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AWS New York Summit 2019 – Summary of Launches & Announcements

Amazon Web Services Blog -

The AWS New York Summit just wrapped up! Here’s a quick summary of what we launched and announced: Amazon EventBridge – This new service builds on the event-processing model that forms the basis for Amazon CloudWatch Events, and makes it easy for you to integrate your AWS applications with SaaS applications such as Zendesk, Datadog, SugarCRM, and Onelogin. Read my blog post, Amazon EventBridge – Event-Driven AWS Integration for your SaaS Applications, to learn more. Werner announces EventBridge – Photo by Serena Cloud Development Kit – CDK is now generally available, with support for TypeScript and Python. Read Danilo‘s post, AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK) – TypeScript and Python are Now Generally Available, to learn more. Fluent Bit Plugins for AWS – Fluent Bit is a multi-platform, open source log processor and forwarder that is compatible with Docker and Kubernetes environments. You can now build a container image that includes new Fluent Bit plugins for Amazon CloudWatch and Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose. The plugins routes logs to CloudWatch, Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon Elasticsearch Service. Read Centralized Container Logging with Fluent Bit to learn more. Nicki, Randall, Robert, and Steve – Photo by Deepak AWS Toolkit for VS Code – This toolkit lets you develop and test locally (including step-through debugging) in a Lambda-like environment, and then deploy to the AWS Region of your choice. You can invoke Lambda functions locally or remotely, with full control of the function configuration, including the event payload and environment variables. To learn more, read Announcing AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio Code. Amazon CloudWatch Container Insights (preview) – You can now create CloudWatch Dashboards that monitor the performance and health of your Amazon ECS and AWS Fargate clusters, tasks, containers, and services. Read Using Container Insights to learn more. CloudWatch Anomaly Detection (preview) – This cool addition to CloudWatch uses machine learning to continuously analyze system and application metrics, determine a nominal baseline, and surface anomalies, all without user intervention. It adapts to trends, and helps to identity unexpected changes in performance or behavior. Read the CloudWatch Anomaly Detection documentation to learn more. Amazon SageMaker Managed Spot Training (coming soon) – You will soon be able to use Amazon EC2 Spot to lower the cost of training your machine learning models. This upcoming enhancement to SageMaker will lower your training costs by up to 70%, and can be used in conjunction with Automatic Model Training. — Jeff;  

A Conversation with Coywolf—Updating to PHP 7.3 with WP Engine

WP Engine -

Most WordPress users know the importance of keeping their plugins and themes up to date but, more often than not, PHP gets left behind. In fact, close to 50% of WordPress sites are running on a PHP version lower than 7.0.  PHP, or hypertext processor, is the scripting language used by WordPress, and running the… The post A Conversation with Coywolf—Updating to PHP 7.3 with WP Engine appeared first on WP Engine.

Rackspace and Tech Mahindra Partner to Lead with New Go-To-Market Strategy

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

SAN ANTONIO – Rackspace today announced a strategic partnership with Tech Mahindra Ltd., a leading provider of digital transformation, consulting and business reengineering services and solutions, which will enable cross-selling to the Tech Mahindra customer base, joint product and services offerings, and improvements to Rackspace’s internal business applications and processes.  With this partnership, Rackspace will execute […] The post Rackspace and Tech Mahindra Partner to Lead with New Go-To-Market Strategy appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

Online Backup for WordPress is Like Hugging a Giraffe

InMotion Hosting Blog -

You might have read the title of this article and asked yourself what an online backup for WordPress had to do with hugging a giraffe, and we don’t blame you. While it is a strange concept, it’s actually pretty accurate. We’ll do a little more explaining towards the end of the article, but for now let’s talk about online backups and how they benefit you and your website. Discovering Backups A website backup is a major part in owning and creating a website. Continue reading Online Backup for WordPress is Like Hugging a Giraffe at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK) – TypeScript and Python are Now Generally Available

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Managing your Infrastructure as Code provides great benefits and is often a stepping stone for a successful application of DevOps practices. In this way, instead of relying on manually performed steps, both administrators and developers can automate provisioning of compute, storage, network, and application services required by their applications using configuration files. For example, defining your Infrastructure as Code makes it possible to: Keep infrastructure and application code in the same repository Make infrastructure changes repeatable and predictable across different environments, AWS accounts, and AWS regions Replicate production in a staging environment to enable continuous testing Replicate production in a performance test environment that you use just for the time required to run a stress test Release infrastructure changes using the same tools as code changes, so that deployments include infrastructure updates Apply software development best practices to infrastructure management, such as code reviews, or deploying small changes frequently Configuration files used to manage your infrastructure are traditionally implemented as YAML or JSON text files, but in this way you’re missing most of the advantages of modern programming languages. Specifically with YAML, it can be very difficult to detect a file truncated while transferring to another system, or a missing line when copying and pasting from one template to another. Wouldn’t it be better if you could use the expressive power of your favorite programming language to define your cloud infrastructure? For this reason, we introduced last year in developer preview the AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK), an extensible open-source software development framework to model and provision your cloud infrastructure using familiar programming languages. I am super excited to share that the AWS CDK for TypeScript and Python is generally available today! With the AWS CDK you can design, compose, and share your own custom components that incorporate your unique requirements. For example, you can create a component setting up your own standard VPC, with its associated routing and security configurations. Or a standard CI/CD pipeline for your microservices using tools like AWS CodeBuild and CodePipeline. Personally I really like that by using the AWS CDK, you can build your application, including the infrastructure, in your IDE, using the same programming language and with the support of autocompletion and parameter suggestion that modern IDEs have built in, without having to do a mental switch between one tool, or technology, and another. The AWS CDK makes it really fun to quickly code up your AWS infrastructure, configure it, and tie it together with your application code! How the AWS CDK works Everything in the AWS CDK is a construct. You can think of constructs as cloud components that can represent architectures of any complexity: a single resource, such as an S3 bucket or an SNS topic, a static website, or even a complex, multi-stack application that spans multiple AWS accounts and regions. To foster reusability, constructs can include other constructs. You compose constructs together into stacks, that you can deploy into an AWS environment, and apps, a collection of one of more stacks. How to use the AWS CDK We continuously add new features based on the feedback of our customers. That means that when creating an AWS resource, you often have to specify many options and dependencies. For example, if you create a VPC you have to think about how many Availability Zones (AZs) to use and how to configure subnets to give private and public access to the resources that will be deployed in the VPC. To make it easy to define the state of AWS resources, the AWS Construct Library exposes the full richness of many AWS services with sensible defaults that you can customize as needed. In the case above, the VPC construct creates by default public and private subnets for all the AZs in the VPC, using 3 AZs if not specified. For creating and managing CDK apps, you can use the AWS CDK Command Line Interface (CLI), a command-line tool that requires Node.js and can be installed quickly with: npm install -g aws-cdk After that, you can use the CDK CLI with different commands: cdk init to initialize in the current directory a new CDK project in one of the supported programming languages cdk synth to print the CloudFormation template for this app cdk deploy to deploy the app in your AWS Account cdk diff to compare what is in the project files with what has been deployed Just run cdk to see more of the available commands and options. You can easily include the CDK CLI in your deployment automation workflow, for example using Jenkins or AWS CodeBuild. Let’s use the AWS CDK to build two sample projects, using different programming languages. An example in TypeScript For the first project I am using TypeScript to define the infrastructure: cdk init app --language=typescript Here’s a simplified view of what I want to build, not entering into the details of the public/private subnets in the VPC. There is an online frontend, writing messages in a queue, and an asynchronous backend, consuming messages from the queue: Inside the stack, the following TypeScript code defines the resources I need, and their relations: First I define the VPC and an Amazon ECS cluster in that VPC. By using the defaults provided by the AWS Construct Library, I don’t need to specify any parameter here. Then I use an ECS pattern that in a few lines of code sets up an Amazon SQS queue and an ECS service running on AWS Fargate to consume the messages in that queue. The ECS pattern library provides higher-level ECS constructs which follow common architectural patterns, such as load balanced services, queue processing, and scheduled tasks. A Lambda function has the name of the queue, created by the ECS pattern, passed as an environment variable and is granted permissions to send messages to the queue. The code of the Lambda function and the Docker image are passed as assets. Assets allow you to bundle files or directories from your project and use them with Lambda or ECS. Finally, an Amazon API Gateway endpoint provides an HTTPS REST interface to the function. const myVpc = new ec2.Vpc(this, "MyVPC"); const myCluster = new ecs.Cluster(this, "MyCluster", { vpc: myVpc }); const myQueueProcessingService = new ecs_patterns.QueueProcessingFargateService( this, "MyQueueProcessingService", { cluster: myCluster, memoryLimitMiB: 512, image: ecs.ContainerImage.fromAsset("my-queue-consumer") }); const myFunction = new lambda.Function( this, "MyFrontendFunction", { runtime: lambda.Runtime.NODEJS_10_X, timeout: Duration.seconds(3), handler: "index.handler", code: lambda.Code.asset("my-front-end"), environment: { QUEUE_NAME: myQueueProcessingService.sqsQueue.queueName } }); myQueueProcessingService.sqsQueue.grantSendMessages(myFunction); const myApi = new apigateway.LambdaRestApi( this, "MyFrontendApi", { handler: myFunction }); I find this code very readable and easier to maintain than the corresponding JSON or YAML. By the way, cdk synth in this case outputs more than 800 lines of plain CloudFormation YAML. An example in Python For the second project I am using Python: cdk init app --language=python I want to build a Lambda function that is executed every 10 minutes: When you initialize a CDK project in Python, a virtualenv is set up for you. You can activate the virtualenv and install your project requirements with: source .env/bin/activate pip install -r requirements.txt Note that Python autocompletion may not work with some editors, like Visual Studio Code, if you don’t start the editor from an active virtualenv. Inside the stack, here’s the Python code defining the Lambda function and the CloudWatch Event rule to invoke the function periodically as target: myFunction = aws_lambda.Function( self, "MyPeriodicFunction", code=aws_lambda.Code.asset("src"), handler="index.main", timeout=core.Duration.seconds(30), runtime=aws_lambda.Runtime.PYTHON_3_7, ) myRule = aws_events.Rule( self, "MyRule", schedule=aws_events.Schedule.rate(core.Duration.minutes(10)), ) myRule.add_target(aws_events_targets.LambdaFunction(myFunction)) Again, this is easy to understand even if you don’t know the details of AWS CDK. For example, durations include the time unit and you don’t have to wonder if they are expressed in seconds, milliseconds, or days. The output of cdk synth in this case is more than 90 lines of plain CloudFormation YAML. Available Now There is no charge for using the AWS CDK, you pay for the AWS resources that are deployed by the tool. To quickly get hands-on with the CDK, start with this awesome step-by-step online tutorial! More examples of CDK projects, using different programming languages, are available in this repository: https://github.com/aws-samples/aws-cdk-examples You can find more information on writing your own constructs here. The AWS CDK is open source and we welcome your contribution to make it an even better tool: https://github.com/awslabs/aws-cdk Check out our source code on GitHub, start building your infrastructure today using TypeScript or Python, or try different languages in developer preview, such as C# and Java, and give us your feedback!

