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Updated: 3 hours 48 min ago

Databricks Delivers Online Courses Focused on Apache Spark

11 hours 47 min ago

Databricks, a company founded by the creators of the popular open-source Big Data processing engine Apache Spark, is a firm that you may not have heard much from in 2014, but you will throughout 2015. The company has healthy venture funding of $47 million, and  Andreesen Horowitz is one of the investors, with Ben Horowitz on board.

Folks in the Big Data and Hadoop communities are becoming increasingly interested in Apache Spark, an open source processing engine for Hadoop data built for speed and advanced analytics. It was developed in 2009 in UC Berkeley’s AMPLab, and open sourced in 2010. Now, Databricks has announced the launch of two massive open online courses (MOOCs) focused on distributed analytics using Spark. The courses will be made available in Spring 2015 via BerkeleyX, in collaboration with the MOOC provider and online learning platform, edX.

The two five-week courses are designed to augment Databricks' efforts to grow the Spark community. They provide students with hands-on experience with Spark's analytics and real-time capabilities to deliver insights into data. The launch of these courses comes on the heels of a series of Apache Spark training offerings from Databricks, including the Spark Certification Program for System Integrators and the Spark Certification Program for Developers.

"Spark is the most active open source project in the Big Data ecosystem, and continues to be deployed by enterprises across multiple verticals due to its speed and efficiency, ease of use, and single unified system for the complete data analytics pipelines," said Matei Zaharia, co-founder and CTO at Databricks. "As we continue to foster and grow the Spark community to meet that demand, we are excited to launch these two MOOCs, making hands-on, practical courses available to a community that will advance Spark's adoption with greater ease."

Both courses will use the Python interface to Spark, making them widely accessible to data scientists and developers. The courses include:

  • Introduction to Big Data with Apache Spark - Students will learn how to apply data science techniques using parallel programming in Spark to explore big (and small) data. The course will identify the most common responsibilities of data scientists and teach students how to use Spark to deliver against these expectations.

    When: February 23 - March 27, 2015
    Professor: Anthony D. Joseph, Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley and Technical Advisor at Databricks

  • Scalable Machine Learning - The course will present the underlying statistical and algorithmic principles required to develop scalable machine learning pipelines and provide hands-on experience using Apache Spark. Students will use Spark to implement scalable algorithms for fundamental statistical models while tackling key real-world problems from various domains.

    When: April 14 - May 18, 2015
    Professor: Ameet Talwalkar, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at UCLA and Technical Advisor at Databricks

Both courses are available to the public for free and are now open for enrollment on the edX website. edX Verified Certificates are also available for a fee. For more information, visit: https://www.edx.org/

Cloudera is also rallying behind Spark. The company has also announced Apache Spark training "to prepare developers and software engineers to build complete, unified applications that combine batch, streaming, and interactive analytics."

Spark's ability to work with unstructured data is particularly notable. Many enterprises haven't been able to fully structure their data sources and need tools flexible enough to work with unstructured archives.

"Broadly embraced by the open source community, Big Data vendors, and data-intensive enterprises for its stream processing capabilities and its support for complex, iterative algorithms, Spark offers performance gains that enable applications to run on the data in a Hadoop cluster at speeds up to 100 times faster than traditional MapReduce programs," Cloudera claims.

Spotify leverages Spark, as do a number of enterprises. In 2015, Spark promises to become very big news on the Big Data front, and Databricks and Cloudera are likely to be among the top players focused on equipping enterprises with the knowledge and tools to leverage the platform.

 

 

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VMware Raises its Ante in the OpenStack Race, with Mirantis

12 hours 5 min ago

Marking the clearest evidence yet that OpenStack player Mirantis is working more closely with VMware on open cloud initiatives, the companies have published a Mirantis OpenStack reference architecture for VMware vCenter Server and VMware NSX. Now available for download, Mirantis OpenStack allows customers to deploy and control workloads that run on VMware vSphere in their VMware vCenter Server clusters within Mirantis OpenStack.

Along with its Cloud Foundry efforts and associated foundation, VMware's latest news shows that it is moving away from its proprietary-only roots and embracing openness.

"Mirantis OpenStack is the most robust OpenStack distribution on the market, and is used by some of the top brands in the world, including Symantec, Ericsson, and Expedia," said Boris Renski, Mirantis CMO, in a statement. "Implementing OpenStack on VMware infrastructure gives customers the agility and scalability of OpenStack, combined with VMware's best of breed components across compute, networking, management and storage."

"Many enterprises are evolving their infrastructure towards a cloud model supported by a software-defined data center approach, and VMware is committed to enabling choice as part of this journey," added Dan Wendlandt, director of product management at VMware. "Collaboration with Mirantis on this reference architecture will provide our mutual customers with greater confidence in deploying Mirantis OpenStack with enterprise-grade VMware infrastructure."

Mirantis has Red Hat-like model for providing 24-hour support for its OpenStack customers.

To download the Mirantis and VMware reference architecture, visit: https://www.mirantis.com/partners/mirantis-technology-partners/mirantis-partners-vmware/

VMware recently launched an independent foundation supporting its Cloud Foundry platform. The Cloud Foundry Foundation is focused on VMware's own Platform-as-a-Service offering of the same name, but will concentrate on fostering an ecosystem surrounding Cloud Foundry. In that game, as Red Hat has shown with its efforts surrounding OpenStack, partnerships will be everything.  Clearly, VMware is cozying up to Mirantis as a partner in the OpenStack race.

As Matt Asay notes, VMware has radically changed its stance toward the open cloud:

"If any one vendor served as the proprietary bogeyman to motivate the creation of an open source private cloud stack, it’s VMware. For more than a decade, the virtualization giant owned the core infrastructure of Global 2000 data centers, only to have the industry fight back in 2010 with the non-profit OpenStack Foundation. As the industry rallied around open-source OpenStack, proprietary VMware looked to be reeling."

