowerVM Live Partitioning Mobility feature.
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Jarman also touched on the fact that IBM offers full support for SUSE 11, a move we have reported previously, with a focus on the cloud computing emphasis.
I’ll be keeping my eye on the Linux on Power activities at IBM throughout the show, and we’ll be following up with some end users who are willing to share their experiences. If you have any questions you want to ask IBM about Linux on POWER, leave a note in the comments below and I’ll work on getting you an answer.
Yesterday’s news that Oracle had entered an agreement to buy Sun sent a bit of a shock wave through the open source community. After weeks of pondering what an IBM buyout of Sun would mean, the IT community now had an entirely different scenario unfolding.
The news was the first thing I noticed when I logged onto Twitter, and I saw that SearchDataCenter.com was working on the story. I “retweeted” Executive Editor Matt Stansberry’s play for feedback and heard back from Tom Howard, who said “IBM missed its chance. I want to know what Oracle’s commitment to Open Office and Solaris are, personally.”
But the bigger fear was from the MySQL folks. Satoshi Nagayasu, an open source database engineer from Tokyo, Japan, asked “Should we say goodbye to MySQL?” He then pointed to a blog from 2005 that was a reaction to Oracle’s purchase of Innobase, and said “Josh’s article gave me some insights why we use community-based open source [PostgreSQL].”
One of the more fun and mood-illustrating reactions was from tartansolutions: “Oracle now owns MySQL?! In related news, the Rebel Alliance has been acquired by Darth Vader for three wookies and a tantan :(“
John Engates, CTO at Rackspace, said “Seems like there’s a lot of concern about Oracle screwing up MySQL. People may look to PostgreSQL as a ‘safe’ open source DB.” He linked to a blog post by Om Malik, providing the GigaOM perspective on the purchase. Of the things Om said, the central point in the concern could be summarized by this paragraph:
At this price, it looks like Oracle found itself yet another bargain and in one fell swoop became a worthy competitor to IBM. It allows Oracle to become a player in the cloud computing business. More importantly, the company ends up acquiring MySQL, the upstart database that has been viewed as Oracle’s Achilles’ heel. In one fell swoop, it has taken out its No. 1 competitor.
Not all in the open source community was doom and gloom though. Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, in his blog post in reaction to the deal looked for a silver lining. Zemlin pointed out that Oracle is strategically aligned with Linux in its position as a Linux distributor, and all its products are developed and run on Linux.
“Oracle is a key supporter of open standards such as ODF and we believe this only strengthens that stance,” said Zemlin. “This acquisition could prove fruitful for Open Office and ODF support in the enterprise.”
I was on the phone for the Canonical Ubuntu 9.04 release press conference, and one of the participants asked Canonical CEO, Mark Shuttleworth, what his reaction was, specifically regarding Java support.
“It is far too early to tell,” said Shuttleworth. “Java has been open, it tends to be a one-way trip – once you’ve made that commitment it makes sense to have it as highly available as possible.”
Shuttleworth also saw the move as a bit of further evidence of the worth of open source in the enterprise software industry.
“This really cements that free software and open source is the driving force today,” he said. “All of the major forces today are either free software or powered by free software — Java, Google, and onward. The software marketplace is consolidating at an extraordinary pace. Part of the reason for that is that open source is dominating the innovation pipeline. The fact that one of those five has just announced a $7 billion acquisition of a company that describes itself as the world’s biggest free and opens source software company proves that open source is the big game in town.”
Lastly, analyst Dana Gardener painted what I feel is the most level-headed picture of what the whole deal means.
Suffice to say that whatever momentum Sun had behind open source everywhere will be muted to open source some times as a ramp to other Oracle stuff, or to grow the community and keep developers happy. If nothing else, Oracle has been pragmatic on open source, not religious.
What do you think this means for open source? Are you considering moving to PostgreSQL if you weren’t already? Are you a programmer worried about Java support? Share your thoughts in the comments
More analysis from TechTarget:
Oracle-Sun combo: What does it mean for enterprise Java?
Canonical, the sponsor of Ubuntu, today announced the simultaneous release of Ubuntu 9.04 Server Edition and the Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop Edition, available for download on Thursday, April 23, 2009, and the Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix, available on Thursday April 30, 2009.
