WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic lawmakers said on Thursday they heard nothing in classified briefings by the FBI and intelligence officials to support President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated allegation that the agency placed a “spy” into his 2016 presidential campaign to help his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. tech companies would be forced to disclose if they allowed American adversaries, like Russia and China, to examine the inner workings of software sold to the U.S. military under proposed legislation, Senate staff told Reuters on Thursday.
OpenStack is one of the most important and complex open-source projects you’ve never heard of. It’s a set of tools that allows large enterprises ranging from Comcast and PayPal to stock exchanges and telecom providers to run their own AWS-like cloud services inside their data centers. Only a few years ago, there was a lot of hype around OpenStack as the project went through the usual hype cycle. Now, we’re talking about a stable project that many of the most valuable companies on earth rely on. But this also means the ecosystem around it — and the foundation that shepherds it — is now trying to transition to this next phase.
The OpenStack project was founded by Rackspace and NASA in 2010. Two years later, the growing project moved into the OpenStack Foundation, a nonprofit group that set out to promote the project and help manage the community. When it was founded, OpenStack still had a few competitors, like CloudStack and Eucalyptus. OpenStack, thanks to the backing of major companies and its fast-growing community, quickly became the only game in town, though. With that, community events like the OpenStack Summit started to draw thousands of developers, and with each of its semi-annual releases, the number of contributors to the project has increased.
Now, that growth in contributors has slowed and, as evidenced by the attendance at this week’s Summit in Vancouver.
In the early days, there were also plenty of startups in the ecosystem — and the VC money followed them, together with some of the most lavish conference parties (or “bullshit,” as Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth called it) that I have experienced. The OpenStack market didn’t materialize quite as fast as many had hoped, though, so some of the early players went out of business, some shut down their OpenStack units and others sold to the remaining players. Today, only a few of the early players remain standing, and the top players are now the likes of Red Hat, Canonical and Rackspace.
And to complicate matters, all of this is happening in the shadow of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and the Kubernetes project it manages being in the early stages of the hype cycle.
Meanwhile, the OpenStack Foundation itself is in the middle of its own transition as it looks to bring on other open-source infrastructure projects that are complementary to its overall mission of making open-source infrastructure easier to build and consume.
Unsurprisingly, all of this clouded the mood at the OpenStack Summit this week, but I’m actually not part of the doom and gloom contingent. In my view, what we are seeing here is a mature open-source project that has gone through its ups and downs and now, with all of the froth skimmed off, it’s a tool that provides a critical piece of infrastructure for businesses. Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth, who created his own bit of drama during his keynote by directly attacking his competitors like Red Hat, told me that low attendance at the conference may not be a bad thing, for example, since the people who are actually in attendance are now just trying to figure out what OpenStack is all about and are all potential customers.
Others echoed a similar sentiment. “I think some of it goes with, to some extent, what’s been building over the last couple of Summits,” Bryan Thompson, Rackspace’s senior director and general manager for OpenStack, said as he summed up what I heard from a number of other vendors at the event. “That is: Is open stack dead? Is this going away? Or is everything just leapfrogging and going straight to Kubernetes on bare metal. And I don’t want to phrase it as ‘it’s a good thing,’ because I think it’s a challenge for the foundation and for the community. But I think it’s actually a positive thing because the core OpenStack services — the core projects — have just matured. We’re not in the early science experiment days of trying to push ahead and scale and grow the core projects, they were actually achieved and people are actually using it.”
That current state produces fewer flashy headlines, but every survey, both from the Foundation itself and third-party analysts, show that the number of users — and their OpenStack clouds — continues to grow. Meanwhile, the Foundation is looking to bring up attendance at its events, too, by adding container and CI/CD tracks, for example.
The company that maybe best exemplifies the ups and downs of OpenStack is Mirantis, a well-funded startup that has weathered the storm by reinventing itself multiple times. Mirantis started as one of the first OpenStack distributions and contributors to the project. During those early days, it raised one of the largest funding rounds in the OpenStack world with a $100 million Series B round, which was quickly followed by another $100 million round in 2015. But by early 2017, Mirantis had pivoted from being a distribution and toward offering managed services for open-source platforms. It also made an early bet on Kubernetes and offered services for that, too. And then this year, it added yet another twist to its corporate story by refocusing its efforts on the Netflix-incubated Spinnaker open-source tool and helping companies build their CI/CD pipelines based on that. In the process, the company shrunk from almost 1,000 employees to 450 today, but as Mirantis CEO and co-founder Boris Renski told me, it’s now cash-flow positive.
