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by Peter Galli on March 10, 2011 05:20pm
As All About Microsoft's Mary Jo Foley reported yesterday, Microsoft has posted to CodePlex, our Open Source project hosting site, a test build of Python Tools for Visual Studio, a free, Open Source plug-in for Visual Studio 2010.
The Python Tools for Visual Studio (PTVS) is a free and open source plug-in for Visual Studio 2010, licensed under Apache 2.0 and developed by Microsoft's Technical Computing Group. It enables developers to use all the major productivity features of Visual Studio to build Python code using either CPython or IronPython.
It adds new features such as using High Performance Computing clusters to scale code. Together with one of the standard distros, it can be used to turn Visual Studio into a powerful Technical Computing IDE.
But it is important to note that PTVS is not a Python distribution; it works with an existing Python/IronPython installation to provide an integrated editing and debugging experience.
The first beta was delivered in conjunction with PyCon, which kicked off on March 7, and includes support for core IDE features and debugging and profiling. The second beta, due this summer, will add support for Cloud Computing (the ability to run compute-intensive Python code in Windows Azure); and support for Dryad (large-scale, data intensive parallel programming using Python code), Foley reports.
The success of the recent Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards ceremony was buoyed by the move of its Drupal-based website hosted on internal Linux servers to one hosted on Windows Azure.
The SAG Awards site is a highly visible, high-traffic website running on Drupal. Hosting it on Azure provides a scalable, public cloud environment for SAG team. They can tune up or down the compute and storage requirements according to expected website loads, thereby getting a more scalable, manageable and cost-effective solution for running their site.
SAG also gets the benefits of PaaS – no need to manage the operating system patches, virtual machine images, network topology etc. This is particularly useful for SAG as the site has stable traffic for nine months, but which spikes for the three months from when award nominations open to the night of the event itself.
The SAG Awards site was previously hosted on internal Linux boxes. In previous years, performance was negatively impacted by site outages and slow performance during peak-usage days, with SAG having to consistently upgrade their hardware to meet demand for those days. That upgraded hardware was then not optimally used during the rest of the year.
The usage pattern for the SAG Awards site fluctuates, but spikes between November and February when the site is used for SAG award nominations in early November to the actual announcement of nominations in in mid-December. Peak usage is on the night of the awards ceremony where multiple uploads of pictures, news articles, and site visits happen.
What is even more impressive is that both visits and page views almost doubled on the night of the event. In 2011, some 222,816 people visited the site and 434,743 pages were viewed, while this year there were some 325,303 site visits and 789,310 page views, reflecting the stability and performance of the site on Windows Azure.
Microsoft started working with the SAG Awards team in May 2011, when their CIO Erin Griffin joined the Interoperability Executive Council (IEC) - founded by Microsoft in 2006 with a goal of identifying the industry’s greatest areas of need and to work together to create solutions - and attended a council meeting.
In September Mike Story, SAG’s chief architect, attended an IEC work stream meeting and asked for Microsoft’s support in porting the site to Azure. The Business Platform Division’s Customer Experience (CAT) team, the Interoperability group and Windows Azure all started working with SAG in early October and, on December 20, 2011, the site went live on Windows Azure.
“We moved to Windows Azure after looking at the services it offered,” said Erin Griffin, CIO at SAG. “Understanding the best usage scenario for us took time and effort, but with help from Microsoft, we successfully moved our site to Windows Azure and the biggest traffic day for us went off with flying colors.”
This is just one real world outcome from the IEC, which has counseled Microsoft on many interoperability topics and introduced a number of real world scenarios for discussion. The IEC, working together with Microsoft, has developed a number of solutions for these scenarios, with this one for the SAG Awards being the latest.
Curt Peterson, Microsoft’s Principal Group Program Manager, BPD Customer Experience, notes that the success of Sunday’s SAG Awards ceremony underscores how Windows Azure is a scalable, open Cloud platform ready for production use. “We are committed to making it easier for all our customers to use cloud computing on their terms with Windows Azure,” he says.
by Andrew Gordon on November 16, 2010 01:15pm
A large amount of the innovation in the software world is happening on the web and in the cloud, and in addition to that, we are seeing increased awareness and acceptance of open source software on the Microsoft Windows platforms.
