Kubernetes co-founder Craig McLuckie is as tired of talking about Kubernetes as you are – gpgmail


“I’m so tired of talking about Kubernetes . I want to talk about something else,” joked Kubernetes co-founder and VP of R&D at VMware Craig McLuckie during a keynote interview at this week’s Cloud Foundry Summit in The Hague. “I feel like that 80s band that had like one hit song — Cherry Pie.”

He doesn’t quite mean it that way, of course (though it makes for a good headline, see above), but the underlying theme of the conversation he had with Cloud Foundry executive director Abby Kearns was that infrastructure should be boring and fade into the background, while enabling developers to do their best work. “We still have a lot of work to do as an industry to make the infrastructure technology fade into the background and bring forwards the technologies that developers interface with, that enable them to develop the code that drives the business, etc. […] Let’s make that infrastructure technology really, really boring. ”

What McCluckie wants to talk about is developer experience and with VMware’s intend to acquire Pivotal, it’s placing a strong bet on Cloud Foundry as one of the premiere development platforms for cloud native applications. For the longest time, the Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes ecosystem, which both share an organizational parent in the Linux Foundation, have been getting closer, but that move has accelerated in recent months as the Cloud Foundry ecosystem has finished work on some of its Kubernetes integrations.

McCluckie argues that the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, the home of Kubernetes and other cloud-native open-source projects, was always meant to be a kind of open-ended organization that focuses on driving innovation. And that created a large set of technologies that vendors can choose from. “But when you start to assemble that, I tend to think about you building up this cake which is your development stack, you discover that some of those layers of the cake, like Kubernetes, have a really good bake. They are done to perfection,” said McLuckie, who is clearly a fan of the Great British Baking show. “And other layers, you look at it and you think, wow, that could use a little more bake, it’s not quite ready yet. […] And we haven’t done a great job of pulling it all together and providing a recipe that delivers an entirely consumable experience for everyday developers.”

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He argues that Cloud Foundry, on the other hand, has always focused on building that highly opinionated, consistent developer experience. “Bringing those two communities together, I think, is going to have incredibly powerful results for both communities as we start to bring these technologies together,” he said.

With the Pivotal acquisition still in the works, McCluckie didn’t really comment on what exactly this means for the path forward for Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes (which he still talked about with a lot of energy, despite being tired of it), but it’s clear that he’s looking to Cloud Foundry to enable that developer experience on top of Kubernetes that abstracts all of the infrastructure away for developers and makes deploying an application a matter of a single CLI command.

Bonus: Cherry Pie.




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ScyllaDB takes on Amazon with new DynamoDB migration tool – gpgmail


There are a lot of open source databases out there, and ScyllaDB, a NoSQL variety, is looking to differentiate itself by attracting none other than Amazon users. Today, it announced a DynamoDB migration tool to help Amazon customers move to its product.

It’s a bold move, but Scylla, which has a free open source product along with paid versions, has always had a penchant for going after bigger players. It has had a tool to help move Cassandra users to ScyllaDB for some time.

CEO Dor Laor says DynamoDB customers can now also migrate existing code with little modification. “If you’re using DynamoDB today, you will still be using the same drivers and the same client code. In fact, you don’t need to modify your client code one bit. You just need to redirect access to a different IP address running Scylla,” Laor told gpgmail.

He says that the reason customers would want to switch to Scylla is because it offers a faster and cheaper experience by utilizing the hardware more efficiently. That means companies can run the same workloads on fewer machines, and do it faster, which ultimately should translate to lower costs.

The company also announced a $25 million Series C extension led by Eight Roads Ventures. Existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Magma Venture Partners, Qualcomm Ventures and TLV Partners also participated. Scylla has raised a total of $60 million, according to the company.

The startup has been around for 6 years and customers include Comcast, GE, IBM and Samsung. Laor says that Comcast went from running Cassandra on 400 machines to running the same workloads with Scylla on just 60.

Laor is playing the long game in the database market, and it’s not about taking on Cassandra, DynamoDB or any other individual product. “Our main goal is to be the default NoSQL database where if someone has big data, real-time workloads, they’ll think about us first, and we will become the default.”


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APIs are the next big SaaS wave – gpgmail


While the software revolution started out slowly, over the past few years it’s exploded and the fastest-growing segment to-date has been the shift towards software as a service or SaaS.

SaaS has dramatically lowered the intrinsic total cost of ownership for adopting software, solved scaling challenges and taken away the burden of issues with local hardware. In short, it has allowed a business to focus primarily on just that — its business — while simultaneously reducing the burden of IT operations.

