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Gluster Spotlight on James Shubin: Puppet-Gluster, Vagrant and GlusterFS Automation

January 20, 2014 in Syndicated

***UPDATE: Due to weather-related flight cancelations and rebooking, we had to push this back to Thursday, January 23, at noon PST/3pm EST/20:00 GMT***

James Shubin is known in the Gluster community for his work on the Puppet-Gluster module.

Recently, he’s begun to create powerful cocktails of Puppet and Vagrant to create recipes for automated Gluster deployments. See, eg.

Building Base Images for Vagrant with a Makefile

and

Testing GlusterFS During GlusterFest

This will be quite a fun spotlight, and very much worth your while. As usual, join the #gluster-meeting channel on the Freenode IRC network to participate in the live Q&A.

About Gluster Spotlight

Gluster Spotlight is a weekly Q&A show featuring the most exciting movers and shakers in the Gluster Community. If you don’t catch them live, you can always watch the recordings later.

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GlusterFest Weekend is Here – Jan 17 – 20

January 16, 2014 in Syndicated

As I mentioned yesterday, the GlusterFest is nigh. This time, we’ll break out testing into two types:
  • Performance testing
  • Feature testing
To learn about the GlusterFest and what it is, visit the GlusterFest home at gluster.org/gfest
Remember that if you file a bug that is verified by the Gluster QE team, you’ll win a t-shirt plus other swag.

PERFORMANCE TESTING

We are lucky in that two individuals have stepped up with tools to help with performance testing. One is James Shubin with his Puppet-Gluster module:
https://forge.gluster.org/puppet-gluster/

Together with his blog posts on puppet-gluster + vagrant, you should have an easy way to deploy GlusterFS:
Automatically deploying GlusterFS with Vagrant and Puppet

Also, Ben England recently released some code for his Smallfile performance testing project, which targets metadata-intensive workloads:

http://forge.gluster.org/smallfile-performance-testing

He also wrote up a nice primer on performance testing on the Gluster.org wiki that discusses iozone, smallfile, and how to utilize performance testing in general:
http://www.gluster.org/community/documentation/index.php/Performance_Testing
Please follow the instructions on the GlusterFest page (gluster.org/gfest) and report your results there. Some of the test results are quite large, so you will want to report test results on a separate page, either on the Gluster.org wiki or on the paste site of your choosing, such as fpaste.org.
Please file any bugs and report them on the gluster-devel list, as well as providing links on the GlusterFest page.

FEATURE TESTING

In addition to performance, we have new features in 3.5 which needs some further testing. Please follow the instructions on the GlusterFest page and add your results there. Some of the developers were kind enough to include testing scenarios with their feature pages. If you want your feature to be tested but didn’t supply any testing information, please add that now.

The GlusterFest begins at 00:00 GMT/UTC (today, January 17) and ends at 23:59 GMT/UTC on Monday, January 20.
Rev your engines and get ready for some testing!
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GlusterFS 3.5 Beta + GlusterFest Weekend

January 15, 2014 in Syndicated

The first GlusterFS 3.5 Beta is here! See what features made it in over at the 3.5 planning page. Here are some of the marquee features:

With this first beta, we’ll have the next weekend GlusterFest! We’ll kick it off on Friday, January 17 at 00:00 GMT, continuing through Monday, January 20 at 23:59 GMT. Set your clocks!

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Gluster Hangout with Daniel Mons from Cutting Edge

January 15, 2014 in Syndicated

Dan Mons came across GlusterFS at his job with Cutting Edge, a VFX company. He needed lots of storage space that was available to many different users – and he needed it to be able to expand as he needed. That it was free and ran on commodity systems was a big plus.

Come join us as we learn from Dan and pepper him with lots of questions. We’ll be at a special time this week because Dan is in Oz – 5pm Pacific US/8pm Eastern US/01:00 GMT

Follow along on YouTube in the video above and ask questions in #gluster-meeting on the Freenode IRC network (irc.freenode.net or irc.gnu.org, among others).

