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by Peter Galli on April 22, 2009 01:37pm
Microsoft is sponsoring research at the University of Michigan's Center for Information Technology Integration (CITI) to develop an open source Network File System client for Windows. This will enable Windows to better interoperate with this emerging Internet storage protocol for fast file sharing.
NFS is a commonly used protocol for sharing files among networked computers and storage hardware, particularly with UNIX and Linux-based software. NFSv4 is the latest version of this software and adds support for parallel access to file servers, object-storage, and storage area network infrastructures.
Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business and a University of Michigan alumnus, expressed excitement about the project, saying that NFSv4.1 is an important standard for accessing parallel file systems in the high-performance computing market, where access to vast amounts of data is critical in areas like scientific or technical computing systems.
"We believe that customers want to be able to choose the technologies that best meet their needs and that also interoperate with existing systems. Ultimately, CITI's work will help change the way customers can combine their systems by enabling computers running Windows to directly and easily access NFS file shares on servers running Linux, Solaris, and AIX operating systems."
CITI, which is a research unit in the College of Engineering, developed the open source Linux-based reference implementation of NFSv4 that is already included in all Linux distributions. However, Peter Honeyman, a research professor in the division of Computer Science and Engineering and principal investigator of this project, notes that Windows is a critical component in the University's research cyber-infrastructure, responsible for the control of instruments in laboratories across the university, in medicine, engineering, geosciences, bioinformatics, and many other disciplines.
"So this project is especially important in helping university scientists and engineers fill a gap in the storage fabric. This partnership also shows how the university can serve as a living laboratory for the development of interoperable enterprise scale systems that meet the needs of industry and academia," he said.
by Peter Galli on April 02, 2009 04:41pm
Microsoft is embarking on a 15-city road show to help customers learn more about available solutions that may address their unique interoperability needs.
This is just another of the many ways Microsoft continues to respond to customers working in heterogeneous environments, a mission that was enhanced by the announcement of our Interoperability Principles last year.
The road show is being organized by Microsoft TechNet, and will stop in cities from Mountain View on the West coast to Denver, Atlanta and Chicago as well as Philadelphia, Boston and New York on the East Coast.
The rationale behind these events is simple: many customers work in heterogeneous environments that include Microsoft technologies as well as those from MySQL, Apple and Linux. As such, integration becomes vital in order for their core business applications to maintain business flow and efficiency.
Each event will last four hours, during which three sessions will be offered: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Interop with Linux and OS X; running Open Source Software on Window Server 2008; and SQL Server 2008 and PHP Web Application Infrastructure.
This program aims to increase understanding of the heterogeneous IT landscape and discuss practical interoperability solutions.
It also complements Microsoft's existing engagement in interoperability at many levels - through its ongoing participation in industry and internal development projects and standards bodies, as well as its publication of technologies under open licenses and strong collaboration with customers, governments and partners.
We hope you'll join us at one of these events!
by Peter Galli on April 23, 2009 09:00am
A lot has been written by the press and blogosphere since the Linux Foundation's annual Collaboration Summit was held earlier this month, particularly about the panel that included Microsoft's Sam Ramji, Sun Microsystems' Ian Murdock, and Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin.
The panel was entitled "Why Can't We All Just Get Along," which struck me as not only divisive, but also a little outdated given the level of collaboration that already takes place between proprietary and open source software vendors alike.
For example, Microsoft and Sun already have a long-standing working collaborative relationship; Microsoft also has a technical collaboration agreement with Novell, an agreement with Red Hat to test and validate our respective server operating systems running on one another's hypervisors, and a number of arrangements in place with other open source companies.
The panel discussed this in greater depth, looking at how collaboration, cooperation and competition exist: not just between proprietary and open software vendors, but also between Linux and open source ones.
This prompted panel moderator Zemlin to suggest that the three make an even greater effort come together and collaborate where it makes sense.
Interestingly, the Summit also spurred renewed discussion about whether there need to be more critics in the Linux community, with one blogger taking Zemlin to task for what he described as the "tall claims" he made at the Summit.
Ramji, the Senior Director of Platform Strategy at Microsoft, also used the panel to remind the Linux and open source communities of his offer for them to reach out to him and others within Microsoft and share their frustrations, problems and issues, so that they could be better educators and advocates on this front across the company.
Ramji also, again, stressed that Microsoft's customers want interoperability with open source software, including for PHP on Windows, but that making this happen sometimes took time.
Sun's Murdock seconded this, talking about internal inertia and how Sun also had had to deal with hearing from customers and developers that they wanted interoperability with technologies other than their own.
At Microsoft, there are cross-group, company-wide open source discussions and initiatives underway, with each group given the autonomy to decide for itself how this plays out with regard to their product set and business model.
