Thursday, January 31, 2008

Open Source Meets Business - Day 2

(continued from here)

Workflow management with BPEL

BPEL, the business process execution language, can be used as interface between management (defining/modeling process requirements) and IT (implementing services). Its object-oriented approach makes it possible to divide & conquer large tasks into Business/Architecture/Processes. BPEL allows to apply a consistent and repeteable processes which can be measured/monitored. The basic concept is SOA (service oriented architecture). Bpel adds a recursive aggregation model for web services and workflow mgmt. This all should allow for service orchestration and programming in the large. BPEL is standardized by OASIS as WS-BPEL). A graphical workflow designer and debugger is available through the Eclipse project. One can download an open source implementation of both the BPEL4WS 1.1 specification and the WSBPEL 2.0 standard at

OPSI - open pc server integration

OPSI is an open source desktop management system available at While it is based on a Linux server its primary targets are Windows workstations. Written in Python, it provides inventory, deployment and patch & update management through a java UI. The presenter gave a short demo and highlighted the nice interface for composing database queries. Windows admins wanting to deplay opsi shouldn't be afraid of the command line, though.

Complete scalability with integrated virtualization

The title gave the impression of getting some facts and the presenters title of 'Solution Architect' made me actually believe this. Boy was I wrong. I couldn't stand half an hour of marketing fluff and 'Redhat can do it all' without any proof. Had to leave early...


This one was nice. VirtualBox is (yet another) open source virtualization solution. Unlike Xen, it provides full virtualization and is able to run unmodified guest even without hardware (Intel-VT, AMD-V) support. So it plays in the league of VirtualPC, VMware or Parallels. VirtualBox runs on Windows, Linux, MacOS and Solaris and supports all major operating systems (Windos XP, Windows Vista, Linux, Solaris, OS/2). I downloaded a copy and installed it on my OpenSUSE 10.3 laptop during the presentation and was impressed with its nice and intuitive configuration and management interface, highly recommend. VirtualBox is mostly used for windows virtualization and supports Microsofts RDP (remote desktop) protocol, implemented directly in the virtual graphics card. Then the VirtualBox server acts as terminal server, delivering graphical content to (a less powerful) PC. In this configuration, one can even use the USB ports of the dumb terminal, impressive. Other features are snapshots of running clients and shared folders between clients.

Collaborative Software Development

This talk, given by a consultant from McKinsey & Company, tried to put a spotlight on the influence open source has on traditional economies. It started to show how working in the open empowers individuals and communities through distributed co-creation, pro-sumption, firm of one / firm of one billion, interactions and collaborations It very much changes how people work and focuses on knowledge workers (see also 'Software for knowledge workers' on day 3) A couple of prominent development in the open projects were named
  • Linux
  • Wikipedia
  • we>me textbook (collaborative creation of learning material, see here for a broader scope)
  • oscarproject (open car engineering)
  • loncin motorcycles china (Using an open development and manufacturing process, they have huge cost savings)
  • prosthetics project (prosthetics cad design)
This new development style has a huge economic influence on the gross national product of countries (up to 15% are expected in the future). The presenter pointed out several times that working on open (source) projects is substantially different from traditional work. Only very few companies have realized this yet. All industries will be affected. First those with much IT, like Banks, Insurances, etc. Next are (car) manufacturers or similar companies with a big portion of high technology in the value chain. The media (broadcast) industry was also named. Big changes ahead.