Amazon EventBridge – Event-Driven AWS Integration for your SaaS Applications

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Many AWS customers also make great use of SaaS (Software as a Service) applications. For example, they use Zendesk to manage customer service & support tickets, PagerDuty to handle incident response, and SignalFX for real-time monitoring. While these applications are quite powerful on their own, they are even more so when integrated into a customer’s own systems, databases, and workflows. New Amazon EventBridge In order to support this increasingly common use case, we are launching Amazon EventBridge today. Building on the powerful event processing model that forms the basis for CloudWatch Events, EventBridge makes it easy for our customers to integrate their own AWS applications with SaaS applications. The SaaS applications can be hosted anywhere, and simply publish events to an event bus that is specific to each AWS customer. The asynchronous, event-based model is fast, clean, and easy to use. The publisher (SaaS application) and the consumer (code running on AWS) are completely decoupled, and are not dependent on a shared communication protocol, runtime environment, or programming language. You can use simple Lambda functions to handle events that come from a SaaS application, and you can also route events to a wide variety of other AWS targets. You can store incident or ticket data in Amazon Redshift, train a machine learning model on customer support queries, and much more. Everything that you already know (and hopefully love) about CloudWatch Events continues to apply, with one important change. In addition to the existing default event bus that accepts events from AWS services, calls to PutEvents, and from other authorized accounts, each partner application that you subscribe to will also create an event source that you can then associate with an event bus in your AWS account. You can select any of your event buses, create EventBridge Rules, and select Targets to invoke when an incoming event matches a rule. As part of today’s launch we are also opening up a partner program. The integration process is simple and straightforward, and generally requires less than one week of developer time. All About Amazon EventBridge Here are some terms that you need to know in order to understand how to use Amazon EventBridge: Partner – An organization that has integrated their SaaS application with EventBridge. Customer – An organization that uses AWS, and that has subscribed to a partner’s SaaS application. Partner Name – A unique name that identifies an Amazon EventBridge partner. Partner Event Bus – An Event Bus that is used to deliver events from a partner to AWS. EventBridge can be accessed from the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), or via the AWS SDKs. There are distinct commands and APIs for partners and for customers. Here are some of the most important ones: Partners – CreatePartnerEventSource, ListPartnerEventSourceAccounts, ListPartnerEventSources, PutPartnerEvents. Customers – ListEventSources, ActivateEventSource, CreateEventBus, ListEventBuses, PutRule, PutTargets. Amazon EventBridge for Partners & Customers As I noted earlier, the integration process is simple and straightforward. You need to allow your customers to enter an AWS account number and to select an AWS region. With that information in hand, you call CreatePartnerEventSource in the desired region, inform the customer of the event source name and tell them that they can accept the invitation to connect, and wait for the status of the event source to change to ACTIVE. Then, each time an event of interest to the customer occurs, you call PutPartnerEvents and reference the event source. The process is just as simple on the customer side. You accept the invitation to connect by calling CreateEventBus to create an event bus associated with the event source. You add rules and targets to the event bus, and prepare your Lambda functions to process the events. Associating the event source with an event bus also activates the source and starts the flow of events. You can use DeActivateEventSource and ActivateEventSource to control the flow. Here’s the overall flow (diagram created using SequenceDiagram): Each partner has the freedom to choose the events that are relevant to their application, and to define the data elements that are included with each event. Using EventBridge Starting from the EventBridge Console, I click Partner event sources, find the partner of interest, and click it to learn more: Each partner page contains additional information about the integration. I read the info, and click Set up to proceed: The page provides me with a simple, three-step procedure to set up my event source: After the partner creates the event source, I return to Partner event sources and I can see that the Zendesk event source is Pending: I click the pending event source, review the details, and then click Associate with event bus: I have the option to allow other AWS accounts, my Organization, or another Organization to access events on the event bus that I am about to create. After I have confirmed that I trust the origin and have added any additional permissions, I click Associate: My new event bus is now available, and is listed as a Custom event bus: I click Rules, select the event bus, and see the rules (none so far) associated with it. Then I click Create rule to make my first rule: I enter a name and a description for my first rule: Then I define a pattern, choosing Zendesk as the Service name: Next, I select a Lambda function as my target: I can also choose from many other targets: After I create my rule, it will be activated in response to activities that occur within my Zendesk account. The initial set of events includes TicketCreated, CommentCreated, TagsChanged, AgentAssignmentChanged, GroupAssignmentChanged, FollowersChanged, EmailCCsChanged, CustomFieldChanged, and StatusChanged. Each event includes a rich set of properties; you’ll need to consult the documentation to learn more. Partner Event Sources We are launching with ten partner event sources, with more to come: Datadog Zendesk PagerDuty Whispir Saviynt Segment SignalFx SugarCRM OneLogin Symantec If you have a SaaS application and you are ready to integrate, read more about EventBridge Partner Integration. Now Available Amazon EventBridge is available now and you can start using it today in all public AWS regions in the aws partition. Support for the AWS regions in China, and for the Asia Pacific (Osaka) Local Region, is in the works. Pricing is based on the number of events published to the event buses in your account, billed at $1 for every million events. There is no charge for events published by AWS services. — Jeff; PS – As you can see from this post, we are paying even more attention to the overall AWS event model, and have a lot of interesting goodies on the drawing board. With this launch, CloudWatch Events has effectively earned a promotion to a top-level service, and I’ll have a lot more to say about that in the future!

