Jul 24 2008

OLS Day 1

So Ottawa Linux Symposium, at last .. OLS been in my planning for ages.. but finally this year I made it..
Compared to or , OLS is obviously one of the bigger conferences around. With approximately 600 visitors it might even be the biggest.

First on the shedule was Matthew WilCox Keynote , titled The Kernel Report

Matthew asked some interesting questions, such as
What would happen if we ran the Mindcraft tests again now on the same hardware.. some Linux 2.6 version against Vista .. who would win ?
A reply from the audience obviously was .. Vista probably wouldn't run ..

He gave a good overview of new features in the kernel that need my attention such as pluggable congestion control UBIFS and SMACK

After the state of the kernel keynote I went to Cloud computing talk from Gerrit Huizenga, a bit dissapointing as he didn't really talk about potential implementations and just trying to define it ..
Obviously Gerrit works for Bigblue as after 3 minutes I lost count on how many times he mentionned the 3 letter word.

Probably good for people that are new to it.. not for people that already build these kinda me ..
But still fairly well presented.

Then Into Arnaldo "Caipirinia" Carvalhlo de Melo 's talk about If I turn this knob .. what happens.

An interesting talk to get deeper into debugging scheduling , cpu affinity and realtime related issues.

Arnaldo mentioned tools such as python-schedutils, python-linux-procfs,ait ,tuna ,
and tuneit, Lots of work to be done here :)

After lunch I was late for the Second Arches workshop about Fedora on different architectures, but I was in time for the talk about Virtualization Workloads by Andrew Theurer

The big question which also some thesis students I know have run into is How do you define a relevant workloads for virtualization.
Initially one just takes the oldschool test to figure out the overhead that the Hypervisor adds.
Then you try to scale up the number of virtual machines and figure out what happens.

So there are a couple of workloads around
VMmark created by VMware .. it requires Exchange etc.. does 6 different benchmarks including web, mail, database, fileserver a java spec that requires a Bea JVM and an Idle server.

Also vConsolidate , created by Intel requires proprietary tools., it has a very similar approach as VMMark only running just 5 tests.

So one of the problems is that one can't just build an image that you can reuse to run on your environment, mainly due to licensing issues on most of these platforms.

With that in mind there is work ongoing at Spec that should be finished Q1 2009 to create a standardized virtualization benchmark.

However that's still not going to solve the fact that one can't just take prebuild image and run that on his test setup.

After the Workload talk I went to the talk about Korset , an Automated Zero False Alarm IDS it basically tracks regular behavour of certain binaries and finds out when it deviates.
We ran into the Korset guy already at the Speaker boat trip .. one of the questinos I had was why kill offending the process you might want to keep track of whats happening and alert someone.. but you might not want to kill it of by default.

Jul 10 2008

Fired because of Open Source

When Dana Blankenhorn asked yesterday if Open Source was one of the reasons why Diane Greene was fired at VMWare I had to smile a bit .. obviously the economy is changing and Open Source is a real competitor to proprietary software ... but to fire the CEO , nah .

Firing developers that are working on an almost obsolete product however is a relevant thing to do. IBM just let go 150 , 30 of which in their Tivoli department.

Tools such as Tivoli, HP OpenView (what were they smoking when they chose that name) , and others are obviously feeling the heat from opensource. With frameworks such as Nagios and tools such as Zabbix, Zenoss and HypericHQ their fate has been written already .

Jul 08 2008

Upcoming conferences

My Conference schedule is growing again. In about 2 weeks I`ll be in Ottawa at the Ottawa Linux Symposium.

I`ll be giving 2 talks there, the first at the Virtualization Miniconference where I`ll be discussing the new openQRM 4 and it's new Drupal style plugin management.

And my second talk will be together with my collegue Tom and we'll be talking about Systems Monitoring We'll be looking at how you can keep an eye on your infrastructure with open source tools

So after 2 talks at the LinuxKonference in Germany a trip to I`ll finally be visiting OLS :) I've looked a the OLS schedule and it obviously looks very interesting.

In september I`ll be talking about the Open Source Virtualization landscape at Open Expo Switzerland in Zurich .

If you run into me don't hesitate to chat .. always interrested in meeting new people.

Jul 03 2008

Choose your platform wiseley

The last couple of years , more and more infrastructure companies have arosen that focus on one platform. These platforms are companies like VMWare , Microsoft, Oracle, Documentum, and lots of the other Big Software Companies .

This is a very dangerous path to take. These companies lay their whole future in the big guys’ hands.

The second one of the companies these folks have been building on changes their API, or goes of of business They can be put out of business by the flick of a button.

While this wasn’t done on purpose, it illustrates the dependency of the client companies on the master company.

I also wouldn’t start a company that depends so tightly on another one.

Building your business in a sane way is building it on Open Standards.. not on a proprietary API.

May 13 2008

The Consequences of Being an Open Source Company

No Matt, my brain definitely wasn't idle.. I've been thinking about these problems for the better part of the last decade. And it seems like I`m not the only one who wants this discussion.

