Tag Archives: linux

Canonical partners with global systems integrators

Canonical, publisher of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, is pursuing the 12 largest global systems integrators as it positions itself as an alternative to VMware and Red Hat.

The London-based company this week launched a global integrator program, which spans Canonical’s open source offerings for data centers, multi-cloud environments, edge computing and IoT. The Canonical partner program provides pricing discounts through deal registration, as well as aggregated volume discounts across partners’ combined customer bases. Other features include an updated portal and dedicated account management, sales, engineering and marketing support resources.

Regis Paquette, vice president of alliances at Canonical, estimates a dozen companies based in the U.S., Europe and India represent two-thirds of the global SI market. Canonical has “selected those 12 as the starting line” for its integrator initiative. “We are really taking a targeted approach,” he said.

Canonical in recent years has focused its partner efforts on building closer relations with hardware vendors such as Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and IBM, while also revamping its value-added-reseller strategy. Integrators, however, began to approach Canonical as their customers sought open source alternatives to VMware, Paquette explained. In addition, two large integrators have tapped Canonical’s open source technology to build digital transformation platforms.

Those experiences prompted Canonical to launch an integrator outreach effort and develop a program specialized for that partner segment, Paquette noted. As the company builds out its program, cost efficiency is one of its selling points, he said. Integrators can cut their software costs 30% to 50% when they use Canonical’s offerings instead of VMware, even when they are rearchitecting an entire platform with opens source, Paquette said.

Regis Paquette, vice president of alliances at CanonicalRegis Paquette

“The more the scope leans toward an Ubuntu-only platform, the more you get to the 50% mark,” he said.

In addition, Canonical’s status as an independent open source provider has “put us on the map,” according to Paquette. He noted that Red Hat is owned by IBM, which operates a multibillion-dollar Global Technology Services business.

HP replaces Partner First program with HP Amplify

HP Inc. revealed plans to replace its partner program, Partner First, with a brand-new global program.

The new program, HP Amplify, aims to formalize HP’s increasing focus on data  and business outcome-based customer strategies. The company said HP Amplify consolidates its partner products, tools and training into one program and simplifies partner engagement by having two tracks, Synergy and Power. In a press document, HP described Synergy as the “foundational track” for the program with a minimum threshold sales requirement, while the Power track offers additional benefits rewards for partners that “demonstrate deeper collaboration with HP.”

HP said the Amplify program will feature innovative ways of measuring partner performance. In addition to sales revenue, partners will be rewarded for developing capabilities in areas such as digital skills, service delivery, e-commerce/omnichannel experiences and secure data collaboration.

HP Amplify is slated to go in effect on Nov. 1, 2020, for commercial partners. Retail partners will transition to the program in the second half of 2021, HP said.

Barracuda aims to simplify SD-WAN for MSPs

Barracuda, a security company based in Campbell, Calif., said its newly unveiled SD-WAN service, built natively on Microsoft Azure, lets MSPs simplify secure connectivity deployments.

Klaus Gheri, vice president of network security and general manager at Barracuda’s Network Security Business, said the new offering, Barracuda CloudGen WAN, offers MSPs “reduced complexity.” The service provides zero-touch deployment, default configurations and automated WAN management tasks, according to the company.

Gheri said the simplification and ease-of-use features “make it easier for MSPs partners to reduce their labor cost.”

MSPs also have an opportunity to wrap their own services around the SD-WAN offering, while providing ongoing management and maintenance. The ability to create a secure access service edge offering in the public cloud is another partner opportunity, according to Barracuda.

Service providers can expect Barracuda CloudGen WAN updates in 2020. Additional security features for on-premises connectivity are on tap for September, while remote access connectivity will be the focus of a November update.

MSP software news

RapidFire Tools, a Kaseya company, launched its Network Detective Microsoft Cloud Assessment Module, which covers cloud offerings such as Microsoft Office 365 and Azure. The module offers client risk and management plan reports and separate assessment reports for Microsoft 365 applications such as SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams and Outlook Mail, according to the company.

Datto Inc., meanwhile, said the latest version of Datto SaaS Protection, a SaaS backup offering, is now available. Product updates include streamlined client onboarding, the ability to select different cloud retention periods and a new management portal.

NinjaRMM introduced a partner program for reselling its remote monitoring and management product. The company said partners can participate in two tiers, Red Belt and Black Belt, with access marketing and sales support, account protection and other benefits. Partners that sign up in the first year will be automatically enrolled in the highest tier, Black Belt, according to the company.