The Network is the Computer: A Conversation with John Gage

CloudFlare Blog -

To learn more about the origins of The Network is the Computer®, I spoke with John Gage, the creator of the phrase and the 21st employee of Sun Microsystems. John had a key role in shaping the vision of Sun and had a lot to share about his vision for the future. Listen to our conversation here and read the full transcript below. [00:00:13]John Graham-Cumming: I’m talking to John Gage who was what, the 21st employee of Sun Microsystems, which is what Wikipedia claims and it also claims that you created this phrase “The Network is the Computer,” and that's actually one of the things I want to talk about with you a little bit because I remember when I was in Silicon Valley seeing that slogan plastered about the place and not quite understanding what it meant. So do you want to tell me what you meant by it or what Sun meant by it at the time?[00:00:40]John Gage: Well, in 2019, recalling what it meant in 1982 or 83’ will be colored by all our experience since then but at the time it seemed so obvious that when we introduced the first scientific workstations, they were not very powerful computers. The first Suns had a giant screen and they were on the Internet but they were designed as a complementary component to supercomputers. Bill Joy and I had a series of diagrams for talks we’d give, and Bill had the bi-modal, the two node picture. The serious computing occurred on the giant machines where you could fly into the heart of a black hole and the human interface was the workstation across the network. So each had to complement the other, each built on the strengths of the other, and each enhanced the other because to deal in those days with a supercomputer was very ugly. And to run all your very large computations, you could run them on a Sun because we had virtual memory and series of such advanced things but not fast. So the speed of scientific understanding is deeply affected by the tools the scientist has — is it a microscope, is it an optical telescope, is it a view into the heart of a star by running a simulation on a supercomputer? You need to have the loop with the human and the science constantly interacting and constantly modifying each other, and that’s what the network is for, to tie those different nodes together in as seamless a way as possible. Then, the instant anyone that’s ever created a programming language says, “so if I have to create a syntax of this where I’m trying to let you express, do this, how about the delay on the network, the latency”? Does your phrase “The Network is the Computer” really capture this hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, millions perhaps at that time, now billions and billions and billions today, all these devices interacting and exchanging state with latency, with delay. It’s sort of an oversimplification, and that we would point out, but it’s just network is the computer. Four words, you know, what we tried to do is give a metaphor that allows you to explore it in your mind and think of new things to do and be inspired.[00:03:35]Graham-Cumming: And then by a sort of strange sequence of events, that was a trademark of Sun. It got abandoned. And now Cloudflare has swooped in and trademarked it again. So now it's our trademark which sort of brings us full circle, I suppose.[00:03:51]Gage: Well, trademarks are dealing with the real world, but the inspiration of Cloudflare is to do exactly what Bill Joy and I were talking about in 1982. It's to build an environment in which every participant globally can share with security, and we were not as strong. Bill wrote most of the code of TCP/IP implemented by every other computer vendor, and still these questions of latency, these questions of distributed denial of service which was, how do you block that? I was so happy to see that Cloudflare invests real money and real people in addressing those kinds of critical problems, which are at the core, what will destroy the Internet. [00:14:48]Graham-Cumming: Yes, I agree. I mean, it is a significant investment to actually deal with it and what I think people don't appreciate about the DDoS attack situation is that they are going on all the time and it's just a continuous, you know, just depends who the target is. It's funny you mentioned TCP/IP because about 10 years after, so in about ‘92, my first real job, I had to write a TCP/IP stack for an obscure network card. And this was prior to the Internet really being available everywhere. And so I didn't realize I could go and get the BSD implementation and recompile it. So I did it from scratch from the RFCs. [00:05:23]Gage: You did! [00:05:25]Graham-Cumming: And the thing I recommend here is that nobody ever does that because, you know, the real world, real code that really interacts is really hard when you're trying to work it with other things, so.[00:05:36]Gage: Do you still, John, do you have that code? [00:05:42]Graham-Cumming: I wonder. I have the binary for it. [00:05:46]Gage: Do hunt for it, because our story was at the time DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, that had funded networking initiatives around the world. I just had a discussion yesterday with Norway and they were one of the first entities to implement using essentially Bill Joy’s code, but to be placed on the ARPANET. And a challenge went out, and at that time the slightly older generation, the Bolt Beranek and Newman Group, Vint Cerf, Bob Con, those names, as Vint Cerf was a grad student at UCLA where he had built one of the four first Internet sites and the DARPA offices were in Arlington, Virginia, they had massive investments in detection of nuclear underground tests, so seismological data, and the moment we made the very first Suns, I shipped them to DARPA, we got the network up and began serving seismic data globally. Really lovely visualization of events. If you’re trying to detect something, those things go off and then there’s a distinctive signature, a collapse of the underground cavern after. So DARPA had tried to implement, as you did, from the spec, from the RFC, the components, and Vint had designed a lot of this, all the acknowledgement codes and so forth that you had to implement in TCP/IP. So Bill, as a graduate student at Berkeley, we had a meeting in Arlington at DARPA headquarters where BBN and AT&T Bell Labs and a number of other people were in the room. Their code didn’t work, this graduate student from Berkeley named Bill Joy, his code did work, and when Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf asked Bill, “Well, so how did you do it?” What he said was exactly what you just said, he said, “I just read the spec and wrote the code.” [00:08:12]Graham-Cumming: I do remember very distinctly because the company I was working at didn’t have a TCP/IP stack and we didn’t have any IP machines, right, we were doing actually stuff that was all IBM networking, SMA stuff. Somehow we bought what was at that point a HP machine, it was an Apollo workstation and a Sun workstation. I had them on Ethernet and talking to each other. And I do distinctly remember the first time a ping packet came back from that Sun box, saying, yes I managed to send you an IP packet, you managed to send me ICMP response and that was pretty magical. And then I got to TCP and that was hard. [00:08:55]Gage: That was hard. Yeah. When you get down to the details, the spec can be wrong. I mean, it will want you to do something that’s a stupid thing to do. So Bill has such good taste in these things. It would be interesting to do a kind of a diff across the various implementations of the stack. Years and years later we had maybe 50 companies all assemble in a room, only engineers, throw out all the marketing people and all the Ps and VPs and every company in this room—IBM, Hewlett-Packard—oh my God, Hewlett-Packard, fix your TCP—and we just kept going until everybody could work with everybody else in sort of a pact. We’re not going to reveal, Honeywell, that you guys were great with earlier absolute assembly code, determinate time control stuff but you have no clue about how packets work, we’ll help you, so that all of us can make every machine interoperate, which yielded the network show, Interop. Every year we would go put a bunch of fiber inside whatever, you know, Geneva, or pick some, Las Vegas, some big venue. [00:10:30]Graham-Cumming: I used to go to Vegas all the time and that was my great introduction to Vegas was going there for Interop, year after year. [00:10:35]Gage: Oh, you did! Oh, great. [00:10:36]Graham-Cumming: Yes, yes, yes. [00:10:39]Gage: You know in a way, what you’re doing with, for example, just last week with the Verizon problem, everybody implementing what you’re doing now that is not open about their mistakes and what they’ve learned and is not sharing this, it’s a problem. And your global presence to me is another absolutely critical thing. We had about, I forget, 600 engineers in Beijing at the East Gate of Tsinghua a lot of networking expertise and lots of those people are at Tencent and Huawei and those network providers throughout the rest of the world, politics comes and goes but the engineering has to be done in a way that protects us. And so these conversations globally are critical. [00:11:33]Graham-Cumming: Yes, that's one of the things that’s fascinating actually about doing real things on the real Internet is there is a global community of people making computers talk to each other and you know, that it's a tremendously complicated thing to actually make that work, and you do it across countries, across languages. But you end up actually making them work, and that's the Internet we're sitting on, that you and I are talking on right now that is based on those conversations around the world.[00:12:01]Gage: And only by doing it do you understand more deeply how to do it. It’s very difficult in the abstract to say what should happen as we begin to spread. As Sun grew, every major city in Africa had installations and for network access, you were totally dependent on an often very corrupt national telco or the complications dealing with these people just to make your packet smooth. And as it turned out, many of the intelligence and military entities in all of these countries had very little understanding of any of this. That’s changed to some degree. But the dangerous sides of the Internet. Total surveillance, IPv6, complete control of exact identity of origins of packets. We implemented, let’s see, you had an early Sun. We probably completed our IPv6 implementation, was it still fluid in the 90s, but I remember 10 years after we finished a complete implementation of IPv6, the U.S. was still IPv4, it’s still IPv4. [00:13:25]Graham-Cumming: It still is, it still is. Pretty much. Except for the mobile carriers right now. I think in general the mobile phone operators are the ones who've gone more into IPv6 than anybody else.[00:13:37]Gage: It was remarkable in China. We used to have a conference. We’d bring a thousand Chinese universities into a room. Professor Wu from Tsinghua who built the Chinese Education and Research Network, CERNET. And now a thousand universities have a building on campus doing Internet research. We would get up and show this map of China and he kept his head down politically, but he managed at the point when there was a big fight between the Minister of Telecom and the Minister of Railways. The Minister of Railways said, look, I have continuity throughout China because I have railines. I’ve just made a partnership with the People’s Liberation Army, and they are essentially slave labor, and they’re going to dig the ditches, and I’m going to run fiber alongside the railways and I don’t care what you, the Minister of Telecommunications, has to say about it, because I own the territory. And that created a separate pathway for the backbone IPv6 network in China. Cheap, cheap, cheap, get everybody doing things.[00:14:45]Graham-Cumming: Yes, now of course in China that’s resulted in an interesting situation where you have China Telecom and China Unicom, who sort of cooperate with each other but they’re almost rivals which makes IP packets quite difficult to route inside China.[00:14:58]Gage: Yes exactly. At one point I think we had four hunks of China. Everyone was geographically divided. You know there were meetings going on, I remember the moment they merged the telecom ministry with the electronics ministry and since we were working with both of them, I walk in a room and there’s a third group, people I didn’t know, it turns out that’s the People’s Liberation Army. [00:15:32]Graham-Cumming: Yes, they’re part of the team. So okay, going back to this “Network is the Computer” notion. So you were talking about the initial things that you were doing around that, why is it that it's okay that Cloudflare has gone out and trademarked that phrase now, because you seem to think that we've got a leg to stand on, I guess.