So just as the OpenStack Foundation is moving toward CI/CD with its Zuul tool, Mirantis is betting on Spinnaker, which solves some of the same issues, but with an emphasis on integrating multiple code repositories. Renski, it’s worth noting, actually advocated for bringing Spinnaker into the OpenStack foundation (it’s currently managed on a more ad hoc basis by Netflix and Google).
“We need some governance, we need some process,” Renski said. “The [OpenStack] Foundation is known for actually being very good and effectively seeding this kind of formalized, automated and documented governance in open source and the two should work together much closer. I think that Spinnaker should become part of the Foundation. That’s the opportunity and I think it should focus 150 percent of their energy on that before it builds its own thing and before [Spinnaker] goes off to the CNCF as yet another project.”
So what does the Foundation think about all of this? In talking to OpenStack CTO Mark Collier and Executive Director Jonathan Bryce over the last few months, it’s clear that the Foundation knows that change is needed. That process started with opening up the Foundation to other projects, making it more akin to the Linux Foundation, where Linux remains in the name as its flagship project, but where a lot of the energy now comes from projects it helps manage, including the likes of the CNCF and Cloud Foundry. At the Sydney Summit last year, the team told me that part of the mission now is to retask the large OpenStack community to work on these new topics around open infrastructure. This week, that message became clearer.
“Our mission is all about making it easier for people to build and operate open infrastructure,” Bryce told me this week. “And open infrastructure is about operating functioning services based off of open source tool. So open source is not enough. And we’ve been, you know, I think, very, very oriented around a set of open source projects. But in the seven years since we launched, what we’ve seen is people have taken those projects, they’ve turned it into services that are running and then they piled a bunch of other stuff on top of it — and that becomes really difficult to maintain and manage over the long term.” So now, going forward, that part about maintaining these clouds is becoming increasingly important for the project.
“Open source is not enough,” is an interesting phrase here, because that’s really at the core of the issue at hand. “The best thing about open source is that there’s more of it than ever,” said Bryce. “And it’s also the worst thing. Because the way that most open source communities work is that it’s almost like having silos of developers inside of a company — and then not having them talk to each other, not having them test together, and then expecting to have a coherent, easy to use product come out at the end of the day.”
And Bryce also stressed that projects like OpenStack can’t be only about code. Moving to a cloud-native development model, whether that’s with Kubernetes on top of OpenStack or some other model, is about more than just changing how you release software. It’s also about culture.
“We realized that this was an aspect of the foundation that we were under-prioritizing,” said Bryce. “We focused a lot on the OpenStack projects and the upstream work and all those kinds of things. And we also built an operator community, but I think that thinking about it in broader terms lead us to a realization that we had last year. It’s not just about OpenStack. The things that we have done to make OpenStack more usable apply broadly to these businesses [that use it], because there isn’t a single one that’s only running OpenStack. There’s not a single one of them.”
More and more, the other thing they run, besides their legacy VMware stacks, is containers and specifically containers managed with Kubernetes, of course, and while the OpenStack community first saw containers as a bit of a threat, the Foundation is now looking at more ways to bring those communities together, too.
What about the flagging attendance at the OpenStack events? Bryce and Collier echoed what many of the vendors also noted. “In the past, we had something like 7,000 developers — something insane — but the bulk of the code comes down to about 200 or 300 developers,” said Bryce. Even the somewhat diminished commercial ecosystem doesn’t strike Bryce and Collier as too much of an issue, in part because the Foundation’s finances are closely tied to its membership. And while IBM dropped out as a project sponsor, Tencent took its place.
“There’s the ecosystem side in terms of who’s making a product and selling it to people,” Collier acknowledged. “But for whom is this so critical to their business results that they are going to invest in it. So there’s two sides to that, but in terms of who’s investing in OpenStack and the Foundation and making all the software better, I feel like we’re in a really good place.” He also noted that the Foundation is seeing lots of investment in China right now, so while other regions may be slowing down, others are picking up the slack.