Dries told me that as a follow up to my previous post I should write a post with solutions to the problem. Difficult as I don't have the solutions yet.. If I had them .. well :)

Fact is that different types of opensource products might require different approaches Alfresco to my knowledge has little to no contributing community , Linux distributions tend to have a big one, if not just in the form of the different open source projects they pacakge. The MySQL community is more one of documentation, helping out and bugsquashing. So my ideas aren't valuable for everybody, which is maybe why Matt Asay can't understand me, he might be looking at only one side of the picture.

There are some little things that I can suggest however.

Open Source works because of people contributing to projects, Open Source companies should recognize that and figure out a way to return more business the partners that also contribute to their code , this way they can contribute both on commercial and financial level. If you keep sending business to non contributing partners at the loss of the ones that actually commit code, some people will be unhappy. Those contributing shops might not be bringing the big revenue for the vendors, but they sure are contributing.

The other part is in the support model, Matt somehow thinks I`m in the "everything must be free" camp. Wrong, I`m in the right price for the right product/service camp.
Which means that if I`m escalating a support issue of a customer of mine to a vendor, my time must also be paid for. However that's a difficult sale, my client already paid for his support contract , to the software vendor.

So my suggestion, back when RedHat came to the Bemelux, was to have different types of support contracts, a customer could get a direct contract with a vendor where no integrator could log the calls. Then with another contract type if the a partner actually logs a call for his customer he must get some kind of kickback for that...
One of the advantages there are that more first line calls can be tackled by local partners, partners that might know their customers better.. but they still have a backup if they can't solve the problem. Therefore less investments are to be made in a support organization by the vendor.

And last but not least , don't tell your partners what they can't do. They should be listening to their customers, if their customers choose for the open source version it's the customers choice, and the partner should be able to help his customer, the last thing you need to do is punish them for listening to their customers needs rather than the vendors. This is how the proprietary world works.

Oh and Matt, next time you are in Belgium, let's do another round of Buytaert vs Asay :)
Maybe we come up with some better ideas than the above ones.

May 06 2008

Doesn't Matt Asay want Open Source integrators to earn a living ?

Or, why the Inuits won't partner on selling Ice from Alfresco unless they change their strategy.

I usually agree with lot of the things Matt Asay writes but today in Closing an open-source deal trough your systems integrator , he thinks the way to work with partners in an opensource environment is to force them to sell the commercial solutions of your products.
He also thinks you should block them from starting an implementation before the end customer has signed a purchase order.

Whew.. this must be the most stupid idea he had since he started his opensource career. The sad part is that I haven't seen a commercially backer of an opensource project dealing correctly with its contributing partners. He isn't solving the problem , he is creating a bigger one :(

Integrators and consultants are often the bigger contributors to a project because they are integrating new features for their customers, You know, their local , we speak your language , customers. So now Matt wants to force them not to sell services around GPL software anymore but sell the commercial versions ?

As lots of commercial opensource versions do not allow you to make changes to the code if you don't want to loose support your hands are tied again. And yes I have been in this situation before multiple times, a situation where , a commercially backed opensource project, required a couple of small changes to fit with a customer, because of these changes the commercial vendor would drop support , so the customer decided not to buy the license. Should a local integrator capable of helping such customer loose that deal because of a partnership ? Off course not .. It's perfectly understandable that a software vendor can't support every different patch. Shouldn't an integrator have the freedom to assist a customer in making these choices, and give him valuable advise ?

Forcing the integrator to sell the commercial version brings them back to the proprietary software vendor situation , where they couldn't solve issues either.

Mind this is a Category "C" user ,(an organization that has more money than time), which should be an easy win for the commercial opensource vendors.

Then there is the issue of Paying twice where a customer both pays for the time the integrator spends on solving his issue and the support contract. I`m stil looking for a solution for this one.

In the past we invested in different partnerships , some requiring certification, with different Open source vendors before, never got a dime back from these investments.

While our shop was a small but specialist expert knowledge center most deals that those other vendors had in our area went to the incompetent boxmovers that did volume, often totally screwing up the actual implementation. Whether we had contributed to the project, or in the case of Linux distributions were probably equally skilled to support the environment as the vendor itself didn't matter.
We didn't sell enough boxes , so we never got any deals back. Our business is advising people on how to implement open source , implement it for them and support them. We are working with both type A,B and C customers. But the commercial opensource vendors want to force us to go back to the old proprietary boxmoving model, sell licenses, don't sell solutions, Oh and No you can't fix that .. you'll have to wait for the next commercial release or lose support.

So how many of the opensource benefits should the customer give up ?

No Matt, this time your idea stinks,

This way skilled consultants that care about open source and contribute to the community are being punished for doing so, whereas they should actually be getting business back from the vendors, so they can earn money and contribute more on your product you force them to waste more time on the sales side. While the people that just move boxes, don't care if its an open source application or a proprietary package gain more. For them its just business as usual .. selling boxen.