[00:15:56]Gage: Frankly, I’d only vaguely heard of Cloudflare. I’ve been working in areas, I’ve got a project in the middle of Nairobi in the slum where I’ve spent the last 15 years or so learning a lot about clean water and sewage treatment because we have almost 400,000 people in a very small area, biggest slum in East Africa. How can you introduce sanitary water and clean sewage treatment into a very, an often corrupt, a very difficult environment, and so that’s been a fascination of mine and I’ve been spending a lot of time. What's a computer person know about fluid dynamics and pathogens? There’s a lot to learn. So as you guys grew so rapidly, I vaguely knew of you but until I started reading your blog about post-quantum crypto and how do we devise a network in these resilient denial of service attacks and all these areas where you’re a growing company, it’s very hard to take time to do serious advanced research-level work on distributed computing and distributed security, and yet you guys are doing it. When Bill created Java, the subsequent step from Java for billions and billions of devices to share resources and share computations was something we call Genie which is a framework for validation of who you are, movement of code from device to device in a secure way, total memory control so that someone is not capable of taking over memory in your device as we’ve seen with Spectre and the failures of these billions of Intel chips out there that all have a flaw on take all branches parallel compute implementations. So the very hardware you’re using can be insecure so your operating systems are insecure, the hardware is insecure, and yet you’re trying to build on top with fallible pieces in infallible systems. And you’re in the middle of this, John, which I’m so impressed by.[00:18:13]Graham-Cumming: And Jini sort of lives on as called Apache River now. It moved away from Sun and into an Apache project. [00:18:21]Gage: Yes, very few people seem to realize that the name Apache is a poetic phrasing of “a patchy system.” We patch everything because everything is broken. We moved a lot of it, Brian Behlendorf and the Apache group. Well, many of the innovations at Sun, Java is one, file systems that are far more secure and far more resilient than older file systems, the SPARC  implementation, I think the SPARC processor, even though you’re using the new ARM processors, but Fujitsu, I still think keeps the SPARC architecture as the world’s fastest microprocessor.  [00:19:16]Graham-Cumming: Right. Yes. Being British of course, ARM is a great British success. So I'm honor-bound to use that particular architecture. Clearly.[00:19:25]Gage: Oh, absolutely. And the power. That was the one always in a list of what our engineering goals are. We wanted to make, we were building supercomputers, we were building very large file servers for the telcos and the banks and the intelligence agencies and all these different people, but we always wanted to make a low power and it just fell off the list of what you could accomplish and the ARM chips, their ratios of wattage to packets treated are—you have a great metric on your website someplace about measuring these things at a very low level—that’s key.[00:20:13]Graham-Cumming: Yes, and we had Sophie Wilson, who of course is one of the founders of ARM and actually worked on the original chip, tell this wonderful story at our Internet Summit about how the first chip they hooked up was operating fine until they realized they hadn't hooked the power up and they were asked to. It was so low power that it was able to use the power that was coming in over the logic lines to actually power the whole chip. And they said to me, wait a minute, we haven't plugged the power in but the thing is running, which was really, I mean that was an amazing achievement to have done that.[00:20:50]Gage: That’s amazing. We open sourced SPARC, the instruction set, so that anybody doing crypto that also had Fab capabilities could implement detection of ones and zeroes, sheep and goats, or other kinds of algorithms that are necessary for very high speed crypto. And that’s another aspect that I’m so impressed by Cloudflare. Cloudflare is paying attention at a machine instruction level because you’re implementing with your own hardware packages in what, 180 cities? You’re moving logistically a package into Ulan Bator, or into Mombasa and you’re coming up live. [00:21:38]Graham-Cumming: And we need that to be inexpensive and fast because we're promising people that we will make their Internet properties faster and secure at the same time and that's one of the interesting challenges which is not trading those two things off. Which means your crypto better be fast, for example, and that requires a lot of fiddling around at the hardware level and understanding it. In our case because we're using Intel, really what Intel chips are doing at the low level.[00:22:10]Gage: Intel did implement a couple of things in one or another of the more recent chips that were very useful for crypto. We had a group of the SPARC engineers, probably 30, at a dinner five or six months ago discussing, yes, we set the world standard for parallel execution branching optimizations for pipelines and chips, and when the overall design is not matched by an implementation that pays attention to protecting the memory, it’s a fundamental, exploitable flaw. So a lot of discussion about this. Selecting precisely which instructions are the most important, the risk analysis with the ability to make a chip specifically to implement a particular algorithm, there’s a lot more to go. We have multiples of performance ahead of us for specific algorithms based on a more fluid way to add instructions that are necessary into a specific piece of hardware. And then we jump to quantum. Oh my.[00:23:32]Graham-Cumming: Yes. To talk about that a little bit, the ever-increasing speed of processors and the things we can do; Do you think we actually need that given that we're now living in this incredibly distributed world where we are actually now running very distributed algorithms and do we really need beefier machines?[00:23:49]Gage: At this moment, in a way, it’s you making fun of Bill Joy for only wanting a megabit in Aspen. When Steve Jobs started NeXT, sadly his hardware was just terrible, so we sent a group over to boost NeXT. In fact we sort of secretly slipped him $30 million to keep him afloat. And I’d say, “Jobs, if you really understood something about hardware, it would really be useful here.” So one of the main team members that we sent over to NeXT came to live in Aspen and ended up networking the entire valley. At a point, megabit for what you needed to do, seemed reasonable, so at this moment, as things become alive by the introduction of a little bit of intelligence in them, some little flickering chip that’s able to execute an algorithm, many tasks don’t require. If you really want to factor things fast, quantum, quantum. Which will destroy our existing crypto systems. But if you are just bringing the billions of places where a little bit of knowledge can alter locally a little bit of performance, we could do very well with the compute power that we have right now. But making it live on the network, securely, that’s the key part. The attacks that are going on, simple errors as you had yesterday, are simple errors. In a way, across Cloudflare’s network, you’re watching the challenges of the 21st century take place: attacks, obscure, unknown exploits of devices in the power and water control systems. And so, you are in exactly the right spot to not get much sleep and feel a heavy responsibility.[00:26:20]Graham-Cumming: Well it certainly felt like it yesterday when we were offline for 27 minutes, and that’s when we suddenly discovered, we sort of know how many customers we have, and then we really discover when they start phoning us. Our support line had his own DDoS basically where it didn’t work anymore because so many people signed in. But yes, I think that it's interesting your point about a little bit extra on a device somewhere can do something quite magical and then you link it up to the network and you can do a lot. What we think is going on partly is some things around AI, where large amounts of machine learning are happening on big beefy machines, perhaps in the cloud, perhaps groups of machines, and then devices are doing their own little bits of inference or recognizing faces and stuff like that. And that seems to be an interesting future where we have these devices that are actually intelligent in our pockets. [00:27:17]Gage: Oh, I think that’s exactly right. There’s so much power in your pocket. I’m spending a lot of time trying to catch up that little bit of mathematics that you thought you understood so many years ago and it turns out, oh my, I need a little bit of work here. And I’ve been reading Michael Jordan’s papers and watching his talks and he’s the most cited computer scientist in machine learning and he will always say, “Be very careful about the use of the phrase, ‘Artificial Intelligence’.” Maybe it’s a metaphor like “The Network is the Computer.” But, we’re doing gradient descent optimization. Is the slope going up, or is the slope going down? That’s not smart. It’s useful and the real time language translation and a lot of incredible work can occur when you’re doing phrases. There’s a lot of great pattern work you can do, but he’s out in space essentially combining differentiation and integration in a form of integral. And off we go. Are your hessians rippling in the wind? And what’s the shape of this slope? And is this actually the fastest path from here to there to constantly go downhill. Maybe it’s sometimes going uphill and going over and then downhill that’s faster. So there’s just a huge amount of new mathematics coming in this territory and each time, as we move from 2G to 3G to 4G to 5G, many people don’t appreciate that the compression algorithms changed between 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G and as a result, so much more can move into your mobile device for the same amount of power. 10 or 20 times more for the same about of power. And mathematics leads to insights and applications of it. And you have a working group in that area, I think. I tried to probe around to see if you’re hiring.[00:30:00]Graham-Cumming: Well you could always just come around to just ask us because we'll probably tell you because we tend to be fairly transparent. But yes, I mean compression is definitely an area where we are interested in doing things. One of the things I first worked on at Cloudflare was a thing that did differential compression based on the insight that web pages don’t actually change that much when you hit ‘refresh’. And so it turns out that if you if you compress based on the delta from the last thing you served to someone you can actually send many orders of magnitude less data and so there's lots of interesting things you can do with that kind of insight to save a tremendous amount of bandwidth. And so yeah, definitely compression is interesting, crypto is interesting to us. We’ve actually open sourced some of our compression improvements in zlib which was very popular compression algorithm and now it's been picked up. It turns out that in neuroscience, because there's a tremendous amount of data which needs compression and there are pipelines used in neuroscience where actually having better compression algorithms makes you work a lot faster. So it's fascinating to see the sort of overspill of things we’re doing into other areas where I know nothing about what goes on inside the brain.[00:31:15]Gage: Well isn’t that fascinating, John. I mean here you are, the CTO of Cloudflare working on a problem that deeply affects the Internet, enabling a lot more to move across the Internet in less time with less power, and suddenly it turns into a tool for brain modeling and neuroscientists. This is the benefit. There’s a terrific initiative. I’m at Berkeley. The Jupiter notebooks created by Fernando Perez, this environment in which you can write text and code and share things. That environment, taken up by machine learning. I think it’s a major change. And the implementation of diagrams that are causal. These forms of analysis of what caused what. These are useful across every discipline and for you to model traffic and see patterns emerge and find webpages and see the delta has changed and then intelligently change the pattern of traffic in response to it, it’s all pretty much the same thing here.[00:32:53]Graham-Cumming: Yes and then as a mathematician, when I see things that are the same thing, I can't help wondering what the real deep structure is underneath. There must be another layer another layer down or something. So as you know it's this thing. There's some other deeper layer below all this stuff.  [00:33:12]Gage: I think this is just endlessly fascinating. So my only recommendations to Cloudflare: first, double what you’re doing. That’s so hard because as you go from 10 people to 100 people to 1,000 people to 10,000 people, it’s a different world. You are a prime example, you are global. Suddenly you’re able to deal with local authorities in 60-70 countries and deal with some of the world’s most interesting terrain and with network connectivity and moving data, surveillance, and some security of the foundation infrastructure of all countries. You couldn’t be engaged in more exciting things.[00:34:10]Graham-Cumming: It's true. I mean one of the most interesting things to me is that I have grown up with the Internet when I you know I got an email address using actually the crazy JANET scheme in the UK where the DNS names were backwards. I was in Oxford and they gave me an email address and it was I think it was JGC at uk dot ac dot ox dot prg and that then at some point it flipped around and it went to DNS looked like it had won. For a long time my address was the wrong way around. I think that's a typically British decision to be slightly different to everybody else.[00:35:08]Gage: Well, Oxford’s always had that style, that we’re going to do things differently. There’s an Oxford Center for the 21st century that was created by the money from a wonderful guy who had donated maybe $100 million. And they just branched out into every possible research area. But when you went to meetings, you would enter a building that was built at the time of the Raj. It was the India temple of colonialism. [00:35:57]Graham-Cumming: There's quite a few of those in the UK. Are you thinking of the Martin School? James Martin. And he gave a lot of money to Oxford. Well the funny thing about that was the programming research group. The one thing they didn't teach us really as an undergraduate was how to program which was one of the most fascinating things they have because that was a bit getting your hands dirty so you needed to let all the theory. So we learnt all the theory we did a little bit of functional programming and that was the extent of it which set me really up badly for a career in an industry. My first job I had to pretend I knew how to program and see and learn very quickly. [00:36:42]Gage: Oh my. Well now you’ve been writing code in Go. [00:36:47]Graham-Cumming: Yes. Well the thing about Go, the other Oxford thing of course is Tony Hoare, who is a professor of computer science there. He had come up with this thing called CSP (Communicating Sequential Processes) so that was a whole theory around how you do parallel execution. And so of course everybody used his formalism and I did in my doctoral thesis and so when Go came along and they said oh this how Go works, I said, well clearly that’s CSP and I know how to do this. So I can do it again. [00:37:23]Gage: Tony Hoare occasionally would issue a statement about something and it was always a moment. So few people seem to realize the birth of so much of what we took in the 60s, 70s, 80s, in Silicon Valley and Berkeley, derived from the Manchester Group, the virtual memory work, these innovations. Today, Whit Diffie. He used to love these Bletchley stories, they’re so far advanced. That generation has died off. [00:38:37]Graham-Cumming: There’s a very peculiar thing in computer science and the real application of computing which is that we both somehow sit on this great knowledge of the past of computing and at the same time we seem to willfully forget it and reinvent everything every few years. We go through these cycles where it's like, let’s do centralized computing, now distributed computing. No, let’s have desktop PCs, now let’s have the cloud. We seem to have this collective amnesia and then on occasion people go, “Oh, Leslie Lamport wrote this thing in 1976 about this problem”. What other subject do we willfully forget the past and then have to go and doing archaeology to discover again?[00:39:17]Gage: As a sociological phenomenon it means that the older crowd in a company are depressing because they’ll say, “Oh we tried that and it didn’t work”. Over the years as Sun grew from 15 people or so and ended up being like 45,000 people before we were sold off to Oracle and then everybody dumped out because Oracle didn’t know too much about computing. So Ivan Sutherland, Whit Diffie. Ivan actually stayed on. He may actually still have an Oracle email. Almost all of the research groups, certainly the chip group went off to Intel, Fujitsu, Microsoft. It’s funny to think now that Microsoft’s run by a Sun person. [00:40:19]Graham-Cumming: Well that's the same thing. Everyone’s forgotten that Microsoft was the evil empire not that long ago. And so now it’s not. Right now it’s cool again. [00:40:28]Gage: Well, all of the embedded stuff from Microsoft is still that legacy that Bill Gates who’s now doing wonderful things with the Gates Foundation. But the embedded insecurity of the global networks is due to, in large part, the insecurities, that horrible engineering of Microsoft embedded everywhere. You go anywhere in China to some old industrial facility and there is some old not updated junky PC running totally insecure software. And it’s controlling the grid. It’s discouraging. It’s like a lot of the SCADA systems. [00:41:14]Graham-Cumming: I’m completely terrified of SCADA systems. [00:41:20]Gage: The simplest exploits. I mean, it’s nothing even complicated. There are a series of emerging journalists today that are paying attention to cybersecurity and people have come out with books even very recently. Well, now because we’re in this China, US, Iran nightmare, a United States presidential directive taking the cybersecurity crowd and saying, oops, now you’re an offensive force. Which means we got some 20-year-old lieutenant somewhere who suddenly might just for fun turn off Tehran’s water supply or something. This is scary because the SCADA systems are embedded everywhere, and they’re, I don’t know, would you say totally insecure? Just the simple things, just simple exploits. One of the journalists described, I guess it was the Russians who took a bunch of small USB sticks and at a shopping center near a military base just gave them away. And people put them into their PCs inside SIPRNet, inside the secure U.S. Department of Defense network. Instantly the network was taken over just by inserting a USB device to something on the net. And there you are, John, protecting against this. [00:43:00]Graham-Cumming: Trying hard to protect against these things, yes absolutely. It's very interesting because you mentioned before how rapidly Cloudflare had grown over the last few years. And of course Sun also really got going pretty rapidly, didn’t it?[00:43:00]Gage: Well, yes. The first year we were just some students from Berkeley, hardware from Stanford, Andy Bechtolsheim, software from Berkeley, Berkeley Unix BSD, Bill Joy. Combine the two, and 10 of us or so, and we were, I think the first year was 12 million booked, the second year was 50 or 60 million booked, and the third year was 150 or so million booked and then we hit 500 million and then we hit a billion. And now, it’s selling boxes, we were a manufacturing company so that’s different from software or services, but we also needed lots of people and so we instantly raided the immense benefit of variety of people in the San Francisco Bay Area, with Berkeley and Stanford. We had students in computer science, and mechanical engineering, and physics, and mathematics from every country in the world and we recruited from every country in the world. So a great part of Sun’s growth came, as you are, expanding internationally, and at one point I think we ran most of the telcos of the world, we ran China Mobile. 900 million subscribers on China Mobile, all Sun stuff in the back. Throughout Africa, every telco was running Sun and Cisco until Huawei knocked Cisco out. It was an amazing time. [00:44:55]Graham-Cumming: You ran the machine that ran Latek, that let me get my doctoral thesis done. [00:45:01]Gage: You know that’s how I got into it, actually. I was in econometrics and mathematics at Berkeley, and I walk down a hallway and outside a room was that funny smell from photographic paper from something, and there was perfectly typeset mathematics. Troff and nroff, all those old UNIX utilities for the Bell Technical Journal, and I open the door and I’ve got to get in there. There’s two hundred people sitting in front of these beehive-like little terminals all typing away on a UNIX system. And I want to get an account and I walk down the hall and there's this skinny guy who types about 200 words a minute named Bill Joy. And I said, I need an account, I’ve got to type set integral signs, and he said, what’s your name. I tell him my name, John Gage, and he goes voop, and I’ve never seen anybody type as fast as him in my life. This is a new world, here. [00:45:58]Graham-Cumming: So he was rude then?[00:46:01]Gage: Yeah he was, he was. Well, it’s interesting since the arrival of a device at Berkeley to complement the arrival of an MIT professor who had implemented in LISP, mathematical, not typesetting of mathematics, but actual maxima. To get Professor fetman, maxima god from MIT, to come to Berkeley and live a UNIX environment, we had to put a LISP up outside on the PDP. So Bill took that machine which had virtual memory and implemented the environment for significant computational mathematics. And Steve Wolfram took that CalTech, and Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, and now we have Mathematica. So in a way, all of Sun and the UNIX world derived from attempting to do executable mathematics.[00:47:17]Graham-Cumming: Which in some ways is what computers are doing. I think one of the things that people don’t really appreciate is the extent to which all numbers underneath.[00:47:28]Gage: Well that’s just this discrete versus continuous problem that Michael Jordan is attempting to address. To my current total puzzlement and complete ignorance, is what in the world is symplectic integration? And how do Lyapunov functions work? Oh, no clue.[00:47:50]Graham-Cumming: Are we going to do a second podcast on that? Are you going to come back and teach us? [00:47:55]Gage: Try it. We’re on, you’re on, you’re on. Absolutely. But you’ve got to run a company. [00:48:00]Graham-Cumming: Well I've got some things to do. Yeah. But you can go do that and come tell us about it.[00:48:05]Gage: All right, Great John. Well it was terrific to talk to you.[00:48:08]Graham-Cumming: So yes it was wonderful speaking to you as well. Thank you for helping me dig up memories of when I was first fooling around with Sun Systems and, you know, some of the early days and of course “The Network is the Computer,” I'm not sure I fully yet understand quite the metaphor or even if maybe I do somehow deeply in my soul get it, but we’re going to try and make it a reality, whatever it is.[00:48:30]Gage: Well, I count it as a complete success, because you count as one of our successes because you‘re doing what you’re doing, therefore the phrase, “The Network is the Computer,” resides in your brain and when you get up in the morning and decide what to do, a little bit nudges you toward making the network work.[00:48:51]Graham-Cumming: I think that's probably true. And there's the dog, the dog is saying you've been yakking for an hour and now we better stop. So listen, thank you so much for taking the time. It was wonderful talking to you. You have a good day. Thank you very much.Interested in hearing more? Listen to my conversations with Ray Rothrock and Greg Papadopoulos of Sun Microsystems:Ray RothrockGreg PapadopoulosTo learn more about Cloudflare Workers, check out the use cases below:Optimizely - Optimizely chose Workers when updating their experimentation platform to provide faster responses from the edge and support more experiments for their customers.Cordial - Cordial used a “stable of Workers” to do custom Black Friday load shedding as well as using it as a serverless platform for building scalable customer-facing services.AO.com - AO.com used Workers to avoid significant code changes to their underlying platform when migrating from a legacy provider to a modern cloud backend.Pwned Passwords - Troy Hunt’s popular "Have I Been Pwned" project benefits from cache hit ratios of 94% on its Pwned Passwords API due to Workers.Timely - Using Workers and Workers KV, Timely was able to safely migrate application endpoints using simple value updates to a distributed key-value store.Quintype - Quintype was an eager adopter of Workers to cache content they previously considered un-cacheable and improve the user experience of their publishing platform.

