Thursday, May 31, 2012

HPCC Systems From LexisNexis Named "Cool Vendor" by Leading Analyst Firm

HPCC Systems(R) from LexisNexis(R) Risk Solutions, announced that it is has been named as a "Cool Vendor" in the April 2012 Gartner report: "Cool Vendors in Information Infrastructure and Big Data, 2012," authored by Merv Adrian, Donald Feinberg and W. Roy Schulte. HPCC Systems is an open-source, enterprise-proven Big Data analytics processing platform to manage, sort, link, join and analyze billions of records for enterprise customers who need to process large volumes of data in critical 24/7 environments. It evolved from the need of LexisNexis to manage its own big data challenges.

Gartner, the world's leading information technology research and advisory company defines a cool vendor as a company that offers technologies or solutions that are innovative, impactful, and intriguing.

The HPCC Systems platform is a disruptive approach to complex big data problems and represents more than a decade of internal research and development, in the big data analytics field. HPCC Systems is a testament of the success of the open source model, and provides the open source community with proven, state of the art technology in the field of big data analytics, for the years to come," said Flavio Villanustre, Vice President, Products and Infrastructure for HPCC Systems at LexisNexis.

"We are thrilled to have HPCC Systems named in Gartner's Cool New Vendor report. HPCC Systems represents a vision close to the hearts of many of us in LexisNexis Risk Solutions: to provide real value back to the open source community for big data, in return for all that the open source community has given us over the years," said Villanustre.

Gamification is used by New Open-Source CRM app

The backers of a new open-source CRM (customer relationship management) application called Zurmo are hoping to stand out in a crowded field via the use of gamification, the notion of applying game-like design principles in an effort to make users engage more closely with a product.

Now in beta, Zurmo is written in PHP and made available under the GPLv3 open-source license. A release candidate is slated for availability in July, with a "general audience" release scheduled for September.

Its core CRM features cover contact management, deal tracking and activity management, while the gamification elements include the use of points and badges that users receive based on the actions they take, both in terms of sheer use as well as "business-related milestones," such as garnering a certain number of sales leads.

As users build up these points, they can achieve higher levels. The best performers jockey for space on a "leaderboard" inside the application, with the idea being to spur competition.

"We made the decision to go with gamification about six months ago,"said Zurmo's community manager, Stafford McKay. "We could either continue on and do the normal enterprise functionality like everybody else, or do something different."
The problem is that the CRM industry "has failed in terms of user adoption," McKay added. "Truly, end users do not use the [systems]. We've got to fix this. What is the point of creating an application nobody's going to use?"

Gamification is still a nascent field, "but we see it as really interesting and very possible in terms of motivating users," McKay said.

The company is seeking contributors to the open-source project. Right now, five internal developers and about eight committed external contributors are involved.
Zurmo is using test-driven development practices to create the software, which makes the process slower but avoids buggy code.

It would probably be possible to reach general availability earlier than September but Zurmo wants to make sure the initial release has "a nice baseline of functionality," said co-founder Ray Stoeckicht.

Gamification is a key philosophical focus of the product but not the only one, he said. In addition, Zurmo intends to deliver a "pure" open-source product, with all features available for download at no charge, rather than offering more basic editions at no cost and charging more for additional functionality, as is often done, he said.

Zurmo's backers have previous experience in running an open-source CRM business. Stoeckicht and McKay both work for Intelestream, a firm that offers consulting and services for SugarCRM and its own Intelecrm application, which is a fork of the SugarCRM community edition code. Zurmo's lead architect and co-founder, Jason Green, was an early SugarCRM employee and founded Intelestream, where he serves as CEO.

Intelestream and Zurmo are completely separate companies, and Zurmo has its own codebase, according to McKay.
Zurmo hasn't made final decisions on how it will make money off the software, but will probably look toward support and customization services, as well as building out a channel model, Stoeckicht said.

Hosting is available for the software from Zurmo and a few partners, but right now most deployments are on-premises, he said. In terms of customers, Zurmo is targeting small and medium-sized businesses.

Zurmo's success or failure may rest on how it executes the gamification components.
"Gamification is most effective when it employs rewards in exchange for actions," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "Sometimes the reward isn't pay, it's personal pride," he added. "Really good gamification mechanisms take advantage of non-monetary rewards."

For example, reaching a certain point threshold might earn a user a dinner with the boss or a preferred parking space, Wang said. "It's something that's valuable to them. That's what motivates people."

Kaltura Video Platform selected by Ovation

Multi-Platform Cable Network Launches a TV Everywhere Program via Kaltura to Deliver Compelling Content to More Than 51 Million Homes

Ovation, the only US multi-platform network dedicated to art, artists and all forms of artistic storytelling, announced today that it has selected Kaltura, ( ), developer of the world's first open source online video platform, for full video management and distribution of its content.

Ovation broadcasts in SD and HD, both linearly and on-demand to more than 51 million homes across the country through cable operators, DIRECTV, Dish, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse, and through its website and online video channels, including YouTube.

Kaltura will now manage the distribution of Ovation content across all of these platforms with a one-click system, as well as provide analytics to help identify which programs are performing better than others.

"As we began to evolve our video distribution strategy, we needed a flexible framework to accommodate the various use cases that we already had in place. Kaltura's open platform and innovative team ultimately offered the most flexible and future-proofed solution," said Chad Gutstein, COO, Ovation. "We're now working on a wide range of streamlined solutions, including authentication and ad serving integration for TV Everywhere, a custom workflow with Avid to enhance editing and publication, and a B2B distribution network."

Ovation will deploy Kaltura's video solutions to manage the entire lifecycle of its rich-media content online -- from editing to ingestion, transcoding, publishing and distribution across a wide range of networks and devices. Kaltura will also be the backbone to Ovation's new TV Everywhere program that will help reach new and existing Ovation fans through new devices, including smartphones, tablets and connected TVs.

"We are delighted to be Ovation's partner of choice," said Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura Chairman and CEO. "Ovation is a great example of a forward-looking company that harnesses the power of the Web and platforms like Kaltura to maximize reach, viewership, and revenue."

New Wakanda Beta released by 4D

Unique Stack of Integrated Technologies Programmable With JavaScript Provides Simplified Development for Web and Mobile App Developers

O'Reilly Fluent Conference -- 4D, a leading provider of open source integrated application development solutions, today announced Wakanda Beta 2, the newest beta version of its popular Wakanda JavaScript development platform. With Wakanda, developers have a first-ever full stack JavaScript development platform for Web and mobile business applications. The new Wakanda foundation relies on best-of-breed technology -- Web and mobile applications, a development studio, client framework, NoSQL database, server and model-driven architecture. The company will offer both an Open Source community and commercial version of Wakanda. Web applications developed with Wakanda are easily deployed on the Cloud.

Developers can use Wakanda to program the entire application stack with JavaScript and its Model Driven Architecture (MDA) assures high levels of re-use and decreases in maintenance costs. Both the user interface (UI) and the data model of the application are designed with a powerful WYSIWYG designer from Wakanda Studio, and the Wakanda client framework and GUI designer leverage the full power of HTML5 and CSS3. The NoSQL object datastore natively speaks REST/HTTP and server-side JavaScript (SSJS). Unlike with SQL databases, there is no need to use an ORM layer. There is no hidden SQL generation. Wakanda natively understands the business logic.

Built on 25 years of business application experience and with the support of an active developer community, Wakanda's new development environment can be extended with third-party widgets, libraries and server modules. In addition, Wakanda's open source environment supports developers in adding connectors to their preferred databases. The entire Wakanda solution supports full industry standard compliance, including JSON, REST/HTTP, W3C, and CommonJS.

"With this newest version of Wakanda we are providing one open, complete solution for all Web and mobile business application development," said Laurent Ribardiere, Wakanda CTO and creator. "Developers no longer need to learn, integrate and maintain different technologies in different languages -- Wakanda delivers a cohesive JavaScript stack instead of disparate technologies. With Wakanda, developers can program their entire application with JavaScript from end-to-end."

