September 24, 2014

5 New Enterprise Open Source Projects to Watch

datacenter operating systemThe open source software community is nothing if not prolific, and exciting new projects arrive on the scene practically every day. Keeping up with it all can be a formidable challenge; on the other hand, failing to do so could mean you miss out on something great.

Nowhere is that more true than in enterprises, where upstart new contenders can change the way business is done almost overnight. Take Docker, for example. Though it only just launched last year, the container technology tool has taken the enterprise world by storm, becoming a fundamental part of the way many businesses work.

With that in mind, we recently took a stroll through Open Hub and reached out to several open source watchers in the hopes of highlighting a few of the latest up-and-comers in this space. What, we asked, are the most exciting open source projects to launch recently with a focus on enterprises?

1. Mesos

Since Docker launched in 2013, it has become "the basis of an ecosystem and market that is taking shape as rapidly as anything we have ever seen in enterprise IT," Jay Lyman, a senior analyst for enterprise software with 451 Research, told Linux.com. Accordingly, Mesos is one of Lyman's favorite new projects.

Mesos is a cluster management tool that also serves as the basis of running and managing Docker containers. "We are seeing more and more Docker development and management tools emerge," Lyman noted, but Mesos was among the first to serve as a "sort of stripped-down runtime environment for Docker."

For more on Mesos, see the YouTube playlist of MesosCon 2014 presentations.

2. Sysdig

Launched early this year, Sysdig is an open source system exploration and troubleshooting tool from Draios, whose founder -- Loris Degioanni -- also created the popular Wireshark tool for network professionals. "What makes Sysdig interesting is that it’s designed with a Lua wrapper on top of the tool, allowing for chisels to be applied," Jonah Kowall, a research vice president in Gartner's IT Operations Research group, told Linux.com.

"You can do interesting combinatory analysis using process data (lsof), system calls (log or other system calls), wire data (packets)," Kowall explained. "This allows for more complex combinations of data going across data sources with a single open source tool."

3. Open Mirage

Mirage is an open source operating system for constructing secure, high-performance and reliable network applications across a variety of cloud computing and mobile platforms. It's also a good representation of the trend toward microkernels, which is rapidly gaining momentum.

Using Mirage, code can be developed on a normal operating system such as Linux or MacOS X, for example, before compiling into a stand-alone, specialized OS kernel that runs under the Xen hypervisor. As the Mirage team notes, "since Xen powers most public cloud computing infrastructure such as Amazon EC2, this lets your servers elastically scale up massively with little effort on your part."

4. Kubernetes

Another contender riding the Docker wave is Kubernetes, a container cluster manager from Google that was singled out as notable by the team at Black Duck Software, operator of the Open Hub (previously Ohloh) site.

Though it just launched this summer and is still in pre-production beta, this open source implementation of container cluster management is designed to be able to run anywhere. A stable, production-ready product is expected to arrive in the coming year. The video below from Google I/O 2014 describes the premise in more detail.

5. OpenPOWER

Though it's not so much a single project, IBM's OpenPOWER Foundation was launched in late 2013 as an open development community focused on data center innovation, and "it really started taking off this year," Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told Linux.com.

"The core strategy revolves around IBM licensing its POWER processor architecture in an open source model, allowing licensees to change/alter the core architecture for their own individual or commercial purposes," King explained. "The initial five companies that signed on included a couple of luminaries -- Google, NVIDIA and Tyan -- that lent the effort more gravity than it might have had otherwise. Since then, 50+ other companies have joined and are leveraging the POWER architecture across numerous projects."

Overall, King added, IBM's goal "is to capture for POWER Systems the kind of commercial advantages that Linux delivered to IBM's mainframe systems." 

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