Monday, August 25, 2014

Running BASH Scripts over SSH ? NIST has some guidelines.

If you are running shell scripts as part of your cloud management, NIST has a very useful document (in draft) which summarizes their Best Practice.

It's also been pointed out that RFC 7076 offers some guidance on security concerns.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Really ? Stodgy Government IT is Trending in GitHub ?

When I started in Federal consulting (that would be during the previous century) there was a common government mantra: "We work extra hard to be in second place." Innovation and technical currency were not the hallmarks of IT leadership. The primary concern was keeping everything running, 24x7, under slippery congressional budgets.

Now, I'm reading that GitHub is on the up take within DC agencies. There is even a dedicated sub-domain to support government involvement ( and the numbers representing their adoption of GitHub are impressive.

Ben Balter, GitHub Government Evangelist, calls out this increase:
It's hard to believe that what started with a single repository just five years ago, has blossomed into a movement where today, more than 10,000 government employees use GitHub to collaborate on code, data, and policy each day.
And, it's not even just having 10k employees accessing open source code that is amazing, there is also a significant rise in project hosting.

Looking at the graph, shows 2011 as the year when government's began to rely on GitHub resources. It might be coincidence, but that's also the year where the Public Contract Law Journal of The George Washington Law School published, "Towards a More Agile Government." The full article is available on Balter's web site:

The conclusion summarized a need to embrace the agile methodology that GitHub facilitates:
The federal IT procurement system is outdated. Projects are consistently delivered late, over-budget, and obsolete. Much of this trend can be traced back to flawed legal frameworks that lock agencies and contractors into an outdated development model. Through education, reform, and organization-wide support, federal agility can become a reality. Any computer user knows that as systems age they begin to slow. Today, the federal IT procurement system is running slowly, to the detriment of both agencies and the public, and it is long overdue for a system-wide upgrade.

Well said.

CloudOpen Recognizes Best-of-Breed in Open Source Cloud

Which cloud open source projects are taking off ? Alexandar Williams writes from of the most highly regarded initiatives, with few surprises. Openstack, Docker, Openshift, take honors and Eucalyptus continues to lie fallow in the listing. It was interesting to see that Puppet gathered twice the votes as Chef--that was surprising.

These gear-head popularity votes should be measured against specific technical needs, and how well they are being adopted in the mainstream. After all, not many high school popularity contests have been proven as prescient.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No Cost Android Development Course by Google

Google has announced Android development training, at no cost.

Android Fundamentals is an online training course featuring Google Developer Advocates Reto Meier, Dan Galpin, and Katherine Kuan, working with the team at Udacity that’s advanced and technical enough for experienced developers who are new to Android — maybe even new to mobile — but not new to programming.

Really ought to be a no-brainer: the entire curriculum is provided. If tutoring is appropriate, there is a small charge.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Clearly, Open Source Advocates Should Dress in Sports Jerseys

The social and technological impact of the Open Source movement for innovation has been staggering. Interestingly, though, several prominent projects are losing their non-profit status.

Ruth McCambridge of The NonProfit Quarterly notes that history is repeating itself, and that many journalistic endeavors had been struggling to maintain their non-profit status.
Many were repeatedly denied, although there were already a number of us existing as nonprofits, on the basis that their revenue plans were too much like commercial journalism organizations. Evidently, this happens when the number of groups of a particular type increases to the point that it catches someone’s attention at the IRS. Eventually the logjam let go ... but it was a frustrating period that cost a number of organizations grants and even their futures

Digital Media Law has an excellent reference summary for ensuring that the journalistic inclined are efficiently packaged for IRS consideration. These materials should be easily applicable to many Open Source initiatives.

Or, on the other hand, the Open Source community could take the example of the NFL, a 9.5 billion dollar a year enterprise which is a legally recognized non-profit. The benefits for playoffs from Drupal against Wordpress, or Linux versus BSD would be certainly raise the entertainment value of the Open Source community.

Go team.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Who's the Prettiest Language of them All ?

The venerable and esteemed IEEE Spectrum has an interactive chart for ranking computing languages. The references that they use are Google searches/trends, Twitter, GitHub, Stack Overflow, Reddit, etc.

These comparison charts are always valuable, but they also introduce new questions. For instance, why does the IEEE data differ so much from RedMonk's own listing of programming languages ? Sure, the reference sources are a bit different, but Objective-C or Shell scripts have dramatically dissimilar rankings between the two summaries. Redmonk only pulls data from GitHub and Stack Overflow, so it's now apparent that their programming choices are not universally applicable.