Wakanda Offers Powerful JavaScript Programming Features In addition to providing end-to-end JavaScript programming, Wakanda leverages existing libraries and third party solutions on both client and server, and is cloud-ready. A complete list of individual features of Wakanda Studio, Wakanda Server and Wakanda Framework grouped by functional areas of the platform can be found at and includes touch for mobile development, pure multi-threaded JavaScript, NoSQL Object Datastore and many other new features.

In an IDC White Paper, Al Hilwa, Program Director, Application Development Software for IDC found, "Wakanda is a well-designed end-to-end application platform that comes complete with a graphical development environment catering to modern developer requirements... The application development approach supported by Wakanda abstracts much of the complexity in developing enterprise applications rapidly and productively." (IDC White Paper, sponsored by 4D, Inc., Wakanda: Blending Traditional Developer Productivity with Modern Web Architecture and Standards, October 2011)

Availability and Pricing Wakanda production release will be available in June in both community and commercial versions. The community version of Wakanda will be free. Monthly subscriptions for commercial licenses and developer support will start at $35 per month for one developer and will include a royalty-free unlimited deployment right.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Open Source middleware a modular deployment model given by OSGi

The OSGi framework supports many modular open source projects, including Apache ServiceMix among others. James Strachan is the creator of the Groovy programming language and a founding member of three Apache projects- Camel, Active MQ and ServiceMix. In this video interview, taken at CamelOne 2012 in Boston, Strachan explains how OSGi has helped these projects and others achieve a more modular deployment model.

ServiceMix 4 was the time when we moved to OSGi and that was three, maybe four years ago, but what we did initially was, we re-implemented ServiceMix to use OSGi under the covers. We re-implemented the JVI deployment model on top of OSGi so everything was backwards compatible, but it meant that you could just deploy bundles or Spring XMLs or a number of other different artifacts and it all just worked.

But what we found is that when we'd done that, we'd actually built this reusable kernel. For a while, we actually called it the ServiceMix Kernel, which is really a generic OSGi container framework sort of thing that made it easy to build any type of application server or container. Then we started to realize that it didn't have anything to do with ESBs anymore.

This kernel is actually really cool; it has SSH support and a really awesome shell, as well as a really easy way of upgrading and downgrading itself. So that got factored out and became Apache Karafe. Karafe, like a carafe of wine, because it's a container of nice things – Karafe with a K, though, to emphasize that it's a kernel and to make it easier to find in a Google search.

ServiceMix is based on Karafe. It's a Karafe distribution which has all of the integration components predefined. As soon as you boot up ServiceMix it knows how to install Camel CFX for Web services, Active MQ for messaging, and so on. Increasingly, we are seeing more and more things that are just Karafe distributions. For example, Fuse MQ is a distribution of Karafe, which has ActiveMQ inside. Fuse Fabric is sort of the next project in the evolution. That comes with a sort of OSGi container -a carafe [if you will]- but that has some provisioning stuff inside.

We started really talking about Fuse Fabric last year. The interesting thing about Fuse Fabric is that we initially started off writing services – a message broker, an ESB, an integration framework and so forth, eventually an OSGi kernel. We were writing all these different middleware pieces, and we gradually started decoupling them and making them simpler and more powerful and more reusable and removing dependencies to make them simpler and lighter weight. So we started writing big things and then we started forming them into smaller and smaller pieces that were easier to plug and play together in different ways.

Then we realized that now that we had a lot of pieces, some of our customers were struggling to put the pieces together into useful shapes. They had a hundred machines; they wanted ten message brokers, five ESBs and a hundred Camel routes. Fuse Fabric was the first time we took a top down approach. How do we take a big system with hundreds of machines and fit all the pieces into the JVMs?

With Fuse Fabric we sort of flipped everything on its head. We started with an integration platform of Java processes and had to figure out how to use all the pieces we have – Camel, Active MQ, CFX, and others.

Under the covers, it's implementing jars, bundles, all of the above. Well the current incarnation of Fuse Fabric is using Apache Karafe containers under the covers. So Fuse Fabric has its own implementation if you wanted a really light container – and basically Fabric provisions deployment units that work inside Karafe.

One of the really great things about OSGi is it's an extensible container so anyone can define a deployment unit. It's not like servlets where you have a well-defined WAR, and WAR is it. Anybody can write a deployer for OSGi. So Fabric can deploy a new deployer to deploy a new artifact. Basically you can deploy anything – JARs, WARs, EARs, bundles – anything.

Fedora 17 is now Available for Download

The Fedora Project has officially released version 17 of its leading-edge Linux distribution, adding the latest update to the OpenStack cloud computing platform, JBoss Application Server 7 and oVirt, a virtualisation management tool.

Available now, Fedora 17 is a free-to-download Linux distribution sponsored by Red Hat, where many cutting-edge technologies are given a shake-down before future inclusion into Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
OpenStack was first included in Fedora 16, but the new version updates this to the latest "Essex" build of the open-source cloud platform, which introduced the Dashboard user portal and OpenStack Identity authentication service as stable core modules.

Fedora 17 debuts oVirt, an open-source project designed to manage virtualised infrastructure, and focused on the KVM hypervisor that is integrated with the Linux kernel.

Also new in this version is JBoss Application Server 7, the latest release of the Java-based application server software, now owned by Red Hat.

On the desktop front, Fedora 17 comes with the Gnome 3.4 user interface, which features new search capabilities, improved themes and enhancements to the Documents and Contacts applications.

"The addition of projects such as oVirt and JBoss Application Server 7, enhancements in OpenStack and continued support for fresh releases of desktop environments demonstrate the Fedora Project's commitment to deliver rich features and capabilities," said Fedora project leader Robyn Bergeron.

Fedora is offered with no official technical support, with users relying on community forums to find a solution to any problems. The platform is a rapidly evolving one, with new releases roughly every six months.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cut the Software expenses

Somewhere in the annual spending of almost every household and small business today is an item that might not have been there just 10 years ago: software purchases. Along with Google and Wikipedia, buying software has become as inevitable as death and taxes.

For the most part, that's fine. Programming is the sort of eye-glazing, rear-numbing work many of us prefer to avoid, and the people who do it well deserve to be well-compensated. But there are times when buying new software seems a bit much:

Your child's room parent upgrades to the latest Microsoft Word, and now you have to, too, or you can't read the classroom volunteer schedule.
The company that makes your home or small-business accounting software cuts off support for your version in an attempt to force everyone to upgrade to the latest edition.
Your teenager announces her future in design for web and print and requires immediate purchase of Adobe's CS6 Master Collection (list price $2,599, though educational discounts are available).
Fortunately, there are alternatives out there, and they're free. That's right -- free. What's known as open source software is part of the "gift economy," an alternative to markets or barter where people just put what they make out there, free for the taking. Why programmers would do this may seem a mystery; one study at the University of North Texas found that these programmers like the prestige they earn but also are interested in "learning for the joy of learning and collaborating with interesting and smart people." Imagine a world where people did their work for reasons like that!

The gift economy and open source movement extend way beyond the world of software. But the place to start is with your computer.

1. OpenOffice and LibreOffice

OpenOffice can edit spreadsheets, presentations and similar work in this free suite of programs. OpenOffice can read and write Microsoft's formats. OpenOffice has this multilingual capability, and it includes all the bells and whistles. It's free for download at The same goes for its colleague, LibreOffice, a similar suite of programs produced by The Document Foundation.

Pretty much everyone needs some kind of image-processing program these days. Photoshop could get an image into a computer. The next generation is going to consider this open source program its standard.

3. WordPress
Many people need a website, and maybe more than one. For nonprogrammers, the easiest way to create this is to buy a domain name and hosting service, then install WordPress (many website providers will even do it for you). From there, starting to customize your new website takes minimal skill. By one estimate, more than one out of five new sites uses this free software, often jazzing it up with the many templates that are free or inexpensively priced on the web.