While Port 25's mission is to be the voice of the open source community at Microsoft, it is far from the only voice on this topic. There have been blogs across the company on open and interoperability initiatives, from groups including security, Live and the Mac Business Unit, to name just a few.
It is also important to remember that Ramji and other executives like Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft's Server & Tools business, have often said that open source is a journey that Microsoft is on and that much more needs to still be done. Many groups across the company are already responding to that call.
by Bryan Kirschner on April 28, 2009 03:37pm
The first time I went to a LinuxWorld conference as a Microsoft employee, a guy passing by me saw "Microsoft" on my name badge and stopped. "Microsoft? What are you guys doing here?" he said. "I loved Microsoft. You put my kids through college."
As it turns out, he owned a small IT business during the late ‘80s and early 90s, which thrived building applications during the headiest days of the "PC revolution."
The last time I went to an OSBC as a Microsoft employee, I MC'd the third annual Open Source ISV "Day 0" event hosted by Microsoft. I told that story in my opening remarks. At the reception at the end of the day, one of the attendees came up to me and said: "You know, I'm one of those guys who's been doing technology for 30 years. And today's event felt like Microsoft in the early 90s. It's the first time I've gotten that from Microsoft in a long time."
It seemed a very fitting way to bracket one of the most challenging but also rewarding periods of my career: one that had its roots and the fertile soil for its success in my friends and former bosses Bill Hilf and Sam Ramji. They created space for me, the latitude to go out and figure out a way forward for Microsoft and open source, by first listening to customers, developers, and sys admins face-to-face.
That opportunity culminated in my becoming the first person in the company (but not the last!) to hold the title "Director of Open Source Strategy" and shipping the first company-wide statement of policy and position on open source.
But, by this time, you've probably figured out something's changed. I've moved on become Vice President for Corporate Strategies at Greenberg, Quinlan Rosner Research.
There are a few things I have always gotten excited about: technology is one. Politics is another. Learning new things is a third. These add to a strong desire to spend all of my time playing MMORPGs. But since that isn't economically viable, they fortunately also add to up a consistent interest in understanding interesting, often controversial, convoluted, and conflict-ridden-situations and figuring new ways forward.
I did this in the public sector, working on community policing, where I sprinkled in some work on political positioning, messaging, and communications. And then I brought that background to Microsoft ten years ago.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner connects all the dots in a new and exciting way. The founder, Stan Greenberg, is widely known for being the pollster and strategist for Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Nelson Mandela. GQRR has a big political consulting practice, and a smaller (but expanding) corporate consulting practice. Continuing and accelerating the growth of the latter is my new job.
I've been around Port 25 since its very beginning. Pre-beginning, actually. I owe a huge debt to everyone inside Microsoft but, even more importantly, outside Microsoft who helped make it what it is today.
My new boss, Jeremy Rosner, was the subject of a movie called "Our Brand is Crisis." Port25 will always be with me as a powerful and tangible part of a big shift from "Microsoft and open source" looking more like a "brand" that equals "crisis" to one that looks more like...well, like Port25. Which is what it should be.
So...thanks. I certainly still expect to be engaged on issues of openness and technology.You can now find me at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.
by Mark Stone on April 10, 2009 09:45am
Discussions of the PC market usually break down into "desktop" vs. "server", as if these are the only platform categories. However, the developer's dev box -- call it a "workstation" to distinguish it from desktop -- is really a separate platform. Remember, when Linus Torvalds created Linux it wasn't because he needed a better desktop operating system, or a better server operating system. What he wanted was something that could run the gcc compiler. He wanted a developer workstation he could use at home. Of course the developer workstation market influences other markets. Developers who develop on a platform are more likely to develop for a platform. So winning developer mind share is often about giving them what they want in the way of development environment. And in this regard, open source developers are something of a different breed. Microsoft has a great set of developer tools; I've certainly known developers who swear by Visual Studio. But there's something of a disconnect between graphical tools favored by Windows developers and then command line tools favored by traditional open source developers; I've also known developers whose first order of business with a new Windows workstation is to GNU-ify it. Ironically, the Internet has a convergence effect, drawing these two camps together. Put developers online, and they can collaborate. Put developers online, and they can not only develop, but they can build, deploy, and test. The workstation has become not so much a computer as an environment. The developer's toolkit includes version control, build management, automated testing, and the need to do all these things as a team rather than an individual. Developer environments have evolved rapidly to adapt to these changes. The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) seems to understand this evolution as well as anyone, and a number of ASF projects focus specifically on tools for the developer environment (Ant, Buildr, Continuum, Gump, and Maven come to mind as a few examples). What's interesting is to see the .NET developers following suit, and wanting these same sorts of tools for their development environment. What's surprising is that this .NET effort is very grass roots driven. "Panday" is a Filipino word meaning "blacksmith", and can also be a reference to the graphic novel super hero of the same name (the graphic novel is also originates from the Philippines). This provides an appropriate metaphor for the name of the NPanday project on Codeplex. The NPanday project is one of several affiliated with Microsoft's Open Source Lab in the Philippines, and is part of the effort to bring to .NET some of the capabilities found in other open source development environments. The aim of NPanday is integrate Apache Maven into the .NET development environment.This would enable .NET developers to take advantage of Maven-compatible development infrastructure. Projects like NPanday are important because they offer developers more choice of tools in a Windows development environment. The more familiar those tools are to open source developers, the more open source development will be done on and for Windows. NPanday is also an important project for interoperability, making it easier to integrate .NET development with other development done using Maven.
