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October 2, 2014
The Linux Foundation has added another element to its various offerings, with the launch of
its OPNFV initiative, a project for an open-source network function virtualization (NFV) platform.
The project comes with a roster of high-profile vendors backing it-- AT&T, Brocade, Cisco,
China Mobile, Huawei, IBM, Juniper and a few others.
The goal is to create a reference architecture for carrier-grade NFV, the abstraction of
operations that usually reside on custom silicon into software objects built to run on VMs
on standard, but usually Intel-based servers.
Rather than developing its own standards, OPNFV will be working with the ETSI group that's
formulating the new NFV standards.
As the group explains in its launch announcement-- “Service provider applications have different
demands than most IT applications, so an open platform integrating multiple open source components
and ensuring continuous testing for carrier-grade service performance is essential to this transition.”
The project says it will draw from existing NVF building blocks that exist, pulling them into a
framework under which it'll “coordinate continuous integration and testing”.
Its own code efforts will focus on filling various gaps in the architecture rather than re-creating
functions that already exist.
New components will ship under the Apache License Version 2.0. Board officers include Verizon and HP
veteran Prodip Sen as chairman, AT&T's Margaret Chiosi, Dell's Wenjing Chu, and China Mobile's Hui Deng.
In other Linux and open source news
Not quite satisfied of running the IT industry's largest enterprise Linux vendor, Red Hat CEO
Jim Whitehurst says he wants to make the company the industry's leading enterprise cloud vendor and
he plans to win that big market before someone else does.
"Right now, we're in the middle of a major shift from client-server to cloud-mobile. It's a
once-every-twenty-years industry kind of a change," Whitehurst wrote in a blog post yesterday.
"As history has clearly demonstrated, in the early days of those changes, winners emerge that
set the standards for that era-– think Wintel in the client-server arena," he added.
However, Red Hat certainly isn't alone in eyeballing the cloud for its next big score. 451 Research
has estimated the market for OpenStack alone at $3.3 billion by 2018, and companies ranging from Linux
vendors like Canonical to entrenched IT companies like HP, Oracle, and VMware are all vying to come
out on top of it.
And then of course there's Microsoft, which has outlined its own vision of a "cloud OS" – naturally,
powered 100 percent by its own, proprietary Windows software.
"Make no mistake-- the competition is very strong, and enterprises will have several choices for
their cloud needs," Whitehurst admitted. "But the prize is the chance to establish open source as the
default choice of this next new era, and to position Red Hat as the provider of choice for enterprises'
entire cloud infrastructure."
Whitehurst said that Shadowman will stake its cloud efforts on a combination of OpenStack,
its OpenShift PaaS offering, and its CloudForms management platform.
But it will also push its storage solutions and JBoss middleware, he said, to deliver as much of
the enterprise infrastructure stack as it can.
This shift in strategy toward the cloud doesn't mean that Red Hat will reduce its focus on Linux either,
It's just that these days, the engineering challenge is a lot bigger and much more complex that it was a decade ago.
"The original vision for Red Hat Enterprise Linux was simple – to create the best enterprise-class server
operating system," Whitehurst said. "But the community has taken Linux further than any of us could
ever have imagined. It now serves as a foundation for the next-generation datacenter."
Going forward, he said, Red Hat, which has seen revenue growth in the double digits, is putting all of its efforts
into helping enterprise customers build out those next-gen data centers.
"We want to be the undisputed leader in enterprise cloud solutions, and that's why Red Hat is going
to continue to push," Whitehurst wrote in his blog post.
In other Linux and open source news
Ubuntu Linux vendor Canonical and AMD have announced this morning a new hardware partnership
that will see the two firms prepare an OpenStack-in-a-rack solution that will compete directly with
To be sure, Canonical is quite excited on the news, having revealed earlier this year the 'Orange Box'
That small unit packs ten micro-servers into a portable luggable unit intended to offer a cluster
of Ubuntu-powered Hadoop, OpenStack or CloudFoundry system.