With the new 9.04 server edition, Canonical has worked to extend the range of enabled servers, with 45 of the most popular mid-range servers from IBM, Dell and Sun and HP tested in the Canonical labs.
Ubuntu 9.04 Server edition will preview Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC). Ubuntu is the first commercially-supported distribution to enable businesses to build cloud environments inside their firewalls. With Ubuntu 9.04 Server Edition, organizations can explore the benefits of cloud computing without the data or security issues associated with moving data to an external cloud provider. Following a successful beta program, Ubuntu Server Edition 9.04 will also be fully available on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
Mark Shuttleworth, CEO, Canonical shared some of the server improvements in Ubuntu 9.04 Server edition include substantial improvements in some key applications for mail and other common infrastructure requirements.
“There has been an extension of work around suspend and resume of servers,” said Shuttleworth. “Amazon’s EC2 elastic computing meme will penetrate deeply into the enterprise. And organizations will want that same elastic computing internally, along with the power saving capability. The best method is suspending or resuming. Through effective use of elastic computing, we think we can greatly improve the energy savings in the data center.”
Shuttleworth referred to the concept of cloud computing as “the new hotness,” and says that Canonical has chosen to give it a very specific focus in this release. An image of Ubuntu 9.04 is now on EC2, so anyone interested in prototyping on Ubuntu 9.04 can fire it up on EC2. Shuttleworth shared that Canonical has a firm commitment to continue to release updates in the cloud. A description of other Ubuntu virtualization efforts and a more detailed report on the current position of Ubuntu in the data center and enterprise IT environment was published on SearchDataCenter.com at the beginning of April.
Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop Edition improves user experience
Mark Zimmerman, CTO, Canonical explained some of the new features in Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop Edition include a reduction in start-up time from 45 seconds to 25 seconds. According to Zimmerman, the release also includes an improved notification subsystem, which is the first in a series of design-led improvements.
“We are really working on improving the intrinsic experience of using Ubuntu on the desktop,” explained Zimmerman. “The notification subsystem has a standardized way of displaying [notices], that adds to the polished feel of the desktop.”
In addition, the desktop version of Ubuntu 9.04 features OpenOffice.org 3.0. This release of OpenOffice includes a lot of compatibility between Microsoft Office suite products that can make the user experience more seamless and easy, and wasn’t available at the last Ubuntu Desktop Edition release.
The 3rd Annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit was held last week in San Francisco. Among the talks was a presentation by Al Gillen, program vice president, system software at IDC, titled “The Opportunity for Linux in a New Economy.” The presentation was based on a white paper, sponsored by The Linux Foundation (LF), which looks at the impact of the current economic conditions on the computer industry, and how the Linux ecosystem will ride through this disruptive time. The presentation focused on IDCs expectation that the Linux ecosystem will be less impacted by the downturn and recover more aggressively than other platforms.
Other keynotes and panels during the week were from Linux kernel developers and representatives at IBM, Novell and Red Hat, among others. Thursday and Friday’s agenda included the ISV Summit, which focused on sharing the latest advancements in Linux and looking at best ways to work among the community. Other panel discussions and workgroup focus was on high-performance computing, file systems and systems management, among others.
We’re Linux video contest winner announced
The winner of the “We’re Linux” video contest was also announced at the summit. Amitay Tweeto, a 25-year-old graphic designer from Israel, beat out 90 contest entrants to win the grand prize for his video “What Does It Mean To Be Free?” Tweeto will receive a trip to Tokyo, Japan to participate in the Linux Foundation’s Japanese Linux Symposium in October 2009.
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Two runner-ups were also announced:
A combination of community votes and a panel of judges determined the winners:
- Matt Asay, CNET blogger and executive at Alfresco, Inc.;
- Larry Augustin, venture capitalist and former chairman of VA Software,
and Linux Foundation board member;
- Jono Bacon, Ubuntu community manager;
- Joe Brockmeier, openSUSE community manager;
- Melinda Mettler, director, School of Advertising at the Academy of Art
- Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media, Inc.
openSUSE Build Service added to Linux Developer Network
On Wednesday, Novell and the Linux Foundation jointly announced that the openSUSE Build Service will be added to the Linux Developer Network (LDN). The openSUSE Build Service enables developers to package software for all major Linux distributions, and is used to provide transparent infrastructure for the creation of the entire openSUSE distribution. Additionally, the openSUSE Project, a Novell sponsored and community-supported open source project, announced a new release of the openSUSE Build Service with support for compiling for the ARM platform.
