Tech Smorgasbord #1

There’s always too much out there to learn and not remotely enough time to do it in. That’s always been the case, of course, but it just keeps getting worse – there’s all of the “old” stuff still to be learned (or re-learned) and then every minute of every day there’s more new, cool stuff that you want to dive into as well. There’s never enough time, so we need to try (somehow) to narrow our focus to the most interesting or most important – and hopefully there’s overlap between the two.

Here’s a few of the things that have popped onto my radar over the last week that I need to find some time to look into.

Vagrant Manager for OS X

A cool little addition to the toolbox for those using Vagrant (and Mac OS X). I’ve only dabbled with Vagrant to date but this looks like a good way to get myself using it even more.

Await – A modern implementation of Expect for Windows

This is a PowerShell implementation of Expect and is part of the PowerShell Resource Gallery – which has a ton of other modules and resources that should be investigated.

If you don’t know what Expect is you can read the Wikipedia page for background, but in a nutshell: it’s a program to provide automation of interactive applications. Expect this, do that. It’s a pretty handy tool, and I’m curious about this new implementation.

Etcd and Fleet

There have been a lot of configuration systems to pop up over the last few years, and Etcd (for /etc distributed) is one of these, brought to us by the folks at CoreOS – which is itself another project with which I need to become more conversant. I looked at CoreOS a few years back, but it’s come quite a long ways since then.

Hanlon (aka Razor 2.0)

The ever-prolific Nick Weaver and Tom McSweeney came out with Razor back in 2012 to provide “cloud provisioning” and it got quite a bit of attention at the time. Subsequently, Nick has moved on to other projects, and Tom renamed & relaunched the project as Hanlon. The project seems to be continuing to gather steam and deserves some more attention.


At the OpenStack Summit this week, Midokura announced that they would be open-sourcing their flagship network virtualization product, MidoNet. Midokura have been doing “software-defined networking” since before we began defining everything as SDx. I think I first heard of Midonet via a very positive Brad Hedlund blog post in 2012. Brad’s pretty well-known in the networking community, having made his name while working at Cisco before leaving for Dell, and now working for VMware’s NSX team.

Midonet was interesting technology even then, and open-sourcing that tech is an interesting move today: by doing so, they’re hoping to gain a leadership position in the OpenStack and open-source networking communities. Of course, there’s another vendor working to guide OpenStack networking (Cisco), and then there’s the little matter of the influence of Nicira in the OpenStack world. As we all know, Nicira is the foundation for what has become NSX, at the same time that VMware is also making forays into their own OpenStack distribution with VMware Integrated OpenStack.

SmartDataCenter and Manta

Joyent has been one of the more unique tech startups of the past few years, not least because they have eschewed building off of the typical Linux/FreeBSD base for their own SmartOS, which is based on the now-dead OpenSolaris. You may also know them as the originators of the popular Node.js platform. Joyent have a lot of frighteningly smart people working for them, including quite a few ex-Sun engineers such as Bryan Cantrill. They’ve built an interesting alternative cloud offering on SmartOS, and now they’ve released two of the other key pieces of that cloud as open-source. SmartDataCenter is effectively an OpenStack competitor providing cloud management and container orchestration, and Manta is an object storage system (built on top of ZFS).



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