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FOSSAsia Opens Doors For Many Open Source Projects

FOSSAsia logo There's a moment, when you're 9,412 miles away from home, standing in front of an audience of 300 or so people, when you have to wonder just how it is you ended up here.

Clearly there was a plane ride involved… a darn long one that involved three planes, including one with a broken engine that threw off the timing for the rest of the trip. Then there was the surreal experience of being escorted by two security guards through Narita airport because they thought my roll-up banner sign would not fit in the overhead compartment. And the massive thunderstorm that hit as I was walking through the national botanical gardens, getting me stuck in a very small shelter with lots of other people.

"Here," I should explain, was the FOSSAsia conference, this year located at multiple venues in Singapore. A mid-sized regional free and open source event, this was FOSSAsia's first time in the small island nation about 87 miles north of the Equator, having been located in other nations in prior years such as Vietnam and Cambodia. The three-day conference was split into two different formats. First, a single-track traditional day of speakers that included Lennart Poettering of systemd fame; Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's Minister for the Environment and Water Resources; and Gen Kanai, Mozilla's Director of Community Engagement for Asia. Next, were two days of smaller workshop sessions and tracks.

I was joined by another colleague from Red Hat: Maor Lipchuk, an engineer from the oVirt/RHEV Storage team who'd flown in a goodly distance from Tel Aviv. Together, Maor and I would each deliver individual talks, as well as co-host an oVirt Workshop. The workshop, held on March 14, was a half-day of demos and talks around the oVirt virtual datacenter management platform. Joining us as a guest speaker for the workshop was James Jiang, from Cloud-Times in Beijing. Cloud-Times is a hardware and software vendor that specializes in the deployment of virtual desktop infrastructures.

James' discussion of best practices in VDI garnered much interest within the Workshop, particularly since he and his company had the chops–one of the example deployments was for a regional school system in China that needed over 10,000 virtual desktops in its implementation. Using oVirt as its upstream base, Cloud-Times' commercial software enables its customers to manage such deployments with ease, even (with the add-ons that Cloud-Times provides) using a wide variety of mixed media and hardware platforms.

Maor's talk on best practices in storage also brought a lot of discussion and questions from the 30+ attendees of the Saturday morning workshop. Not surprising, since Maor is an expert on a topic that anyone interested in virtual machine management and cloud computing has to master. Storage is a big part of any cloud and virtual solution, and getting their questions answered seemed a big help for the attendees.

oVirt's participation in this year's FOSSAsia conference was a success for us an an open source project… any opportunity to share our work in the broader community is a good thing, and the level of expertise in this conference made the efforts of this trip well worth it.

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VDI Lives On with Help from oVirt

oVirt logo Hey, remember Virtual Desktop Infrastructure? Still wondering if people are actually using it? I know, right?

It seems that VDI, which a lot of people thought was very much a bypassed technology, is still a growing sector in IT… and free-software tools are lending VDI deployments a stable and free platform on which virtual desktops can be managed.

A new case study from the oVirt project details the needs of the Universidad de Sevilla in Seville, Spain, which has an enrollment of over 60,000 students. Due to fewer consoles on campus than students, the school must provide effective transportable computing environments for its students. To accomplish this, they initially looked at a VMware-based VDI solution.

According to Miguel Rueda, Technical Manager of Universidad de Sevilla, the costs for a vSphere solution "were really high," which led IT decision makers at the University to turn to UDS Enterprise for a more cost-effective solution.

At the start of the 2011-12 academic year, Rueda related, the University connected with then-brand-new UDS, based in Madrid, Spain. The new firm had already generated some success within Spanish universities by delivering virtualization solutions, and they were confident they could pull off a similar win with Sevilla.

When moving away from vSphere, a big part of the savings were achieved directly because of the oVirt virtualization management solution.