 

 

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Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha, Tanglu 2 Review, and More Red Hat

Saturday 20th of December 2014 04:11:12 AM

Just when you thought you couldn't get anymore Red Hat news, it once again was the talk of the techtown. An interest blog post from Hanno Böck today says quit using NTP if you care about security. Jack M. Germain discusses the work of Open Invention Network and Jamie Watson reviews Debian-derivative Tanglu 2. Dedoimedio.com shares their best distro of 2014 and Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha 1 was released.

Red Hat continued to dominate the headlines today after yesterday's encouraging financial report. Red Hat stock hit a 52-week high today of $70.11 and is currently trading after hours at $68.09. TheStreet has compiled a list of the latest ratings from analysts all approaching or hitting the $80 price target. Investors.com has a few more in the same neighborhood.

CNBC asked CEO Jim Whitehurst does Red Hat being Open Source make it more vulnerable to cyberattacks (as opposed to proprietary I suppose). Whitehurst answered, "I think open source itself is proving to be very safe. The simple analogy here is; are you safer in a crowded shopping mall or down a dark alley? Having the wisdom of the crowd is actually a powerful thing." Elsewhere, ComputerWeekly.com is running a piece on Red Hat's new Sky News gig and long-time Red Hat and Fedora developer Dave Jones is "moving on."

Larry Cafiero offered up his Linux predictions for 2015 today, but it sounded more like he was thinking April Fool's Day. One prediction has the Guardians Opposing systemD cracking into and blackmailing the studio responsible for "The Lennart Poettering Story." Another has Linux Mint going upscales and rebranding itself as "Linux Merlot," but then non-drinkers will get mad and fork it into "Linux Thin Mint." Perhaps the best one has Sugar on a Stick expanding into new areas like "Sugar on Whole Wheat with a side of chips." There's lots more, so be sure to check that out.

Dedoimedio.com said Ubuntu 14.04 was the best distro of the year and Fedora 20 came in fifth. Jamie Watson blogged today Tanglu 2.0 doesn't play well with UEFI but otherwise is an interesting alternative Debian Testing derivative. The Register covered the latest court decision in SCO versus IBM that arrived Monday.

In other news:

* Don't update NTP – stop using it

* The Open Invention Network Defending the Free Linux World

* Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha 1 Releases Now Ready for Download

* The Document Foundation Announces LibreOffice 4.3.5

* Jim Zemlin: 2014 The Open Source Tipping Point

* Richard Stallman: What Does It Mean for Your Computer to Be Loyal?

* Free software GNU/Linux laptop in development

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Google Open Sources "Cloud Dataflow" SDK, Built to Trump MapReduce

Friday 19th of December 2014 03:56:15 PM

All the way back in June, at Google I/O, Google pronounced that the venerable MapReduce data crunching scheme was "tired" and launched a service dubbed Cloud Dataflow that analyzes pipelines with "arbitrarily large datasets." Dataflow was a much talked about star in a set of cloud services discussed at Google I/O and Google officials even confirmed that Dataflow had replaced MapReduce at Google. MapReduce, of course, is built for processing and generating large data sets with a parallel, distributed algorithm on clusters.

Now, in an effort to spur use of and development of Dataflow, Google has released a software-development kit (SDK) in Java for using Cloud Dataflow under an open-source license.

According to the announcement of the SDK:

"Today, we are announcing availability of the Cloud Dataflow SDK as open-source. This will make it easier for developers to integrate with our managed service while also forming the basis for porting Cloud Dataflow to other languages and execution environments. We’ve learned a lot about how to turn data into intelligence as the original FlumeJava programming models (basis for Cloud Dataflow) have continued to evolve internally at Google."

"Interested in adding to the Cloud Dataflow conversation? You can:Apply for access to Cloud Dataflow's managed service, Learn more through the documentation, and take part in the conversation at StackOverflow [tag: google-cloud-dataflow]"

"As Storm, Spark, and the greater Hadoop family continue to mature - developers are challenged with bifurcated programming models. We hope to relieve developer fatigue and enable choice in deployment platforms by supporting execution and service portability...We are currently building a Python 3 version of the SDK, to give developers even more choice and to make dataflow accessible to more applications."

 

As VentureBeat notes:

"The open-source move could result in more developers coming around to the approach Google has thrown its weight behind: setting up pipelines to process data as it comes in, instead of or in addition to doing batch processing jobs that take a while. What’s more, the open-sourcing strategy could increase the usage of Cloud Dataflow on the Google Cloud Platform, which competes with other big and growing public clouds, like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure."

Reusable programming patterns have become key to developers. According to Google, the Cloud Dataflow SDK introduces a unified model for batch and stream data processing. It pursues temporal based aggregations providing a rich set of windowing primitives allowing the same computations to be used with batch or stream based data sources.

You can find out much more about the new SDK here.

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Snappy Ubuntu Core Arrives for Amazon Web Services

Friday 19th of December 2014 03:38:33 PM

It looks like the Ubuntu team made a very good decision in creating the new, stripped down and fast performing “snappy” version of Ubuntu Core. This minimalist take on Ubuntu is targeted at those doing cloud deployments, and is already integrated with Microsoft's Azure cloud platform and Google Cloud. Snappy is optimized for Docker deployments and platform-as-a-service environments, as I covered here.

The team at Canonical has even called Snappy the “biggest revolution in Ubuntu since we launched our mobile initiative.” Now, The Ubuntu team has announced that snappy Ubuntu Core is available on the 800-pound gorilla on the cloud: Amazon Web Services (AWS). It's apparently designed for extremely fast deployment on Amazon EC2.

You can watch a video about Snappy Core here, and according to Canonical:

"Ubuntu Core is the new 'snappy' rendition of the popular cloud OS, with a very lean and secure base image that features transactional updates for both system and applications. Snappy Ubuntu is perfect for container-oriented deployments using technologies like Docker. Customers can try a beta version of snappy Ubuntu Core today on Amazon EC2 by launching an instance of Ubuntu Core. Here are the instructions."

Robbie Williamson, VP Cloud Engineering at Canonical said: “The snappy Ubuntu Core approach is faster, more reliable, and provides stronger security guarantees for apps and users. We’re excited to make Ubuntu Core with snappy packages available on Amazon EC2 and Amazon EC2 Container Service.  Ubuntu Core on Amazon EC2 Container Service is a fast way to dive into containers on Ubuntu at scale.”