Other news

  • Wipro Ltd., an $8 billion consulting and business process services company, cited the “three Cs” as key the current demand environment: cloud, collaboration and cyber. Speaking during the company’s quarterly analyst call, Wipro CFO Jatin Dalal said the company is also seeing an uptick in offerings such as virtual desktop infrastructure and SD-WAN, which has become a partner opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wipro reported gross revenue of $2 billion for the quarter ended June 30, a 1.3% year-over-year increase. Net income edged up .1% to $316.5 million.
  • Dell Technologies’ president of global channel, embedded and edge solutions, Joyce Mullen, announced she is exiting the company on Aug. 14. Dell has not yet named Mullen’s successor.
  • VMware rolled out new capabilities for VMware Cloud on AWS. Updates include the addition of the vendor’s Cloud Director service to VMware Cloud on AWS. The service lets partners divide their VMware Cloud on AWS software-defined data center environments into multi-tenanted resources pools, VMware said.
  • 1901 Group, an IT services and solutions provider based in Reston, Va., said it is collaborating with Red Hat to expand FedRAMP authorized automation and migration capabilities to U.S. government agencies. FedRAMP, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, sets cloud security standards for federal government agencies. As a Red Hat Gold and Cloud Services partner, 1901 Group said it has selected Red Hat OpenShift as the key component of a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline “used to automate the migration of mission-critical legacy applications to the cloud.”
  • In other FedRAMP partnering news, NeoSystems, an MSP and systems integrator based in Tysons Corner, Va., said it will integrate its FedRAMP Ready FISMA Moderate authorized hosting platform with TIP Technologies’ quality management and shop floor execution software offerings. In addition, NeoSystems will become a reseller of TIP Technologies’ quality management software.
  • Insight Enterprises, an integrator based in Tempe, Ariz., and Intel are collaborating on a contest that will award IT upgrades to three SMBs. The winners of the Connected Workplace Makeover Contest will each receive $50,000 worth of Intel-based technology upgrades and services. The contest is oriented toward resource-strapped organizations that have “struggled to adapt IT systems and processes” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Entries will be accepted through Sept. 30 with the winners unveiled in November.
  • InterVision, an IT service provider based in Santa Clara, Calif., and St. Louis, said it has achieved AWS End User Computing Competency.
  • World Wide Technology, a technology solution provider based in St. Louis, joined Nectar Services Corp.’s partner program as a Gold Partner. Nectar Services is a unified communications experience management technology company.
  • Data and information management vendor Commvault revamped its Partner Advantage program. The channel initiative offers rebates for partners’ wins, growth and performance; greater flexibility across program tiers; deal registration benefits; and new partner seller incentives.
  • Alation Inc., an enterprise data intelligence company based in Redwood City, Calif., launched a partner ecosystem initiative. The company’s Alation Partner Network consists of systems integrators resellers, and technology partners.
  • UJET Inc., a cloud contact center solutions provider based in San Francisco, introduced a channel partner program and disclosed an agreement with PeakView, a contact-center-as-a-service company.
  • Pax8, a Denver-based cloud distributor, entered a partnership with Cymulate, a SaaS-based breach and attack simulation platform.
  • D&H Distributing, a distributor based in Harrisburg, Pa., kicked off an e-sports certification program, collaborating with the High School Esports League, the Varsity Esports Foundation, the Esports Education Network and the Middle School Esports League. The program is geared to partners focusing on the K-12 market.
  • Chicago-based technology distributor Telecom Brokerage Inc. (TBI) added TetraVX’s cloud-based collaboration technologies to its portfolio of offerings. TBI said its partners will also have access to services from TetraVX’s parent company, Netrix.
  • Ensono, a hybrid IT services provider based in Downers Grove, Ill., launched a Mainframe Modernization service offering. The offering aims to help organizations modernize legacy applications to reduce complexity in hybrid IT environments, the company said.
  • Channel partners stand to gain from Blancco Technology Group’s move to make its Drive Eraser offering available in the AWS Marketplace, according to the data erasure and mobile device diagnostics vendor. A Blancco spokesperson said partners will benefit from consolidated billing and easier procurement through their AWS accounts. The spokesperson also cited a Consulting Partner Private Offer module that promotes channel engagement and allows for the negotiation of private pricing, end-user license terms, and payment schedules before purchasing or subscribing to Blancco’s software. 
  • Lemongrass Consulting, an MSP based in Atlanta, has appointed David Northington, former CEO of cloud consultancy Cloud Sherpas, to its board of directors. Lemongrass focuses on SAP enterprise applications running on AWS. Accenture acquired Cloud Sherpas in 2015.
  • Tech Data, a distributor based in Clearwater, Fla., appointed John O’Shea as president of the Americas. O’Shea was previously head of the company’s global lifecycle management business unit.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Additional reporting by Spencer Smith.