Microsoft's Certified for Windows programs are well known for indicating software and hardware products that have been thoroughly tested to work well on Microsoft Windows and as of today, SilverStripe CMS is the first Open Source web application to complete the comprehensive testing necessary to achieve "Certified for Windows Server 2008 R2" status.
Sigurd Magnusson, the co-founder of the Silverstripe.org project and business relationship manager for SilverStripe.com says that the Windows Server certification highlights the fact that its product development has been done to Microsoft best practices and that an independent certification partner rigorously tested its software.
"We're proud because all of the people who have been asking for our software to run on Windows now know that it runs really well. It's also pleasing to be a global milestone in corporate IT accepting and embracing open source software," he said.
This is also a highpoint for Microsoft Windows in our ongoing efforts to provide a truly open platform that provides the broadest set of choices for everyone. This reflects the broader landscape of Open Source and Microsoft being implemented together in enterprise customer environments, and we hope this will encourage other high quality Open Source products to work towards Windows Server 2008 R2 Certification so as to underline their enterprise credibility.
A more detailed case study can be found here. Details on Microsoft's certification programs can be found here.
by MichaelF on May 09, 2007 07:27pm
In addition to technical tips, blogs and video interviews, the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft conducts a number of technical analysis and research projects throughout the year to help inform and solve key interoperability challenges between Microsoft and open source technologies. This particular research was conducted after reviewing data from our VPN research which was previously posted to Port 25.
This document provides an overview of Linux IPsec solutions as well as detailed discussions on configuring IPsec-Tools for interoperability scenarios between Red Hat Linux Enterprise 4 and Windows Vista Ultimate Beta.
by Sam Ramji on February 27, 2008 06:00am
When I think about what works really well in open source development and technology, the following things stand out:
So where did we apply these ideas to the development of Windows Server 2008?
Overall, we’ve learned and continue to learn from open source development principles. These are making their way into the mindset, development practices, and ultimately into the products we bring to market.
I’ve focused here on “what Microsoft has learned from Open Source” – and ironically, I’ve agreed to do a panel at OSBC on 3/25 with Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation on “what Open Source can learn from Microsoft”. As all of the different organizations in IT continue to evolve, we’ll learn from each others’ best practices and make increasingly better software. As in science, this incremental improvement will move all of us forward.
by Peter Galli on December 08, 2008 10:24am
SMB (Server Message Block) is a remote file protocol commonly used by Microsoft Windows clients and servers that dates back to 1980's.
Back when it was first used, LANs speeds were typically 10Mbps or less, WAN use was very limited and there were no Wireless LANs. Network security concerns like preventing man-in-the-middle attacks were non-existent at that time.
Obviously, things have changed a lot since then. SMB did evolve over time, but it did so incrementally and with great care for keeping backward compatibility. It was only with SMB2 in 2007 that we had the first major redesign.
In this blog Jose Barreto, a senior technical evangelist in Microsoft's Storage Solutions Division, explains some of the history behind the protocol and outlines important improvements in SMB2, particularly in regards to reduced complexity, pipelining and compounding.
SMB (Server Message Block) is a remote file protocol commonly used by Microsoft Windows clients and servers that dates back to 1980's. Back when it was first used, LANs speeds were typically 10Mbps or less, WAN use was very limited and there were no Wireless LANs. Network security concerns like preventing man-in-the-middle attacks were non-existent at that time. Obviously, things have changed a lot since then. SMB did evolve over time, but it did so incrementally and with great care for keeping backward compatibility. It was only with SMB2 in 2007 that we had the first major redesign.