The beta of Ubuntu Core will run throughout the current Ubuntu development cycle.

According to another missive from Canonical:

"Ubuntu Core is a new rendition of Ubuntu for the cloud with transactional updates. Ubuntu Core is a minimal server image with the same libraries as today’s Ubuntu, but applications are provided through a simpler mechanism. The snappy approach is faster, more reliable, and lets us provide stronger security guarantees for apps and users — that’s why we call them 'snappy' applications."

"Snappy apps and Ubuntu Core itself can be upgraded atomically and rolled back if needed — a bulletproof approach to systems management that is perfect for container deployments. It’s called transactional or image-based systems management, and we’re delighted to make it available on every Ubuntu certified cloud."

And, as Computerworld noted:

"The Google Compute Engine (GCE) joins Microsoft Azure in supporting the fresh distribution [of Snappy]...Google has been an ardent supporter of Docker and container-based virtualization itself...In June, the company released as open source its software for managing containers, called Kubernetes. The design of Ubuntu Core is similar to another Linux distribution, CoreOS, first released a year ago."

 Indeed, we've covered Kubernetes and Google's focus on it in depth. Some very big contributors are committed to the Kubernetes project, including IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, Docker, CoreOS, Mesosphere, and SaltStack.

The Snappy Core version of Ubuntu is especially designed to make common tasks easy for cloud administrators. It's a lock to gain a lot of users on AWS, the Azure platform and Google's cloud platform. Also, more than 50 percent of OpenStack deployments are built on Ubuntu, and lots of these deployments will build on Snappy Core.

 

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Red Hat, Red Hat, and More Red Hat

Friday 19th of December 2014 04:18:01 AM

No doubt Red Hat dominated the headlines today with their 3Q financial report and subsequent quotes. They're also having to say goodbye to CFO Charlie Peters as their stock jumped 10 percent in after hours trading following the report. In other Red Hat news, a security bulletin from the Open Source software company said that latest security scare "Grinch" isn't a bug, it's a feature.

The top story today must be the Red Hat third quarter financial report that shows Red Hat continues its winning streak. The news was carried by just about every outlet I monitor. Their report today said that total revenue for the year is up 15% as was the subscription revenue, beating Wall Street estimates and their own internals. Shares of Red Hat stock jumped 10% at the news in after hours trading and is currently holding fairly steady.

With the good comes the bad as 10-year veteran Red Hat Chief Financial Officer Charlie Peters announces his retirement Wednesday on the same earnings call. He's planning on spending more time with six grandchildren when his retirement takes effect sometime in the next year. He was quoted as saying he'd stay around as long as it's needed to find his replacement.

In other news, Red Hat today addressed the latest security scare first reported Monday saying the utilities that allow the wheel group sudo root access is a feature not a security bug and protected by basic safeguards. "Red Hat does not consider this to be a security issue or even a bug. This is the expected behavior of the PackageKit console client."

And finally today, Barrons.com spoke with Jim Whitehurst after the earnings calls about Red Hat's success and their plans for maintaining their world dominance. Whitehurst said, "Open source has truly gone mainstream. We are at a point now where no one will get fired for using open source. In fact, some people might be worried they’d get fired if they don’t use it. It’s that shift in perception that open source is where innovation is happening."

In related news, The Register said in a review Linux fans will love Fedora 21 if they can get it installed.

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On Heels of IPO, Hortonworks Expands Certification Program

Thursday 18th of December 2014 04:07:38 PM

Last week was a momentous one for Hortonworks, which focuses on the Hadoop Big Data platform. The company had a successful IPO, driving home how focused many enterprises are on yielding more useful insights from their troves of data than standard data mining tools can provide.

Forrester Research wrote last month that Hadoop is now "a must have for large organizations." And, indeed, large companies ranging from Yahoo to eBay make extensive use of the platform. Now, Hortonworks has extended its technology partner program with the addition of three new certifications it offers.

The new enterprise components of the certification program, called HDP Operations Ready, HDP Security Ready and HDP Governance Ready, are targeted to enable organizations to adopt a modern data architecture with the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP), supported by key enterprise Hadoop capabilities required of an enterprise data platform.

According to Hortonworks, key aspects of the new certification program components, relative to the HDP platform, include:

 HDP Operations Ready: Delivers assurance to manage and run applications on HDP from an operational perspective.  Specifically, integrates with Apache Ambari, using Ambari as a client to an enterprise management system, integrating Ambari-managed Hadoop components via Ambari Stacks, or providing tailored user tools with Ambari Views.

HDP Security Ready: Delivers tested and validated integration with security-related components of the platform.  Beyond the ability to work in a Kerberos-enabled cluster, it is also designed to work with the Apache Knox gateway and Apache Ranger for comprehensive security integration and centralized management.

HDP Governance Ready: Provides assurance that data is integrated into the platform via automated and managed data pipelines as described and facilitated by the Apache Falcon data workflow engine.

"By offering one of the most comprehensive certification programs in the market, our technology partners are better enabled to help drive the modernization of enterprise data architectures," said Tim Hall, vice president of product management at Hortonworks, in a statement. "Our program gives vendors extremely valuable guidance and integration tools for the ecosystem and allows customers to be assured of an ecosystem that integrates well."

"Selecting certified technologies is important to us because it ensures interoperability with next-gen data architectures," added Mike Peterson, vice president, Platforms and Data Architecture at Neustar. "We support the Hortonworks Certified Technology Program and are pleased that key enterprise requirements we look for such as operations, security and governance have been added to the program." 

Hortonworks claims that hundreds of vendors are now involved with its certification program. The company also offers extensive training on Hadoop-centric topics, as we covered here

 In enterprises as well as small businesses, the Big Data trend--sorting and sifting large data sets with new tools in pursuit of surfacing meaningful angles on stored information--is on the rise. Hadoop has become an open source star in this arena, and Dice.com and other employment-focused agencies report that there is strong demand for people with skills using Hadoop.