The Network is the Computer: A Conversation with Ray Rothrock

CloudFlare Blog -

Last week I spoke with Ray Rothrock, former Director of CAD/CAM Marketing at Sun Microsystems, to discuss his time at Sun and how the Internet has evolved. In this conversation, Ray discusses the importance of trust as a principle, the growth of Sun in sales and marketing, and that time he gave Vice President Bush a Sun demo. Listen to our conversation here and read the full transcript below. [00:00:07]John Graham-Cumming: Here I am very lucky to get to talk with Ray Rothrock who was I think one of the first investors in Cloudflare, a Series A investor and got the company a little bit of money to get going, but if we dial back a few earlier years than that, he was also at Sun as the Director of CAD/CAM Marketing. There is a link between Sun and Cloudflare. At least one, but probably more than one, which is that Cloudflare has recently trademarked, “The Network is the Computer”. And that was a Sun trademark, wasn’t it?[00:00:43]Ray Rothrock: It was, yes.[00:00:46]Graham-Cumming: I talked to John Gage and I asked him about this as well and I asked him to explain to me what it meant. And I'm going to ask you the same thing because I remember walking around the Valley thinking, that sounds cool; I’m not sure I totally understand it. So perhaps you can tell me, was I right that it was cool, and what does it mean?[00:01:06]Rothrock: Well it certainly was cool and it was extraordinarily unique at the time. Just some quick background. In those early days when I was there, the whole concept of networking computers was brand new. Our competitor Apollo had a proprietary network but Sun chose to go with TCP/IP which was a standard at the time but a brand new standard that very few people know about right. So when we started connecting computers and doing some intensive computing which is what I was responsible for—CAD/CAM in those days was extremely intensive whether it was electrical CAD/camera, or mechanical CAD/CAM, or even simulation solid design modeling and things—having a little extra power from other computers was a big deal. And so this concept of “The Network is the Computer” essentially said that you had one window into the network through your desktop computer in those days—there was no mobile computing at that time, this was like 84’, 85’, 86’ I think. And so if you had the appropriate software you could use other people's computers (for CPU power) and so you could do very hard problems at that single computer could not do because you could offload some of that CPU to the other computers. Now that was very nerdy, very engineering intensive, and not many people did it. We’d go to the SIGGRAPH, which was a huge graphics show in those days and we would demonstrate ten Sun computers for example, doing some graphic rendering of a 3D wireframe that had been created in the CAD/CAM software of some sort. And it was, it was hard, and that was in the mechanical side. On the electrical side, Berkeley had some software that was called Magic—it’s still around and is a very popular EDA software that’s been incorporated in those concepts. But to imagine calculating the paths in a very complicated PCB or a very complicated chip, one computer couldn't do it, but Sun had the fundamental technology. So from my seat at Sun at the time, I had access to what could be infinite computing power, even though I had a single application running, and that was a big selling point for me when I was trying to convince EDA and MDA companies to put their software on the Sun. That was my job. [00:03:38] Graham-Cumming: And hearing it now, it doesn’t sound very revolutionary, because of course we’re all doing that now. I mean I get my phone out of my pocket and connect to goodness knows what computing power which does image recognition and spots faces and I can do all sorts of things. But walk me through what it felt like at the time.[00:03:56]Rothrock: Just doing a Google search, I mean, how many data stores are being spun up for that? At the time it was incredible, because you could actually do side by side comparisons. We created some demonstrations, where one computer might take ten hours to do a calculation, two computers might take three hours, five computers might take 30 minutes. So with this demo, you could turn on computers and we would go out on the TCP/IP network to look for an available CPU that could give me some time. Let's go back even further. Probably 15 years before that, we had time sharing. So you had a terminal into a big mainframe and did all this swapping in and out of stuff to give you a time slice computing. We were doing the exact same thing except we were CPU slicing, not just time slicing. That’s pretty nerdy, but that's what we did. And I had to work with the engineering department, with all these great engineers in those days, to make this work for a demo. It was so unique, you know, their eyes would get big. You remember Novell...[00:05:37]Graham-Cumming: I was literally just thinking about Novell because I actually worked on IPX and SPX networking stuff at the time. I was going to ask you actually, to what extent do you think TCP/IP was a very important part of this revolution?[00:05:55]Rothrock: It was huge. It was fundamentally huge because it was a standard, so it was available and if you implemented it, you didn’t have to pay for it. When Bob Metcalfe did Ethernet, it was on top of the TCP stack. Sun, in my memory, and I could be wrong, was the first company to put a TCP/IP stack on the computer. And so you just plugged in the back, an RJ45 into this TCP/IP network with a switch or a router on it and you were golden. They made it so simple and so cheap that you just did it. And of course if you give an engineer that kind of freedom and it opens up. By the way, as the marketing guy at Sun, this was my first non-engineering job. I came from a very technical world of nuclear physics into Sun. And so it was stunning, just stunning.[00:06:59]Graham-Cumming: It’s interesting that you mentioned Novell and then you mentioned Apollo before that and obviously IBM had SNA networking and there were attempts to do all those networking things. It's interesting that these open standards have really enabled the explosion of everything else we've seen and with everything that's going on in the Internet.[00:07:23]Rothrock: Sun was open, so to speak, but this concept of open source now that just dominates the conversation. As a venture capitalist, every deal I ever invested in had open source of some sort in it. There was a while when it was very problematic in an M&A event, but the world’s gotten used to it. So open, is very powerful. It's like freedom. It's like liberty. Like today, July 4th, it’s a big deal. [00:07:52] Graham-Cumming: Yes, absolutely. It’s just interesting to see it explode today because I spent a lot of my career looking at so many different networking protocols. The thing that really surprises me, or perhaps shouldn’t surprise me when you’ve got these open things, is that you harness so many people's intelligence that you just end up with something that’s just better. It seems simple.[00:08:15]Rothrock: It seems simple. I think part of the magic of Sun is that they made it easy. Easy is the most powerful thing you can do in computing. Computing can be so nerdy and so difficult. But if you just make it easy, and Cloudflare has done a great job with that at that; they did it with their DNS service, they did it with all the stuff we worked on back when I was on the board and actively involved in the company. You’ve got to make it easy. I mean, I remember when Matthew and Lee worked like 20 hours a day on how to switch your DNS from whoever your provider was to Cloudflare. That was supposed to be one click, done. A to B. And that DNA was part of the magic. And whether we agree that Sun did it that way, to me at least, Sun did it that way as well. So it's huge, a huge lift.[00:09:08]Graham-Cumming: It’s funny you talk about that because at the time, how that actually worked is that we just asked people to give us their username and password. And we logged in and did it for them. Early on, Matthew asked me if I’d be interested in joining Cloudflare when it was brand new and because of other reasons I’d moved back to the UK and I wasn’t ready to change jobs and I’d just taken another job. And I remember thinking, this thing is crazy this Cloudflare thing. Who's going to hand over their DNS and their traffic to these four or five people above a nail salon in Palo Alto? And Matthew’s response was, “They’re giving us their passwords, let alone their traffic.” Because they were so desperate for it.[00:09:54]Rothrock: It tells you a lot about Matthew and you know as an attorney, I mean he was very sensitive to that and believes that one of the one of the founding principles is trust. His view was that, if I ever lose the customer’s trust, Cloudflare is toast. And so everything focused around that key value. And he was right.[00:10:18] Graham-Cumming: And you must have, at Sun, been involved with some high performance computing things that involved sensitive customers doing cryptography and things like that. So again trust is another theme that runs through there as well.[00:10:33]Rothrock: Yeah, very true. As the marketing guy of CAD/CAM, I was in the field two-thirds of the time, showing customers what was possible with them. My job was to get third party software onto the Sun box and then to turn that into a presentation to a customer. So I visited many government customers, many aerospace, power, all these very high falutin sort of behind the firewall kinds of guys in those days. So yes, trust was huge. It would come up: “Okay, so I’m using your CPU, how is it that you can’t use mine. And how do you convince me that you've not violated something.” In those days it was a whole different conversation that it is today but it was nonetheless just as important. In fact I remember I spent quite a bit of time at NCSA at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Larry Smarr was the head of NCSA. We spent a lot of time with Larry. I think John was there with me. John Gage and Vinod and some others but it was a big deal taking about high performance computing because that's what they were doing and doing it with Sun.[00:11:50]Graham-Cumming: So just to dial forward, so you’re at Venrock and you decide to invest in Cloudflare. What was it that made you think that this was worth investing in? Presumably you saw some things that were in some of Sun’s vision. Because Sun had a very wide-ranging visions about what was going to be possible with computing.[00:12:11]Rothrock: Yeah. Let me sort of touch on a few points probably. Certainly Sun was my first computer company I worked for after I got out of the nuclear business and the philosophy of the company was very powerful. Not only we had this cool 19 inch black and white giant Macintosh essentially although the Mac wasn't even born yet, but it had this ease of use that was powerful and had this open, I mean it was we preached that all the time and we made that possible. And Cloudflare—the related philosophy of Matthew and Michelle's genius—was they wanted to make security and distribution of data as free and easy as possible for the long tail. That was the first thinking because you didn't have access if you were in the long tail you were a small company you or you're just going to get whipped around by the big boys. And so there was a bit of, “We're here to help you, we're going to do it.” It's a good thing that the long tail get mobilized if you will or emboldened to use the Internet like the big boys do. And that was part of the attractiveness. I didn't say, “Boy, Matthew, this sounds like Sun,” but the concept of open and liberating which is what they were trying to do with this long tail DNS and CDN stuff was very compelling and seemed easy. But nothing ever is. But they made it look easy.[00:13:52]Graham-Cumming: Yeah, it never is. One of the parallels that I’ve noticed is that I think early on at Sun, a lot of Sun equipment went to companies that later became big companies. So some of these small firms that were using crazy work stations ended up becoming some of the big names in the Valley. To your point about the long tail, they were being ignored and couldn’t buy from IBM even if they wanted to. [00:14:25]Rothrock: They couldn’t afford SNA and they couldn’t do lots of things. So Sun was an enabler for these companies with cool ideas for products and software to use Sun as the underpinning. workstations were all the rage, because PCs were very limited in those days. Very very limited, they were all Intel based. Sun was 68000-based originally and then it was their own stuff, SPARC. You know in the beginning it was a cheap microprocessor from Motorola.[00:15:04]Graham-Cumming: What was the growth like at Sun? Because it was very fast, right?