by Peter Galli on April 10, 2009 02:50pm
The candidate specification of the ECMAScript language standard - known as ECMA-262, was published on April 9.
The ECMAScript standard is "one of the core standards that enable the existence of interoperable web applications on the World Wide Web," Ecma International, which develops standards for Information and Communication Technology, said in a media release.
This candidate specification, the PDF of which is available here, will now undergo interoperability and web compatibility testing, and will likely be submitted to the Ecma General Assembly for ratification as an Ecma standard before the end of 2009.
ECMA is inviting technical experts to review this candidate specification and submit feedback here by July 15, 2009.
This latest revision of ECMA-262 will now be known as ECMAScript, Fifth Edition and not under the previous working name ECMAScript 3.1.
The Fifth Edition codifies de facto interpretations of the language specification that have become common among browser implementations and adds support for new features, ECMA said.
The ECMAScript, Fifth Edition candidate specification has been developed by Ecma TC39, whose membership includes all major browser vendors.
These members will now create and test implementations of the candidate specification to verify its correctness and the feasibility of creating interoperable implementations and for web compatibility testing to ensure that the revised specification remains compatible with existing web applications.
TC39 members Opera, Mozilla, and Microsoft have each committed to participating in this testing process, which should be finished by the middle of July, and that a final draft of the specification can be agreed upon in September for submission to the Ecma General Assembly for final approval in December 2009.
ECMA also expects this to result in a fast-track submission to ISO/IEC JTC 1 for revision of ISO/IEC 16262.
"We expect the Fifth Edition to benefit all web developers by helping improve browser interoperability and making enhanced scripting features broadly available," said Allen Wirfs-Brock, Microsoft's ECMAScript architect. Read more about all this on Microsoft's JScript team blog.
The last major revision of the ECMAScript standard was the Third Edition, published in 1999 and work on future ECMAScript editions continues as part of the ECMAScript Harmony project.
by Peter Galli on April 15, 2009 05:54pm
I noticed today that my colleague Jeff Jones in the security group is launching a metric project that appears to be leveraging some of the good bits of open techniques.
I touched base with him briefly and he gave me a little more information about Project Quant, which is being undertaken along with Securosis, an independent security research firm.
Project Quant will be working on the metrics of patch management and is as much an experiment of a new research process as it is one of security metrics, said Securosis founder Rich Mogull in a blog post.
"For this project Jeff wanted to be involved, but also asked for an open, unbiased model that will be useful to community-at-large (in other words, he didn't ask for a sales tool). Rather than us developing something back at the metrics lab, Jeff asked us to lead an open community project with as much involvement from the different corners of the industry as possible," Mogull said.
While he also acknowledged that it is risky for Securosis to allow direct involvement of the sponsor, the company is hoping that the process works the way it thinks it will and which also happens to match Microsoft's project goals.
So, this is what's expected to happen: a project landing site has been set up at Securosis that will contain all material and research as it is developed; every piece of research will be posted for public comment and no comments will be filtered unless they are spam, totally off topic, or personal insults.
All significant contributors will also be acknowledged in the final report, although there will be no financial compensation for contributors and the project itself will retain ownership rights. All material will also be released under a Creative Commons license, with spreadsheets released in both Excel and open formats.
"In short, we are developing all research out in the open, soliciting community involvement at every stage, making all the materials public, acknowledging contributors, and eventually releasing the final results for free and public use. The end goal of the project is to deliver a metrics model for patch management response to help organizations assess their costs, optimize their process, and achieve their business goals. Let us know what you think, even if you think we're just full of it," Mogull said.
For his part, Jones told me that while he has been zealous in past reports about using repeatable methodologies, pointing to his source of public data, and outlining his assumptions step-by-step, he would like to take transparency one step further by developing models and methodologies first, in an open and transparent manner, so that everyone can agree on the pros and cons before the methodologies are applied.
"I think being completely open and transparent will help credibility since, similar to open source, everyone can scrutinize every step of the analysis ... creating open models and potentially getting community involvement just seems to be the right process," he says.
I plan to interview him at greater length in the next few weeks, so look for a follow-up blog then.