So here is an open-source project in transition — one that has passed through the trough of disillusionment and hit the plateau of productivity, but that is now looking for its next mission. Bryce and Collier admit that they don’t have all the answers, but if there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that both the OpenStack project and foundation are far from dead.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Film producer Harvey Weinstein was expected to surrender to New York police on Friday, months after he was toppled from Hollywood’s most powerful ranks by scores of women accusing him of sexual assault, a person familiar with the case said.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously approved legislation that would step up protections for congressional staffers facing workplace harassment, including requiring lawmakers to use their personal funds to cover the cost of settlements if they were the alleged harassers.
Halfway through their latest earnings season, Canada’s big banks have downplayed the spectre of new housing regulations.
Results reported by three of the Big Six lenders have been relatively rosy, despite underwriting changes that kicked in at the start of the year, including a new stress test for uninsured mortgages that banks anticipate will slow their originations.
Royal Bank of Canada reported Thursday net income of $3.1 billion for the quarter ended April 30, up about nine per cent from a year ago.
RBC chief financial officer Rod Bolger said the bank also saw six per cent growth in mortgage volume for the quarter, and that it continues to expect mid-single-digit mortgage growth for the full year.
Even if growth slows more than expected, he said the benefits from central bank rate hikes would offset that hit.
“For example, if mortgage balances grow at half our expected rate, the impact on 2019 revenue would be less than the benefit we receive from one Bank of Canada rate hike,” Bolger said.
Bolger said in an interview that the dollar value of such a rate-hike-related benefit would be about $110 million in the first year after each quarter percentage point increase.
“I don’t believe it’s going to be a significant impact for us,” Bolger said of the new housing regulations.
The banks have also used the occasion to highlight the importance and performance of other businesses.
RBC chief executive Dave McKay noted during his bank’s conference call that they saw continuing momentum in business lending for the second quarter. Bolger said that business lending had grown nearly 13 per cent year-over-year, as the bank kept gaining market share.
On Wednesday, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce said second-quarter profit shot up 26 per cent compared with last year, hitting $1.3 billion. And in reporting results, CIBC noted revenue growth at the bank has shifted somewhat away from housing.
A year ago, two-thirds of revenue growth for CIBC’s Canadian personal and small business banking unit stemmed from its real estate secured lending business, chief financial officer Kevin Glass told analysts during a conference call. For the three months ended April 30, that lending was less than a third of its year-over-year revenue growth, “with over two-thirds driven by higher-volume growth, margin expansion and higher non-interest income growth across other lines of business,” Glass said.
“We’re continuing to diversify our platform for growth,” said Victor Dodig, president and chief executive of CIBC, during an analysts’ conference call.
The shift comes as the bank is expecting mortgage originations in the latter half of this year to decline by about 50 per cent when compared with the same period last year, according to Christina Kramer, head of Canadian personal and small business banking for CIBC.
It also follows the bank’s US$5-billion acquisition last year of Chicago-based PrivateBancorp Inc. and its subsidiary, The PrivateBank, which was rebranded as CIBC Bank USA and contributed $94 million to CIBC’s net income for the quarter.
The bank had missed some growth opportunities over the past decade, and has been trying to put the “commerce” back in its name, Dodig said.
“We’re doing that in the Canadian market,” he told analysts. “We’re doing that now in the U.S. market. We’re doing that with the capital markets business that’s highly aligned with the rest of the bank. And we’re simply trying to recapture some of the ground that we had lost in the first half of that decade.”
Toronto-Dominion Bank, meanwhile, posted $2.9 billion in earnings for the second quarter, a 17-per-cent increase year-over-year. The bank also saw net income for its Canadian retail banking unit climb 17 per cent from a year ago, to approximately $1.8 billion.
Moreover, the bank’s total real-estate-secured lending, including mortgages and home equity lines of credit, was up about five per cent year-over-year. TD even noted in its results that it launched a digital “pre-approval tool” for mortgages in the second quarter, streamlining the experience for Canadian customers.
TD’s chief executive Bharat Masrani said it was “another terrific quarter” for the bank, with all its businesses on both sides of the border performing well.
“Canadian retail had a banner quarter…. We benefited from our No. 1 share in core deposits, with rising rates driving further margin expansion,” Masrani told analysts on a call Thursday.
A note from Eight Capital on TD’s earnings was headlined: “This is the reason TD is the consensus long.”