Distributed computing can sometimes be complex and confusing, but working through these challenges means tackling workloads one computer can’t handle. View in browser »
The New Stack Update

ISSUE 214: Distributed Computing to Battle a Distributed Virus

Talk Talk Talk

“Organizations are using networks in a way that they weren’t designed for.”

Mike Canney, client solution architect at network and application monitoring company Accedian, on changes in corporate network traffic patterns in the COVID-19 era.
Add It Up
Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied have you been using Go on [cloud provider] during the past year?

Microsoft Azure has a problem among 500+ surveyed developers that use its platform with Go programming language. Only 49% of this group are at least moderately satisfied using Go on Azure over the last year, according to the latest Go Developer Survey. In comparison, 73% and 71% feel the same way about their Go experiences with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) respectfully.

In an open-ended question, Azure users repeatedly say the cloud provider did not provide first-class support to the language, which is still widely used for cloud native computing work in projects such as Moby.


Take Our 1-Minute Survey on Software Supply Chain Security

Software supply chains were front-and-center for The New Stack long before COVID-19-related self-isolation directives disrupted the delivery of physical goods. We created a four-question poll that will continue to inform our reporting around changing roles and responsibilities in securing the software pipeline. Please provide your input on this short, four-question survey by clicking on the following button.


What's Happening

What is the role that the data plane plays in a Kubernetes ecosystem? This was the theme for our latest (virtual) pancake breakfast and panel discussion, sponsored by DataStax, the keeper of the open source Cassandra database, captured in this latest episode of The New Stack Analysts podcast.

Last month, DataStax released a Kubernetes operator, so the NoSQL database can be more easily installed, managed, and updated in Kubernetes container-based infrastructure.

The panelists for this discussion:

  • Aaron Ploetz, Target NoSQL lead engineer.
  • Janakiram MSV, principal analyst of Janakiram & Associates.
  • Kathryn Erickson, DataStax senior director of partnerships.
  • Sam Ramji, DataStax chief strategy officer.

Alex Williams, founder and publisher for The New Stack, served as moderator for this panel, with the help of TNS Managing Editor Joab Jackson.

Pancake Podcast: Cassandra and the Need for a Kubernetes Data Plane

Distributed Computing to Battle a Distributed Virus

Distributed computing, as we’ve learned at The New Stack over the years, can sometimes be complex and confusing. But working through these challenges pays off in that it means tackling workloads that a single computer just can’t handle.

Take, for instance, the impending job of tracking the COVID-19 virus as it moves across the population. One proposition floated is contact tracing, or tracking the virus through everyone's cell phones. This approach helped quell the spread of coronavirus in Asia. The idea is that if a user comes in contact with someone who has the virus, they will be notified by the phone and can take appropriate precautions, such as staying at home and wearing a mask.

Of course, the idea of tracking from a centralized server has raised privacy and security concerns, so when Google and Apple proposed incorporating Bluetooth-driven tracking software into their respective mobile devices, they included the smart idea of having the phones themselves do the heavy lifting, sending only non-identifiable tokens and timestamps back to whatever is collecting that data. 

Through this form of distributed computing, the phones themselves could tell people when they’ve been in contact with a COVID-19 carrier, rather than depending on a centralized server, explained Patrick McFadin, DataStax's chief evangelist for Apache Cassandra, in a recent interview with The New Stack.  

Apple and Google's architecture does not involve tracking user locations or identifying data. Instead, each device will create for itself a "beacon" number randomly generated by the phone’s hardware. As the phones come into proximity with others they will all share their beacons, each phone keeping a list of all the other phones it came in contact with.

Someone who contracted the virus would then volunteer this info to the app, which would relay the status to the backend database — the first time a central database is tapped. Even then, it has no personally-identifying information. A database would only periodically send to all the phones a list of infected keys, so to speak, and it would be up the user's phone itself that would check the infected keys against its own list, alerting the owner if they’ve been in contact with a COVID-19 carrier. Distributed computing in action!

A time of crisis always requires innovation to meet new demands, and it’ll be interesting to see how some of the ideas formulated in our own community come to be used in this new era.   

The Disconnect Between Developers and Application Security

In a modern development shop, the role of the security professional shouldn’t just be one of just fixing bugs and pointing out security holes. Rather it should be a role of a service provider, ensuring the devteam has tools to produce secure code. This was the message from a talk by Scott Gerlach, co-founder and chief security officer at application security firm StackHawk, at the AllTheTalks virtual conference put on by Snyk.

OpenTelemetry Steps up to Manage the Mayhem of Microservices

Work continues to make OpenTelemetry the standard set of vendor-neutral specifications and associated tools for capturing cloud native operational data. Bringing the work close to production-readiness, the project has released a collector, as well as software development kits (SDKs) to support a number of different languages. The work is particularly pertinent as concerns grow that running microservices-based architectures in large-scale environments may be too unwieldy, given the difficulties in debugging across multiple components. A sandbox project of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, OpenTelemetry would be a key enabler in making microservices manageable.

How io_uring and eBPF Will Revolutionize Programming in Linux

Here’s a contributed post from Glauber Costa from ScyllaDB on some major changes to the Linux kernel. One is eBPF, which we’ve covered before — the monitoring community is all excited about that one. But there is also io_uring, which is about to make Linux a lot better at executing time-sensitive jobs.

io_uring started out with a simple idea: as devices get extremely fast, interrupt-driven work is no longer as efficient as polling for completions — a common theme that underlies the architecture of performance-oriented I/O systems. It grew into a fully asynchronous operation, the basic theory of operation being that there is an interface to push work into the kernel, and another interface to retrieve completed work.

Party On

(Top left clockwise) Alex Williams of The New Stack, Angel Rivera of CircleCI, and Liran Tal of Snyk chat during the virtual event by Snyk.

The New Stack Makers podcast is available on: — Pocket CastsStitcher — Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotifyTuneIn

Technologists building and managing new stack architectures join us for short conversations at conferences out on the tech conference circuit. These are the people defining how applications are developed and managed at scale.
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