Are we too optimistic about the benefits that software can bring us? View in browser »
The New Stack Update

ISSUE 203: Glass Half Full (of Something)

Talk Talk Talk

Monoliths are the future because the problem people are trying to solve with microservices doesn’t really line up with reality.”

Add It Up
How important is the use of Saas and Paas

Despite a lack of confidence in SaaS and PaaS applications, the cloud is an integral part of many companies’ privacy and security efforts according to a Microsoft-sponsored Ponemon Institute survey of over 1,000 IT or security professionals familiar with both protecting personal data in cloud environments and knowledgeable about their organization’s approach to privacy and legal compliance.

Sixty-two percent of this well-informed group believes privacy concerns have not stopped or slowed down adoption of cloud services, with only 35% seeing these concerns as an impediment. Not only is it not an inhibitor, 54% actually agree that security and/or privacy protections are a reason to migrate to the cloud, with 44% citing compliance with emerging data protections (e.g., California’s Consumer Privacy Act).

Privacy-related activities like GDPR compliance, conducting a privacy assessment and tagging sensitive personal data are easier to deploy in a public cloud as opposed to an on-premises environment. It appears that the cloud provides for a greater degree of standardization, which in turn makes it easier to vet solutions.

There is a more mixed picture when respondents are asked specifically about SaaS and PaaS applications. Sixty percent are not confident that the PaaS applications their organization uses meets privacy and data protection requirements, with 53% saying SaaS apps meet that threshold. More than half of respondents said privacy and data security requirements are evaluated prior to a SaaS or PaaS application being deployed.

Despite this negativity, there is also optimism that within two years these solutions will be important to meeting these objectives. In fact, while only 26% see PaaS as important to privacy and data protection today, twice as many respondents (53%) expect PaaS to be critical to privacy and security efforts in the near future. So, while high profile security breaches may get a lot of attention, cloud services are also part of the industry’s privacy/security future.

What's Happening

The end user often suffers the most when applications just don’t work as they should. In today’s rapid deployment and “fail fast, fail often” world, much is often lost between what the developers think will work and what the end user actually experiences.

It does not have to be this way. Human-centered design should be more of a focal point as component libraries for applications are designed with better consistency and customization in mind in the development cycle.

In this The New Stack Makers podcast, The New Stack founder and publisher Alex Williams spoke with Ayesha Mazumdar, senior UX designer at Optimizely, during Node+JS Interactive in Montreal about what needs to be done — and why human-centered designs are becoming not only nice-to-have features but technical requirements.

Glass Half-Full (of Something)

Are we too optimistic about the benefits that software can bring us?

It is true that at The New Stack, we like to elaborate on the possible uses of the technologies we cover and how they could help you — as an administrator, developer, DevOp or architect – get your systems to the ideal state a little bit faster. And though we always look for the (often hidden) tradeoffs of any new technology, we figure that if the technology wasn’t worthy of your interest in the first place then we won’t waste your time telling you about it. 

But are we, as an industry, too optimistic? This was the argument that Harvard Professor James Mickens made in a 2018 USENIX conference. In our rush to embrace the supposed benefits of new technology, we forget to turn a critical eye to the latest technologies we hype. And we, and our users, suffer the consequences.

Take machine learning for example. ML is “the oxygen that Silicon Valley is trying to force into our lungs,” Mickens told the audience. ML developers rarely have the mathematical understanding of why an ML system produces the results it does, let alone a solid understanding of the ethical or even legal issues ML brings up. As examples, we just look to recent AI disasters such as Microsoft’s Tay or the ongoing issues around bias in AI systems.

Or, you could look to the recent debacle around the U.S. Iowa democratic caucus. Whatever your political views, I’m sure you can see how un-earned optimism around the tallying app had led to many questions and frustrations — not only about the results but even about the whole caucus process itself.

We’re not against technical optimism, but at the same time, thanks to Mickens, we’ll take a closer look at the technologies that promise a bright future for all. 

Why Bruce Perens Is Proposing ‘Coherent Open Source’

In 1998, software engineer Bruce Perens co-founded the Open Source Initiative — a global non-profit championing Open Source ideal — along with fellow advocate Eric S. Raymond. And for the past two decades, OSI has acted as an influential steward of the Open Source definition. As 2020 started though, Perens very publicly left the group, complaining on its mailing list that its review of a new license for cryptography keys meant the group was “rather enthusiastically headed toward accepting a license that isn’t freedom-respecting.” Perens also used that occasion to promote an alternative system called “coherent open source.”

Why New Relic Supports W3C’s Distributed Tracing Protocol

W3C Trace Context is a recommended standard for formatting headers so they can share tracing information as they move from service to service. Until now, there has been no uniform standard for doing this. In this post, TNS sponsor New Relic explains the importance of this protocol, and how it will work within New Relic’s own environment.

Dr. Torq: Data Processing at the Edge with Linux awk

Last June, data scientist and visualization expert Nick Strayer learned a valuable lesson in large scale data processing: Sometimes even the latest “Big Data”-oriented software doesn’t do as well as what we already have in the Unix toolbox. Looking to parse 25TB of genetic data, he tried using tools such as Parquet and Spark, but in the end, he found the best solution was a combination of the R statistical programming language and the humble awk — an awesome Linux command-line program that typically takes plain text as input and produces specifically formatted output. Learn how here.

On The Road
Cloud Native Security Live //FEB. 11, 2020 // ONLINE

FEB. 11, 2020 // ONLINE

Cloud Native Security Live

Cloud Native Security Live, 2020 Virtual Summit is for the developer, DevOps pro and IT leader who all have so much at stake with container technologies, Kubernetes and cloud native environments. It’s now about DevOps and security as the core requirement for application development, deployment and management. Join Palo Alto Networks on Tuesday February 11 for a full day of discussions about cloud native security brought to you, live online for you, wherever you may be. We hope to see you there for this virtual summit — hosted by Palo Alto Networks in partnership with The New Stack. Register now!

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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