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Nebula Builds on Cosmos for Enterprise OpenStack Deployments

Thursday 18th of December 2014 03:51:01 PM

Nebula, which bills itself as an enterprise private cloud company and is focused on OpenStack, is not exactly just another player in the OpenStack ecosystem. The company is funded by noted backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Comcast Ventures, but even more notably, the company was founded by Chris Kemp, who helped launch OpenStack back when he was NASA's CTO.

as founded by Chris Kemp, who helped get OpenStack started while he was NASA's CTO. - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/cloud/nebula-expands-cosmos-for-enterprise-openstack-deployments.html#sthash.wVEMBad6.dpuf

 The company has just announced new new additions to Nebula Cosmos, which is enterprise software that focuses on fast deployment, management, and monitoring of OpenStack private clouds.

According to the company:

"Currently, enterprises are experiencing a tectonic shift in cloud computing where they are moving the majority of their cloud investments from infrastructure towards applications. Enterprises want the cost benefits of public cloud offerings, but the control and scalability of a private cloud. For enterprises to achieve 'Google cost' without 'Google scale,' optimized software is key. By decoupling cost from scale, enterprises can focus on application innovation versus infrastructure integration of IT resources."

"Now that OpenStack has established itself and is showing signs of readiness for enterprise production use, the long wait as enterprises and service providers move from the sidelines into true implementations can take place in earnest," wrote James Staten, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, Inc., in a November 2014 blog post titled, As OpenStack Stabilizes Big Questions Remain for the Foundation.

At the end of last year, we predicted that there would be a major shift in many enterprises from evaluating OpenStack to deploying it, and that is now taking place. 

Nebula is an integrated system that "enables enterprises to deploy a private cloud infrastructure without utilizing extensive on-site IT resources, by seamlessly integrating with existing enterprise architecture and workflow," according to the company. The heart of the solution is the Nebula Cloud Controller and Cosmos, a curated OpenStack-based system used to orchestrate compute, storage, and network services.

"Our mission is to create a turnkey IT solution that transforms enterprises from a high cost legacy environment to a strategic private cloud environmentat all levels of scale," said Tina Nolte, vice president of products at Nebula, in a statement. "To do this we've built a product that allows for rapid deployment of OpenStack and seamless integration with existing identity, storage, and network configurations. With the latest release of Cosmos, we're empowering enterprise customers to leverage OpenStack private clouds and utilize existing enterprise workflows and architectures without added resources and cost." 

You can find out more about Nebula and its new offerings here

 

 

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Red Hot Red Hat, Mageia Gives Back, and Linux Awards

Thursday 18th of December 2014 04:21:13 AM

Today in Linux news, the Mint project announced the release candidate for 17.1 KDE. In other news the Mageia project donates 250€ to GCompris and TheStreet says Red Hat stock is poised to become "red hot" in 2015. LinuxQuestions.org announced their 2014 Members Choice Awards today and Bruce Byfield has some tips for KDE users.

Clement Lefebvre today announced the release of Linux Mint 17.1 “Rebecca” KDE RC. Mint 17.1 will feature KDE 4.14 and several component and system improvements. The team also released the RC for their Xfce version as well. No clues were given as to when the finals might be ready.

The Mageia team today posted of their Christmas gift to GCompris of 250€. They said they've grown enough that they're able to give back some. "GCompris is a software suite of educational activities for children from 2 to 10. Many children first see Linux through GCompris." Mageia is hoping to start a yearly tradition with this small step this holiday season. The guys chose GCompris themselves this year but next year will be asking users which projects they think are worthy.

Every year Linuxquestions.org holds their annual Members Choice Awards. Today Jeremy Garcia announced this year's commencement. Among the 32 categories are Desktop Distribution of the Year, Office Suite of the Year, and Desktop Environment of the Year. Members must be logged in to play.

In other news:

* How Red Hat Is on the Path to Become Red Hot in 2015 -- and Beyond

* Enhancing Your Work Habits with KDE

* SuperX 3.0 Beta Released

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In the Market for a Holiday Chromebook? Here's What to Know

Wednesday 17th of December 2014 04:53:46 PM

Are you in the market for a Chromebook this holiday season? A lot of holiday shoppers are, as Google's Chrome OS has moved from a slightly questionable cloud-centric platform to one that can be taken seriously. As a matter of fact, Chromebooks were among the top sellers among low-cost laptops last holiday season.

Consumer Reports is out with a new evalutation of the best low-cost laptops and gives the nod to some Chromebooks. Meanwhile, some applications you may have thought you'd never use on Chrome OS are going to be available. Here are details.

The $175 Acer CB3-111-C8UB Chromebook is rated as a Consumer Reports Best Buy. It's very light and Acer claims it gets over 10 hours of battery life, although you'll get less if you stream video and audio extensively. Certainly, the price is right for the Acer, and Acer has experience producing Chromebooks, too.

The the Acer C720-3871 is actually Consumer Reports favorite Chromebook, though, and it sells for $350, although you can get it cheaper online. It has state-of-the-art processing power and a bit more muscle than the lower end Acer.

Meanwhile, Photoshop--an applications you may have thought would never run on cloud-focused Chrome OS--is going to be available for Chromebooks. Google and Adobe have announced that Adobe's entire Creative Cloud software suite, including Photoshop, will soon be available for Chromebooks. And, Google and Adobe are showing their Streaming Photoshop project, and making it available in the educational market. 

How will the streaming version work? It is designed to run straight from the cloud to a Chromebook. It updates itself and will be fully integrated with Google Drive, so there will be no need to download and re-upload files. You just save your art directly from Photoshop to the cloud. For IT administrators, it will ease some headaches. For example, installation won't be required.

If you haven't looked into Chromebooks, or if you previously wrote them off due to the immaturity of Chrome OS, look again. Many holiday gift receivers would be happy to get a Chromebook, and they are much more flexible now than before. And, Google is even offering incentives with Chromebooks, including, in many cases, free storage in the cloud and other perks.