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Hangout with Semiosis (Louis Z) Today – Gluster on AWS, Java Filesystem and more

January 10, 2014 in Syndicated

In about 90 minutes, Louis Zuckerman and I will be “hanging out” and talking about how he came to deploy GlusterFS on AWS, and why he’d developing a Java Filesystem integration with GlusterFS. I’ll post the embedded YouTube link here when we’re about to go live. Hangout starts at 11am EST, 8am PST, 16:00GMT – follow along on YouTube and ask questions in #gluster-meeting on IRC.gnu.org.

 

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Happy New Year – GlusterFS 3.4.2 has hit store shelves!

January 3, 2014 in Syndicated

As we ring in the new year, we also ring in a new release – GlusterFS 3.4.2, available at your local download server! This is a maintenance release, fixing a few bugs, which you can read in the release notes.

In addition to bug fixes, you’ll notice that we’re welcoming a new distribution to the Gluster Community: OpenSuSE and SLES. We hope our SuSE friends will try them and let us know how it goes. If you’re counting at home, that brings the number of supported platforms to *9* on the client and server (NetBSD packages aren’t on the download server, because its users get updated GlusterFS builds via pkgsrc).

The most notable bug fixes/changes:

  • Libgfapi support for Ganesha NFS integration
  • Updating extras/Ubuntu with latest upstart configs (BUG: 1047007)
  • gfapi.py: support dynamic loading of versioned libraries
  • cluster/dht: Ignore ENOENT errors for unlink of linkfiles
  • cli: Throw a warning during replace-brick
  • mgmt/glusterd: Fix a memory leak in glusterd_is_local_addr()
  • glusterd: submit RPC requests without holding big lock
  • protocol/client: handle network disconnect/reconnect properly
  • gfapi: use native STACK_WIND for read _async() calls
  • mgmt/glusterd: add option to specify a different base-port
  • Disable eager-locks on NetBSD for 3.4 branch
  • nfs/mount3: fix crash in subdir resolution
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On Millennials and Special Snowflakes

January 1, 2014 in Musings

I’m really sick and tired of all the boomer and gen X tsk tsk-ing those dreaded me-first millennials. All of these articles, which you’ve no doubt seen by now, follow a similar pattern:

  • Start with a reference to “too much praise” and too much emphasis on self-esteem. Bonus points if the writer mentions “everyone gets a trophy”
  • Then the writer lays down the hammer! And writes as if they’ve stumbled upon some grand discovery! “You’re no special snowflake” indeed.
  • Cue up some old-school expressions of insecurity that the writer mistakes for “tough love.” Back in my day, grown-ups rubbed our faces in our own failure. And we loved it! It was character building!
  • Add in some almost too revealing subtext of bitterness upon entering middle age while accomplishing zilch in the writer’s lifetime. Which, of course, has NOTHING AT ALL to do with the writer’s irrational jealousy of a whole generation of kids. NOTHING AT ALL, I SAY.
  • Add a sprinkling of cherry-picked facts to support the argument. Because I said so, that’s why. ZOMG, millenials will sic their parents on you when they fail!
  • Get off my lawn!

The most heinous example of this was David McCullough Jr., an English teacher at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts, who stupidly masturbated to his own self-importance at a high school commencement address, wagging his finger and telling them all about the BIG SCARY REAL WORLD and how “they’re not special!” Contrary to what many commentators may have written, this is not some refreshing new phenomenon, and I remember it well – adults who couldn’t get over their own failures trying to cut us down to size to help them cope with their own failures, insecurities and underachievement. We’re afraid that the next generation may show us up, so we better chop them down while there’s still time.

There’s a lot to be said about how middle class values have evolved over the decades, evolving from working class, blue collar families to white collar workers looking to get ahead. At every single stage, with every hand-off from the preceding generation, the new kids were always told to a.) get an education so they could improve upon the older generation b.) follow their dreams, unlike their elders, who didn’t have that luxury and c.) marry for love, not settle for whoever happens to be around. In the boomer generation, that means improving upon your parents farming or blue collar background. In the “gen x” days, it meant bettering your parents service jobs or blue collar history.