The key, though, is to know this choice is available. Whatever you want to do on your computer, before you buy new software, try a search for open source alternatives. You'll be supporting a whole community of programmers who've been writing code just for the interest of it. And you can't beat the price.

New LassoLab IDE released by LassoSoft Inc.

Open Source LassoLab Integrated Development Environment Merges Tools and Resources Into a Single Platform.

The new LassoLab integrated development environment (IDE) for the Lasso programming language has been released, offering the Lasso development community an integrated platform for accessing and using a wide range of development tools.


Develop more simply:
Code Folding
Lasso Code Completion
Simple file exploring
Outline viewing
Syntax highlighting

Develop Faster
Code generation
Coding assistance
Semantic analysis
Code wizards

Easy to Install: 
No Installation - just download and use
**Early release instructions: please first install Lasso 9.2 and use in Developer mode (no license applied) only**

Easy to Use: 
Integrated Lasso 9 Instances
Integrated LassoTalk
Connect with Fellow Lassoers
Integrated Lasso Reference
Find Syntax and Examples
Integrated TagSwap
Share Your Code

LassoLab is Open-Source
Build your own Plugins
Leverage the world of the Eclipse platform
Automatic Updates

*Included Free
Lasso Projects
Lasso Files
Install 3rd Party Software
Online Updating

Based on the Eclipse IDE, LassoLab brings together Lasso-specific code folding, syntax highlighting, debugging, and more, all in a single interface. It also provides direct access to reference materials, formal documentation, and the LassoTalk community forum, allowing developers to learn and to engage with others as they code. Developers can also manage multiple projects at one time within the LassoLab interface.

"This is the biggest release in Lasso since we started," said LassoSoft's lead developer Kyle Jessup, following the LassoLab announcement by CEO Sean Stephens at the Lasso Developer Conference in Toronto over the weekend.

Among the most highly anticipated features are a comprehensive debugging functionality that gives the developers more flexibility in how they test code. This includes a hierarchical view of the calling stack that provides visual context for investigating and addressing issues. The tag swap provides pre-formed code that is open source and acts as a code assembly starting point, allowing developers to leverage code that others have written and to share their own examples.

LassoLab is a free, open source download, and future plans include LassoSoft opening the way for other developers to create plugins for the LassoLab IDE. It will also become the platform for additional paid plugins from LassoSoft, such as the upcoming Profiler plugin, which will identify inefficient functions in Lasso code to assist in code optimization.

Lasso is an application server and scripting language used by web developers around the globe. It can be employed on a number of platforms for a wide range of end use systems, and is used by both individual developers and government and large-scale corporate organizations. The three advantages the company advocates are speed, security, and the "elegance" or simplicity of the code for developers.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Survey says Open Source is good

The Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) is in full swing in San Francisco this week, and, in conjunction with it, Black Duck Software and North Bridge Venture Partners are out with the results of their 2012 Future of Open Source Survey. These annual surveys have a good record of picking key open source trends and providing good forecasts. For example, the same survey has made accurate predictions about the cloud computing and mobile technology scenes in recent years, as well as the rise of open source Business Intelligence software. Here are some of the findings from the 2012 survey.

There were 740 respondents for this year's survey, and non-vendors made up 59 percent of respondents. Among respondents, 62 percent said that open source applications and platforms represented more than half of their software deployments. When asked what makes open source attractive, respondents said "freedom from vendor lock-in," "lower costs," and "quality," were paramount.

As in previous versions of this survey, though, there were some familiar complaints. When asked about the biggest barriers to open source adoption, respondents said "unfamiliarity with solutions," "lack of internal technical skills," and "lack of formal support" were key barriers. Support issues have arisen in numerous annual versions of this survey.
In the past, the Future of Open Source Survey has made accurate predictions about industries that are going to be profoundly affected by open source.

In this year's survey, the following industries were cited from that perspective:

Data management 44%

Health/Medical/Life Sciences 23%

Financial Services 12%

When choosing open source projects to deploy, survery respondents rated "Project Maturity" as a paramount factor. Respondents also provided their short lists of "hot" open source companies. Red Hat topped these lists, with Acquia, Canonical and SugarCRM ranking highly as well.

Google's programming language new version GO 1

Google’s programming language, Go, reached a major milestone recently, graduating to version 1.0 (the team behind the project has dubbed it Go 1).

Those looking to dive into programming in Go have two new books to consider: “Programming in Go: Creating Applications for the 21st Century” by Mark Summerfield, and its companion “The Go Programming Language Phrasebook” by David Chisnall. Both are developers who have authored other books on programming.

Go is the work of an internal Google project that began in 2007. Three years ago it went open source, with ongoing development from the original Google team and other contributors. It seeks to be a computer language built for the 21st century, focusing on efficiency for large-scale applications.

Go is an open source programming environment that makes it easy to build simple, reliable, and efficient software.

Given its ambitious mission, author Summerfield has written the book for those with programming experience in other languages that wish to also add Go to their repertoire.

Those coming to Go should have some experience with C, C++, Java, Python, or another similar language. This is not one of those books that someone can pick up and expect to start coding with no background. However, those with a strong background will be able to pick it up and get started on a series of projects right away.

Given this, the several examples of live code are highly useful. This is the strongest feature of both the main text and phrasebook (although there are less in the latter). Yet in both there are plenty of snippets that will help readers code in their own examples or variations to be sure they have mastered the specific lesson or project they are working on.

The phrasebook is a useful supplement, providing with it many hints and tricks for those who may need additional guidance with variables, strings, or arrays and slices. There are also several screen shots of snippets of code to further explain the lessons.

In a release, publisher informIT said the book would be useful for:
01. Quickly getting and installing Go, and building and running Go programs

02. Exploring Go’s syntax, features, and extensive standard library

03. Programming Boolean values, expressions, and numeric types

04. Creating, comparing, indexing, slicing, and formatting strings

05. Understanding Go’s highly efficient built-in collection types: slices and maps

06. Using Go as a procedural programming language

07. Discovering Go’s unusual and flexible approach to object orientation

08. Mastering Go’s unique, simple, and natural approach to fine-grained concurrency

09. Reading and writing binary, text, JSON, and XML files

10. Importing and using standard library packages, custom packages, and third-party packages

11. Creating, documenting, unit testing, and benchmarking custom packages

Programming with Go is for those that want to be on the verge of something new. As a new programming language, it carries the excitement of pioneering a different concept, yet the uncertainty of how it will turn out in the future.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Will Microsoft dive into Open Source Ecosystem?

Microsoft has come a long way in its acceptance of open source. And its motto doesn’t seem to be (this time) to embrace and extinguish.

The Microsoft watching will go on. A few illustrious members of the worldwide Microsoft community to share their insights via guest posts on a variety of topics — from Windows Phone, to Hyper-V. Today’s entry is all about Microsoft and open source and is authored by Richard Turner.

Microsoft is increasingly warming to open source. Not only is the company increasingly publishing open-source projects of its own, it’s also developing major parts of its web/cloud infrastructure in the open and is also supporting a variety of external open-source projects. This is great news, but it’s taken a long time and a considerable amount of hard work and damage-repair to make it happen.

Microsoft’s stance on open source began to thaw during the 2000’s as the company grew-up and learned more about open source and how it can significantly benefit all of us.

It would be constructive to share examples that illustrate that Microsoft (and its ecosystem) are serious about mending fences, supporting external open-source projects and opening up development teams and projects.

Here’s the top 10 list:
1. Encouraging the Open Source Ecosystem
The Windows and .NET development community is exploding with home-grown .NET open-source projects and initiatives. Everything from IoC/DI containers such as Ninject, AutoFac, Castle Windsor and StructureMap to testing tools like nUnit. From NOSQL document stores like (the utterly awesome) RavenDB to powerful Content Management Systems (CMS) like Orchard and Umbraco. And let’s not forget IronPython, IronRuby and F# that Microsoft nurtured before transitioning to community ownership in 2010.