RedMonk Graphic
Java is still king, and because of it's universal utility, it'll be in the #1 slot for the foreseeable future. Python, though, is clearly benefiting from the cloud--it's the Swiss Army Knife of infrastructure APIs.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Amazon Is Moving in to the Public Sector

Kenneth Corbin, writes in CIO that Amazon is continuing to develop its core services for the public sector.

To date, AWS has won contracts with more than 800 government agencies, more than 3,000 educational institutions, and more than 10,000 nonprofit organizations. It's the first time the company has broken out a customer count in the nonprofit sector.
Teresa Carlson, vice president of the worldwide public sector with AWS, points to a constellation of factors, from government mandates to cost pressures and broader acceptance of the cloud model, indicating that the public sector can no longer be a sidelight to Amazon's enterprise cloud business.
But catering to government and other tightly regulated sectors puts a premium on issues such as security and compliance, Carlson points out, noting the work Amazon has done to win certifications such as FedRAMP and the various levels of authorization to operate, or ATO, within the defense community.

OpenStack Management

OpenStack continues to spark a lot of interest as a completely opensource IaaS, which is competing against AWS, Google's Compute Engine, and Microsoft's Azure.  Right now, its growth seems to be strongest as a private cloud. That means, it's even more critical to have the design implementation correct, and to include O&M within its true operational cost. has provided a useful compilation of management interfaces for OpenStack.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

AWS versus Azure

Not quite as entertaining as Mad Magazine's Spy-vs-Spy, Bridget Botelho has summarized a useful comparison in the terminology and services that are offered by AWS and Azure.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

'The Expert' is Going Viral

Humor can be such an excellent means to communicate truth. Lauris Beinerts has based his video on a short story "The Meeting" by Alexey Berezin. 

The video highlights problem solving dynamics. Instead of, "I would like you, the expert, to understand the problem and propose a solution," we have "I already have the solution and would like you, the expert, to implement it."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Most Secure Desktop is Free ?

This month, the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) released their security analysis of end-user devices. The GCHQ is the UK equivalent of the US NSA, and provide basic configuration guidance on security standards from OSX to Blackberries.

It's a surprise, though, to find that the OS ranked most secure is Ubuntu, an Open Source Linux platform.

This assessment has a personal side, for me. I just sent off some pre-configured laptops to be used in a Kenyan medical facility and NGO for children affected by HIV+: And, what was delivered to them was, in fact, Ubuntu 12.04. I think anyone can agree that this organization deserves to be secure, at the lowest cost. But, to be able to meet the highest standard, at a zero-cost is a big win for everyone.

Does IT Matter ? The Debate on Its Strategic Value has Taken an Odd Twist

Nicholas Carr made a name by deconstructing the strategic decline of IT for business innovation. Just as it was once imperative for every manufacturer to host their own power plant, so every 21st company has their own IT center. Carr has brilliantly argued that IT is becoming a commodity service, essential, but undistinguished.

What does it mean for Nicholas, when the model begins to revert ? Because of the widespread distribution of alternative energy sources, Utilities are suffering a decline. The demand for U.S. electricity in 2013 is anticipated to be 2% below 2007's peak. Power customers are back in the business of generating their own electricity.

In Liam Denning's article in the Wall Street Journal he notes that,
Subsidies and falling technology costs are making distributed solar power — panels on roofs, essentially — cost-competitive with retail electricity prices in places like the southwestern U.S. . . . . As more people switch to solar, utilities sell less electricity to those customers, especially as they often have the right to sell surplus power from their panels back to the utility.
So, what's the IT metaphor equal to solar panels ? Distributed mobile clouds ?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Total Game Changer in the Linux World

Centos is joining with RedHat. It's really interesting to gauge the impact with the variety of cloud providers. Azure doesn't have much for RedHat, but totally integrates with Centos.

Not such good news for Canonical, as this gives a real competitor for Ubuntu Server (in terms of licensing and costs).

Could give OpenStack a real punch-up.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Why Chromebook's Popularity Will Continue to Rise

The very smart people working the beta site of RollApp have provided an easy, web interface, for numerous desktop applications.

This service is a perfect for a Chromebook user, who requires more sophisticated applications than is found through the standard Google Docs. 

Now, I can use an inexpensive Chromebook to run LibreOffice or LibreCalc, and save the documents onto my Google Drive or Dropbox.