It just doesn't make sense

This concept is just bad for opensource in general, motivated people will stop contributing to products they implement, as they see that their efforts aren't appreciated by the vendors.

Mar 05 2008

3 strikes

I'd call this the 3rd strike and everybody knows what happens next

Marc Fleury has some good answers to the most clueless industry reporter around, starting with:
Spring is touting itself as a JBoss replacement. Smart PR, but false. Spring is a development framework comprising wrappers and dependency injection on top of Hibernate and Tomcat runtimes, both developed, and monetized by JBoss.

You can drop some balls, no one can keep track of what's going on in Open Source land, it's difficult enough to track what's going on in MySQL, Drupal, Virtualization and Distribution land but if you realize you don't have the whole picture (like not really knowing how the different tools compare to each other) please keep quiet.

Feb 25 2008

Teaching Sun the Open Source Dance

Over the past couple of days Sun has been getting a lot of feedback on it's behaviour with open source.

So there is Amanda McPherson trying to teach Sun that the L in LAMP really stands for Linux.

And then there was Roy T. Fielding quiting the Open Solaris community.
I'm still wondering why a company that once bought StarDivision because it was cheaper to buy the company than to pay licenses for similar functionality, keeps maintining their own kernel stack rather than contributing to one that is way more popular and as a much larger userbase.
Its not like they have a die hard community they will loose, it's not like they will loose customers over it. When Sun says that Linux is the new Solaris their customers will just follow.

Personally I stopped working with Solaris ages ago... when we ocasionally run into a customer that wants us to deploy things on Solaris we always have to spend extra time GNUifying the box, which is yet another pain.

Sun had to learn the hard way from the JAVA crowd that they do care about Licensing and a community only starts to build when they like what they see. and it's exactly that community that Solaris is still lacking.

Virtualbox also is in the same boat, they have a good user community, but they don't have a lot of contributers as they require contributors so use the MIT license and even sign some papers.

In a way MySQL used to be the same , altough lots changed during the last couple of years , but back a couple of years ago nobody outside of MySQL was contributing code, there was a gigantic user community, but not really a developer community.

The big difference here is in community.. not customer base, these people are actually using MySQL because they are freely choosing so. Not because their boss or corporate policy tells them to.
But MySQL learned, and is changing, it currently has also non employees contributing .. often ex employees but also other people , people that form a real community.

Today .. if you really want to cash out ... create an product open source it ,create a user community around it but don't allow contributors, my bet is Sun will buy you :)

I told it before.. I really really hope one day Sun will understand .. but from the past couple of acquisitions.. they seem to be taking the same path over and over again.

Jan 23 2008

Q-Layer will opensource Q-San and Q-Store

Here at Profoss Kristof is just announcing that Q-Layer will be opensourcing their Q-Store and Q-San technologies

From their site

Q-SAN is a hyperfast Infiniband or Gigabit ethernet enabled virtual SAN: it is a pure software solution that has all functionalities of the common hardware-based SANs. Q-SAN is available as an option of Q-Store; it provides virtual disks to servers provisioned on top of the Q-layer platform and to external consumers over the iSCSI protocol.

Q-store is a storage and volume management solution with an easy-to-use GUI and a SOAP API that allows full automation and integration. Q-store enables storage virtualization, the pooling of physical storage from multiple network storage devices into one single device that is managed from a central console. Storage virtualization can be applied for a wide range of purposes, such as high-end database storage, backup storage, virtual disks for virtual servers etc.

Dec 12 2007

On Open Source vs open source

Not even that long ago I discussed Innovation in Open Source projects ..

Let me refresh your memory...
Call me oldfashioned but I still think of most of the closed source shops as 9to5 developers that write code because their boss tells them. Their boss is being instructed by clueless marketing people that promise impossible features to customers with impossible deadlines. An Open Source developer writes code because he wants to fix something , because he needs a feature , not because someone tells him to do so. To there is much more passion to be found in the heart of an open source developer than in your average closed shop developer.

Now add Michael Dolan 's comments on Open Source projects lead and managed by a sole corporate with no actual community to my notes.

Then try to understand why Sun announces this , now I wonder .. what are they going to pay people for .. features that the corporate product management wants, or features the community wants ? There is money involved .. so who will be calling the shots ?
I hope they make the right choices .. I really do !

But I'm afraid Sun still doesn't understand how to play with the opensource crowd. They try .. but run into too much walls As Michael notes , you can hardly call Open Solaris a succesfull open source project as it still doesn't have a real community. I hope one day they will realise that , drop their commercially driven doomed to fail open projects and start contributing to some projects with a real community. It took them a while to figure out the right thing to do with Java .. I`m sure they'll learn and figure out this time also :)

Sun isn't the only one not to understand how the community works.. but it's one of the most public ones that needs our help.

So what have we learned so far ..
* Open Sourcing an end of life proprietary proprietary does not work
* Managing an Open Source in oldschool inhouse proprietary style doesn't work

And lots more ...