The new system is based on AMD's SeaMicro SM-15000 server, a product that uses either AMD's
Opteron, Ivy Bridge or Haswell Xeon processors, then packs them into a 10U package with up to
512 cores, 5 PB of storage and 160 gigabits of total I/O capability.
Overall, buyers will also get version Ubuntu LTS 14.04 (LTS: long term support) and OpenStack,
assembled to provide the following:
3 Cloud Controllers
57 Nova nodes
3 Cinder nodes
64 TB Object Storage
128 GbE NICs (Max. 512)
Integrated Layer 2 Switching
80 Gbps I/O
On the software side, users will find Ubuntu LTS 14.04, Ubuntu Server, OpenStack, MAAS and Juju
ready to start working together as a complete system.
There's also a graphical user interface to dynamically deploy new services on demand.
That inclusion means that this effort can probably be filed under “hyperconverged infrastructure,”
a segment in which AMD and Canonical will find vivid competition.
VMware is already there, plus a few partners and new ones that have just arrived and the
likes of Simplivity are making waves.
Scale Computing has a couple of years' success to point to, while newbie NIMBOXX last week
told us that it is struggling to meet demand from U.S. clients and hopes to ramp up to offshore
sales real soon now.
Then, throw in the fact that Gartner recently included hyperconverged elements on its list
of things that might give the data centre market a run for its money and it's pretty clear that
there's probably room for even more players.
We've yet to see a Hyper-V based entrant but Microsoft is seeking a patent for a server design.
If it joins in, things will become even a bit more complicated.
In other Linux and open source news
You'll be happy to know that Linux and open-source project group The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is now funding
its projects with Bitcoins. The
US-based non-profit organization says it’s received so far 5.35915909 in Bitcoins, or
just over $2,600, in just 48 hours after saying it would accept the virtual currency.
The ASF says it decided to accept the eCurrency in response to an email request on August 26.
“Accepting Bitcoins allows donors to the Apache Software Foundation the benefit of digital currency exchange no matter where they
reside,” ASF said in a statement.
Founded in 1999, Apache is home to the very popular HTTP Apache Server. Since then, its empire
has expanded dramatically to encompass more than 200 other open-source projects and initiatives for
the Unix and Linux community.
ASF is a registered U.S. non-profit organization that relies on voluntary donations and sponsorships
to keep running.
Sponsors include Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Hewlett-Packard, Huawei, IBM and several others.
The ASF accepts cash, checks, electronic funds transfer, PayPal, vehicle donations and - now - Bitcoin.
ASF is coming a bit late to the much-hyped currency. Bitcoin was pretty much last year’s bubble, a
hit with coffee-shop hipsters who believed they could change national monetary systems.
The high point in 2013 was speculation as to whether Bitcoins could become a viable currency along
side the dollar, followed by the crushing collapse of the MtGox exchange.
With so many headlines, it was inevitable that many organizations would hope to win some free
ink by announcing that they too were now accepting Bitcoin.
Naturally, this isn't the case with Apache, they are simply responding to requests. Since then, the
suits have started getting involved: banks are considering whether to accept Bitcoin, eBay is reported
to be considering its use while Dell in July started a pilot program letting customers pay for their
gear using the cryptocurrency.
In other Linux and open source community news
A co-founder of the widely-used IMAP email server Dovecot has outlined his three rules for open
source success, and that's something that the open source community can certainly relate to in a big
“The first rule is don't sell your company to Oracle if you want to keep your product alive,” he
told World Hosting Day in Singapore yesterday.
“The second rule is again, don't sell your company to Oracle.” Linnanmaki's remarks were, of
course, made in reference to Oracle's acquisition of MySQL, a transaction he feels was a “fiasco”
but has turned out “not that bad because the only one suffering is Oracle.”
To say that Linnanmaki doesn't like Oracle is an understatement. Which brings us to his third
law, namely that the open source community routes around obstacles and re-groups on the other side.
“Most of the main MySQL developers are doing MariaDB based on the open source version of MySQL,”
he observed. “The community is moving to MariaDB. They are back on the good side.”