Today, SaaS adoption is increasingly ubiquitous. According to IDG’s 2018 Cloud Computing Survey, 73% of organizations have at least one application or a portion of their computing infrastructure already in the cloud. While this software explosion has created a whole range of downstream impacts, it has also caused software developers to become more and more valuable.

The increasing value of developers has meant that, like traditional SaaS buyers before them, they also better intuit the value of their time and increasingly prefer businesses that can help alleviate the hassles of procurement, integration, management, and operations. Developer needs to address those hassles are specialized.

They are looking to deeply integrate products into their own applications and to do so, they need access to an Application Programming Interface, or API. Best practices for API onboarding include technical documentation, examples, and sandbox environments to test.

APIs tend to also offer metered billing upfront. For these and other reasons, APIs are a distinct subset of SaaS.

For fast-moving developers building on a global-scale, APIs are no longer a stop-gap to the future—they’re a critical part of their strategy. Why would you dedicate precious resources to recreating something in-house that’s done better elsewhere when you can instead focus your efforts on creating a differentiated product?

Thanks to this mindset shift, APIs are on track to create another SaaS-sized impact across all industries and at a much faster pace. By exposing often complex services as simplified code, API-first products are far more extensible, easier for customers to integrate into, and have the ability to foster a greater community around potential use cases.

Graphics courtesy of Accel

Billion-dollar businesses building APIs

Whether you realize it or not, chances are that your favorite consumer and enterprise apps—Uber, Airbnb, PayPal, and countless more—have a number of third-party APIs and developer services running in the background. Just like most modern enterprises have invested in SaaS technologies for all the above reasons, many of today’s multi-billion dollar companies have built their businesses on the backs of these scalable developer services that let them abstract everything from SMS and email to payments, location-based data, search and more.

Simultaneously, the entrepreneurs behind these API-first companies like Twilio, Segment, Scale and many others are building sustainable, independent—and big—businesses.

Valued today at over $22 billion, Stripe is the biggest independent API-first company. Stripe took off because of its initial laser-focus on the developer experience setting up and taking payments. It was even initially known as /dev/payments!

Stripe spent extra time building the right, idiomatic SDKs for each language platform and beautiful documentation. But it wasn’t just those things, they rebuilt an entire business process around being API-first.

Companies using Stripe didn’t need to fill out a PDF and set up a separate merchant account before getting started. Once sign-up was complete, users could immediately test the API with a sandbox and integrate it directly into their application. Even pricing was different.

Stripe chose to simplify pricing dramatically by starting with a single, simple price for all cards and not breaking out cards by type even though the costs for AmEx cards versus Visa can differ. Stripe also did away with a monthly minimum fee that competitors had.

Many competitors used the monthly minimum to offset the high cost of support for new customers who weren’t necessarily processing payments yet. Stripe flipped that on its head. Developers integrate Stripe earlier than they integrated payments before, and while it costs Stripe a lot in setup and support costs, it pays off in brand and loyalty.

Checkr is another excellent example of an API-first company vastly simplifying a massive yet slow-moving industry. Very little had changed over the last few decades in how businesses ran background checks on their employees and contractors, involving manual paperwork and the help of 3rd party services that spent days verifying an individual.

Checkr’s API gives companies immediate access to a variety of disparate verification sources and allows these companies to plug Checkr into their existing on-boarding and HR workflows. It’s used today by more than 10,000 businesses including Uber, Instacart, Zenefits and more.

Like Checkr and Stripe, Plaid provides a similar value prop to applications in need of banking data and connections, abstracting away banking relationships and complexities brought upon by a lack of tech in a category dominated by hundred-year-old banks. Plaid has shown an incredible ramp these past three years, from closing a $12 million Series A in 2015 to reaching a valuation over $2.5 billion this year.

Today the company is fueling an entire generation of financial applications, all on the back of their well-built API.

Screen Shot 2019 09 06 at 10.41.02 AM

Graphics courtesy of Accel

Then and now

Accel’s first API investment was in Braintree, a mobile and web payment systems for e-commerce companies, in 2011. Braintree eventually sold to, and became an integral part of, PayPal as it spun out from eBay and grew to be worth more than $100 billion. Unsurprisingly, it was shortly thereafter that our team decided to it was time to go big on the category. By the end of 2014 we had led the Series As in Segment and Checkr and followed those investments with our first APX conference in 2015.

Plaid, Segment, Auth0, and Checkr had only raised Seed or Series A financings! And we are even more excited and bullish on the space. To convey just how much API-first businesses have grown in such a short period of time, we thought it would be useful perspective to share some metrics over the past five years, which we’ve broken out in the two visuals included above in this article.