And now it means… what, exactly? Seriously, if the whole “improve on your parents outcome” has been completely baked into every facet of society, what did we expect out of this current crop of kids? Pretty much everyone with some means has gone to college and worked in the white collar world their entire post-education lives. And now, with a present and future of very limited growth, the world is an extremely competitive place, rife with fear, loathing and self-doubt, which manifests itself in a variety of ways. Parents are hell-bent on making sure their kids “get ahead”, so they enroll their kids in every competitive sport, spend exorbitant amounts of money to send their kids to the best public schools, enroll them in art and music programs, and push them into every extra-curricular thing they can afford. The archetype of the millenials’ parents is not the coddling, always-praising sunshine pumper, it’s the tiger mom. And the implicit message to the kids is, “you had better succeed. You cannot fail – you’re our only hope to maintain our status. And we will do *anything* to protect that hard-fought status.”

I call outright BS on the special snowflake business. That’s not the problem. They’ve been taught since they were plucked from a crib to go to art class that this is a hyper-competitive world in ways that it never was before. I do not understand how anyone can look at the lives of young adults who came of age in the 90’s and 00’s and come away with the impression that they didn’t face enough consequences of losing. They faced those consequences quite often, thank you very much – from the first time they learned they weren’t in the G&T classes, to the first time they didn’t make a sports team, to the times their teams, in whatever activity, didn’t win. There is now an unprecedented pressure on the middle class, not to mention baked-in anxiety of of falling down the status pole, with many people from below trying to rise up to the “American Dream.” Then add to that the stories shared by parents about that other kid/cousin/neighbor down the street who’s accomplished some amazing thing, evoking pangs of anxiety and jealousy from their kids. To magnify that effect, there’s now social media with its pervasive humble braggers to drive home the point that you’re a loser, baby, and no special snowflake. The pressure on millennials is about performing up to higher standards, achieving perfection, and making the impossible possible.

There’s an interesting psychological concept that manifests itself in particularly pernicious ways as society becomes more taxed by inequality. People tend to focus on those who are above them in status, which means that they don’t even notice those who are lower in status. The result is that the more successful you are, the more elusive success becomes, due to the goalposts of success always being in motion. You don’t notice those peers you’ve just joined – only those who are at a level above you. So, parents who may have started from modest roots never quite appreciate the distance they’ve traveled, and this class anxiety transfers seamlessly to their progeny. And that anxiety, and how they deal with it, explains many of the complaints you hear about millennials.

I don’t think millennials think they’re special snowflakes. I think they’re scared shitless that they’re losing. The era of lowered expectations means that everything they’ve been told when they were growing up is a complete lie. There is no attainable success – it’s always elusive, just beyond your grasp. Having established that, forgive them if, frankly, they don’t feel the need to jump through your horseshit hoops because, ultimately, it doesn’t really amount to anything substantial. Forgive them if they’d rather pursue their wild-ass dreams instead of whatever you think they *should* be doing. Whenever I read articles full of free, unsolicited “advice” for millennials, I’m reminded of my med-school friends who told me about the horrors of 36-hour shifts. When I asked them why they continued this practice despite its obvious potential for failure, their response was simple: because their predecessors had to go through it, it was only “fair” that this next crop go through the same self-abuse. Lather, rinse, repeat. Got that? It’s not about better results, it’s about equal suffering. So no, I don’t think millennials are a blight on humanity. In fact, I think they’re our best hope for a sane, future work-life balance.

Because they, more than most, understand that our current systems of blind obeisance to fascistic organizations should not be a mandatory rite-of-passage that everyone follow. Rather, we should seriously analyze how we got where we are, study the results of our current systems, and if need be, either reform them or start over. Don’t fight the millennials – pay attention to what they have to say.

