|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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 10, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 413
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 10, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 389
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
Feb. 10, 2016 01:15 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Feb. 10, 2016 12:45 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 10, 2016 12:15 PM EST Reads: 422
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 10, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 616
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 10, 2016 11:00 AM EST Reads: 182
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Feb. 10, 2016 10:45 AM EST Reads: 245
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 10, 2016 10:45 AM EST Reads: 102
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
Feb. 10, 2016 10:30 AM EST Reads: 214
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 10, 2016 09:00 AM EST Reads: 183
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 10, 2016 09:00 AM EST Reads: 382
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
Feb. 10, 2016 08:00 AM EST
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 10, 2016 07:45 AM EST Reads: 435
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
Feb. 10, 2016 07:00 AM EST
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 10, 2016 12:45 AM EST Reads: 199
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Feb. 10, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 210
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
Feb. 9, 2016 07:45 AM EST Reads: 103
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Feb. 6, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 762
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 823