While SaaS may have pioneered the idea that the best way to do business isn’t to actually build everything in-house, today we’re seeing APIs amplify this theme. At Accel, we firmly believe that APIs are the next big SaaS wave — having as much if not more impact as its predecessor thanks to developers at today’s fastest-growing startups and their preference for API-first products. We’ve actively continued to invest in the space (in companies like, Scale, mentioned above).

And much like how a robust ecosystem developed around SaaS, we believe that one will continue to develop around APIs. Given the amount of progress that has happened in just a few short years, Accel is hosting our second APX conference to once again bring together this remarkable community and continue to facilitate discussion and innovation.

Screen Shot 2019 09 06 at 10.41.10 AM

Graphics courtesy of Accel


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Microsoft Will Publish exFAT Spec, but Linux Devs Aren’t Happy


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Microsoft has announced that it will publish the technical implementation details of the exFAT standard and allow support to be integrated into the Linux kernel at a future date. This is a major change for Microsoft, which once weaponized its FAT patents. While Samsung has published a GPL driver for exFAT back in 2013, patent encumbrances have prevented the driver from being distributed as part of Linux.

That can now change, if the driver is included in future versions of the Linux kernel. But as Phoronix noted, discussion on the mailing list has been critical of the pre-existing driver code, which was tagged for inclusion in the kernel following the Microsoft announcement. Christoph Hellwig, a longtime Linux developer, called it “a pile of crap,” saying:

It basically is a reimplementation of fs/fat/ not up to kernel standards with a few indirections thrown in to also support exfat. So no amount of work on this codebase is really going to bring us forward. Instead someone how can spend a couple days on this and actually has file systems to test it just needs to bring the low-level format bits over to our well tested fs/fat codebase instead of duplicating it.

Greg Kroah-Hartman, who maintains the Linux -stable branch, defended the decision to take the code into staging, despite its current condition, writing: “I know the code is horrible, but I will gladly take horrible code into staging. If it bothers you, just please ignore it.”

Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols writes that the move could be read as a partial answer to a request made by Bradley Kuhn when Microsoft joined the Open Invention Network (OIN)’s patent non-aggression pact last year. After noting that Microsoft had specifically shaken down Linux product vendors for licensing fees related to exFAT in the past, he called on Microsoft to “submit to upstream the exfat code themselves under GPLv2-or-later.” Microsoft has not taken this step. Instead, it is publishing the specification and supports the work to create a Linux driver that will add exFAT support to the kernel at a future time. While Microsoft is supporting this effort, it expects the actual code submission to be performed by others.

As for why Microsoft is taking this step, at this specific point in time, the company may have provided the answer last year, at an Open Source Summit in Europe. SJVN quotes Stephen Walli, the principle program management for Azure, as saying:

Open source changed everything. Customers have changed. Fifteen years ago, a CIO would have said, ‘we have no open source, they would have been wrong, but that’s what they thought.’ Now, CIOs know open source’s essential … Microsoft has always been a company by, of, and for developers. At this point in history, developers love open source.

Opposition to the move or concerns about whether Microsoft intends something surreptitiously skulduggerous seem muted in most of the OSS community. Microsoft has been attempting to prove its open-source bona fides for years, even going so far as to integrate a Bash shell and Linux kernel into Windows 10. In the past, there have been bitter standardization fights between Microsoft and members of the open-source community, including the fight between Office Open XML proponents (Microsoft) and the OpenDocument Format (ODF) over a decade ago.

Today, there’s no sign of such disputes. Since Satya Nadella took over at Microsoft, the company has been markedly more friendly towards open source products. Whether that reflects Microsoft’s willingness to acknowledge the objective popularity of open-source software or a new front in a crafty, long-term war to sabotage those products is likely in the eye of the beholder.

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New open source project wants to expand serverless vision beyond functions – gpgmail


Serverless technology offers developers a way to develop without thinking about the infrastructure resources required to run a program, but up until now it has mostly been limited to function-driven programming. CloudState, a new open source project from Lightbend, wants to change that by moving beyond functions.

Lightbend CTO Jonas Bonér believes this ability to abstract away infrastructure could extend beyond functions and triggers into a broader developer experience. “I think people sometimes [don’t distinguish] between serverless and Function as a Service. I think that’s actually cutting the technology short. What serverless really brings to the table is this completely new developer experience and operations experience by trying to automate as much as possible,” Bonér told gpgmail.

He says that when he talks to customers, they are hankering for a more complete serverless developer experience that includes all parts of the program. “A lot of people say that I have this excellent use case for the current incarnation of serverless and Function as a Service, but the rest of my application doesn’t really work running there,” he said. That’s exactly what CloudState is trying to address.