 

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The Tyranny of the Clouds

December 12, 2013 in Syndicated

Or “How I learned to start worrying and never trust the cloud.”

The Clouderati have been derping for some time now about how we’re all going towards the public cloud and “private cloud” will soon become a distant, painful memory, much like electric generators filled the gap before power grids became the norm. They seem far too glib about that prospect, and frankly, they should know better. When the Clouderati see the inevitability of the public cloud, their minds lead to unicorns and rainbows that are sure to follow. When I think of the inevitability of the public cloud, my mind strays to “The Empire Strikes Back” and who’s going to end up as Han Solo. When the Clouderati extol the virtues of public cloud providers, they prove to be very useful idiots advancing service providers’ aims, sort of the Lando Calrissians of the cloud wars. I, on the other hand, see an empire striking back at end users and developers, taking away our hard-fought gains made from the proliferation of free/open source software. That “the empire” is doing this *with* free/open source software just makes it all the more painful an irony to bear.

I wrote previously that It Was Never About Innovation, and that article was set up to lead to this one, which is all about the cloud. I can still recall talking to Nicholas Carr about his new book at the time, “The Big Switch“, all about how we were heading towards a future of utility computing, and what that would portend. Nicholas saw the same trends the Clouderati did, except a few years earlier, and came away with a much different impression. Where the Clouderati are bowled over by Technology! and Innovation!, Nicholas saw a harbinger of potential harm and warned of a potential economic calamity as a result. While I also see a potential calamity, it has less to do with economic stagnation and more to do with the loss of both freedom and equality.

The virtuous cycle I mentioned in the previous article does not exist when it comes to abstracting software over a network, into the cloud, and away from the end user and developer. In the world of cloud computing, there is no level playing field – at least, not at the moment. Customers are at the mercy of service providers and operators, and there are no “four freedoms” to fall back on.

When several of us co-founded the Open Cloud Initiative (OCI), it was with the intent, as Simon Phipps so eloquently put it, of projecting the four freedoms onto the cloud. There have been attempts to mandate additional terms in licensing that would force service providers to participate in a level playing field. See, for example, the great debates over “closing the web services loophole” as we called it then, during the process to create the successor to the GNU General Public License version 2. Unfortunately, while we didn’t yet realize it, we didn’t have the same leverage as we had when software was something that you installed and maintained on a local machine.

The Way to the Open Cloud

Many “open cloud” efforts have come and gone over the years, none of them leading to anything of substance or gaining traction where it matters. Bradley Kuhn helped drive the creation of the Affero GPL version 3, which set out to define what software distribution and conveyance mean in a web-driven world, but the rest of the world has been slow to adopt because, again, service providers have no economic incentive to do so. Where we find ourselves today is a world without a level playing field, which will, in my opinion, stifle creativity and, yes, innovation. It is this desire for “innovation” that drives the service providers to behave as they do, although as you might surmise, I do not think that word means what they think it means. As in many things, service providers want to be the arbiters of said innovation without letting those dreaded freeloaders have much of a say. Worse yet, they create services that push freeloaders into becoming part of the product – not a participant in the process that drives product direction. (I know, I know: yes, users can get together and complain or file bugs, but they cannot mandate anything over the providers)

Most surprising is that the closed cloud is aided and abetted by well-intentioned, but ultimately harmful actors. If you listen to the Clouderati, public cloud providers are the wonderful innovators in the space, along with heaping helpings of concern trolling over OpenStack’s future prospects. And when customers lose because a cloud company shuts its doors, the clouderati can’t be bothered to bring themselves to care: c’est la vie and let them eat cake. The problem is that too many of the clouderati think that Innovation! is a means to its own ends without thinking of ground rules or a “bill of rights” for the cloud. Innovation! and Technology! must rule all, and therefore the most innovative take all, and anything else is counter-productive or hindering the “free market”. This is what happens when the libertarian-minded carry prejudiced notions of what enabled open source success without understanding what made it possible: the establishment and codification of rights and freedoms. None of the Clouderati are evil, freedom-stealing, or greedy, per se, but their actions serve to enable those who are. Because they think solely in terms of Innovation! and Technology!, they set the stage for some companies to dominate the cloud space without any regard for establishing a level playing field.