A History of SMB and CIFS
When it was first introduced to the public, the remote file protocol was called SMB (Server Message Block). SMB was used, for instance, by Microsoft LAN Manager in 1987 and by Windows for Workgroups in 1992. Later, a draft specification was submitted to the IETF under the name Common Internet File System (CIFS). The CIFS specification is a description of the protocol as it was implemented in 1996 as part of Microsoft Windows NT 4.0. A preliminary draft of the IETF CIFS 1.0 specification was published in 1997. Later, extensions were made to address other scenarios like domains, Kerberos, shadow copy, server to server copy and SMB signing. Windows 2000 (released in 2000) included those extensions. At that time, some people went back to calling the protocol SMB once again. CIFS/SMB has also been implemented on Unix, Linux and many other operating systems (either as part of the OS or as a server suite like Samba). A few times, those communities also extended the CIFS/SMB protocol to address their own specific requirements.
One important limitation of SMB was its "chattiness" and lack of concern for network latency. It would take a series of synchronous round trips to accomplish many of the most common tasks. The protocol was not created with WAN or high-latency networks in mind and there was limited use of compounding (combining multiple commands in a single network packet) or pipelining (sending additional commands before the answer to a previous command arrives). This even led to products created to address the specific issues around SMB WAN acceleration. There were also limitations regarding the number of open files, shares and users. Due to the large number of commands and subcommands, the protocol was also difficult to extend, maintain and secure.
The first major redesign of SMB happened with the release of SMB2 by Microsoft. SMB2 was introduced with Windows Vista in 2007 and updated with the release of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1 in 2008.
SMB2 brought a number of improvements, including but not limited to:
It is important to highlight that, to ensure interoperability, SMB2 uses the existing SMB1 connection setup mechanisms, and then advertises that it is capable of a new version of the protocol. Because of that, if the opposite end does not support SMB2, SMB1 will be used.
The SMB2 protocol specification was published publicly by Microsoft and you can find the link at the end of this post.
One of the ways to showcase the reduced complexity in SMB2 is to make a comparison to the commands and subcommands in the old version.
Here is the complete list of the 19 opcodes (or commands) used by SMB2 in the message exchanges between the client and the server, grouped in three categories:
When you try to get a similar list for the old SMB, things get a little more complex. I tried to make a list of all commands and subcommands using only the documents linked below and came up with over 100:
I make no claim that the list above for SMB is exact or complete, but it does make a point. As an interesting exercise, check the lists above to verify that, while SMB2 has a single WRITE operation, there are 14 distinct WRITE operations in the old protocol.
SMB2 also requires TCP as a transport. SMB2 no longer supports NetBIOS over IPX, NetBIOS over UDP or NetBEUI (as SMB version 1 did).
A key improvement in SMB2 is the way it makes it easy for clients to send a number of outstanding requests to a server. This allows the client to build a pipeline of requests instead of waiting for a response before sending the next request. This is especially relevant when using a high latency network.
SMB2 uses a credit based flow control, which allows the server to control a client's behavior. The server will start with a small number of credits and automatically scale up as needed. With this, the protocol can keep more data "in flight" and better utilize the available bandwidth.
This is key to make a large transfer go from hours (in SMB) to minutes (in SMB2) in a "long and fat pipe" (high bandwidth, high latency network).
For an example of how pipelining in SMB2 can improve performance, check out this blog post.
When you look at the command set for the new SMB2 protocol, you notice that they are all simple operations. The old SMB1 protocol had some complex commands and subcommands that combined a set of simple operations as required in specific scenarios.
One of the important changes in SMB2 is the ability to send an arbitrary set of commands in a single request (single network round trip). This is called compounding and it can be use to mimic the old complex operations in SMB1 without the added complexity of a larger command set.
For instance, an old SMB1 RENAME command can be replaced by a single request in SMB2 that combines three commands: CREATE (which can create a new file or open an existing file), SET_INFO and CLOSE. The same can be done for many other complex SMB1 commands and subcommands like LOCK_AND_READ and WRITE_AND_UNLOCK.
This compounding ability in SMB2 is very flexible and the chain of commands can be unrelated (executed separately, potentially in parallel) or related (executed in sequence, with the output of one command available to the next). The responses can also be compounded or sent separately.
This new compounding feature in SMB2 can be used to perform a specific task in less time due to the reduced number of network round trips.
I hope this post has helped you understand some of the important improvements in SMB2, particularly in regards to reduced complexity, pipelining and compounding.