Bonér is careful to point out that he’s not looking to replace function-driven programming. He only wants to augment it. CloudState takes advantage of some existing technologies like KNative, the open source project that is trying to bring together serverless and containerization, as well as gRPC, Akka Cluster, and GraalVM on Kubernetes.

He acknowledges that CloudState is still a work in progress, but he has the basic building blocks in place, and he’s hoping to use the power of open source to drive the development of this early-stage project. Today, it includes several key pieces — a specification outlining the goals of the project, a protocol to begin implementing it and a testing kit.

The goal here is to bring to fruition this broader vision of what serverless means where developers can just write code without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure where the program will run. It’s a bold approach, but as Bonér says, it’s still early days, and will take time and a community to really build this out.


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IBM Open-Sources Power ISA, Shares CPU, OpenCAPI Reference Designs


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IBM has taken new steps to open the Power architecture further and expand access to its capabilities. Back in 2013, IBM launched the OpenPower Foundation to allow would-be customers to license IBM designs and collaborate with each other. Now, the company has open-sourced the entire Power ISA and contributed a softcore design to the effort, suitable for running on an FPGA. The OpenPower Foundation, which was founded back in 2013, will now become part of the Linux Foundation and the entire project will be overseen by that organization.

IBM has been turning towards open source as a method for reinvigorating its hardware business and stoking interest in its own ecosystem. In addition to open-sourcing the Power ISA, the company has also contributed designs for its Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI) and Open Memory Interface (OMI). These are the interface protocols that attach the CPUSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce to the rest of the system, and they’re critical to making the total project work. OpenCAPI and OMI are both architecture-agnostic and could theoretically be adapted for usage in both x86 and Power systems, should vendors build compatible solutions.

Ken King, general manager of OpenPower at IBM, told Next Platform that the plan to open source the ISA had been a long time coming:

We started OpenPower six years ago because the industry was seeing the decline of Moore’s Law, and we were seeing the need for more powerful systems to support HPC, artificial intelligence, and data analytics. We needed to find other ways to drive system performance, and with limitations on the processor, the ability to integrate and innovate up and down the stack was becoming more critical. This led to things like NVLink with Nvidia, a close relationship with Mellanox on interconnects, and OpenCAPI for other devices, and we have seen some progress here.

But we are also seeing a shift in the industry, with companies moving to more open hardware. IBM opening up Power to the point where we would license the CPU RTL to others so they could design their own processors was limited in its effect because there were not that many people who wanted to spend many hundreds of millions of dollars – not for license fees, but for full development – to create their own high-end CPU. We did make some progress in opening up our reference designs, and there are over 20 vendors who are now making Power-based systems.

We are seeing interesting developments with the nascent RISC-V architecture, and hyperscalers are hiring their own chip designers and building their own CPUs and interconnects. They are getting into the hardware space, even if they are not going to be hardware vendors, to drive that performance.

OpenCapi-Roadmap

OpenCAPI roadmap.

Under the Linux Foundation, IBM and other members will vote on the future of the standard, including feature set expansions and new capabilities. IBM can continue to make changes to its own ISA for its own purposes, but all other modifications require a membership vote. Members are required to maintain compatibility with the base ISA. Permission to make a non-compliant change will require a unanimous vote. King has openly stated that he hopes Intel will be willing to explore the benefits of using OpenCAPI now that the standard is available in this method, leading to a convergence of support between OpenCAPI and CXL, Intel’s competing interconnect standard.

IBM is hoping that completely open-sourcing the ISA will spur adoption and development. There’s some reason for optimism. Another open-source ISA, RISC-V, has been generating many headlines and interest from various silicon vendors. Current RISC-V CPUs, however, are all low-end embedded hardware. In theory, Power might be an easier lift if its toolchains are more mature and better-featured.

“The opening of the Power ISA, an architecture with a long and distinguished history, will help the open hardware movement continue to gain momentum,” Mateo Valero, Director of Barcelona Supercomputing Center, told InsideHPC. “BSC, which has collaborated with IBM for more than two decades, is excited that IBM’s announcements today provide additional options to initiatives pursuing innovative new processor and accelerator development with freedom of action.”

Though it hasn’t spent much time in the limelight of late, Power was once a major challenger to Intel’s competing x86 architecture in the server world. In recent years, the OpenPower initiative has enjoyed support from a number of companies, with over 250 members as of 2016. Today, it still enjoys market share in the HPC space — the Summit and Sierra supercomputers are #1 and #2 in the world. The third machine is based on custom Sunway architecture. The highest-powered x86 computer is China’s Tianhe-2A, based on the Xeon E5-2692v2. There’s nothing stopping a company from taking Power into new markets (at least in theory), though it would be quite difficult to convince smartphone vendors to rally around Power as opposed to ARM. Still, open-sourcing the architecture can’t hurt its uptake effort.