Let us enumerate the essential items for open innovation:

  1. Set of ground rules by which everyone must abide, eg. the four freedoms
  2. Level playing field where every participant is a stakeholder in a collaborative effort
  3. Economic incentives for participation

These will be vigorously opposed by those who argue that establishing such a list is too restrictive for innovation to happen, because… free market! The irony is that establishing such rules enabled Open Source communities to become the engine that runs the world’s economy. Let us take each and discuss its role in creating the open cloud.

Ground Rules

We have already established the irony that the four freedoms led to the creation of software that was used as the infrastructure for creating proprietary cloud services. What if the four freedoms where tweaked for cloud services. As a reminder, here are the four freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1).
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3).

If we rewrote this to apply to cloud services, how much would need to change? I made an attempt at this, and it turns out that only a couple of words need to change:

  • The freedom to run the program or service, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the service works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1).
  • The freedom to implement and redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to implement your modified versions for others (freedom 3).

Freedom 0 adds “or service” to denote that we’re not just talking about a single program, but a set of programs that act in concert to deliver a service.

Freedom 1 allows end users and developers to peak under the hood.

Freedom 2 adds “implement and” to remind us that the software alone is not much use – the data forms a crucial part of any service.

Freedom 3 also changes “distribute copies of” to “implement” because of the fundamental role that data plays in any service. Distributing copies of software in this case doesn’t help anyone without also adding the capability of implementing the modified service, data and all.

Establishing these rules will be met, of course, with howls of rancor from the established players in the market, as it should be.

Level Playing Field

With the establishment of the service-oriented freedoms, above, we have the foundation for a level playing field with actors from all sides having a stake in each other’s success. Each of the enumerated freedoms serves to establish a managed ecosystem, rather than a winner-take-all pillage and plunder system. This will be countered by the argument that if we hinder the development of innovative companies won’t we a.) hinder economic growth in general and b.) socialism!

In the first case, there is a very real threat from a winner-take-all system. In its formative stages, when everyone has the economic incentive to innovate (there’s that word again!), everyone wins. Companies create and disrupt each other, and everyone else wins by utilizing the creations of those companies. But there’s a well known consequence of this activity: each actor will try to build in the ability to retain customers at all costs. We have seen this happen in many markets, such as the creation of proprietary, undocumented data formats in the office productivity market. And we have seen it in the cloud, with the creation of proprietary APIs that lock in customers to a particular service offering. This, too, chokes off economic development and, eventually, innovation. At first, this lock in happens via the creation of new products and services which usually offer new features that enable customers to be more productive and agile. Over time, however, once the lock-in is established, customers find that their long-term margins are not in their favor, and moving to another platform proves too costly and time-consuming. If all vendors are equal, this may not be so bad, because vendors have an incentive to lure customers away from their existing providers, and the market becomes populated by vendors competing for customers, acting in their interest. Allow one vendor to establish a larger share than others, and this model breaks down. In a monopoly situation, the incumbent vendor has many levers to lock in their customers, making the transition cost too high to switch to another provider. In cloud computing, this winner-take-all effect is magnified by the massive economies of scale enjoyed by the incumbent providers. Thus, the customer is unable to be as innovative as they could be due to their vendor’s lock-in schemes. If you believe in unfettered Innovation! at all costs, then you must also understand the very real economic consequences of vendor lock-in. By creating a level playing field through the establishment of ground rules that ensure freedom, a sustainable and innovative market is at least feasible. Without that, an unfettered winner-take-all approach will invariably result in the loss of freedom and, consequently, agility and innovation.