Below is a list of important links that document SMB2, SMB and CIFS, including the latest protocol specifications published by Microsoft:
by SteveZ on March 20, 2008 03:13pm
To some folks outside of Microsoft, the Open-Source Software Lab has been a sort of mysterious place. A place where we study Linux and open-source software, cursing our enemies while brewing our malevolent plans to combat those nasty FOSS developers. Oh, and we also have a death ray on the roof of building 17. It's Linux-powered, of course, just to add a little irony.
As you probably have guessed, the reality is that the OSS Lab is just a room full of servers, used by engineers who just love to work with technology. Much of what we do is research, testing and of course there is an educational aspect as well. We all love Linux and open-source, and I almost never take my death-ray to work.
Currently, our lab houses about seven racks of servers. Unlike some of the build-labs on campus, the OSS Lab contains an eclectic variety of hardware. From older Pentium III Compaq blade servers, 8-way Xeon, Itanium and Opteron systems, to the latest POWER6. Most of the systems run some distribution of Linux, but we also have several BSD, AIX and Sun systems as well. And, naturally, we also have a good number of Windows systems (we are an interop lab, after all).
So now, to help cure your curiosity, the following is a short photo-tour of the actual Linux/OSS Lab at Microsoft. Enjoy!
We just had installed a new 12-ton cooling unit in the lab. The OSS Lab has continued to grow over the years, and things were getting a bit too toasty in there.
A top view of our penguin-powered servers...
Here are a couple of our server racks. We have a fair number of blade systems now from HP, IBM and Dell. In the background is the new IBM P570 (POWER6) system. It's basically totally sweet.
This is my favorite of them all, the ultra-small Gumstix Netstix. We've had this little guy running Samba, Asterisk, Apache and various other things. It runs Windows CE now, too.
Two of the Penguins that work in the lab; Chris (left) and Christoph (right).
I'm not proud of this. We're typically much more organized....
I finally got our plasma screen remounted after the recent cooling upgrades. Halo 3 looks pretty awesome, and we take our weekly UT3 tournaments very seriously.
The rest of the Penguins. From left: Christoph, Joel, Frank and Chris.
That's all for now!
I am excited to share some great news about how we are opening up the SQL Server data platform even further with expanded interoperability support through new tools that allow customers to modernize their infrastructure while maximizing existing investments and extending virtually any data anywhere.
The SQL Server team today introduced several tools that enable interoperability with SQL Server 2012.
These tools help developers to build secure, highly available and high performance applications for SQL Server in .NET, C/C++, Java and PHP, on-premises and in the cloud.
These new tools include a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Native Client, a SQL Server ODBC Driver for Linux, backward compatibility with ADO.Net and the Microsoft JDBC Driver 4.0 and PHP Driver 3.0.
You can find more information on all this goodness on the SQL Server blog here.
I'm heading off to Paris this weekend to participate in the annual Open Source Think Tank and Open World Forum events held in that wonderful city next week.
I'm really looking forward to chatting with all those folk interested in this space, from enthusiasts to developers and end users.
I will be joined at these events by my colleague and Technical Ambassador Craig Kitterman, as well as by Alfonso Castro, our local market interoperability program lead.
We will present technical sessions and participate in a number of panel discussions, ranging from what Open Source, Open Standards and Open Systems mean today to Open Source as an agent of change.
Our participation in these Paris events complements our existing broad engagement with OSS communities, and we look forward to meeting our friends from the PhP, Node.js, Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress.communities as well as to making a lot of new ones.
You can read more about our participation in Paris here, and we look forward to meeting those of you lucky enough to be attending in person.
If you’re at OSCON 2012 this week, drop by the Microsoft booth (#601) – we’d love to see you!
We have many members of the MS Open Tech team here, as well as OSCON attendees from a variety of Microsoft teams and product groups who work with open source software. Our booth features a huge an 82 inch multi-touch PixelSense display (which is just plain fun to play around with), and you can have your picture taken by photographer Julian Cash, who is bringing his unique photographic style to our booth for the week. We’ll also have demos of some of the many OSS technologies that work well with Windows Azure and other Microsoft technologies, with experts on hand to answer all of your questions.