[00:15:09]Rothrock: Oh yes, it was extraordinarily fast. I think I was employee 130 or something like that. I left Sun in 1986 to go to business school and they gave me a leave of absence. Carol Bartz was my boss at that moment. The company was like at 2000 people just two and a half years later. So it was growing like a weed. I measured my success by how thick the catalyst—that was our catalog name and our program—how thick and how quickly I could add bonafide software developers to our catalog. We published on one sheet of paper front to back. When I first got there, our catalyst catalogue was a sheet of paper, and when I left, it was a book. It was about three-quarters of an inch thick. My group grew from me to 30 people in about a year and a half. It was extraordinary growth. We went public during that time, had a lot of capital and a lot of buzz. That openness, that our competition was all proprietary just like you were citing there, John. IBM and Apollo were all proprietary networks. You could buy a NIC card and stick it into your PC and talk to a Sun. And vise versa. And you couldn’t do that with IBM or Apollo. Do you remember those? [00:16:48]Graham-Cumming: I do because I was talking to John Gage. In my first job out of college, I wrote a TCP/IP stack from scratch, for a manufacturer of network cards. The test of this stack was I had an HP Apollo box and I had a Sun workstation and there was a sort of magical, can I talk to these devices? And can I ping them? And then that was already magical the first ping as it went across the network. And then, can I Telnet to one of these? So you know, getting the networking actually running was sort of the key thing. How important was networking for Sun in the early days? Was it always there? [00:17:35]Rothrock: Yeah, it was there from the beginning, the idea of having a network capability. When I got there it was network; the machine wasn’t standalone at all. We sort of mimicked the mainframe world where we had green screens hooked into a Sun in a department for example. And there was time sharing. But as soon as you got a Sun on your desk, which was rare because we were shipping as many as we could build, it was fantastic. I was sharing information with engineering and we were working back and forth on stuff. But I think it was fundamental: you have a microprocessor, you’ve got a big screen, you’ve got a graphic UI, and you have a network that hooks into the greater universe. In those days, to send an all-Sun email around the world, modems spun up everywhere. The network wasn’t what it is now. [00:18:35]Graham-Cumming: I remember in about 89’, I was at a conference and Whit Diffie was there. I asked him what he was doing. He was in a little computer room. I was trying to typeset something. And he said, “I’m telnetting into a machine which is in San Diego.” It was the first time I’d seen this and I stepped over and he was like, “look at this.” And he’s hitting the keyboard and the keys are getting echoed back. And I thought, oh my goodness, this is incredible. It’s right across the Atlantic and across the country as well. [00:19:10]Rothrock: I think, and this is just me talking having lived the last years and with all the investing and stuff I did, but you know it enabled the Internet to come about, the TCP/IP standard. You may recall that Microsoft tried to modify the TCP/IP stack slightly, and the world rejected it, because it was just too powerful, too pervasive. And then along comes HTTP and all the other protocols that followed. Telnetting, FTPing, all that file transfer stuff, we were doing that left, right, and center back in the 80s. I mean you know Cloudflare just took all this stuff and made it better, easier, and literally lower friction. That was the core investment thesis at the time and it just exploded. Much like when Sun adopted TCP/IP, it just exploded. You were there when it happened. My little company that I’m the CEO of now, we use Cloudflare services. First thing I did when I got there was switched to Cloudflare. [00:20:18]Graham-Cumming: And that was one of the things when I joined, we really wanted people get to a point where if you’re putting something on the web, you just say, well I’m going to put Cloudflare or a thing like Cloudflare just on it. Because it protects it, it makes it faster, etc. And of course now what we've done is we’ve given people compute facility. Right now you can write code and run it in our in our machines worldwide which is another whole thing. [00:20:43]Rothrock: And that is “The Network is the Computer”. The other thing that Sun was pitching then was a paperless office. I remember we had posters of paper flying out of a computer window on a Sun workstation and I don't think we've gotten there yet. But certainly, the network is the computer. [00:21:04]Graham-Cumming: It was probably the case that the paperless office was one of those things that was about to happen for quite a long time. [00:21:14]Rothrock: It's still about to happen if you ask me. I think e-commerce and the sort of the digital transformation has driven it harder than just networking. You know, the fact that we can now sign legal documents over the Internet without paper and things like that. People had to adopt. People have to trust. People have to adopt these standards and accept them. And lo and behold we are because we made it easy, we made it cheap, and we made it trustworthy.[00:21:42]Graham-Cumming: If you dial back through Sun, what was the hardest thing? I’m asking because I’m at a 1,000-person company and it feels hard some days, so I’m curious. What do I need to start worrying about? [00:22:03]Rothrock: Well yeah, at 1,000 people, I think that’s when John came into the company and sort of organized marketing. I would say, holding engineering to schedules; that was hard. That was hard because we were pushing the envelope our graphics was going from black and white to color. The networking stuff the performance of all the chips into the boards and just the performance was a big deal. And I remember, for me personally, I would go to a trade show. I'd go to Boston to the Association of Mechanical Engineers with the team there and would show up at these workstations and of course the engineers want to show off the latest. So I would be bringing with me tapes that we had of the latest operating system. But getting the engineers to be ready for a tradeshow was very hard because they were always experimenting. I don't believe the word “code freeze” meant much to them, frankly, but we would we would be downloading the software and building a trade show thing that had to run for three days on the latest and greatest and we knew our competitor would be there right across the aisle from us sort of showing their hot stuff. And working with Eric Schmidt in those days, you know, Eric you just got to be done on this date. But trade shows were wonderful. They focused the company’s endpoints if you will. And marketing and sales drove Sun; Scott McNealy’s culture there was big on that. But we had to show. It’s different today than it was then, I don’t know about the Cloudflare competition, but back then, there were a dozen workstation companies and we were fighting for mindshare and market share every day. So you didn't dare sort of leave your best jewels at home. You brought them with you. I will give John Gage high, high marks. He showed me how to dance through a reboot in case the code crashed and he’s marvelous and I learned how to work that stuff and to survive. [00:24:25] Rothrock: Can I tell you one sort of sales story?  [00:24:28] Graham-Cumming: Yes, I’m very interested in hearing the non-technical stories. As an engineer, I can hear engineering stories all the time, but I’m curious what it was like being in sales and marketing in such an engineering heavy company as Sun. [00:24:48] Rothrock: Yeah. Well it was challenging of course. One of the strategies that Sun had in those days was to get anyone who was building their own computer. This was Computer Vision and Data General and all those guys to adopt the Sun as their hardware platform and then they could put on whatever they wanted. So because I was one of the demo gods, my job was to go along with the sales guys when they wanted to try to convince somebody. So one of the companies we went after was Data General (DG) in Massachusetts. And so I worked for weeks on getting this whole demo suite running MDA, EDA, word processing, I had everything. And this was a big, big, big deal. And I mean like hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. And so I went out a couple of days early and we were going to put up a bunch of Suns and I had a demo room at DG. So all the gear showed up and I got there at like 5:30 in the morning and started downloading everything, downloading software, making it dance. And at about 8:00 a.m. in the morning the CEO of Data General walks in. I didn't know who he was but it turned out to be Ed de Castro. And he introduces himself and I didn’t know who he was and he said, “What are you doing?” And I explained, “I’m from Sun, I’m getting ready for a big demo. We’ve got a big executive presentation. Mr. McNealy will be here shortly, etc.” And he said, “Well, show me what you’ve got.” So I’m sort of still in the middle of downloading this software and I start making this thing dance. I’ve got these machines talking to each other and showing all kinds of cool stuff. And he left. And the meeting was about 10 or 11 in the morning. And so when the executive team from Sun showed up they said, “Well, how's it going?” I said, “Well I gave a demo to a guy,” and they asked, “Who's the guy,” and I said, “It was Ed de Castro.” And they went, “Oh my God, that was the CEO.” Well, we got the deal. I thought Ed had a little tactic there to come in early, see what he could see, maybe get the true skinny on this thing and see what’s real. I carried the day. But anyway, I got a nice little bonus for that. But Vinod and I would drop into Lockheed down in Southern California. They wanted to put Suns on P-3 airplanes and we'd go down there with an engineer and we’d figure out how to make it. Those were just incredible times. You may remember back in the 80s everyone dressed up except on Fridays. It was dress-down Fridays. And one day I dressed down and Carol Bartz, my boss, saw me wearing blue jeans and just an open collared shirt and she said, “Rothrock, you go home and put on a suit! You never know when a customer is going to walk in the front door.” She was quite right. Kodak shows up. Kodak made a big investment in Sun when it was still private. And I gave that demo and then AT&T, and then interestingly Vice President Bush back in the Reagan administration came to Sun to see the manufacturing and I gave the demo to the Vice President with Scott and Andy and Bill and Vinod standing there. [00:28:15]Graham-Cumming: Do you remember what he saw?[00:28:18]Rothrock: It was my standard two minute Sun demo that I can give in my sleep. We were on the manufacturing floor. We picked up a machine and I created a demo for it and my executive team was there. We have a picture of it somewhere, but it was fun. As John Gage would say, he’d say, “Ray, your job is to make the computer dance.” So I did.  [00:28:44]Graham-Cumming: And one of the other things I wanted to ask you about is at some point Sun was almost Amazon Web Services, wasn't it. There was a rent-a-computer service, right?  [00:28:53]Rothrock: I don't know. I don't remember the rent-a-computer service. I remember we went after the PC business aggressively and went after the data centers which were brand new in those days pretty aggressively, but I don’t remember the rent-a-computer business that much. It wasn’t in my domain. [00:29:14]Graham-Cumming: So what are you up to these days?[00:29:18]Rothrock: I’m still investing. I do a lot of security investing. I did 15 deals while I was at Venrock. Cloudflare was the last one I did, which turned out really well of course. More to come, I hope. And I’m CEO of one of Venrock’s portfolio companies that had a little trouble a few years back but I fixed that and it’s moving up nicely now. But I’ve started thinking about more of a science base. I’m on the board of the Carnegie Institute of Science. I'm on the board of MIT and I just joined the board of the Nuclear Threat Initiative in Washington which is run by Secretary Ernie Moniz, former secretary of energy. So I’m doing stuff like that. John would be pleased with how well that played through. But I'll tell you it is this these fundamental principles, just tying it all back to Sun and Cloudflare, and this sort of open, cheap, easy, enabling humans to do things without too much friction, that is exciting. I mean, look at your phone. Steve Jobs was the master of design to make this thing as sweet as it is. [00:30:37]Graham-Cumming: Yes, and as addictive. [00:30:39]Rothrock: Absolutely, right. I haven’t been to a presentation from Cloudflare in two years, but every time I see an announcement like the DNS service, I immediately switched all my DNS here at the house to 1.1.1.1. Stuff like that. Because I know it’s good and I know it’s trustworthy, and it’s got that philosophy built in the DNA. [00:31:09]Graham-Cumming: Yes definitely. Taking it back to what we talked about at the beginning, it’s definitely the trustworthiness is something that Cloudflare has cared about from the beginning and continues to care about. We’re sort of the guardians of the traffic that passes through it.[00:31:25]Rothrock: Back when the Internet started happening and when Sun was doing Java, I mean, all those things in the 90s, I was of course at Venrock, but I was still pretty connected to [Edward] Zander and [Scott] McNealy. We were hoping that it would be liberating, that it would create a world which was much more free and open to conversation and we’ve seen the dark side of some of that. But I continue to believe that transparency and openness is a good thing and we should never shut it down. I don't mean to get it all waxing philosophical here but way more good comes from being open and transparent than bad.[00:32:07] Graham-Cumming: Listen it's July 4th. It's evening here in London. We can be waxing philosophical as much as we like. Well listen, thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Are there any other reminiscences of Sun that you think the public needs to know in this oral history of “The Network is the Computer.”[00:32:28]Rothrock: Well you know the only thing I'd say is having landed in the Silicon Valley in 1981 and getting on with Sun, I can say this given my age and longevity here, everything is built on somebody else's great ideas. And starting with TCP/IP and then we went to this HTML protocol and browsers, it’s just layer on layer on layer on layer and so Cloudflare is just one of the latest to climb on the shoulders of those giants who put it all together. I mean, we don’t even think about the physical network anymore. But it is there and thank goodness companies like Cloudflare keep providing that fundamental service on which we can build interesting, cool, exciting, and mind-changing things. And without a Cloudflare, without Sun, without Apollo, without all those guys back in the day, it would be different. The world would just be so, so different. I did the New York Times crossword puzzle. I could not do it without Google because I have access to information I would not have unless I went to the library. It’s exponential and it just gets better. Thanks to Michelle and Matthew and Lee for starting Cloudflare and allowing Venrock to invest in it.[00:34:01]Graham-Cumming: Well thank you for being an investor. I mean, it helped us get off the ground and get things moving. I very much agree with you about the standing on the shoulders of giants because people don't appreciate the extent to which so much of this fundamental work that we did was done in the 70s and 80s. [00:34:19]Rothrock: Yea, it’s just like the automobile and the airplane. We reminisce about the history but boy, there were a lot of giants in those industries as well. And computing is just the latest. [00:34:32]Graham-Cumming: Yep, absolutely. Well, Ray, thank you. Have a good afternoon. Interested in hearing more? Listen to my conversations with John Gage and Greg Papadopoulos of Sun Microsystems:John GageGreg PapadopoulosTo learn more about Cloudflare Workers, check out the use cases below:Optimizely - Optimizely chose Workers when updating their experimentation platform to provide faster responses from the edge and support more experiments for their customers.Cordial - Cordial used a “stable of Workers” to do custom Black Friday load shedding as well as using it as a serverless platform for building scalable customer-facing services.AO.com - AO.com used Workers to avoid significant code changes to their underlying platform when migrating from a legacy provider to a modern cloud backend.Pwned Passwords - Troy Hunt’s popular "Have I Been Pwned" project benefits from cache hit ratios of 94% on its Pwned Passwords API due to Workers.Timely - Using Workers and Workers KV, Timely was able to safely migrate application endpoints using simple value updates to a distributed key-value store. Quintype - Quintype was an eager adopter of Workers to cache content they previously considered un-cacheable and improve the user experience of their publishing platform.