The Linux Foundation will be providing an interface to the openSUSE Build Service via the Linux Developer Network site, so that developers can create packages for all major Linux distributions via LDN. The build service enables developers to create packages for CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu, in addition to openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise. The addition of the openSUSE Build Service to the LDN compliments LDN’s popular AppChecker application, which enables developers to create portable applications for Linux. The build service is a perfect tool for LDN’s overall goal of assisting developers to deliver these portable applications.
The openSUSE project is also releasing the 1.6 version of the build service that includes support for compiling packages for the ARM platform, which is primarily used for embedded devices. The support for cross-architecture build support means that developers can create RPM or Debian packages for openSUSE, Ubuntu, Debian and Fedora. This work has been contributed by 5e DataSoft GmbH, working as part of the openSUSE community to add support for embedded devices based on ARM. 5e provides solutions based on openSUSE.
The latest release of the build service also includes support for building openSUSE appliances, live CDs, installable USB images, Xen images and VMware images. Developers can now create their own custom openSUSE distribution using the build service.
Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier, openSUSE community manager, said, “This is the culmination of years of work by the openSUSE Project. The openSUSE Build Service has always been intended as a tool that would accelerate the general adoption of Linux. It’s gratifying to see the build service becoming part of the Linux Developer Network and being embraced by the larger community.”
As part of the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Ca. today, Novell announced the availability of MonoDevelop 2.0 and Mono 2.4. MonoDevelop 2.0 is an open source integrated development environment for programming with C# and other languages. Mono 2.4 is the latest release of the open source, cross-platform .NET application framework that powers the SUSE Linux Enterprise Mono Extension.
“By making .NET application development and deployment accessible for Linux, the Mono project is committed to expanding ISV and corporate developers’ options beyond the Windows platform,” said Miguel de Icaza, vice president of Development Platforms at Novell and leader of the Mono project. “With the newest releases for Mono and MonoDevelop, we continue to improve and extend the development tools and framework to deliver on this goal. The features and functionality available in this release are allowing developers to increase the number of .NET applications that are built and run on Linux.”
Mono 2.4 enables ISVs, independent developers, and corporate developers to run .NET client and server applications on Linux across a range of hardware architectures, including the mainframe. Additionally, with the recent introduction of SUSE Linux Enterprise Mono Extension, customers and ISVs can also receive full support, security and upgrades when using Mono in the enterprise. New features available in Mono 2.4 include:
- Performance improvements and runtime innovations – A new code generation engine greatly improves the performance of executing .NET applications on the Mono runtime, while managed Single Instruction, Multiple Data (SIMD) extensions enable developers to take advantage of hardware acceleration without having to program in lower-level languages. Additional runtime innovations, such as full ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, bring Mono-based applications to new platforms, including the Apple iPhone.
- Support for the latest features of ASP.NET – ASP.NET developers targeting Linux can now leverage the latest ASP.NET features, including ASP.NET 3.5 extensions, new web controls, ASP.NET routing APIs, and ASP.NET AJAX. Mono 2.4 can also host applications built using the Microsoft ASP.NET Model View Controller (MVC) framework.
- Hosting pre-compiled websites – Mono now hosts ASP.NET websites and applications which have been pre-compiled on .NET. This reduces startup times, enables ISVs to distribute web applications without distributing source code, and improves Mono’s support of ASP.NET sites built with Visual Basic.
“A lot of the effort has been focused on performance, but a lot of that is under the covers,” explained Joseph Hill, Novell product manager for Mono. “We upgraded our JIT engine which enables code to run a lot faster. In at least one real-world use case it meant a gain of 30 requests/sec to 120 requests/sec.”
“On the performance side we built a new technology for generating code on the fly – in some apps the performance only improved 10%, but in others 300%,” de Icaza explained. Part of this improvement relates to allowing granular control over the logs to make sure they wouldn’t log the entire process across the board.
Much of this performance enhancement was caused by receiving customer feedback from the gaming industry.