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Snappy Ubuntu Arrives for Google Cloud, Optimizes Docker Use

Wednesday 17th of December 2014 04:40:08 PM

As we've reported before, more than half of OpenStack deployments are being built on Ubuntu, according to the OpenStack Foundation, which backs the claim up with survey results. Ubuntu's popularity with the cloud crowd is not lost on Canonical, which recently launched a new “snappy” version of Ubuntu Core. This minimalist take on Ubuntu can especially serve Docker deployments and platform-as-a-service environments.

Now, in a smart move, Google has adopted the Snappy core for use with Google Cloud. It's a streamlined version of the Canonical Ubuntu Linux distribution tuned  to run Docker and other containers along with Google Cloud. It provides the essential components for running Linux task in the cloud, but removes some of the bulk of the full version of Ubuntu.

According to Canonical:

"Ubuntu Core is a new rendition of Ubuntu for the cloud with transactional updates. Ubuntu Core is a minimal server image with the same libraries as today’s Ubuntu, but applications are provided through a simpler mechanism. The snappy approach is faster, more reliable, and lets us provide stronger security guarantees for apps and users — that’s why we call them 'snappy' applications."

"Snappy apps and Ubuntu Core itself can be upgraded atomically and rolled back if needed — a bulletproof approach to systems management that is perfect for container deployments. It’s called transactional or image-based systems management, and we’re delighted to make it available on every Ubuntu certified cloud."

The team at Canonical is even going so far as to call Snappy the “biggest revolution in Ubuntu since we launched our mobile initiative.”

As Computerworld notes:

"The Google Compute Engine (GCE) joins Microsoft Azure in supporting the fresh distribution [of Snappy]...Google has been an ardent supporter of Docker and container-based virtualization itself...In June, the company released as open source its software for managing containers, called Kubernetes. The design of Ubuntu Core is similar to another Linux distribution, CoreOS, first released a year ago."

 Indeed, we've covered Kubernetes and Google's focus on it in depth. Some very big contributors are committed to the Kubernetes project, including IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, Docker, CoreOS, Mesosphere, and SaltStack.

The Snappy version of Ubuntu is especially designed to make common tasks easy for cloud administrators. It's a shoe-in to gain a lot of users on both the Azure platform and Google's cloud platform.

 

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Reviewing 2014, Penguin Porn, and Dropping Distros

Wednesday 17th of December 2014 04:25:38 AM

Today in Linux news are several reviews of the events of 2014. Elsewhere Linux.conf.au lost its hashtag to an adult entertainment awards and another Linux security flaw is making the news rounds. KDE 3-clone Trinity desktop saw a new release and Bruce Byfield asks why the number of Linux distributions are declining.

The most interesting story today comes from Bruce Byfield saying, "The number of Linux distributions is declining. However, exactly why the decline is taking place and how much it matters remains unclear." He takes a stab at explaining it though beginning with the decline in Linux usage as a hobby. Less folks are downloading, installing, and hacking (probably lost to the smartphone craze). Most of those that do are aging and just don't have the time to hack due to work and family. Byfield also thinks that because most distros are so similar to each other these days perhaps folks are sticking to the most popular and independents are losing heart. Byfield isn't sure this trend is anything to worry about but suggests keeping an eye on it.

More folks are looking back at the year that was beginning with opensource.com's top 10 Open Source projects. Docker tops the list because everyone has been talking of it, it even made mention in one of mine once. Of course OpenStack made the cut too as well as OwnCloud and Hadoop. Even CMS favorite Drupal earned a mention.

ComputerWorld.com is running a "year in quotes" and two touch our community. They quote Jim Zemlin from the Linux Foundation on the success of Linux saying, "It is a frothy, hot market." IDG writer Nancy Weil also included "Theo de Raadt, founder of the OpenBSD project, on the waning enthusiasm for critical open-source projects in the aftermath of the Heartbleed flaw."

Linux Voice is asking what were visitors' top highlight of the year and most naturally said the launch of Linux Voice. Behind that were the systemd issue with resulting Debian fork, the commenter's favorite app or distro release, and Heartbleed.

Not Linux related, but Google said their top searches in 2014 included Robin Williams and associated topics like "depression," The World Cup, and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols looks at the declining use of the GPL in 2014 and Zacks.com asks if Red Hat can keep up their winning steak through 2015.

Another day, another security scare, this time it's the Grinch that tried to steal our Linux Christmas. Several outlets are carrying the news that Linux servers are yet again in peril and are urging admins who are dumb enough to allow sudo on their critical servers to eradicate it.

In other news:

* Penguin porn? NO! Linux folk in #LCA2015 standoff

* Trinity Desktop Environment R14.0.0 Released!

* 6 Ideal Last Minute Linux Xmas Gift Ideas

* Fedora 21 Review

* FBI Used the Web’s Favorite Hacking Tool to Unmask Tor Users

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Timely FOSS Training and Tutorial Resources for Year's End

Tuesday 16th of December 2014 04:07:05 PM

It's that time of year, when many bloggers and authors round up their favorite open source tutotials and educational resources. Opensource.com has a nice roundup of tutorials that showed up this year, including a tutorial in which Jiri Folta explains how to use an instance of ownCloud to integrate Dropbox or Google Drive with the GNOME desktop.

One of the best ongoing projects for producing free open source-related documentation is FLOSS Manuals. It's an ongoing and ambitious effort to build online guides for open source software.  It has some notable new tutorials out, and in this post you'll also find some of our best liked tutorials overall.

Melange is a very interesting software platform that is used to manage Google Summer of Code. FLOSS Manuals has a complete tutorial for it here, and what is notable about it is that it can be adjusted to manage projects, competitions and more.

Meanwhile, you can find a fabulous tutorial for live blogging in real time here.  Live Blog was created primarily for journalists but can be used by anyone as an open source web tool to report live breaking news from anywhere, working only in a web browser.

For the video-focused crowed, FLOSS Manuals also has an interesting guide to independent video hosting.  The guide can give guidance to those who want to reduce their reliance on services like YouTube and Vimeo.

As Opensouce.com notes:

"One of the hottest technologies right now is OpenStack, a set of software tools for building and managing cloud computing platforms. OpenStack is very flexible, as Opensource.com's Jason Baker explains. In this tutorial, Baker takes you through getting WordPress 4.0 up and running on an instance of OpenStack."

