|By Mark R. Hinkle||
|April 28, 2006 01:00 PM EDT||
One of the most touted benefits of Linux and open source programs is their flexibility. However, as the popularity of Linux has grown, some of the flexibility seems to have been sacrificed. As larger Linux vendors have become more standardized to support certified applications, the freedom to mold your Linux distribution to your needs has diminished a bit.
Adding an unsupported kernel module or otherwise modifying your distro may void your support contract or introduce other problems that are not easily resolved. Even larger, well-established independent software vendors who wish to add Linux as a supported platform might be not be able to preserve their customers' Linux support contracts if they require specialization that exceeds the confines of the supported distribution, even if there are no technical limitations to doing so.
Billy Marshall, co-founder of rPath, started to see this trend as the vice president of North American sales for Red Hat. Software vendors such as IBM were running into problems in which the stock versions of Red Hat Linux needed enhancements to optimize performance for certain packages, but had the potential to compromise other systems. Before joining rPath, Marshall says he started to witness three market trends that validated his belief in the need for rPath products. His account of these trends involved three main elements.
Linux and open source continued to be popular and more open source applications were becoming interesting. The second trend, Software as a Service, was gaining popularity. People really didn't care what infrastructure they ran as long as they got the value of the application. Users were willing to give up control of the Lincoln Logs or Legos that were making up the operating system as long as it worked the way they wanted. Salesforce.com was hitting their stride but nobody was asking them what OS or version they where using. They only cared whether the application worked. The last trend we noticed was virtualization. VMware was experiencing extraordinary growth, and we wanted to address the need for virtualized applications. Once the hardware layer is abstracted, you can now put multiple applications on the same box without interrupting each other or having to run the same operating system.
With these observations in hand, Marshall wanted to solve the problem of trying to be all things to all people, so he partnered with former Red Hat colleague Erik Troan to develop a technology that automated the development of made-to-order Linux distributions. They developed task-based Linux distributions that where targeted at specific needs of individual users (usually ISVs or wannabe appliance vendors) rather than a broad platform that encompassed 80% the needs of many, many users.
Troan and Marshall promote rPath as a software appliance company that focuses on developing task-based Linux distributions specifically tailored to users' needs. The rPath approach puts a new twist on Linux build systems by trying to build Linux distributions that most closely match the needs of the end user rather than trying to build a system that a great number of users could take advantage of.
Their model is to provide Software as a Service by helping companies develop and maintain repositories for their custom applications. This could be a distribution packaged with a specific application as they do for open source PBX vendor, Digium. Or it could be virtual machine images that can be downloaded and run on VMware or popular community virtualization software QEMU and, eventually, the open source Xen virtualization solution. Their ability to provision and maintain task-based operating systems augmented with their online interface makes rPath unique.
Conary - A New Package Management System
Most Linux administrators are used to updating their Linux distribution through the RPM or apt system. Using these systems they often suffer from mismatched software maintenance streams, a bane of system administrators. Keeping systems up to date also introduces the perils of system conflicts and bloated packages that include not only the essential libraries, bit, and bytes, but the unnecessary extras. Conary is more utilitarian in its approach. It is a distributed software management system that allows a group of loosely connected repositories to define components to be installed into the Linux system. These components can be more granular than widely distributed RPM or dpkgs (dee-packages).
Ironically the man who authored the popular RPM package management system, rPath co-founder Erik Troan, was the one who developed this new software provisioning system. According to Troan: "Open source is supposed to be about flexibility. So our base technology takes entire open source projects, puts them together into useful systems that are flexible, containable, and updatable." Conary works by using a versioned repository or set of repositories that host source codes and binary files, whereas traditional RPM and apt repositories are collections of pre-packaged files. In turn, components are then combined into packages that giving users more granular control of what is included in their packages.
Obviously developers could make their own systems packages, but that's not where their time is best spent. They also would have to track versions they build. Where RPMs are usually identified by name and version, Conary uses systematic versions to avoid confusion in all aspects of the system. Since the packages are collections of files in a repository, the version is specified as the repository location, then the original version number (from the authors of the software), the source revision number, and then the binary build revision number. The power in this is that it allows for branch distribution where developers change only pieces of their distribution. Development streams can now not only diverge but converge at the places appropriate for the application. ISVs can then focus on adding value to their applications without having to duplicate the non-application-specific parts of their product.
rPath in Action: rBuilder Online
rBuilder Online (www.rpath.com/rbuilder/) is the free-to-use tool that you can use to build your own Linux distribution and include open source software of your choosing. Most projects start with rPath, the reference architecture for rPath-built Linux distros. You simply search the available projects and packages to combine the elements to make your own distribution. You can register as a product maintainer complete with mailing lists and project page to enlist others to help maintain your project. The three simple steps to rBuilder Online are to find what you need, build your recipe, and finally cook an ISO or other type of image and download it (see Figure 1).
It really is that simple. It's also a great way to demonstrate how your build process could work if you were an rPath customer. Which leads to the obvious question in most open source businesses, how do these guys make money? Simple. For commercial vendors, rPath will offer support and other services for application vendors. This could include offering your own update repository and mechanism for your customers complete with rPath testing and quality assurance for the packages they supply.
rPath has settled on the term the software appliance to try to convey their vision, though what they offer is a way to provision task-based Linux distributions through a clever Linux-build technology. Today they provide operating systems and maintenance for custom-built Linux distributions that will likely be used in embedded devices or appliances. Though their technology has the ability to transcend these boundaries, a recent deal with EMC-owned VMware announced rPath's freely available Virtual Appliances that included Apache, LAMP, SugarCRM, and Port25 appliances that could be run from VMware virtualization products offered through the VMware Technology Network (www.vmware.com/vmtn/).
Ultimately, you could provision applications built-to-order using rPath tools that run only the application and what is required to support them. This has some very attractive benefits with Linux servers, the first being installation. End users receive built-to-order images that install the operating system and applications in one fell swoop. The second benefit is conflict resolution: by allowing the intelligence to reside in rPath's build process installation, there should be no need to track down supporting packages to allow your application to function optimally. Finally, maintenance: you get all the operating system and supporting open source packages from one single source, rPath, a good alternative to traditional operating system providers.
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
Oct. 9, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,122
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
Oct. 8, 2015 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 275
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Oct. 8, 2015 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 198
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
Oct. 8, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 588
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
Oct. 8, 2015 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 282
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Oct. 8, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 115
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
Oct. 8, 2015 08:15 PM EDT Reads: 158
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Oct. 8, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,163
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Oct. 8, 2015 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 232
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
Oct. 8, 2015 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 7,471
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Oct. 8, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 498
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Oct. 8, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 652
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program, to be aired during the peak viewership season of the year, will have a major impac...
Oct. 8, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 261
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Oct. 8, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 762
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Oct. 8, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 476
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
Oct. 8, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 508
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, will look at different existing uses of peer-to-peer data sharing and how it can become useful in a live session to...
Oct. 8, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 606
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
Oct. 8, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 576
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
Oct. 8, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 728
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Oct. 8, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,870