These are just a tiny subset of the amazing range of open-source projects built specifically for (or supporting) the .NET/Windows platform.

2. Wheel-Reinventing Reduced
One of the biggest criticisms many have had of Microsoft is its insistence in building its own version of technologies that already exist in the open-source world.

It came as a pleasant surprise, therefore, when Microsoft shipped ASP.NET MVC 3.0 with jQuery and Modernizr included. This was a big step forward (and was the result of a HUGE amount of effort internally) and marked one of the first times Microsoft shipped a major product containing open-source code. In ASP.NET 4.0, Microsoft is continuing the adoption of open-source projects by including jQuery Mobile & JSON.NET.

3. Facilitating With NuGet Package Manager
Almost every active open-source development ecosystem has seen huge growth in the number of open-source utility libraries made available by “package managers” such as Ruby’s Gems, node’s npm, etc. These package managers allow developers to simply type, for example, “npm install express” and the express library will be downloaded and installed into the user’s current project/system.

A package management tool was missing from the Windows/.NET developer’s toolbox until a skunk-works team at Microsoft created NuGet – a package manager for .NET developers. NuGet and its accompanying site, gallery and package feed were adopted by the Outercurve Foundation in October 2010 and is now maintained by the NuGet team and the community. The NuGet gallery currently contains almost 6000 packages including jQuery, Modernizr, JSON.NET, ELMAH, log4net, Ninject, and the vast majority of the libraries most useful to .NET developers.

While many other open-source communities would scoff at “only 6000” packages being available, it’s important to note that the project count is increasing rapidly and that the proportion of really useful packages to frivolous and/or repetitive packages is very small. Let’s hope it stays this way!

4. Making Windows a great platform for open-source
Many of the hottest open-source projects available today were originally built on Linux-based platforms and, as such, are welded to UNIX-style IO, file storage, process management and thread scheduling mechanisms. In order to run on Windows, such projects typically run under CygWin – a POSIX emulation infrastructure that allows most POSIX apps to run unchanged on Windows. While this is a pragmatic approach for non-performance-sensitive code, Cygwin often introduces a significant performance hit in high performance code.

This was the situation facing node – the blossoming asynchronous JavaScript engine – to run on Windows, it had to be run under CygWin, which impacted performance significantly. To solve this problem, Microsoft and Joyent (node’s primary sponsor & employer of Ryan Dahl - node’s creator) agreed to work together to make node run natively on Windows. The work to port node to Windows spawned LibUV – a library that provides a platform-abstraction layer allowing node (and any other open-source project) take full advantage of both *N*X and Windows’ async IO (and other platform dependent differences) with little effort.

In November 2011, Microsoft announced the first stable builds of node, using the new LibUV library, running natively on Windows. Simultaneously, Microsoft built IISNode allowing node to be hosted within IIS (Microsoft’s web server). The code for IISNode is hosted on GitHub and is free and open for all to see and/or modify should you wish to do so. And that’s not the end of the story: LibUV has turned out to be so useful that other open-source projects are now employing it to port their code to run natively on Windows.

5. Forking and Maintaining Ports
In a sign of increasing maturity in how it works with open-source communities, Microsoft has now begun (appropriately) forking and maintaining open-source projects: In November 2011, Antirez announced that Microsoft had provided patches to port Redis to run natively on Windows, using LibUV. While Antirez decided NOT to accept Microsoft’s patches into the Redis core (yet, for reasons he articulated in the post linked to above), he encouraged Microsoft to create their own Windows fork of Redis. Microsoft worked with others in the community to create a Windows fork of Redis which became the first project officially published by the newly formed Microsoft Open Technologies Inc. subsidiary formed in 2012 and is run by Jean Paoli.

6. Supporting Apache, PHP and Ruby on Windows
In 2008, Microsoft began helping upgrade Apache and PHP significantly update their projects in order to support the newer and far more effective Visual C++ 2008 VC9 compiler. This work resulted in native builds of both the Apache web server and the PHP engine which consumed less RAM and performed much better than before.

In 2008, alongside the new and improved PHP, Microsoft also released support for FastCGI within IIS. This enabes IIS to reliably host non-threadsafe code such as PHP and Ruby, alongside .NET code and native IIS handlers and modules within the same website if required. This means that IIS can now safely and reliably host PHP-based websites and services including Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.

7. Supporting open-source platforms in Azure
At Mix09, Microsoft announced official support for PHP, Java and Ruby on Windows Azure.

Since Windows Azure Web Role instances are essentially Windows Server VM’s, this should come as no surprise since Microsoft had already released FastCGI support for IIS.

What this announcement introduced, however, was the fact that not only was Microsoft supporting PHP, Ruby and Java on Azure, but that they were also in the process of providing comprehensive API’s for each environment, allowing developers to access all of Azure’s service control & configuration capabilities, table, blob and queue storage, message-bus infrastructure, etc. from their preferred language/platform.
Then, in December 2011, after the work to port node to Windows was completed, Microsoft announced that node is now fully supported in the Windows Azure cloud platform, along with a node Azure SDK providing programmatic access to the Azure environment and storage and message-bus infrastructure.

8. Backing Hadoop
In late 2011, Microsoft and HortonWorks announced they were teaming-up to port Hadoop to Windows. This is a big deal; not only did Microsoft decide to plow effort and resources into porting Hadoop to Windows, they decided to abandon their own home-grown big-data solution in the process. Microsoft’s adoption of Hadoop can only result in good things – particularly to end-users who will be able to analyze colossal datasets using familiar tools such as Excel and PowerView.

9. Becoming A Top-20 Contributor To The Linux Kernel
In 2011, Microsoft became one of the top 20 contributors to the Linux kernel … the same Linux that CEO Steve Ballmer described as a “cancer” just over 10 years previously. My, how times change!

Microsoft’s contributions largely center around drivers they submitted to enable Linux to be hosted within Hyper-V – Microsoft’s OS virtualization technology. The drivers Microsoft submitted to the Linux kernel project provide a significant performance boost to Linux VMs’ storage, networking and video-subsystems.

10. Open Sourcing ASP.NET MVC4.0, WebAPI and Razor View Engine

Perhaps the biggest news related to Microsoft and open source came when Microsoft announced that:

ASP.NET 4.0 MVC, Web API and Razor View Engine would be made open-source
The ASP.NET team will consider accepting changes to ASP.NET submitted by the community
The ASP.NET team would continue development of ASP.NET “in the open”, submitting all future code changes into a public-facing GIT repository hosted by the Outercurve Foundation’s CodePlex site.
It clear that Microsoft has finally turned a corner and is now increasingly following a path towards greater acceptance and support for open-source. This is a GIGANTIC step forward.

Microsoft is leading by example and sending a strong message to their legions of developers that open-source need be feared no longer and that publishing open-source code benefits everyone. Hopefully, this will result in a gradual, but eventually sizable increase in the volume of high-quality, reusable code being made available as open-source for us all to enjoy, learn from, help improve and adopt.

Now, the time is Come. Welcome to the open-source world, Microsoft. Please Hop-On.

Visual Studio 11 Express Is Metro Only

Microsoft has finally demonstrated its corporate insanity for all to see. The next version of VS Express 11 will only produce Metro and not desktop apps - and it gets worse.

The Express range of development systems has been the standard route into programming under Windows for a good few years. They are cheap, i.e. free, and they are lightweight solutions that ease beginners into the full Visual Studio. They also support a lot of Windows based open source and startup projects that simply couldn't afford the full Visual Studio - not to mention educational use.

The current Express products, i.e. Express 2010, has a version for each of the current languages VB, C# and C++ and even one for web development.  The next generation of Express products will be much more limited with just three editions - Express 11, Express for Windows Phone and Express for Azure. The Express 11 IDE will support C++, C#, VB and JavaScript in one neat and easy-to-use package. This sounds great until you realize that this neat package only supports the creation of Metro applications.