Last night’s Opening Reception and Camp OSCON attendee party (sponsored by Microsoft and O’Reilly) were a blast, as you can see from the photos above. Tomorrow morning, be sure to attend the plenary session in the Portland Ballroom from 9-10, where our own Gianugo Rabellino will be one of the participants, and on Friday at 11:00 in room E147, don’t miss Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman’s session on "Will Microsoft ever get serious about Open Source?"
Hope to see you at OSCON today!
UPDATED: time-lapse video of Julian Cash creating amazing photos at the booth today ...
Doug MahughSenior Technical EvangelistMicrosoft Open Technologies, Inc.
In case you missed the great Open Source and related Interop news that came out of Microsoft's annual MIX conference which was held in Las Vegas this week, here's a recap.
Scott Guthrie, a Corporate Vice President in the Microsoft Developer Division, used his MIX keynote to discuss the company's commitment to sponsoring open source projects, such as the Orchard project, a free CMS project in the Outercurve Foundation's ASP.NET Open Source Gallery.
Orchard 1.1 is now available, along with the new UserVoice and DISQUS modules that contribute to the growing number of community-authored extensions for Orchard.
Guthrie also announced an ASP.NET MVC 3 Tools Update, which enables Web developers to innovate quickly and easily via new HTML 5 markup support, Entity Framework 4.1 with Entity Code First now built in for easier database Web solution development, and expanded NuGet capabilities for finding and installing community components.
Guthrie also used his keynote to announce the immediate availability of the Microsoft Silverlight 5 beta, which provides advances in rich media and application development.
Silverlight is a free web-browser plug-in that enables interactive media experiences, rich business applications and immersive mobile apps. It works on all major Operating Systems plus all major browsers, including Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
New capabilities in Silverlight 5 include Hardware Video Decode, for enhanced video quality and performance, and "Trickplay," which provides variable-rate video playback with audio pitch correction.
The beta also offers a new Microsoft XNA-based interface for delivering 3-D visualizations within applications, along with a host of new features that are designed to enhance developer productivity and end-user experiences.
In his MIX keynote Dean Hachamovitch, the Corporate Vice President for Internet Explorer, announced the addition to the HTML5 Labs site of a new prototype - FileAPI - as well as announcing plans for the MediaCapture API.
Microsoft launched HTML5 Labs last December as the place where it shares prototypes of early and unstable standards, and committed to regularly update these prototypes and add additional prototypes based on what will most help with the testing of the specifications.
Since then, we have updated the WebSockets prototype three times and we have analyzed a number of specifications, with three new areas currently under active investigation. We have also been working with, and listening to, the feedback from early users, and have updated the HTML5 Labs site and given it a new look and feel.
For more context on all this, read the blog by Walid Abu-Hadba, the Corporate Vice President for Developer Platform & Evangelism, Scott Guthrie, and Soma Somasegar, a Senior Vice President in the Developer Division, about Standards-based web, plug-ins, and Silverlight. In this blog they share their thoughts on the role of plug-ins in general, and Silverlight in particular, in the context of HTML5 and the future of the web.
A new production version of Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control service was also announced at MIX. This enables you to build Single-Sign-On experience into applications by integrating with standards-based identity providers, including enterprise directories such as Active Directory, and consumer-oriented web identities such as Windows Live ID, Google, Yahoo! and Facebook.
The Access Control service enables this experience through commonly used industry standards to facilitate interoperability with other software and services that support the same standards.
by Andrew Gordon on November 17, 2010 02:45pm
The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation at Otago Polytechnic, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, and Microsoft have worked together to develop an open source extension for Microsoft Word. The extension, written in C#, allows learning material developed in Microsoft Office to be saved directly to MediaWiki based repositories such as WikiEducator.
The free tool can be downloaded here and, once installed, adds a "MediaWiki" option to the standard ‘Save As' functionality in Microsoft Word. The source code, which provides a reference for others interested in adding custom ‘Save As' functionality to Microsoft Office, is available under the OSI approved Apache 2.0 license and can be downloaded here.