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SUSE buys Rancher Labs for Kubernetes expertise

Enterprise Linux provider SUSE plans to acquire Rancher Labs in a bid to gain credibility within the Kubernetes container management market.

Rancher Labs, based in Cupertino, Calif., helps enterprise customers manage their Kubernetes environments at scale. Terms of the pending deal were not disclosed.

Rancher’s open source products include Kubernetes distributions, multi-cloud management software and operating systems and storage for containerized workloads.

Arun ChandrasekaranArun Chandrasekaran

“The Rancher acquisition allows SUSE to support containerized workloads more effectively across on-premises, public cloud and edge environments based on OSS,” said Arun Chandrasekaran, a Gartner analyst. “It also provides SUSE a pathway to better engage with platform engineering teams, who are often at the forefront of DevOps efforts.”

Sheng LiangSheng Liang

Rancher CEO Sheng Liang will assume the role of president of engineering innovation at SUSE. “I’m going to take over all of those engineers and just manage them all as one big team,” Liang said in an interview. As the deal has not closed, Rancher hasn’t had a chance to plan how to deal with product engineering, but the company’s sales and marketing team will join SUSE’s, he added.

With more enterprises moving more workloads to the cloud via containers, the importance of Kubernetes continues to grow. Indeed, adoption of cloud-native applications and infrastructure will increase use of container management to more than 75% of large enterprises in mature economies by 2024 — up from less than 35% in 2020, according to Gartner.

The container management software market is very competitive, particularly given the recent hybrid and multi-cloud efforts of hyperscale providers — such as Google’s Anthos platform — as well as the broader consolidation among software vendors.

“Being part of a larger OSS entity can hopefully provide Rancher better go-to-market capabilities and field presence to compete with these larger providers, Chandrasekaran said.

Rancher has always had a grassroots approach to gaining customers, according to Liang.

“SUSE is at a whole different level,” he said. “They’re a completely proven brand with a loyal and growing customer base. … We’re also very interested in their partner ecosystem.”

SUSE hones its Kubernetes chops with Rancher

For SUSE, buying Rancher gives the company stronger footing in the Kubernetes market.

“Of all the major Linux vendors who moved to the cloud, SUSE didn’t have a proper Kubernetes strategy,” said Krishnan Subramanian, an analyst at Rishidot Research in Redmond, Wash. “This fills that gap and gives them legitimacy.”

Of all the major Linux vendors who moved to the cloud, SUSE didn’t have a proper Kubernetes strategy.
Krishnan SubramanianAnalyst, Rishidot Research

SUSE is following the proven success path of Red Hat, a fellow Linux vendor and competitor, some observers said. It is nearly a must for Linux vendors to have a Kubernetes platform, and SUSE gets that from Rancher.

“SUSE now has a shot at managing hybrid enterprise workloads with Rancher across on-premises SUSE environments, as well as across the leading cloud vendor platforms,” said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research. “That is what CXOs [chief experience officers] want for their next-generation applications, the workload portability across deployment platforms.”

Although, Linux and Kubernetes have become an expected pair, the SUSE move caught some observers by surprise.

“As the Kubernetes market consolidated, there was some pressure on Rancher to find some exit, but I thought the recent funding round gave them enough time to go big,” Subramanian said. In March, Rancher Labs raised $40 million in a series D round of funding led by Telstra Ventures. That brought the company’s funding total to $95 million.

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Linux kernel utility could solve Kubernetes networking woes

As production Kubernetes clusters grow, a standard Linux kernel utility that’s been reinvented for the cloud era may offer a fix for container networking scalability challenges.

The utility, extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF), traces its origins back to a paper published by computer scientists in 1992. It’s a widely adopted tool that uses a mini-VM inside the Linux kernel to perform network routing functions. Over the last four years, as Kubernetes became popular, open source projects such as Cilium began to use eBPF data to route and filter Kubernetes network traffic without requiring Linux kernel changes. 