"A technology that's closely tied to OpenStack is Docker. Chances are you've heard more than a little about Docker. You might even be eager to get working with it. To ease yourself into it, you'll want to dive in with this tutorial on getting started with Docker by Vincent Batts."

 Here are some more tutorials that are worth your time:

Plumi. Plumi is a free Content Management System (CMS) designed for video-sharing, based on Plone and produced by EngageMedia. Plumi enables you to create your own video sharing site; by installing Plumi on your web server your can use a wide array of functionality to facilitate video distribution and community creation. Features include video podcasting, server-side flash/ogg transcoding and embedded playback, open content licensing, a sophisticated publishing workflow and large file uploading via FTP. You can find a compete manual on FLOSS Manuals, here.

Freedom Fone. Freedom Fone is a communications tool with origins in Zimbabwe. “While the Internet in Zimbabwe has become more accessible, it is still available only to a minority, urban-based audience,” say Freedom Fone community members. “Mobile phone usage on the other hand has grown exponentially with over 50% of the population - including many who live out in remote rural areas - currently subscribed to mobile networks.” Freedom Fone allows anyone with a phone to access or contribute information on a specific issue 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A manual makes clear how it can be of use to small- and medium-sized businesses.

GIMP for Graphics. If you work with graphics, or if you want to start doing so, you may already use GIMP, one of the very best open source graphics applications, or you have it on your radar. GIMP is so powerful that it can be daunting for new users, and FLOSS Manuals has an excellent getting started guide available for it, here. Once you've mastered your GIMP basics, you can find even more guidance in the free online guide in Grokking the GIMP.

Firefox in a Nutshell.  Floss Manuals' Firefox in a Nutshell guide is available now, and is a comprehensive guide to the one of the most popular open browsers. It covers installation, of course, but delves into intelligent use of tabs and dedicates solid coverage to installing extensions--one of the big advantages Firefox offers. 
For example, the guide has a straightforward discussion of how to use FireFTP, an extension for Firefox that makes it easy to send and receive very large files.  If you use another browser and have wanted to dablle in Firefox, this guide is worth getting and totally free.

Etherpad.  Etherpad is a real-time collaborative editor for Linux that can be used for taking minutes during online or offline meetings, recording real-time or asynchronous text-based planning of projects, and more. It's popular as a quick-in, quick-out way to record thoughts. You can get FLOSS Manuals' free guide to it now. Etherpad is basically a rewrite of a different but similar application called "EtherPad," with the newer version being more compact. The FLOSS Manuals guide covers how to create pads, how to chat about pads with other users, and delves into other collaboration features. Especially if you work with others on brainstorming, this little application is worth checking out.

Want more free guides to cool applications from FLOSS Manuals? Here are some others worth looking into:

Jubler. Do you create and work with video files, perhaps using tools such as VLC Media Player?  If so, you may be interested in Jubler, a FOSS tool for creating and translating subtitles that you can use with Linux, Windows or Mac OS X. (It uses MPlayer for playback.) FLOSS Manuals has a visual guide to getting started with Jubler, available here

BlueGriffon.  OStatic has covered tools for web developers and editors a number of times. Powered by Gecko, the rendering engine Mozilla used in Firefox for years, BlueGriffon is an open source, cross-platform web editor with outstanding WYSIWYG interface options. You can use it on Linux, Windows or Mac OS X. Because it's based on Gecko, BlueGriffon is especially good for building pages that will look great in Firefox. Check out FLOSS Manuals' visual tour of BlueGriffon, here.

Chromium. You may very well use Chromium as your browser, and if you do you're in luck. One of the newest guides on FLOSS Manuals is a complete guide to Chromium--the open source core of Google's Chrome browser. The guide walks through the differences between Chromium and Chrome, provides installation guidelines for all major operating systems, and much more.

 

 

 

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Cloud Foundry Foundation: A Smart Move for VMware

Tuesday 16th of December 2014 03:52:47 PM

In a move that parallels some smart moves made by Red Hat in the cloud computing space, VMware has launched an independent foundation supporting its Cloud Foundry platform. The Cloud Foundry Foundation is focused on VMware's own Platform-as-a-Service offering of the same name, but will concentrate on fostering an ecosystem surrounding Cloud Foundry. In this game, as Red Hat has shown with its efforts surrounding OpenStack, partnerships will be everything.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation is a nonprofit entity and will be managed as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project governed by a team of open source experts from founding Platinum Members EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Pivotal, SAP and VMware. In the world of tech, those are some pretty big names.

If you've watched Red Hat pursue partnerships surrounding OpenStack and support the OpenStack Foundation, you've seen how that ecosystem-focused strategy has paid off for the company. It has reported a string of positive financial results, and executives have attributed that to the growing cloud business.

As Dana Blankenhorn notes on Seeking Alpha:

"By supporting the OpenStack foundation, originally backed by Rackspace, with talent, Red Hat made itself an indispensable partner to companies seeking to build their own clouds, with a top-line growth rate that would be the envy of an Amazon.com and steady profits exceeding 10% of revenue."

Cloud Foundry has the potential to be a big success for VMware in terms of pursuing open goals. Historically, the company has focused heavily on proprietary technology but that must change.

Just as Red Hat has built a good business model around providing paid support for open source software, partnerships can help Cloud Foundry beome a PaaS standard, and VMware could build a solid business around supporting it, along with training.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation is also implementing a new approach to open source development called Dojo. This offers developers a unique “fast track” for commit rights, which often take more than a year to gain in a major project. A certification program will also be introduced in the new year to ensure consistency and compatibility across Cloud Foundry-branded products and services.

You can find out about recent developer and technical contributions to Cloud Foundry here, including work surrounding Docker and containers. 

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2015 Predictions and Coming Attractions

Tuesday 16th of December 2014 04:56:01 AM

As 2014 draws to a close a few folks are looking ahead to 2015. Jack Wallen pens his predictions for Linux next year. Phoronix has gathered a few Fedora 22 tidbits and OMG!Ubuntu! has some for Ubuntu 15.04. Dedoimedo.com reviews Kali Linux and the Hecktic Geek tests Fedora 21. And finally today, Dedoimedo picks his top Xfce distro of the year.