It was very much a perfect fit. The University of Sevilla already had Dell blade hardware and were continuing to incorporate additional blade servers into the infrastructure. This kept their initial hardware investment lower, and the extensibility kept costs down as well. Using the Dell hardware with CentOS operating systems enabled the University to choose the effective–and free–KVM hypervisor platform for creating and running the virtual machines that make up the VDI system.

To start, the University chose to pilot this new VDI architecture through its OpenLabs Project, delivering the content for eight courses across 180 virtual desktops: This pilot solved the OpenLab's problem with desktop space issues as well as overall accessibility to applications for students. Nowadays, more than 3,000 students use this virtual desktop infrastructure.

If successful, it is very likely this type of VDI deployment based on oVirt will be a model for a lot of other universities (and commercial entities) to follow. For more information on the process the Universidad de Sevilla used, visit the case study at oVirt.org.

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Upstream First: Turning OpenStack into an NFV platform

NFV (Network Function Virtualization) has taken the telecommunications world by storm in recent years. Communications service providers plan to run their core services in virtual machines, running on a standardized, open source platform. This promises to reduce both capital and operation costs, and most importantly, to accelerate the delivery of new services to market through increased agility.

The Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) project is deploying a collection of open source projects, including OpenStack as the Infrastructure-as-a-Service layer, OpenDaylight and Open vSwitch for virtual network, Ceph for virtual storage, and libvirt and qemu/KVM for virtual compute. OpenStack and OpenDaylight are themselves collections of multiple projects, each with their own set of maintainers. All told, the OPNFV platform consists of around 20 different projects, many of which will need to be changed to satisfy the performance and reliability constraints of an NFV platform.

How vendors make and distribute those changes will vary from one to another. Some participants will attempt to maintain differentiation by developing features in private, and integrating them in their products without ensuring the changes will be integrated into the upstream open source projects. Others will propose changes at the same time as they are released in a product.

Red Hat is a company with a policy we call “upstream first” - we work to get features integrated into open source projects before we integrate them into our product offerings. Wouldn't it be easier just to develop features for our customers, and let the upstream projects figure out what they care about? What are the costs associated with the upstream first approach? Why do we take this approach?

The short answer is because it is the cheapest, most sustainable way to innovate on an open source platform. To explain why, I will explore what it means to build on top of open source projects, the different approaches people take to doing it, and the costs associated with each approach.

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FOSDEM 2015 Video Archives Now Online

Despite a few hiccups in the live streaming and recording efforts at FOSDEM 2015, 402 talks were successfully recorded, 94 of which popped up in the video archives this week. The archives also include recordings from past FOSDEMs (all the way back to 2005), so when you discover that you've been sitting at your computer for a few days, watching videos and tripping down memory lane, don't say I didn't warn you.

Here are a few of the many 2015 videos you might want to check out:

FOSDEM organizers are still editing and posting videos, so keep an eye on the 2015 video folder or check the STATUS text file for additions.

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The Quid Pro Quo of Open Infrastructure

The best deals are those in which both parties come out of the arrangement substantially better off than they would have been otherwise. One of the most significant aspects of Red Hat's business model is that it represents a mutually beneficial deal between two overlapping groups of people: one that sees the Red Hat model as a powerful way to turn freely available open source software into a compelling subscriber experience, and one that sees it as a way to turn the subscription revenue received from satisfied customers into freely available open source software.

Neither of those groups is more important to Red Hat than the other. The interaction and collaboration between them helped build the company into an organization able to go head to head with much larger competitors. I think the most interesting aspect of this business model is that it is not inherently limited to the organizations we traditionally think of as software companies, or even those we consider to be technology companies. Rather, the model potentially applies to any organization that invests in software development or customization for their own use or on behalf of their clients.