In the last two years, demand for such tools rose among enterprises as their Kubernetes production environments grew, and they encountered new kinds of thorny bottlenecks and difficult tradeoffs between complexity and efficiency.

IT monitoring vendor Datadog saw eBPF-based tooling as the answer to its Kubernetes scaling issues after a series of experiments with other approaches.

“Right now, there are a lot more people running Kubernetes at smaller scale,” said Ara Pulido, a developer relations specialist at Datadog, in an online presentation last month. “When you start running Kubernetes at bigger scale, you run into issues that just a handful of people have found before, or maybe you are the first one.”

As Datadog’s environment expanded to dozens of Kubernetes clusters and hundreds of nodes, it quickly outgrew the default Kubernetes networking architecture, Pulido said.

Among the scalability issues Datadog encountered was the way the native Kubernetes load balancer component called kube-proxy handles service networking data. In microservices environments, application services comprised of Kubernetes Pods communicate through load balancers; by default, kube-proxy performs this role and is deployed to every Kubernetes cluster node. Kube-proxy then monitors the Kubernetes API for any changes. When changes are made, by default, kube-proxy updates Iptables to keep track of service routing information.

“One of the issues is that with every change, you have to resync the whole table, and as you scale the number of pods and services, that’s going to have a cost,” Pulido added.

Since Kubernetes 1.11, kube-proxy can also use the Linux IP Virtual Server instead of Iptables, which doesn’t require a full resync when changes are made to the cluster, among other improvements. However, this required Datadog engineers to become upstream contributors to IPVS to ensure it worked well in their environment, Pulido said.

As we moved to Cilium in our newer clusters, we realized we could also remove kube-proxy, as Cilium already implements a replacement.
Ara PulidoDeveloper relations, Datadog

Datadog then began to explore eBPF tools from Cilium for granular container security features and found it could serve as wholesale replacement for kube-proxy.

Cilium provides identity-based connections via Kubernetes labels, rather than connections based on IP addresses, which may not be fine-grained enough to accommodate individual workload permissions in security-sensitive environments, Pulido said in an interview following her presentation. “As we moved to Cilium in our newer clusters, we realized we could also remove kube-proxy, as Cilium already implements a replacement.”

Cilium updates eBPF for Kubernetes networking

Cilium, launched four years ago, and its commercial backer, Isovalent, have developed Kubernetes networking and security tools based on eBPF, as have other vendors such as Weaveworks, whose Weave Scope network monitoring tool uses eBPF data  to perform granular tracking of Kubernetes TCP connections. Another company, Kinvolk, created the cgnet open source utility to collect detailed pod and node statistics via eBPF and export them to Prometheus.

Cilium Kubernetes networking architecture
Cilium eBPF-based tools replace native Kubernetes networking functions.

Cilium’s eBPF-based tools replace Kubernetes networking elements including kube-proxy to provide network and load balancing services and to secure connections within them. Users say the Cilium tools perform better than kube-proxy, especially the IPtables version, and offer a more straightforward approach to Kubernetes service network routing than overlay tools such as Flannel.

“The IPtables approach [with kube-proxy] was always kind of kludgy,” said Dale Ragan, principal software design engineer at SAP’s Concur Technologies Inc., an expense management SaaS provider based in Bellevue, Wash.

Ragan also encountered some known issues between Flannel and Kubernetes NodePort connections as of late 2018, which he discovered that Cilium could potentially avoid. Concur has since swapped out Flannel Container Network Interface (CNI) plugins for Cilium in its production clusters, and is also testing Isovalent’s proprietary SecOps add-ons, such as intrusion detection and forensic incident investigation.

“The other [appeal of eBPF] was from a security perspective, that we could apply policies both cluster-wide and to individual services,” Ragan said.

eBPF vs service mesh

Cilium contributors also contribute to Envoy, the sidecar proxy used with Istio and other service meshes, and eBPF isn’t a complete replacement for service mesh features such as advanced layer 7 application routing. Cilium can be used with a service mesh to accelerate its performance, said Isovalent’s CEO, Dan Wendlandt.

“CNIs are at a lower layer of Kubernetes networking — service mesh still depends on that core networking and security layer within Kubernetes,” Wendlandt said. “Cilium is a good networking foundation for service mesh that can get data in and out of any service mesh proxy efficiently.”