There really was a lot of news out today but let's start with Jall Wallen's 2015 Linux predictions. He doesn't really make any big bold prognostications but says, "I believe that the year 2015 will remain quite stagnant for Linux on the desktop." This is because Ubuntu will be keeping its focus on their smartphone system. He adds that Chrome/Android hybrids Evolve OS and Quantum OS could be the future for Linux replacing our outdated desktops like "Cinnamon, Mate, XFCE, LXCE."

Fedoras 21 and 22 continue in the news. Pierre-Yves Chibon today blogged about some of the traffic seen from the release of Fedora 21. On Fedora 21, today the Hectic Geek said it was well worth the wait and that the GNOME desktop was wonderful. Although he found a few issues, he concluded that folks should give it a try. Additionally, the Linux Action Show spoke with Fedora developers about Fedora 21 and stuff yesterday as well.

Since our initial coverage last week, Phoronix has posted of some feature proposals in the works. Michael Larabel wrote that some new features may include UEFI Secure Boot Blacklist Updates and a pre-upgrade assistant (to assist in upgrading).

OMG!Ubuntu!'s Joey-Elijah Sneddon wrote that Ubuntu 15.04 will upgrade to GTK 3.14 bringing "the latest and greatest." He says that's not only good news to developers but also users because their apps will be pretty again. Several favorites can ship with their most recent interface updates or get some. Basically, all GNOME apps in Unity on Ubuntu 15.04 should be prettier he said. In related news, Danny Stieben today looked at how far Ubuntu has come in 10 years.

The Linux Mint project today announced that some of their servers are seeing heavy traffic and will probably experience significant delays. They are urging users to switch mirrors in their Software Sources until the crisis is resolved. In other Mint news, those of us waiting for the updated images or system updates for our KDE versions will probably have to keep waiting into the new year because of the holidays and persistent bugs.

In other Linux news:

* Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0 - a desktop Debian distribution (in this week's DWW)

* Kali Linux review

* Best Xfce distro of 2014

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Google's Software Removal Tool Keeps Chrome Humming Properly

Monday 15th of December 2014 04:42:05 PM

One of the ways in which Google has been preserving the purity of its Chrome browser is to carefully police what kinds of extensions will work with it. In late 2013, Google decreed that the longstanding Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI), which extensions have worked with for many years, is the source of many problems. Google has also delivered an update on its plan to remove NPAPI from Chrome.

But there are also a lot of sketchy applications out there, and they can cause performance problems with Chrome as well. With that in mind, Google is out with the free, beta version of its  Software Removal Tool, which works on Windows at the moment. According to Google, it will “scan and remove software” that may cause problems with the Chrome browser. You just download and install it, and then you can launch it to perform scans on an ongoing basis.

Not only does the tool catch sketchy applications, but it detects homepage takeover tools and other borderline malware offerings that float around online.

One thing to beware of if you use the tool is that it can make it slightly too easy to reset all Chrome settings back to the default state. 

In addition to the Software Removal tool, Google plans to block all NPAPI plugins by default in January 2015, and remove support entirely in September of 2015.

According to the company:

"Currently Chrome supports NPAPI plugins, but they are blocked by default unless the user chooses to allow them for specific sites (via the page action UI). A small number of the most popular plugins are whitelisted and allowed by default. In January 2015 we will remove the whitelist, meaning all plugins will be blocked by default."

"In April 2015 NPAPI support will be disabled by default in Chrome and we will unpublish extensions requiring NPAPI plugins from the Chrome Web Store. Although plugin vendors are working hard to move to alternate technologies, a small number of users still rely on plugins that haven’t completed the transition yet...n September 2015 we will remove the override and NPAPI support will be permanently removed from Chrome. Installed extensions that require NPAPI plugins will no longer be able to load those plugins."

 

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Wipro, SUSE Work Together on OpenStack Cloud Tools, Services

Monday 15th of December 2014 04:30:29 PM

Wipro Ltd. has announced that it has jointly developed with SUSE an OpenStack cloud solution based on Wipro's own open source cloud tools and SUSE Cloud, SUSE’s enterprise OpenStack cloud platform which is integrated with a cloud management layer, stitching private and public cloud layers together. Here are more details.

Wipro has devised an end-to-end OpenStack Cloud Reference Architecture, which is focused on hybrid clouds.  It is designed to leverage standard hypervisors and storage solutions with Software Defined Network solutions in the architecture as well.

According to Wipro:

"Wipro and SUSE’s joint OpenStack cloud solution has the ability to allow unified Application Programming Interfaces (API) across private and public Clouds and can be tailored for private cloud implementation as it adds elasticity and agility to the existing IT infrastructure. This next-gen Hybrid cloud solution stack supports compute-as-a-service, storage-as-a-service and network function-as-a-service."

According to Anuj Bhalla, Wipro's Vice President and Global Business Head, System Integration and Maintenance Services, Wipro Ltd.: “We have been working with SUSE to create a cloud business continuity system in order to ensure higher availability of services, using the OpenStack cloud platform. Together, with SUSE Cloud and our industry leading Open source practice, our aim is to create a suite of flexible open source cloud solutions that will transform the customer’s business in a tangible and rapid way. Through this joint approach, we are confident of creating a pool of Hybrid Cloud trained resources and are investing in joint engineering efforts to enhance the existing OpenStack cloud solution.”

Wipro and SUSE’s joint hybrid Cloud solution also supports on-the-move auto scaling of provisioned virtual machines and has the ability to move workloads from one cloud to another leveraging. The solution also brings budget and billing controls into a self-service portal, aimed at enterprises.