There are no templates and no targets defined for the desktop.
As Metro apps only run on Windows 8 or Windows RT you can immediately see that Express 11 is only of use if you have upgraded to Windows 8/RT and if you only want to create Metro apps.
Microsoft suggest that if you want to create a desktop app then you simply keep on using one of the Express 2010 editions.

You might think at first look that this is very reasonable. After all, it is Metro that is new and needs the new environment to allow programmers to create the new apps. However, the message that this sends is now clear despite the way that Microsoft's blogs do their best to discuss any other issues but the one's that really matter.
The fact that Express 11 will only target Metro apps is a clear statement that the desktop is legacy.

If you are planning your next project and don't want to buy the full Visual Studio to get started you have the choice of going Metro with the current generation of IDE or you can use 2010 - which isn't even last year's product.

The message is that the desktop has no future in the same way that the 2010 Express family has no future.

You can see how this fits into Microsoft's stragety to sweep the old aside and replace it with something new. It used similar techniques when introducing .NET. Instead of giving programmers a choice of using classic VB 6 they simply dropped VB 6 and forced the upgrade to the incompatible VB .NET.

Now it seems to be .NET's turn to be dropped.

If you want to develop a .NET app then you need to stick with Express 2010 and don't even think about going forward with new editions. To stay current you have no choice but to convert your apps to Metro.

The bigger picture is even more confused, but it demonstrates what a suicidal path Microsoft is on. Earlier this week the Kinect 1.5 SDK was launched with lots of .NET code and facilities including XNA and WPF 3D graphics. Before Metro the Microsoft development universe was split into .NET/managed code and C++/COM. Now it is split three ways and there is no accommodation between the three - you basically have to back the winner.

Microsoft is telling you that Metro is its only candidate for a winner. According to Microsoft, WinRT/Metro is the only possible future.

If you don't agree then you need to start looking for an alternative desktop environment.

Open-source attitude in the Internet Era

The road of history appears to be leading steadily towards a more open-sourced vision

The term ‘open source’ comes from computer programming. It refers to a computer program that isn’t owned by any company and is freely available to the general public. Microsoft Word, by contrast, is ‘closed source’ — the Microsoft Corporation owns the code for its software and will never make it available or give it away for free.

A little-known program called Open Office is a freely available alternative to Microsoft Office with many of the same features. A loose group of programmers around the world created Open Office and constantly tinkers with it to make it better. They do this for free with no benefit besides the pleasure of providing a useful service for anonymous users.

The motivation for developing open-source software can be puzzling, but they are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Many phone users, for instance, opt for closed-source versions of Apple iPhones or BlackBerries. However, people using Samsung and other devices are running an open-source operating system — Android. (Google leads the programming effort, but doesn’t own the source code.)

Phones running Android operating systems tend to be cheaper because no money must be earmarked for the development costs. Of course, many people are quite happy to pay a little more for the features of closed-source iPhones and BlackBerries.

Freedom to innovate
But increasingly, both BlackBerry and the Apple iPhone flirt with open-sourced systems — allowing independent programmers leeway to produce apps for their closed-source platforms. In fact, in many other areas open-source alternatives are increasingly embraced.

Wikipedia, for instance, continues to grow in popularity while Encyclopedia Britannica recently announced the end of its print edition. The open-source Wikipedia allows users to modify any entry, but a team of editorial volunteers tends to keep material fairly accurate and well-balanced.
Only the editors of the closed-source Encyclopedia Britannica can make changes to their entries, meaning they should be more accurate. However, some research has found that Wikipedia and the encyclopedia both contained roughly the same amount of erroneous material. While it does have some drawbacks, Wikipedia is praised for the speed with which it updates information as well as its insistence on the verification of information.

Websites such as YouTube and Digg (which allows users to rate the value of new stories) represent open-source versions of television networks and newspapers. While a select few gatekeepers once made decisions about what to air or publish, these sites and many others now allow users to collectively make the decisions. The impact of these open-source sites on ‘traditional media’ cannot be understated.

Online alternatives
Many prestigious universities are now promoting open-source research. Academics are avoiding the costly peer-reviewed journals where research is kept behind a paywall in favour or free, online alternatives. The move will help equalise research globally, allowing poorer nations to have access to the same information as richer countries.

While some may debate whether open-source or closed-source systems are more beneficial, the road of history appears to be leading steadily toward a more open-sourced vision. The benefits of an open-sourced systems include an increased acceptance of new ideas and a quicker pace toward innovation — far more so that in closed systems.

Open-source projects also tend to benefit from the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ with ideas and innovations that could be missed in closed environments. Most importantly, open-source systems are transparent — nothing is hidden from view, allowing anyone to offer their input equally.
Even nations seem to fall on one side of the open-source versus closed-source structure. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently remarked that countries would no longer be divided along lines such as East or West or religious beliefs. Rather, they would be judged on their relative approach toward openness.

She said that countries closed to “change, ideas, cultures and beliefs that are different from theirs will quickly find that in an internet world they will be left behind”.

Her reference to the internet is an important point — societies could more easily afford to be ‘closed-source’ before the internet. Many attribute the recent upheaval in the Arab world to an increase in the open-source information flow afforded by YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

The UAE is already making efforts to be more open-source. The government of Abu Dhabi, for instance, has pledged to create a transparent regulatory environment as part of its 2030 economic vision.
And, as Federal National Council (FNC) member Noura Al Kaabi has noted, the FNC is also leading the way toward openness. The FNC often raises critical issues into the sphere of public discussion and provides added transparency and accountability to workings of the UAE government.

But the UAE could do more to increase its openness. For instance, some government agencies make decisions without much scrutiny or explanation leaving residents in the dark or puzzled.

Similarly, many government and business spokespeople aren’t empowered to truly provide answers and information to the public. In effect, they’re trapped in a ‘closed-source’ mentality.

Hopefully, the UAE will address these problems and continue making strides toward being more ‘open-sourced’.

Much of the world seems ready to embrace the wisdom of the crowd.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Teen Programmers attended the Boot camp

The next "Angry Birds" just might come from the mind of a Seacoast student, thanks to the efforts of some local business leaders and a professor at Great Bay Community College.

The Train to Success Jumpstart Mobile Application Development Boot Camp was a glimmer in the eyes of several members of the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce just last month. In three weeks' time, they have taken the idea from a dream to a reality.

The boot camp is a summer program for Seacoast-area students entering Grades 9-11 in the fall. It is geared toward those who have an interest in learning about Web, computer, tablet and/or smartphone programming. It will provide participants with an opportunity to explore college-level subjects in classes at Great Bay Community College's computer lab. The classes will be led by college associate professor of computer technologies Meg Prescott. Radim Bartos, chairman of the computer science department at the University of New Hampshire, will mentor students during lab sessions.

Prescott will train students in the use of HTML 5, JavaScript and other programming languages in conjunction with PhoneGap, an open-source software tool that allows development of apps. She said the class will feature a combination of theory and hands-on learning.

"There's a balance. Both can integrate nicely together," she said. "The big challenge is reining them back. They want to go warp speed."

Lessons will be held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from June 25 through Aug. 10, and include both classroom and optional lab sessions. There is a cost associated with the course, but thanks to local business leaders, program and equipment fees have been reduced to $299. Full scholarships will be available to those who need them.

The Jumpstart program originated with a passionate discussion recently at a meeting of the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce's government affairs committee. Members such as City Councilor Jack Thorsen, former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, Mark Galvin of the N.H. Innovation Commercialization Center, Mark Sullivan of Seacoast Asset Management, Jay Levy of Measured Wealth Private Client Group and Dave Todaro of BID2WIN Software all were involved in a debate about the importance of technology training for young people.

"It ended up dominating the meeting because that's where the passion is," Marchand said.

Marchand, UNH's director of corporate relations, said that out of 400 available seats in UNH's computer engineering programs, only 200 are filled. Meanwhile, in his discussions with private sector leaders, he has found that all agree that science, math and technology training must be focal points at the kindergarten-Grade 12 levels.