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Interviews with SCALE13x Speakers

SCALE13x starts tomorrow in Los Angeles, but you can find out more about many of the speakers by reading interviews on the event blog, including:

Interview with Rikki Endsley - Confessions of a Reluctant Tweeter: Social Media for Open Source Projects, Friday at 3:45

Interview with Gina Likins - How to Thoroughly Insult and Offend People in Your Open Source Communities, Friday at 1:15

Interview with Matthew Miller - Fedora.next: Bringing Change to a Classic Distro (without too much kicking and screaming), Sunday at 4:30

Interview with Levente Kurusa - Linux Desktop: When Is Our Year?, Saturday at 6:00

Interview with Tom Callaway - Understanding FOSS Licenses (without a lawyer), Saturday at 6:00

Interview with Brian Proffitt - Why Scale Up is Like Star Trek and Scale Out is Like Star Wars, Saturday at 3:00

Interview with Joe Brockmeier - Solving the Package Problem (or Making It Infinitely Worse?), Saturday at 1:30

Interview with Rich Bowen - Intro to OpenStack, Saturday at 11:30

When we aren't in sessions or speaking, you'll find us in the hallway tracks and in the expo hall. See you in sunny Los Angeles!

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Women in Open Source Award Finalists Unveiled, Voting Opens

More than 100 nominations were narrowed down to 10 finalists for the Women in Open Source Award. Voting is open until March 6th and the winners will be announced at the Red Hat Summit in June.

Awards will be given in two categories, Community and Academic. The finalists for the Community Award are:

  • Shauna Gordon-McKeon, program director at OpenHatch
  • Elizabeth K. Joseph, systems engineer at HP
  • Deb Nicholson, community outreach director at MediaGoblin
  • Karen Sandler, executive director at the Software Freedom Conservancy
  • Sarah Sharp, embedded software architect at Intel

And in the Academic Award category:

  • Charul, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad
  • Sophia D’Antoine, student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (studying Computer Science and Computer System’s Engineering, Bachelor’s and Master’s degree)
  • Emily Dunham, Oregon State University (studying computer science)
  • Netha Hussain, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, University of Calicut (earning a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery)
  • Kesha Shah, student at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (earning a Bachelor of Tech (B. Tech) in Information and Communication Technology)

Visit the Women in Open Source Award page to learn more about the finalists and to cast your votes.

(And good luck to all the finalists in this inspiring group of women!)

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Trying out oVirt's Probabilistic Optimizer

Next week in Los Angeles, I'll be giving a talk at the SCALE 13x conference on oVirt's new OptaPlanner-powered scheduling adviser.

Martin Sivák wrote a great post about the feature a couple of months ago, but didn't cover its installation process, which still has a few rough edges.

Read on to learn how to install the optimizer, and start applying fancy probabilistic fu to your oVirt VM launches and migrations.

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Rebooting OpenStack Ceilometer with Gnocci

Yesterday, Eoghan Glynn led a Hangout to discuss the work around rebooting the OpenStack Ceilometer project, using the new approaches of the Gnocci project.

As you may remember, we talked about some of these ideas back in July in a podcast with Eoghan, and a lot of progress has been made toward those goals since then.

In the hangout, Eoghan talks about the Gnocci work, and how it restructures Ceilometer's internal data store, and provides a more lightweight API for retrieving current and historical data about your OpenStack implementation. Gnocci attempts to correct what is seen as a design misstep in the early days of Ceilometer, in which a great deal of static, or almost-static, data, is included in each data sample, resulting in poor performance and more storage space usage than necessary.

You can watch the hangout on YouTube and bring your questions to the rdo-list mailing list or to the #rdo channel on the Freenode IRC network.

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Watch Live Streaming from DevConfCZ

If you wanted to attend DevConf.cz in Brno this week, but couldn't make it there in person, you're in luck. The event is live streaming from some of the sessions, and video archives are available on the RedHatCzech YouTube channel.

The event started today and runs until Sunday afternoon, and the schedule includes lots of tech talks focused on our upstream projects. Tim Burke's opening keynote and a few other talks are already online:

Delivering OpenSource Projects using Agile & DevOps Thinking, by Jen Krieger

Federated Identity Providers – the Ipsilon Project, by Simon Sorce

Using OS-level identity, authentication, and access control for Web applications, by Joe Brockmeier

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