As we've reported, SUSE has been steadily building out its cloud tools, focused on OpenStack.  For more information on SUSE Cloud, visit www.suse.com/cloud.  It is an open source, enterprise cloud computing platform, but comes at a fee with its fulll set of services and pricing found here

 

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LibreOffice 4.2.8 and Other Must-have Apps

Saturday 13th of December 2014 04:13:15 AM

The Document Foundation today announced the release of LibreOffice 4.2.8, the final update to the 4.2 branch. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols brags on his favorite Linux applications and Chema Martin says "Fedora 21 absolutely rocks." And finally today, Chris Hoffman said "2014 shattered the myth of Linux impenetrability."

No doubt it's been a rough year for those patching for security flaws and Chris Hoffman said it "proved that Linux lovers still need to pay at least some attention to their system's protection." After reviewing this week's Linux Turla, Hoffman then discusses some of X.org's issues. After throwing in Shellshock for good measure, he reminds us to patch our systems and concludes, "Be humble when talking about Linux's security or you may find yourself with egg on your face."

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols said today, "With the right applications, a Linux desktop is every bit as good as either of the two mainstream desktop operating systems." He also threw in, "In addition, I don't need to worry about anti-virus software since, despite all the FUD, there still hasn't been a successful desktop Linux virus." His favorite apps include Chrome web browser, GIMP, and LibreOffice.

Speaking of LibreOffice, version 4.2.8 was released today to address a few bugs. The announcement said this was definitely the last release for this long stable branch. Most of the fixes were for Calc and include a sorting bug, cell dragging bug, and highlight/painting bug. Others are the fix for importing/exporting filter bug and a Writer crash. If your or yours are still using the 4.2 branch of LibreOffice, upgrading is encouraged.

Elsewhere:

* Fedora 21... just WOW!!

* Release of KDE Frameworks 5.5.0

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How to Easily Get Very In-Demand OpenStack Cloud Skills

Friday 12th of December 2014 03:52:34 PM

How in demand are cloud computing skills in the job market? Consider these notes from Forbes, based on a report from WANTED Analytics: "There are 3.9 million jobs in the U.S. affiliated with cloud computing today with 384,478 in IT alone. The median salary for IT professionals with cloud computing experience is $90,950 and the median salary for positions that pay over $100,000 a year is $116,950."

The report also notes that IBM, Oracle and Amazon have the greatest number of cloud computing positions open. We've noted before that people with OpenStack skills, in particular, are doing well in the job market. Here are some details on training and certification programs for OpenStack that can make a difference for job seekers.

 "OpenStack talent is a rarified discipline," Josh McKenty, who helped develop the platform, has told CRN, adding, "to be good with OpenStack, you need to be a systems engineer, a great programmer but also really comfortable working with hardware."  The good news is that there are more ways to sharpen OpenStack skills, and gain valuable certification.

The OpenStack Foundation launched a Training Marketplace designed to make it easier to discover training courses offered by providers in the OpenStack community.  “The goal of the Foundation is to eliminate barriers to OpenStack adoption, create more OpenStack experts and ensure that OpenStack has a positive impact on the careers of our community members,” said Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, in a statement. “We want to grow the community, accelerate the availability of training programs worldwide and help close the OpenStack job gap."  

The Linux Foundation, Mirantis, Morphlabs, Piston, Rackspace, Red Hat, SUSE and SwiftStack are just some of the companies to have courses available in the OpenStack Foundation Training Marketplace.

Mirantis has steadily announced interesting training programs.  The company has also announced that hundreds of organizations around the world have turned to the Mirantis Training and Certification program for OpenStack to train and certify their IT staff as OpenStack cloud operators on multiple platforms.  

Meanwhile, Rackspace has an entire curriculum of courses built around OpenStack.  The company has been conducting on-demand e-learning training courses and offers a number of new classroom courses.

Silicon Angle has produced an extremely exhaustive roundup of online and offline resources for learning OpenStack skills. It includes discussion of OpenStack bootcamps from MorphLabs and Mirantis, Red Hat OpenStack training, Piston training, and more. 

The OpenStack Foundation has put some numbers on the expected growth for OpenStack-related jobs and added more about its Training Marketplace:

"OpenStack expertise continues to pay off, with OpenStack jobs consistently paying higher wages and employers doubling the number of job postings over the past year. The ecosystem has quickly responded to help developers and operators gain these valuable skills....Future demand for OpenStack skills is only expected to grow, with the BSA Global Cloud Scorecard predicting that 14 million cloud jobs will be created by 2015."

And, don't forget that you can obtain valuable certification for OpenStack skills from some of the organizations mentioned in this post. Red Hat, for example, has announced its Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Infrastructure-as-a-Service and expanded training in support of its OpenStack technology. You can find out more about it in this post.

 

 

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Dell Adds Midokura Open Network Virtualization Option for OpenStack

Friday 12th of December 2014 03:40:29 PM

Dell Computer is deepening its focus on the open cloud and OpenStack in particular. The company announced an expansion of its Open Networking initiative to include Midokura, a company focused on network virtualization, to complement Dell’s networking and server infrastructure. Their agreement includes a joint go-to-market program, validated reference architecture and global reseller agreement.

Midokura’s Enterprise MidoNet software will reside on Dell infrastructure, delivering a network virtualization overlay for OpenStack. The idea is to help enterprise customers and service providers create agile cloud networking infrastructures based on OpenStack.

Dell’s networking switches and x86 servers already form the foundation of many modern data centers.  Meanwhile, MidoNet is a software-based, distributed network virtualization system that can enable enterprises to build, run and manage virtual networks.

Midokura Enterprise MidoNet is on the Dell Software and Peripherals list and Dell’s Download store, available today. 

“Midokura, like Dell, is committed to expanding the Open Networking initiative to meet the needs of today’s modern enterprises and help deliver an open foundation for compute, storage and networking infrastructure,” said Dan Mihai Dumitriu, CEO and co-founder, Midokura, in a statement. “We’ve already successfully teamed up with Dell to bridge virtual and physical networks and we look forward to deepening our collaboration to create an open, converged infrastructure for enterprises to support clouds that are easy to scale and operate.” 

Dell and Red Hat announced last year that Dell would effectively become an OEM for Red Hat's Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, and has been selling systems running that platform. In recent times, Dell has been trying to shift its business model from low-margin PCs to higher margin service provision and cloud strategies. 

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