Linnanmäki wasn't just taking a swipe at Oracle or extolling the virtues of open source. Dovecot
is open source, a large number of telcos and hosting operators are among its
He says it runs on about 2.7 million servers and operates hundreds of millions of mailboxes. The
MySQL situation is therefore of interest to its users.
Linnanmäki said users need not worry that Dovecot will befall the same fate as MySQL. For one thing,
it's not for sale. Author Timo Sirainen is also just 32, has plenty of plans for the tool and the company's
management team have no plans to head for the beach.
And even if they do, or the software became a bit boring, Linnanmäki is confident the open
source community would build on Dovecot.
Meanwhile, the Dovecot program is keen to build on Google's recently-announced decision to permit
access to data within Gmail inboxes without needing to have IMAP present in client software.
Linnanmäki said he feels this approach “makes sense” and that Dovecot has dabbled with similar
approaches in the past.
The team will therefore tweak its servers to allow Google's new APIs to work. “We will be supporting this
evolution of access to email”, Linnanmäki said.
The co-founder also had some unkind words – and a familiar dose of bad news – for conventional
array vendors. Dovecot can run natively inside AWS or Azure, or use those services' cloud storage
facilities, a feature he feels is critical for service providers.
Linnanmäki cited the case of a Dutch Dovecot service provider who wished to greatly increase
the size of the mailboxes it offered to users. During the scoping process, the service provider
found that the cost of maintenance alone for new NetApp arrays more than covered the cost of migrating
away from old arrays to a cloudy replacement, and the operations of the new system.
“If you do storage with NFS and appliances, your email services will not be very profitable,” Linnanmäki
In other open source and Linux news
The Linux Foundation said earlier this morning that it has introduced two new certification
programs aimed at connecting companies and prospective recruiters with qualified Linux system
administrators and engineers.
"The supply of labor in the Linux community has been far outpaced by the overall demand for
the Linux operating system," said Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin, addressing the
audience at the annual LinuxCon event in Chicago.
"In the past three years, Linux has grown faster than any other computer or server operating
system in the history of the IT industry and the supply of labor just isn't keeping up with it."
Zemlin pointed out to a recent study commissioned by the Linux Foundation in which 93 percent
of IT managers said they were looking for Linux talent, yet 90 percent said it was very difficult to
find the qualified candidates.
The Linux Foundation already provides Linux training in various forms, including white papers,
online courses and other similar programs.
Zemlin said one introductory online Linux course the Foundation co-created with Harvard University
and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has enrolled 250,000 students so far. But a lot more
is needed, he added.
With the launch of the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) and Linux Foundation
Certified Engineer (LFCE) programs, the group will now offer employers a way to verify that prospective
hires have the proper skills they need.
"When you take and pass the Foundation's exams you can really prove that you know what you're
doing," Zemlin said.
But while other organizations have offered Linux certification in the past, the Linux Foundation's
approach is different in that Linux professionals can become certified from anywhere in the world, with
exams conducted entirely online. Enrollees need never travel to a testing center.
The certification exams require an internet connection, a web browser, a microphone, and a webcam,
but they are entirely performance-based.
Rather than solving multiple-choice problems or answering trick questions, as Zemlin put it,
exam-takers are asked to complete real-world tasks with a time limit.
At launch, enrollees can take the certification exams on their choice of three Linux distributions,
including CentOS, OpenSuse and Ubuntu.
However, neither Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) nor derivatives like Fedora are included in the program so
Candidates who pass the exams will be issued a graphical emblem to display on their CVs,
websites, LinkedIn pages, or other job-search tools.
As an added bonus for LinuxCon attendees, the Linux Foundation issued everyone at the Chicago event
coupons entitling them to one free chance at the Linux certification.
Certification ordinarily costs $300, but for a limited time the Linux Foundation is offering a discounted
rate of $50 for the first 500 people to sign up for the exams.
The group said that it plans to announce additional discounts and promotions via its official training
Source: The Linux Foundation.
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