“We’ve been working with a couple of companies that work with high performance games and 3D apps and they were running into a bottleneck and neither .NET or Mono were able to keep up with the loads,” said de Icaza.
Novell responded, and is looking for new information from other users to determine what other areas could be improved.
“It is interesting because we’re adding new functionality to the .NET run-time that hadn’t previously been exposed,” said de Icaza. “We’re open to getting new information.”
There are a few companies with games on the Web based on Mono. According to de Icaza, the most hyped example is the Cartoon Network’s multiplayer online kid’s game FusionFall.
A Novell-sponsored IDC survey reveals a surge in the acquisition of Linux driven by the worldwide recession. More than half of the IT executives surveyed are planning to accelerate Linux adoption in 2009. If that’s not positive enough, more than 72% of respondents reported that they are either actively evaluating or have already decided to increase their adoption of Linux on the server in 2009, with more than 68% making the same claim for the desktop. The study surveyed more than 300 senior IT executives spanning manufacturing, financial services, and retail industries across the globe, as well as government agencies. The survey results are a good update to the fall 2008 Purchasing Intentions survey we conducted that hinted the economy would impact Linux adoption.
Linux has been gaining ground in the enterprise, as was seen with Red Hat’s impressive results from 2008. We said back in January that open source would do well in a down economy, and now there’s data to back up the prediction.
In the IDC survey, the leading reason given for migrating to Linux was an interest in lowering ongoing support costs. More than 40% of survey participants said they plan to deploy additional workloads on Linux over the next 12-24 months and 49% indicated Linux will be their primary server platform within five years. (Is anyone else surprised by that number?) Among those hesitant to adopt Linux, lack of application support and poor interoperability with Windows and other environments was cited as the primary concern, indicating the key areas that need more work. Companies have made great strides where interoperability is concerned, but clearly more work needs to be done before Linux can gain more ground. We have covered Red Hat’s recent interoperability agreement with Microsoft, Canonical’s effort’s toward certification on HP servers, and reviewed the leadership of Novell in interoperability efforts. But, clearly the market needs more assurance that Linux will meet their critical business needs.
Key to the recent interoperability efforts has been virtualization. This is a good move according to the survey results as nearly half of respondents stated that moving to virtualization is accelerating their adoption of Linux. A notably high, 88% of those surveyed plan to evaluate, deploy or increase their use of virtualization software within Linux operating systems over the next 12-24 months. An increase in virtualization uptake was seen in our 2008 Purchasing Intentions survey, which revealed that virtualization interest was influencing server purchases.
In our recent newsletter, we asked readers to tell us what’s missing from all of these agreements. We encourage you to share your thoughts here. What would you like to see in terms of specific application support or capabilities? What’s missing from the interoperability landscape?
Red Hat has opened submissions for the company’s third-annual Innovation awards. The winners will be announced at the 2009 Red Hat Summit in Chicago Sept. 1-4, 2009. Nominations will be accepted until May 31st.
The 2009 Innovation Awards will consist of six categories including:
- Management Excellence: Recognition of the impressive use of management tools, including Red Hat Network and JBoss Operations Network, to drive down TCO and increase ROI.
- Optimized Solutions: Recognition of striking performance, scalability and/or usability enhancements delivered with open source solutions.
- Superior Alternatives: Recognition of the most successful migration from proprietary solutions to open source alternatives.
- Extensive Ecosystem: Recognition of the use of Red Hat or JBoss’ expanding partner ecosystem to create innovative architectures based on open source solutions.
- Carved out Costs: Recognition of customers who have leveraged open source solutions to significantly cut costs and extract added value from existing systems.
- Outstanding Open Source Architecture: Recognition of the use of Red Hat, JBoss, and partner offerings to create innovative architectures based on open source solutions. (Both Red Hat Summit and JBoss World registrants may compete for this award)
Nominations for each Innovation Award category will be judged by a panel of representatives and industry leaders including: Lee Congdon, CIO of Red Hat; Craig Muzilla, vice president, Middleware Business for Red Hat; John R. Rymer from Forrester Research, Inc.; Dana Gardner, a principal analyst from Interarbor; Jay Lyman from The 451 Group; Steven Vaughan-Nichols, editor-in-chief of Practical Technology.