However, at lower layers of the network stack, there’s significant overlap between the two technologies, and Concur’s engineers will consider whether eBPF might support multi-cluster connectivity and mutual TLS authentication more simply than a service mesh.

“We want to get the networking layer correct, and from there add service mesh,” Ragan said. “From a TLS perspective, it could be very transparent for the user, where Cilium is inspecting traffic at the system level — there are all kinds of opportunities around intrusion detection without a lot of overhead and work for [IT ops] teams to do to allow visibility for SecOps.”

Still, Cilium and other eBPF-based tools represent just one approach that may gain traction as more users encounter problems with Kubernetes networking at scale. For some truly bleeding-edge Linux experts, eBPF may be eclipsed in network performance enhancement by the io_uring subsystem introduced in the Linux kernel a year ago, for example.

“eBPF is going through a bit of a hype cycle right now,” said John Mitchell, an independent digital transformation consultant in San Francisco. “From the VC perspective, it’s a super-techy ‘special sauce’, and the eBPF ecosystem has gotten some good push from influential uber-geeks.”

However, eBPF has real potential to add advanced Kubernetes network security features without requiring changes to application code, Mitchell said.

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How to manage Windows with Puppet

IT pros have long aligned themselves with either Linux or Windows, but it has grown increasingly common for organizations to seek the best of both worlds.

For traditional Windows-only shops, the thought of managing Windows systems with a server-side tool made for Linux may be unappealing, but Puppet has increased Windows Server support over the years and offers capabilities that System Center Configuration Manager and Desired State Configuration do not.

Use existing Puppet infrastructure

Many organizations use Puppet to manage Linux systems and SCCM to manage Windows Servers. SCCM works well for managing workstations, but admins could manage Windows more easily with Puppet code. For example, admins can easily audit a system configuration by looking at code manifests.

Admins manage Windows with Puppet agents installed on Puppet nodes. They use modules and manifests to deploy node configurations. If admins manage both Linux and Windows systems with Puppet, it provides a one-stop shop for all IT operations.

Combine Puppet and DSC for greater support

Admins need basic knowledge of Linux to use a Puppet master service. They do not need to have a Puppet master because they can write manifests on nodes and apply them, but that is likely not a scalable option. For purely Windows-based shops, training in both Linux and Puppet will make taking the Puppet plunge easier. It requires more time to set up and configure Windows systems in Puppet the same way they would be configured in SCCM. Admins should design the code before users start writing and deploying Puppet manifests or DevOps teams add CI/CD pipelines.

SCCM works well for managing workstations, but admins could more easily manage Windows with Puppet code.

DSC is one of the first areas admins look to manage Windows with Puppet code. The modules are written in C# or PowerShell. DSC has native monitoring GUI, which makes the overall view of a machine’s configuration complex. In its enterprise version, Puppet has native support for web-based reporting. Admins can also use a free open source version, such as Foreman.

Due to the number of community modules available on the PowerShell Gallery, DSC receives the most Windows support for code-based management, but admins can combine Puppet with DSC to get complete coverage for Windows management. Puppet contains native modules and a DSC module with PowerShell DSC modules built in. Admins may also use the dsc_lite module, which can use almost any DSC module available in Puppet. The dsc_lite modules are maintained outside of Puppet completely.

How to use Puppet to disable services

Administrators can use Puppet to run and disable services. Using native Puppet support without a DSC Puppet module, admins could write a manifest to always have the net logon, BITS and W3SVC running when a Puppet run completes. Place the name of each Windows service in a Puppet array $svc_name.

$svc_name  = [‘netlogon’,’BITS’,’W3SVC’]

   service { $svc_name:

   ensure => ‘running’


In the next example, the Puppet DSC module ensures that the web server Windows feature is installed on the node and reboots if a pending reboot is required.

dsc_windowsfeature {‘webserverfeature’:

  dsc_ensure = ‘present’

  dsc_name = ‘Web-Server’


reboot { ‘dsc_reboot’ :

  message => Puppet needs to reboot now’,

  when    => ‘pending’,

  onlyif  => ‘pending_dsc_reboot’,


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ONAP Beijing release targets deployment scenarios

Deployability is the name of the game with the Linux Foundation’s latest Open Network Automation Platform architecture.

Central to the ONAP Beijing release are seven identified “dimensions of deployability,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration at the Linux Foundation. These seven deployability factors comprise usability, security, manageability, stability, scalability, performance and resilience.

