How The Linux Foundation is Advancing Next-Gen Internet Infrastructure

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The breadth of the The Linux Foundation (affectionately known as The LF) is often overlooked due to its eponymous name. However, what may not be apparent to the layman is that The LF is providing a true foundation for the next generation of Internet infrastructure by cultivating the biggest shared technology investment in history. The LF is so much more than Linux. Our work encompasses projects from security and IoT, to networking and cloud computing, and beyond.

One blockbuster example, Hyperledger, celebrates its one-year anniversary this month. This is the open source blockchain project on which a new ecosystem of projects and products will be built that reinvents commercial transactions on the Internet. Hyperledger is helping redefine the financial industry to reduce fraud and improve security through a blockchain shared ledger.

Let’s Encrypt is another LF project that’s bringing a level of security to the Internet that was previously out of reach by offering a free and open automated certificate authority. Furthermore, our Core Infrastructure Initiative provides a collaborative effort for key infrastructure that’s used throughout the network but needed more resources to be developed and maintained effectively. CII helps provide support for OpenSSH, OpenSSL and NTP (the Network Time Protocol that is used for updating virtually every server on the Internet).

With Cloud Foundry and Node.js, we are working to help enable digital transformation of IT infrastructure by providing frameworks for delivering cloud applications that scale and thrive under an open source development model. Increasingly, Linux Foundation projects are addressing needs throughout the application stack. Cloud Foundry, a container-based application platform, provides a way for developers to deploy applications while abstracting away some of the complexities of the underlying infrastructure. In essence they help application developers deploy cloud-native applications. Node.js is providing a massively scalable Javascript framework that makes it much easier to build server-side applications for the cloud.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), an LF project that supports the key projects needed to build and scale modern distributed systems, has just acquired the rights to the Rethink DB source code. The project was licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License, Version 3 (AGPLv3), a strong copyleft license, which limited the willingness of some companies to use and contribute to the software. CNCF paid $25,000 to purchase the RethinkDB copyright and assets and has re-licensed the software under the ASLv2, one of the most popular permissive software licenses, which enables anyone to use the software for any purpose without complicated requirements. (See related blog post “Why CNCF Recommends ASLv2”.) RethinkDB joins CNCF’s solid stable of software built for the cloud including fluentd (data collection), Prometheus (monitoring), Kubernetes (container orchestration), and others.

And with the massive adoption of container technology (e.g. Docker, rkt) The Linux Foundation is providing an open governance structure for containers under the Open Container Initiative (OCI.) The OCI currently offers two specifications: the Runtime Specification (runtime-spec) and the Image Specification (image-spec). Such specs make it possible for companies to safely stake their products and services on container technologies by providing certainty that their applications can run across platforms. This is the foundation of a new container ecosystem.

Open Source Foundations Beyond Code

It wasn’t so long ago that we declared Linux to be the operating system of the cloud. Now a whole host of new cloud technologies are being built on that model of open source development (and run on top of Linux.) The Linux Foundation is not only providing the foundations for developing the code base of these technologies, but also the other mechanisms needed to foster collaboration, learning, and development.

We have launched a number of training courses, both free and paid, for those operators and developers learning to sharpen their skills. For example, we provide a free Introduction to Cloud Infrastructure Technologies course through edX. We have also created a Kubernetes Fundamentals course to help users validate and gain the skills needed to take advantage of what is becoming the most widely deployed container orchestration tool. We also fill the needs for skills training in open source software that we aren’t directly involved in, such as our OpenStack course that helps users prepare for the OpenStack certification.

Finally, our commitment to open source provides users the tools they need to appropriately consume, develop, and learn about open source. Our Open Source Summit events have multiple technology tracks, including cloud computing. And our CloudNativeCon and Kubecon series of events are the de facto place to learn about Kubernetes and how to build and use cloud native applications. We produce the events where users, developers and solution providers can come together to learn and collaborate on open cloud technologies.

In the end, what we are seeing is that technology is increasingly becoming open source and companies that originally develop software to scratch their own itch are finding much broader applications of those efforts. Savvy companies are taking their open source projects and mustering industry support around them. Pivotal did so with Cloud Foundry, Google’s done this with Kubernetes, and Joyent with Node.js.

The LF is a shepherd for valuable technologies that may need extra help to find success, such as RethinkDB, and we have stepped in to provide support around a project that was not prospering under a single entity. That support has to encompass a diverse ecosystem of users, developers, and solution providers which all collaborate to solve problems and improve the usability of these projects.

Through open collaboration we are creating a new generation of Internet infrastructure that will itself provide the foundation for companies and ecosystems to thrive well into the future.

Learn more about The Linux Foundation projects. Watch Jim Zemlin’s keynote talk at Open Source Leadership Summit 2017. Watch now!