We’d expect to see the most energy and excitement around Power in servers and HPC because that’s where the core of IBM’s efforts have historically been focused. But we wouldn’t be surprised to see the ISA popping up in other places, either.

Feature Image: IBM Power8 microprocessor 

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How Pivotal got bailed out by fellow Dell family member, VMware – gpgmail


When Dell acquired EMC in 2016 for $67 billion, it created a complicated consortium of interconnected organizations. Some, like VMware and Pivotal, operate as completely separate companies. They have their own boards of directors, can acquire companies and are publicly traded on the stock market. Yet they work closely within the Dell, partnering where it makes sense. When Pivotal’s stock price plunged recently, VMware saved the day when it bought the faltering company for $2.7 billion yesterday.

Pivotal went public last year, and sometimes struggled, but in June the wheels started to come off after a poor quarterly earnings report. The company had what MarketWatch aptly called “a train wreck of a quarter.”

How bad was it? So bad that its stock price was down 42% the day after it reported its earnings. While the quarter itself wasn’t so bad, with revenue up year over year, the guidance was another story. The company cut its 2020 revenue guidance by $40-$50 million and the guidance it gave for the upcoming 2Q19 was also considerably lower than consensus Wall Street estimates.

The stock price plunged from a high of $21.44 on May 30th to a low of $8.30 on Aug 14th. The company’s market cap plunged in that same time period falling from $5.828 billion on May 30th to $2.257 billion on Aug 14th. That’s when VMware admitted it was thinking about buying the struggling company.


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IBM is moving OpenPower Foundation to The Linux Foundation – gpgmail


IBM makes the Power Series chips, and as part of that has open sourced some of the underlying technologies to encourage wider use of these chips. The open source pieces have been part of the OpenPower Foundation. Today, the company announced it was moving the foundation under The Linux Foundation, and while it was at it, announced it was open sourcing several other important bits.

Ken King, general manager for OpenPower at IBM, says that at this point in his organization’s evolution, they wanted to move it under the auspices of the Linux Foundation . “We are taking the OpenPower Foundation, and we are putting it as an entity or project underneath The Linux Foundation with the mindset that we are now bringing more of an open governance approach and open governance principles to the foundation,” King told gpgmail.

But IBM didn’t stop there. It also announced that it was open sourcing some of the technical underpinnings of the Power Series chip to make it easier for developers and engineers to build on top of the technology. Perhaps most importantly, the company is open sourcing the Power Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). These are “the definitions developers use for ensuring hardware and software work together on Power,” the company explained.

King sees open sourcing this technology as an important step for a number of reasons around licensing and governance. “The first thing is that we are taking the ability to be able to implement what we’re licensing, the ISA instruction set architecture, for others to be able to implement on top of that instruction set royalty free with patent rights,” he explained.

The company is also putting this under an open governance workgroup at the OpenPower Foundation. This matters to open source community members because it provides a layer of transparency that might otherwise be lacking. What that means in practice is that any changes will be subject to a majority vote, so long as the changes meet compatibility requirements, King said.

Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, says that making all of this part of the Linux Foundation open source community could drive more innovation. “Instead of a very, very long cycle of building an application and working separately with hardware and chip designers, because all of this is open, you’re able to quickly build your application, prototype it with hardware folks, and then work with a service provider or a company like IBM to take it to market. So there’s not tons of layers in between the actual innovation and value captured by industry in that cycle,” Zemlin explained.

In addition, IBM made several other announcements around open sourcing other Power Chip technologies designed to help developers and engineers customize and control their implementations of Power chip technology. “IBM will also contribute multiple other technologies including a softcore implementation of the Power ISA, as well as reference designs for the architecture-agnostic Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI) and the Open Memory Interface (OMI). The OpenCAPI and OMI technologies help maximize memory bandwidth between processors and attached devices, critical to overcoming performance bottlenecks for emerging workloads like AI,” the company said in a statement.

The softcore implementation of the Power ISA, in particular, should give developers more control and even enable them to build their own instruction sets, Hugh Blemings, executive director of the OpenPower Foundation explained. “They can now actually try crafting their own instruction sets, and try out new ways of the accelerated data processes and so forth at a lower level than previously possible,” he said.

The company is announcing all of this today at the The Linux Foundation Open Source Summit and OpenPower Summit in San Diego.


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