"The private sector gets that. It's a long-term solution," Marchand said.

Early investment in promoting those subjects is the answer to a problem many technology industries continue to have: College graduates are not trained for fields where jobs are available. Marchand noted that one Seacoast-area business would hire immediately 65 to 70 software engineers if they were available.

According to data Levy provided, more people with at least some college experience are finding themselves unemployed. For the first time in history, a majority of jobless workers 25 and older have attended some college, the data suggest.

Galvin, whose organization recently held a Disruptivate! conference on encouraging innovation that disrupts the status quo, said the Jumpstart program does just that.

"It's shaking things up, really, in a positive way," Prescott said.

They say "May the Best win". Google wins patent fight with Oracle

Judge William Alsup has become The Decider in what could become a landmark case in software intellectual property.

Chances are there might not be another lawsuit involving open source licensing and application programming interfaces for a long while. They're just too darn difficult to argue, explain and win.

Juries of regular people, by and large, do not understand the software development process and its licensing business, nor should they be expected to do so. They are peers to IT professionals as persons, but not as professionals. A case the nature of Oracle v. Google, which has been in the news for two months and has the potential to be a landmark case, would have been better served by a qualified jury that knows this topic.

But because that would open a can of worms in the U.S. court system that nobody even wants to consider, the courts proceed in the conventional manner.

Google Wins Second Round
Oracle learned firsthand, and the hard way, that it isn't such a simple proposition to nail a forker of open source software to the legal cross. In the closely watched Oracle v. Google trial on May 23, Google and the open source community logged into the record a solid legal victory when a 12-person jury unanimously found Google not guilty of infringing on two of Oracle's Java patents.

As my colleague Darryl K. Taft reported here in eWEEK, the jury found that Google did not infringe on the two Java patents that Oracle had asserted in the case—U.S. Patent No. RE38,104 and U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520.

The judge in the case, William Alsup, has dismissed the jury, but he still must decide on leftover issues from the copyright phase of the trial. Alsup said he would come to that determination within a week.

Those leftover issues involve Google's so-called "fair use" of the Java APIs. And they are very important. Turns out the jury of regular people couldn't agree as to whether Google overstepped its bounds in forking Java to help build its popular Android mobile device operating system a few years ago.

The truth, however, is this: Java has been forked hundreds, perhaps thousands of times in its 17-year history, by many developers. But those developers haven't been sued by a huge company with many lawyers like Oracle, either.

Forking Forgoes "Pure Java"
When Java gets changed for a specific purpose, it then forgoes the label "Pure Java" and is disowned by Oracle's Java franchise. No support, no updates, no nothing -- you're on your own. But it's still Java, it delivers code across the Internet, and it gets the job done most of the time.

That was the whole idea back in the early '90s, when Dr. James Gosling and his Sun Microsystems band of developers created the now-ubiquitous programming language. Gosling his gang designed Java as a key link to connect what he called "Big Hunk" servers to desktops, to cars, to mobile devices, to TVs -- to basically anything.

When Sun released Java to the open source community in 2006, it was not only a gift to the world, but it also was a nod to the fact that Java had already been copied and forked thousands of times in 11 years.

Java is so everywhere in the Internet, moving code from place to place and activating applications, that it has became an integral part of the infrastructure background, like XML or TCP/IP. It's just there, it works, and it keeps on working 24/7.

Java Taken for Granted?
Java is easy to take for granted, and Oracle knows it. It is simply trying to protect what it owns; it's just very difficult to prove negligence against a competitor when it comes to open source and APIs.

Java's APIs are the central issue in this trial. APIs are a combination of several components: software, instructions, best practices and techniques. And techniques are not copyrightable, so that begs the question: Are APIs in their entirely copyrightable?

That was the core of Oracle's case against Google. The jurors couldn't agree. So this now goes to The Decider: Judge Alsup.

Google and Oracle have both won parts of this case, but it isn't over until the judge sings. Even then, appeals may come into the picture. It's an important case.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Engine Yard is Teaming with Red Hat on JRuby

Charles Nutter and Tom Enebo will continue their work on JRuby at Red Hat.

Charles Nutter and Tom Enebo, key developers behind the JRuby project, are joining Red Hat. The news was announced at JRubyConf 2012 this morning and later confirmed by Nutter on Twitter.

JRuby is an open source implementation of the Ruby programming language that targets the Java virtual machine (JVM). It allows the popular Ruby on Rails framework to be used in a Java environment and interoperate with Java code. JRuby offers better performance than the standard C-based Ruby reference implementation in some cases.

Nutter and Enebo were hired by Sun in 2006 to work on JRuby full-time. When Oracle’s acquisition of Sun created uncertainty about the future of JRuby in 2009, they left the company and went to work for Ruby hosting provider Engine Yard. The two remained with Engine Yard until now. Alongside the revelation that Nutter and Enebo are joining Red Hat, Engine Yard announced that it has partnered with the Linux vendor and will continue to support the advancement of JRuby.

Red Hat jumped into the Java middleware market with its 2006 acquisition of JBoss. The company has become a major Java stakeholder and has made considerable investments in Java technology. This makes Red Hat a good fit for employing the leading JRuby contributors. The Linux distributor has a longstanding commitment to open development and will likely be a good steward for the project.

An interesting bit of language stuck out in the announcement. In addition to JRuby, the two developers will also be working on "JVM languages" at Red Hat. I couldn’t help but wonder if there is a connection to Red Hat’s intriguing Ceylon project, an effort by Hibernate creator Gavin King to create a new language that will run the Java virtual machine. Red Hat certainly seems to be interested in expanding the JVM as a platform.

Open Source Won the Mobile Platform Wars

At the Open Source Business Conference 2012, the president of mobile data synchronization software company Funambol explained how open-source software, such as Google Android, came to dominate the mobile space.

Open source has become the dominant choice for mobile device operating systems because it’s the best way to bring innovation to this growing market and because wide community support delivers the highest quality software, said the president of Funambol, an open-source mobile software company.

“On mobile, we won. There’s just no other way to put it,” said Fabrizio Capobianco, president and co-founder of Funambol at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) 2012 here. Funambol is a provider of open-source software to sync data from a variety of end-point devices running any number of operating systems.

The conference covered open-source developments in some of the fastest-growing markets in IT, namely big data, cloud computing and mobile. On May 21, Microsoft and SUSE jointly announced at the conference a product that integrates SUSE Manager and Microsoft’s System Center to enable concurrent management of Linux and Windows server environments.

Increasingly, enterprises are investing in mobile technology because workers are demanding it so that they can stay connected with colleagues, customers and partners wherever they are.

Capobianco traced the history of open-source mobile technology over the last decade and cited recently released Gartner research that shows the Google Android OS captured 56.1 percent of the global smartphone market in the first quarter of 2012, up from 36.4 percent in the first quarter of 2011. It was followed by Apple’s proprietary iOS platform with a 23 percent share, the open-source Symbian OS from Nokia at 8.6 percent and the proprietary BlackBerry OS from Research In Motion at 6.9 percent.

Android was the product of a startup in 2003 that was acquired by Google in 2005. Google released Android as open source in 2007, and the first Android-based smartphones went on sale in 2008.

“The reason why open source wins is the quality,” Capobianco said. “Open source will apply to mobile better than in any market we have ever seen because mobile is complex and complexity is where open source thrives.”

The complexity stems in part from the wide variation in the design and capabilities of mobile devices, particularly smartphones and tablets, as well as the differences in the capabilities of carrier networks worldwide, he said.

The belief in the quality of open source was revealed in a survey of vendors and nonvendors that was released by OSBC at the conference. It listed quality as one of the top three advantages of using open source, along with lower costs and freedom from vendor lock-in with a proprietary product. It used to be that quality was cited as a risk factor in arguments against going open source.