What's next for Open Source

Given by Kim Polese, CEO of SpikeSource, a company selling 'shrink-wrapped' open source solutions, this presentation had a similar topic like the previous one. Key messages were open source is disruptive, dramatic market evolvement, huge effects on global economy. She continued to talk about here company (yes, one can make money with open source) and the usual marketing fluff. Coming trends will be
  • mass market devices (Google adroid)
  • proprietary and o/s convergence (Novells 'mixed source' strategy came into mind)
  • virtual appliances
  • online marketplaces (Amazon is Linux based)
  • consolidation plus proliferation

Open Source Barometer

Alfresco does open source enterprise content management based on a good deal of market analysis. The talk was a preview o the annual open source barometer focussing on the european and german open source market. Lots of graphs, trends and colorful view on the survey results. Looking at Alfresco deployments, there is Windows and Linux equality as an evaluation platform but Linux wins clearly when it comes to actual deployments. Looking more closely at Linux (for hosting Alfresco), SUSE Linux wins over RedHat by a factor of five. However, globally (looking at Linux in general) RedHat has four times more systems out there. Overall, Linux raise is undamped but the Novell/Microsoft patent agreement resulted in a clear kink for SUSE.

Linux System Management at Rewe

Yeah, great title and bad content (pure RHN marketing blurb). Go here if you really want more.

Nagios at Bundesstelle für Informationstechnik

Driven by ITIL, this german government agency needed
  • consistent monitoring, platform independent
  • fast deployment, extensibility
  • transparency
  • acceptance by people
  • Integration into HP Service Desk + HP Network Node Manager
  • Support for UC4
Main reasons for Nagios were cost effectiveness (cost for one server: 1500EUR with a commercial suite, 25EUR with Nagios), api, extensibility, scalability, integration in existing environment and ongoing development.

VMware releases Perl WS-Management library

VMware just announced the availability of a WS-Management (client side) library written in Perl "Starting with VMware's VIPerl Toolkit v1.5, an experimental version of Perl WS-Management library is included for infrastructure management with Web Services. The library currently supports 7 out of the 11 generic operations described in the WS-Management - CIM Binding. The library is available for download at" Nice ! Maybe this can act as a guideline for the openwsman language bindings. Lets see.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Open Source Meets Business - Day1

Heise Verlag held its annual Open Source meets Business conference in Nuremberg last week.

The conference was quite well attended, reportedly over 700 participants with approximately 699 from Germany, all in business suites ... Redhat was present with a booth (showing olpc, Novell was nowhere to be seen - strange.

Most presentations had about 80% marketing content, 10% about the business model and 10% actual information. Redhats virtualization talk was especially contentless, a marketing talk given by a 'solution architect'. I had to leave early.

Presentations where limited to 30 minutes (incl. Q&A), with 6 to 7 tracks in parallel. I tried to choose the one with systems management or software architecture relevance.

Presentations - Day1


Ralf Wirdemann gave a good and easy to follow introduction to the REST architecture style. Nothing new, but its good to see that such topics are presented to (reportedly) CIO level management.
Too bad he had little 'real world' experience with either REST or Rails as his (non-)answers to questions showed.

SugarCRM: Is open source a viable business model ?

Short answer: Yes. Look at recent acquisitions: RedHat/JBoss 420M, Citrix/XenSource 500M, Sun/mySQL 1B. Nothing about SugarSRM as a product, but about the development (open) and business model (service & support).

Network Monitoring with Nagios

This was the first of four (!) talks about Nagios.
Monitoring is a hot topic for most IT admins. The presenter spend most of the time fighting the incompatibilities of MacOS Powerpoint with Windows Power Point and OpenOffice (doesn't show speaker notes ;-))
Filtering out the company marketing blurb, one learned that Nagios allows for cross-platfrom device and service monitoring. It uses its own client agent (available for Linux, Unix and Windows) but can also process SNMP management information from network devices. The client agent has a pluggable API for gathering information and there is a whole website dedicated to plugins.
The Nagios server, running on Linux only, provides the management infrastructure including a sophisticated alarm and notification system.
Customers seem to be quite happy with Nagios and only miss a reporting function. But this is planned for the future.


I presented my favorite topic, Web Services for Management. A remote management protocol providing true interoperable management capabilities between Linux and Windows.
Slides are available in german (I said it was a german conference, didn't I ?)