By identifying these dimensions, the Linux Foundation expects to better address and answer questions regarding documentation, Kubernetes management, disruptive testing, multisite failures and lifecycle management transactions. The goal is better consistency among ONAP deployments, Joshipura said.

Other than the standardized support for external northbound APIs that face a user’s operational and business support systems, the ONAP Beijing release had only a handful of architectural changes from the previous Amsterdam architecture, according to Joshipura. To that end, the ONAP Beijing release features four relevant MEF APIs taken from MEF’s Lifecycle Service Orchestration architecture and framework.

An additional architectural tweak pinpointed the ONAP Operations Manager. OOM now works with Kubernetes and can run with any cloud provider, Joshipura said.

Arpit Joshipura, Linux Foundation Arpit Joshipura

“All the projects within ONAP can become Docker containers, and Kubernetes orchestrates all of them,” he said. “It helps with management, portability and efficiencies in terms of VMs [virtual machines] needed to run them.”

The ONAP Beijing release also introduced Multi-site State Coordination Services, which ONAP dubbed MUSIC. MUSIC coordinates databases and synchronizes policies for ONAP deployments in multiple locations, geographies and countries — relevant for providers like Vodafone and Orange. The release also provided standard templates and virtual network functions (VNFs) integration and validation, regarding information and data modeling.

Functional enhancements for ONAP Beijing

In addition to architecture adaptions, the ONAP Beijing release made a series of functional enhancements that include change management, hardware platform awareness and autoscaling with manual triggers. For example, the system follows policy to automatically move VNFs or add VMs if a certain location has excess compute capacity. This capability helps scale the VNFs appropriately, Joshipura said.

ONAP expects to make its next release, Casablanca, available at the end of 2018. ONAP Casablanca will continue work on operational and business support systems, in addition to adding more cross-project integration related to microservices architecture, Joshipura said. Further, ONAP Casablanca will introduce a formal VNF certification program and standardize features to support 5G and cross-cloud connectivity.

Linux Foundation reacts to Microsoft’s GitHub acquisition

Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub received a cautiously positive response from the Linux Foundation. Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation’s executive director, categorized the move as “pretty good news for the world of open source,” highlighting Microsoft’s expertise to make GitHub better. He did, however, stress Microsoft’s growing need to earn the trust of developers, while also acknowledging the existence of other open source developer platforms, such as GitLab and Stack Overflow.

“As we all evaluate the evolution of open source from the early days to now, I suggest we celebrate this moment,” Zemlin said about the purchase. “The multidecade progression toward the adoption and continual use of open source software in developing modern technological products, solutions and services is permanent and irreversible. The majority of the world’s economic systems, stock exchanges, the internet, supercomputers and mobile devices run the open source Linux operating system, and its usage and adoption continue to expand.”

Open source networking projects unite under Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation this week announced the formation of the LF Networking Fund, or LFN, an initiative to combine the multiple open source networking projects currently under its supervision.

Host to many of the top open source networking projects, The Linux Foundation said it was time to streamline how it oversees its various ventures, said Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration at The Linux Foundation.

The six founding open source projects involved in the LFN are FD.io, OpenDaylight, Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), PDNA and Streaming Network Analytics System. An additional 83 member organizations are participating in LFN. Members of The Linux Foundation can choose whether they want to join LFN, and they can participate in as many or as few of the projects as they want.

The open source networking projects will remain technically independent, maintaining their existing charters and working toward their individual releases — all of which are still on schedule, according to Joshipura. But the projects will be under a single governing board and will share financial resources and staff, he said.

The governing board will comprise chosen representatives from platinum, gold and silver members of The Linux Foundation. LNF also includes a technical advisory council (TAC) and marketing advisory council (MAC), with individual member representatives. The board and councils will allow LFN members to share project development, testing, deployment and architecture integration best practices, in addition to the regulations across projects.

“The finance, budgets, prioritization and strategy are functions of the governing board, with input from the TAC and the MAC,” Joshipura said. So, if a project requests additional money for testing or is ready for a project release, for example, it goes to the advisory councils with the requests, he added.

Another issue LFN hopes to address is that of onboarding virtual network functions (VNFs). Instead of having inconsistent processes for VNF onboarding, LFN will work toward a single architecture and process to support that effort, Joshipura said.

“We don’t want ONAP to do it one way and OPNFV to do it another way,” he said. “Now, it’s one way to do it across projects.”