“Obviously, we’ve seen the maturity of projects, but also people are much more trusting of the open-source development model and that it can produce good code because they’ve seen that it produces good code,” Matt Aslett, a research manager in the data management and data analytics space at 451 Research Group, said in an interview at the OSBC.

Capobianco cited other examples of mobile operating systems that started out as proprietary but converted to open source. Nokia released its Symbian operating system as open source in 2008, and Hewlett-Packard open-sourced in 2011 the webOS mobile platform that it acquired with its buyout of Palm a year earlier. Those two OSes didn’t fare too well, however, as Nokia announced in 2011 that it was abandoning Symbian in favor of using Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS in its products going forward. Then HP withdrew from the smartphone and tablet markets altogether that same year, though it will still develop the operating system for use in other devices.

Also important to open-source mobile development was the decision by Sun Microsystems in 2006 to open source its Java programming language, opening the door for developers to create mobile applications using a variation of Java called Java ME (for Mobile Edition).

To be sure, Capobianco had to give a tip of the hat to Apple, which released the iPhone in 2007. While iOS is proprietary, iPhone stimulated the mobile application industry in a way previous mobile platforms had not. In retrospect, everything in mobile history before June 29, 2007, when the iPhone first went on sale, was “pre-iPhone” and everything since is “post-iPhone,” he said.

At the time, however, Apple faced criticism from the Free Software Foundation for the closed and restricted design of the iPhone.

While wildly popular with customers and immensely profitable for Apple, iOS penetration still pales in contrast to the overall market share of Android on mobile devices, Capobianco noted.

Monday, May 21, 2012

EU: Programming languages can't be copyrighted

Europe's top court has ruled that the functionality of a computer program and the programming language it is written in cannot be protected by copyright.

The European Court of Justice made the decision in relation to a case that SAS Institute, a maker of statistical programs, brought against World Programming Ltd. (WPL), which develops and sells an interpreter for the SAS language.

Although WPL used and studied SAS's programs to understand their functionality, the court said, there was "nothing to suggest that WPL had access to or copied [SAS] source code." The court ruled that "the purchaser of a license for a program is entitled, as a rule, to observe, study or test its functioning so as to determine the ideas and principles which underlie that program."

If a function of a computer program could be specifically protected, that would amount to making it possible to monopolize ideas -- to the detriment of technological progress, the court said. This echoed the opinion given in November by Yves Bot, the court's advocate general.

The ruling effectively leaves the door open for companies to reverse-engineer the software of others -- in many cases without fear of infringing on copyrights.

VMware prepares Cloud for apps

VMware has announced VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 that provides core application services needed to build, run and manage Java Spring applications both locally and in the cloud.

VMware, has announced VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 with new capabilities that automate the deployment and management of complex applications on VMware cloud infrastructure and the introduction of an in-memory distributed SQL database, VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 will provide the core application services required to build, run and manage Java Spring applications whether on-premise or in the cloud.

“The cloud era is driving a transformation in applications. Today, most are built with open source development frameworks, deployed on lightweight application containers, run on virtual infrastructure and are data intensive,” said Chris Norton, regional director southern Africa at VMware. “This is driving a real transition in the type of technologies our customers are using to build, run and manage these new applications. Since introducing the vFabric Suite a year ago we have seen remarkable adoption amongst our customers, helping our Cloud Application Platform business to nearly double in year over year growth in 2011.”

The VMware vFabric Suite seeks to address the complexity and cost of traditional Java platforms, providing a simple, lightweight development and runtime optimised for VMware cloud infrastructure.  By combining the market-leading Spring development framework, the latest generation of vFabric application services and a per-VM licensing model, vFabric Suite 5.1 will provide the core application platform for building, deploying and running modern applications.

“Delivering excellent customer service is a hallmark of Southwest, so it's important to us that our customers have a seamless shopping, booking, and travel experience. We have a number of strategic initiatives underway at Southwest Airlines, and a core component in supporting these critical operations is ensuring an agile, flexible delivery of technology to all parts of the company,” said Bob Young, Chief Technology Officer, Southwest Airlines. “By partnering with VMware, for example, we were able to streamline the way we deliver and deploy applications across platforms, without compromising our service-centred approach.”

Optimised for Spring, Optimised for VMware vSphere
The VMware vFabric Suite provides a complete set of runtime services to build, run and manage modern applications in distributed, cloud environments.

The new capabilities in vFabric Suite 5.1 will allow customers to:

1. Automate application deployment for operational efficiency – To drive greater efficiency and better performance, vFabric Suite will include vFabric Application Director and vFabric Application Performance Manager. vFabric Application Director automates the deployment of applications through easy-to-use blueprints with standardised templates, component libraries andworkflows. vFabric Application Performance Manager provides comprehensive monitoring of end-user transactions, Java code, middleware servers, and VMware vSphere hosts, enabling customers to proactively manage application performance, find and fix problems quickly, and meet SLAs.

2. Maximise data scalability – Many of today’s mobile and web-oriented applications must support highly variable access patterns, putting pressure on any database-only approach to data management. To support this evolution, in-memory databases have emerged as a standard component of the core technology stack developers use today.  VMware vFabric SQLFire is an in-memory distributed SQL database built on the strength of vFabric GemFire, which is used by many of the most demanding applications in the world. vFabric SQLFire delivers dynamic scalability and high performance for modern, data-intensive applications all accessible through a familiar SQL interface.

3. By pooling memory, CPU and network resources across a cluster of machines, vFabric SQLFire eliminates the main performance bottleneck in traditional databases – disk access.  vFabric SQLFire can manage data across geographies, accelerating application performance, minimising latency and increasing reliability. vFabric SQLFire Professional will be included in the vFabric Suite 5.1.

4. Reduce database total cost of ownership – To reduce database costs and increase agility vFabric Suite 5.1 will include vFabric Postgres, a VMware-optimised relational SQL database. vFabric Postgres is fully compatible with open source PostgreSQL, enabling customers to leverage existing standard PostgreSQL tools. vFabric Postgres comes in a virtual appliance and has virtualisation optimisations such as elastic database memory to share database memory pools and smart configuration to reduce tuning time after resizing virtual machines.

5. Provide enterprise support for popular open source technologies – The VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 will include support for the open source runtime components most frequently used in production deployments of Spring applications, including Apache Tomcat, Apache HTTP Server and RabbitMQ messaging. This greatly simplifies the adoption path of vFabric technologies for those organisations using these open source components today.

"From the increasing number of programming languages used to the heterogeneous nature of today's hybrid infrastructures, application development is changing quickly," said Stephen O'Grady, principal analyst with RedMonk. "Faced with such diversity, enterprises are increasingly turning to lightweight application containers to ease the pains of deployment."

vFabric Suite 5.1 will also be uniquely packaged and licensed to allow enterprises to purchase application infrastructure software based on virtual machines, rather than physical hardware, and to pay only for the average number of licenses in use. This model eliminates the decades-old need for organisations to purchase excess software in anticipation of peak loads, incurring significant costs and allowing software licenses to sit dormant outside of peak periods.

Pricing and Availability
VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 is expected to be available in Q2 2012.  It will be licensed per VM with prices starting at $1,500 per VM.

VMware vFabric SQLFire is currently available, and is licensed per VM with prices starting at $2,500 per VM, when purchased as part of VMware vFabric Suite Advanced.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Google concentrate on Android development and sales

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Google is going to radically shift how it works with its partners in developing and selling Android.

For all its popularity, Android programming, sales, and marketing has been… chaotic. Every hardware vendor makes its own Android mix, which more often than not is based on an older version, and each company sales and markets their smartphones and tablets independently of each other. That may be changing now. According to a Wall Street Journal report, “Google is shifting its strategy for its Android mobile operating system, in a bid to create a united front with smartphone and tablet makers to take on rivals like Apple and prevent wireless carriers from controlling the devices.”

Wall Street Journal reporter, Amir Efrati reports that “Google plans to give multiple mobile-device makers early access to new releases of Android and to sell those devices directly to consumers, said people familiar with the matter.” In the past, Google would pick a single vendor to introduce major Android updates in lead devices, and then all the other vendors would follow. These devices were then, as now, sold to end-users through wireless carriers or retail outlets.

