Big Software is the next, er, big thing

Canonical on OpenStack dev

Mark Shuttleworth [Wikimedia. Attribution: Martin Schmitt]

You’ve heard of hyperscale, but now “Big Software” is the new big thing over at Canonical, and the open source outfit is keen to promote anything that fits with its vision of how massive, hyperscale infrastructure is going to be built and managed in future.

Big Software is what the open source outfit sees as its mission to solve these days. It refers to the way that cloud and modern IT infrastructure is developing, with applications increasingly composed of many software components spread across a large number of machines in the data center, handling massive data sets.

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth outlined this vision at the OpenStack Summit in Austin earlier this year, saying that “the architectural conversation in OpenStack is really about how to spread the 15, 20 or 30 pieces of software that make up a modern OpenStack deployment across tens, hundreds or thousands of diverse physical servers.”

The problem lies in how to keep control over such a sprawling infrastructure estate, and it’s behind the development of many of Canonical’s tools such as Juju, metal-as-a-service (Maas), and its Autopilot OpenStack deployment tool.

With Canonical’s roots in the open source world, it is natural for the firm to see that solutions will come from the open source development community, and one solution the firm is touting comes from another open source outfit, Elastic.

Elastic has developed a suite of tools for collecting data from any source and searching, analyzing, and visualizing it in real time. This makes it the ideal platform for monitoring a Big Software deployment, according to Canonical.

“Gathering service metrics for complex big software stacks can be a chore, especially when you need to warehouse, visualize, and share the metrics. It’s not just about measuring machine performance, but application performance as well. You usually need to warehouse months of history of these metrics so you can spot trends,” said software engineer Charles Butler, writing on Canonical’s blog.

Butler goes into detail on how the Elastic Stack – comprised of tools named Elasticsearch, Kibana, Logstash, and Beats – can be configured and deployed to solve this particular problem. Head over to the blog if this kind of thing floats your boat.

So is Big Software a real thing? It seems like a broad, nebulous term rather like cloud computing, and appears to encompass big data, microservices, massive scale-out infrastructure, and even cloud itself. Nevertheless, Canonical sees addressing the complexities of Big Software as a big opportunity and its main mission – and it’s sticking to it. ®




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