Economic Incentives

This is the hard one. We have already established that open source ecosystems work because all actors have an incentive to participate, but we have not established whether the same incentives apply here. In the open source software world, developers participate because they had to, because the price of software is always dropping, and customers enjoy open source software too much to give it up for anything else. One thing that may be in our favor is the distinct lack of profits in the cloud computing space, although that changes once you include services built on cloud computing architectures.

If we focus on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), the primary gateways to creating cloud-based services, then the margins and profits are quite low. This market is, by its nature, open to competition because the race is on to lure as many developers and customers as possible to the respective platform offerings. However, the danger becomes if one particular service provider is able to offer proprietary services that give it leverage over the others, establishing the lock-in levers needed to pound the competition into oblivion.

In contrast to basic infrastructure, the profit margins of proprietary products built on top of cloud infrastructure has been growing for some time, which incentivizes the IaaS and PaaS vendors to keep stacking proprietary services on top of their basic infrastructure. This results in a situation where increasing numbers of people and businesses have happily donated their most important business processes and workflows to these service providers. If any of them are to grow unhappy with the service, they cannot easily switch, because no competitor would have access to the same data or implementation of that service. In this case, not only is there a high cost associated with moving to another service, there is the distinct loss of utility (and revenue) that the customer would experience. There is a cost that comes from entrusting so much of your business to single points of failure with no known mechanism for migrating to a competitor.

In this model, there is no incentive for service providers to voluntarily open up their data or services to other service providers. There is, however, an incentive for competing service providers to be more open with their products. One possible solution could be to create an Open Cloud certification that would allow services that abide by the four freedoms in the cloud to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. If enough service providers signed on, it would lead to a network effect adding pressure to those providers who don’t abide by the four freedoms. This is similar to the model established by the Free Software Foundation and, although the GNU people would be loathe to admit it, the Open Source Initiative. The OCI’s goal was to ultimately create this, but we have not yet been able to follow through on those efforts.

Conclusion

We have a pretty good idea why open source succeeded, but we don’t know if the open cloud will follow the same path. At the moment, end users and developers have little leverage in this game. One possibility would be if end users chose, at massive scale, to use services that adhered to open cloud principles, but we are a long way away from this reality. Ultimately, in order for the open cloud to succeed, there must be economic incentives for all parties involved. Perhaps pricing demands will drive some of the lower rung service providers to adopt more open policies. Perhaps end users will flock to those service providers, starting a new virtuous cycle. We don’t yet know. What we do know is that attempts to create Innovation! will undoubtedly lead to a stacked deck and a lack of leverage for those who rely on these services.

If we are to resolve this problem, it can’t be about innovation for innovation’s sake – it must be, once again, about freedom.

 

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It’s a GlusterFest Testing Weekend

December 5, 2013 in Syndicated

If you’ve been keeping up with our weekly meetings and the 3.5 planning page, then you know that tomorrow, December 6, is the first testing “day” for 3.5. But since this is a Friday, we’re going to make the party last all weekend, through mid-day Monday.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Take a look at the 3.5 testing page to see the test day instructions and a list of new features:
  • See instructions for setting up your test bed
  • Scroll down and find new features in 3.5 that interest you
  • Visit their individual pages and find the section entitled “How to Test” to see if there are specific instructions there
  • Report bugs at the links provided
  • If you wish to record comprehensive results of testing, feel free to post them on gluster-devel or on a wiki page that you create

We’re starting soon – at 9pm Pacific (Dec 5)/Midnight Eastern (Dec 6)/05:00 GMT (Dec 6) and continuing until Monday at 20:00 GMT/3pm Eastern/Noon Pacific.

Let’s get the GlusterFest party started right – and continue all weekend long.

I have bundles of Gluster Community swag (t-shirts, USB car chargers, stickers) for whoever finds bugs verified by the developer team.

Thanks, and happy hacking!

-JM

PS – the next testing event will be for the 3.5 beta and is scheduled for Dec. 17.

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THE NUTCRACKOLYPSE

December 2, 2013 in Family

Gather around, children, as I tell the tale of the… bum bum BUM… NUTCRACKOLYPSE!