The LF Networking Fund still business as usual

While the idea of cross-project collaboration has merit, Joshipura said LFN faces some challenges. One such challenge is simplifying the process to allow developers to join the projects.

“It [includes] a lot more education,” he said. “People do want to participate in other projects, but they’re not familiar with them. So, we want to make sure we bring the training from one project to another project.”

Lee Doyle, principal analyst at Doyle Research, said another issue that could trip up the initiative is the fact that The Linux Foundation is still a business — and all of these open source networking projects will still compete with each other.

“The Linux Foundation isn’t altruistic,” Doyle said. “It’s a business. People are still going to fight for resources and sponsors.”

While Joshipura stressed that the formal legal system outlined within LFN will make discussions and decisions simpler, Doyle said it still means a bunch of meetings.

It’s a laudable goal, he said, but any progress within the LF Networking Fund will take time.

Microsoft boasts SQL Server machine learning services

SEATTLE — While SQL Server 2017 continues to get attention for opening up to Linux, many of Microsoft’s database advances revolve around various ways the company is opening up analytics on its flagship database. Case in point: SQL Server machine learning services.

Open source data frameworks and development languages increasingly have become a path to next-level data analytics and machine learning, and SQL Server support is central to this strategy.

The clues are various. Even before 2017, Microsoft brought Apache Spark and the R language into the mix. Earlier this year, the Python language joined R as part of a newly minted Azure Machine Learning developer kit.

The story took a new turn at PASS Summit 2017 last week, as Microsoft featured the capability for Azure Machine Learning users to bring their analytics models into SQL Server 2017 for native T-SQL runtime scoring. An essential element in machine learning, scoring is a way to measure the likely success of machine-generated predictions.

Native T-SQL scoring can process large amounts of data at an average of under 20 milliseconds per row, according to Rohan Kumar, general manager of Microsoft’s database systems group, who spoke at PASS Summit. Native T-SQL scoring takes the form of a stored procedure for prediction that can be used without calling Microsoft’s R runtime, as was the case with SQL Server 2016.

This capability is important because models built and trained to, for example, suggest new products to likely buyers can produce results while the buyers are actually web browsing. As SQL Server machine learning services head in this direction, their use could grow.

Machine learning models

Supporting such scoring in the Microsoft database could make machine learning analytics more a part of operations and less an experimental effort, according to Ginger Grant, advanced analytics consultant for SolidQ and a presenter at the event.

“Traditionally, what has happened is that you’ve had a data science group that sort of sat in the corner creating machine learning models. They then threw that ‘over the wall’ to developers who had to code it in another language,” Grant said in an interview.

“Native T-SQL scoring allows people to modularize their work and environment, so things can be operationally implemented relatively quickly,” she said.

Microsoft’s new SQL Server machine learning services will help with real-time prediction, said Victoria Holt, who also took part in PASS Summit. She is an independent data analytics and platforms architect, as well as a trainer at SQL Relay.

“It is great to be able to leverage machine learning computation in-database,” she said.

This year’s inclusion of Python in the Microsoft Machine Learning workbench is also a step forward, Holt said. But it will take time for such new technologies to spread.

Holt noted that the “addition of Python extends the use of deep learning frameworks in the product. The retrained cognitive models will speed up consumption. But there is significant user training and upgrading that will need to happen before these models are adopted.”

Beyond T-SQL stored procedures

Microsoft’s moves are all about being more welcoming to open source communities.
Jen Stirrupfounder of Data Relish

Microsoft analytics advances discussed at PASS Summit were not limited to T-SQL. The company previewed scale-out features for Azure Analysis Services to improve response time for large query workloads on the cloud.

The company also moved to simplify data preparation for analytics in the cloud by releasing a public preview of Azure Data Factory that includes the ability to run SQL Server Integration Services in ADF.

Growing Microsoft SQL Server 2017 support for Python and R is significant, according to Jen Stirrup, founder of the U.K.-based Data Relish consultancy and PASS Summit board member.

Python is something of a portal to a crop of machine learning services entering the open source sphere almost daily. In Stirrup’s view, deeper support for advanced analytics is the next step for big data, and Microsoft is tuned to that notion.

“The company understands that customers really want to do something with the data,” she said.

“The data is such a key thing. It underpins your applications. Today, that means you have to reach out to software and languages that are not necessarily part of Microsoft’s .NET,” Stirrup continued. “Microsoft’s moves are all about being more welcoming to open source communities.”