Peter Harrison, Vice President of the New Zealand Open Source Society, welcomed this release. "The Internet provides humanity with an unequalled opportunity to leverage our communication technology to educate people across the globe. Through collaborative technologies such as Wiki, people can work together to create rich common resources that are open to all. By enabling users to export their content from Word into MediaWiki, Microsoft are encouraging the availability of a far wider range of educational resources online," he said.
This project demonstrates the open, extensible and interoperable nature of the Microsoft Office suite suite the underlying Windows operating system, and further demonstrates the increasing connection between open source development and the Microsoft platform.
This project is complementary to Microsoft's continued investment in innovation in education through programs such as Partners in Learning (PIL). More information about PIL can be found here.
You can also find more information about Microsoft's Openness collaborations here.
by admin on May 13, 2006 09:59am
Information Accessibility – Why do we need our data everywhere?
An the old Chinese proverb goes “May you live in interesting times”. Yes, we are truly blessed to live in such interesting times as these. You may ask yourself why? That can be for several reasons. The past twenty to thirty years has fundamentally changed the way we treat information as compared to before. We have witnesses a commoditization of information since the accelerated growth of Information Technology sector began in the late seventies. We have all witnessed a paradigm shift in the value associated with information and its evolution into knowledge. While I am very tempted to walk the readers through the entire cycle, I am sure you’d rather hear about the technological impacts of this change in people’s lives, the foremost of being our attitude towards Information Accessibility.
74% of people in the US own a cell phone or mobile device of some sort. A growing percentage of users within sector have started to diversify from traditional mobile devices (voice-only or data only) to the type that can do both or more. What happens when a growing percentage of people discover that they can access the information they need or want at any time or at any place – they seem want it NOW. This has ignited the phenomenal growth in the mobility ecosystem (hardware, applications, carriers etc.) thus pushing the envelope on not only the innovation but also the boundaries of socio-psychological and socio-cultural norms.
So how does this impact the business of technology: To find out more I spoke w/ Deepak Jhangiani, a senior consultant in the wireless industry on emerging trends in the information accessibility business. Deepak elicited several key areas which are at the forefront of this change. Let’s see what these are:
All in all, I think we’re looking at a very productive, exciting and interesting time in mobility and “Information Accessibility. I don’t know about you guys but I always though computers were supposed to adapt to us and not the other way round.
by jcannon on November 08, 2007 03:14pm
Our own Hank Janssen gives the Channel9 team an update on the work that has been done to provide a native driver to SQL Server for PHP.
"SQL Team Says: "The SQL Server Driver for PHP (October 2007) Community Technology Preview (CTP) is designed to enable reliable, scalable integration with SQL Server for PHP applications deployed on the Windows platform. The Driver for PHP is a PHP 5 extension that allows the reading and writing of SQL Server data from within PHP scripts. It provides a procedural interface for accessing data in all Editions of SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2000 (including Express Edition), and makes use of PHP features, including PHP streams to read and write large objects."
Wow. This is cool. Need to find out more about this. What exactly is this thing? Why did we create it? What are the platform requirments? Is it open source? Who are the folks behind this? You know the C9 drill. Tune in and meet SQLPHP Program Manager John Bocharov and Microsoft Open Source champion Hank Janssen who answer a bunch of questions and provide good context about the thinking behind SQLPHP, history and future. Check it out.
I am pleased to announce that Microsoft has joined Joyent and Ryan Dahl in their effort to make Windows a supported platform in Node.
Our first goal is to add a high-performance IOCP API to Node to give developers the same high-performance/scalability on Windows that Node is known for, given that the IOCP API performs multiple simultaneous asynchronous input/output operations.
At the end of this initial phase of the project, we will have official binary node.exe releases on nodejs.org, meaning that Node.js will run on Windows Azure, Windows 2008 R2, Windows 2008 and Windows 2003.
You can read more about all this on nodejs.org as well as on Joyeur.com.
While this is just the beginning of the journey to make Node.js on Windows a great platform for Node developers, I’m really excited about making this happen.
So, stay tuned, as there’s a lot more to come!
Principal Program Manager, Interoperability Strategy Team