By the holiday season though, there were be as many as five manufacturers creating a portfolio of “Nexus” lead devices that include smartphones and tablets. While the old sales channels will still be there, Google will sell the gadgets directly to consumers in the U.S., Europe and Asia via its website. These will run on be running Google’s next version of Android, Jelly Bean.

Google did not respond to a request for comments.

So who might these companies be? We don’t know. At a guess, Motorola has to be in there. ASUS, HTC, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson would also seem like natural partners.

This news comes ahead of final approval for Google’s acquisition of Motorola. Many people are speculating that Google is trying to centralize Android programming, sales, and marketing to reassure its partners that Google is going to use Motorola devices to compete with them.

Apple, Android’s only real rival, on the other hand, offers a single, unified software stack. Users who buy an iPad or iPhone don’t have to worry about it they’ll get the newest update. Until Apple stops supporting their particular device, which Apple does do, they’ll know that they’ll get the latest and greatest version. By contrast, Android’s newest shipping version, Ice Cream Sandwich, after first shipping seven months ago, is still on only 5% of Android devices.

Apple is also fighting with Google’s Android partners in courtrooms around the world on various intellectual property (IP) issues. A united Android front could potentially, if nothing else, cut down on Google’s partners’ legal bills.

Put it all together and there are many reasons why a more united Android effort would make sense both for Google and its partners. So, while we don’t for certain that is what Google will really be doing, this centralized development, marketing, and sales plan does make sense. If Google is to get this off the ground by the 2012 holiday season, we’ll soon see if this indeed what Google has been working on.

Latest Arduino Development Boards Using Atmel AVR and ARM Processor-Based MCUs showcases by Atmel

Maker Faire - Atmel Corporation, a leader in microcontroller (MCU) and touch solutions, today announced the company will be demonstrating Arduino's latest development boards based on Atmel AVR® UC3, megaAVR®  and SAM3X8 ARM® processor-based MCUs in booth #82 at the San Mateo Maker Faire May 19-20.

The three easy-to-use development boards that enable design engineers to quickly get their project or design started within the Arduino ecosystem include:
1. Arduino Due. Based on an Atmel ARM Cortex™-M3 processor-based MCU, also known as the Atmel SAM3 MCU, the Due board is ideal for home automation projects and can run up to 96MHz.
2. Arduino WiFi Shield. Built for WiFi applications, the Arduino WiFi shield is powered by Atmel's AVR UC3 MCU and a H&D wireless module, and provides developers a powerful WiFi interface.
3. Arduino Leonardo. Based on the Atmel megaAVR® ATmega32U4, the Arduino Leonardo is a low-cost Arduino board. It has the same shape and connectors as the UNO but it has a simpler circuit. On the software side it has a USB driver able to simulate a mouse, a keyboard, and a serial port.

There will also be four complete Arduino-based robot programming workstations at the Atmel booth to allow attendees the opportunity to program a simple robot vehicle. Attendees can learn basic robot programming skills, test basic skills in motor control, line tracking and navigation on a small robot course set up in the Atmel booth.

"The great collaboration between Arduino and Atmel has enabled us to introduce these new platforms to the community," said Massimo Banzi, founder of the Arduino Community. "Our collaboration enables the open-source community to access the most cost-effective development boards for projects across numerous market segments and applications. We are thrilled Atmel is showcasing our latest development boards at the Maker Faire, and continues to be such a strong advocate for our mission."

"Atmel is committed to Arduino and its open-source community," said Alf Egil-Bogen, chief marketing officer, Atmel Corporation. "Arduino platforms with Atmel AVR microcontrollers have opened the world of MCU design to designers of all ages, giving them an easy-to-use and affordable path to get their projects started quickly. Arduino is a trusted community that promotes creative and innovative thinking for anyone that wants to build a project based on a simple platform."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Waterloo earns Top 10 spot at global coding contest

Traditional Canadian favourite University of Waterloo scores ninth place overall at ICPC at the University of Warsaw.

The University of Waterloo once again had the best Canadian showing at the Association of Computing Machinery's (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) finishing in ninth place overall at the University of Warsaw today.

The “Battle of the Brains” contest is sponsored by IBM Corp. and pits the best student computer programmers in the world against each other in a five-hour marathon coding competition. This year, 112 teams of three students each competed to solve a slate of 12 coding problems using C++ and Java languages. The University of Waterloo will take home a bronze medal for its Top 10 showing.

There was a dramatic ending as the University of Warsaw had a shot to win the contest after submitting a solution with just 30 seconds left on the clock. But in the end, the home team had to settle for second place as the solution was wrong. St. Petersburg University of IT, Mechanics & Optics from Russia won the 2012 World Championship by solving nine problems.

Three other Canadian teams competed in the contest. The University of Toronto placed 76th with three problems solved, University of Alberta got 42nd spot with four solutions, and the University of British Columbia came 34th with five problems completed.

“When people come to play together competitively, when they challenge each other, they have an amazing ability to achieve,” says Bill Poucer, the executive director of ACM ICPC.

The ICPC World Finals are the culmination of a months-long process involving regional competitions in 85 countries around the globe, attracting more than 25,000 student contestants. The contest serves as a recruiting tool for IBM Corp., who makes a point of extending job offers to at least the medal winners.

The best North American school to finish was Harvard University, in seventh spot. Waterloo won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Finals, finishing in 12th place there.

Active MQ is now use by CERN

A research agency turned to an open source solution when it needed to process 190 million messages a day.

Felix Ehm, a member of CERN's beams control group, has always had a curious and scientific bent.

"What I did when I was a small kid and I wanted to know what was inside something, was just smash it with a hammer," Ehm, a member of the beams control group at the European nurclear research agency called CERN, told the audience at the closing address of the CamelOne open source conference in Boston on Wednesday.

On a vast scale, that's broadly what CERN's Large Hadron Collider does - smashing particles together at a whisker short of the speed of light in order to minutely document the results. Running the supercooled magnets and four gigantic detection arrays -- each of which weighs in at tens of thousands of tons - in place around the nearly 17-mile-long underground tunnel is, unsurprisingly, a fiendishly complex task.

According to Ehm, CERN began using open source message broker ActiveMQ as a way to transport data between the 85,000 machines and more than 2 million total endpoints at the facility in 2005.

While the team was initially looking only for a free Java messaging system, Ehm said that the open-source nature of ActiveMQ has provided unlooked-for advantages. Being able to tinker with source code for modification and repair, by itself, has already proved highly useful.

Additionally, the public-spirited nature of CERN dovetails well with that of open source.

"Any kind of outcome of CERN is public knowledge. There are no secrets at CERN, everything is public. Anything we develop is for humankind, basically," he said.

The system has to handle a wide variety of different use cases, according to Ehm. One such application runs a critical safety measure used to dissipate the enormous amounts of energy produced by the LHC's particle beams - which could otherwise "easily destroy the facility," he noted. The 20 or 30 clients in this system each must send 2MB per second in order to function properly.

While that 60MB per second would ordinarily tax the network to its limits, Ehm said that the team was able to share the load between two machines for better reliability.

Another application -- this one a log monitor designed to collect a huge number of updates quickly - handles 4,500 small messages per second, while routing them to a wide array of endpoints.

In total, Ehm told the audience, CERN's open-source messaging framework processes 190 million messages per day, while maintaining a 99.98 per cent uptime figure in 2011.

The importance of that high uptime percentage cannot be overemphasized, according to Ehm.

"If there is no [Java messaging system] there is no particle physics," he said. Given that the JMS controls a magnetic array so powerful that it takes a month to warm up and another to power down, the consequences of downtime can be severe.

Ehm said that his team will continue to update the middleware in place on its systems, noting that a major change - replacing CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) with a new product, while keeping JMS where it is -- is scheduled for the end of the year.