The Network is the Computer: A Conversation with Greg Papadopoulos

CloudFlare Blog -

I spoke with Greg Papadopoulos, former CTO of Sun Microsystems, to discuss the origins and meaning of The Network is the Computer®, as well as Cloudflare’s role in the evolution of the phrase. During our conversation, we considered the inevitability of latency, the slowness of the speed of light, and the future of Cloudflare’s newly acquired trademark. Listen to our conversation here and read the full transcript below.[00:00:08]John Graham-Cumming: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I've got Greg Papadopoulos who was CTO of Sun and is currently a venture capitalist. Tell us about “The Network is the Computer.” [00:00:22]Greg Papadopoulos: Well, from certainly a Sun perspective, the very first Sun-1 was connected via Internet protocols and at that time there was a big war about what should win from a networking point of view. And there was a dedication there that everything that we made was going to interoperate on the network over open standards, and from day one in the company, it was always that thought. It's really about the collection of these machines and how they interact with one another, and of course that puts the network in the middle of it. And then it becomes hard to, you know, where's the line? But it is one of those things that I think even if you ask most people at Sun, you go, “Okay explain to me ‘The Network is the Computer.’” It would get rather meta. People would see that phrase and sort of react to it in their own way. But it would always come back to something similar to what I had said I think in the earlier days. [00:01:37]Graham-Cumming: I remember it very well because it was obviously plastered everywhere in Silicon Valley for a while. And it sounded incredibly cool but I was never quite sure what it meant. It sounded like it was one of those things that was super deep but I couldn't dig deep enough. But it sort of seems like this whole vision has come true because if you dial back to I think it's 2006, you wrote a blog post about how the world was only going to need five or seven or some small number of computers. And that was also linked to this as well, wasn't it?[00:02:05]Papadopoulos: Yeah, I think as things began to evolve into what we would call cloud computing today, but that you could put substantial resources on the other side of the network and from the end user’s perspective and those could be as effective or more effective than something you'd have in front of you. And so this idea that you really could provide these larger scale computing services in early days — you know, grid was the term used before cloud — but if you follow that logic, and you watch what was happening to the improvements of the network. Dave Patterson at Cal was very fond of saying in that era and in the 90s, networks are getting to the place where the desk connected to another machine is transparent to you. I mean it could be your own, in fact, somebody else's memory may in fact be closer to you than your own disk. And that's a pretty interesting thought. And so where we ended up going was really a complete realization that these things we would call servers were actually just components of this network computer. And so it was very mysterious, “The Network is the Computer,” and it actually grew into itself in this way. And I'll say looking at Cloudflare, you see this next level of scale happening. It's not just, what are those things that you build inside a data center, how do you connect to it, but in fact, it's the network that is the computer that is the network.[00:04:26]Graham-Cumming: It's interesting though that there have been these waves of centralization and then push the computing power to the edge and the PCs at some point and then Larry Ellison came along and he was going to have this networked computer thing, and it sort of seems to swing back and forth, so where do you think we are in this swinging?[00:04:44]Papadopoulos: You know, I don't think so much swinging. I think it's a spiral upwards and we come to a place and we look down and it looks familiar. You know, where you'll say, oh I see, here's a 3270 connected to a mainframe. Well, that looks like a browser connected to a web server. And you know, here's the device, it’s connected to the web service. And they look similar but there are some very important differences as we're traversing this helix of sorts. And if you look back, for example the 3270, it was inextricably bound to a single server that was hosted. And now our devices have really the ability to connect to any other computer on the network. And so then I think we're seeing something that looks like a pendulum there, it’s really a refactoring question on what software belongs where and how hard is it to maintain where it is, and naturally I think that the Internet protocol clearly is a peer to peer protocol, so it doesn't take sides on this. And so that we end up in one state, with more on the client or less on the client. I think it really has to do with how well we've figured out distributed computing and how well we can deliver code in a management-free way. And that's a longer conversation. [00:06:35]Graham-Cumming: Well, it's an interesting conversation. One thing is what you talked about with Sun Grid which then we end up with Amazon Web Services and things like that, is that there was sort of the device, be it your handheld or your laptop talking to some cloud computing, and then what Cloudflare has done with this Workers product to say, well, actually I think there's three places where code could exist. There's something you can put inside the network.[00:07:02]Papadopoulos: Yes. And by extension that could grow to another layer too. And it goes back to, I think it's Dave Clark who I first remember saying you can get all the bandwidth you want, that's money, but you can't reduce latency. That's God, right. And so I think there are certainly things and as I see the Workers architecture, there are two things going on. There's clearly something to be said about latency there, and having distributed points of presence and getting closer to the clients. And there’s IBM with interaction there too, but it is also something that is around management of software and how we should be thinking in delivery of applications, which ultimately I believe, in the limit, become more distributed-looking than they are now. It's just that it's really hard to write distributed applications in kind of the general way we think about it.[00:08:18]Graham-Cumming: Yes, that's one of these things isn’t it, it is exceedingly hard to actually write these things which is why I think we're going through a bit of a transition right now where people are trying to figure out where that code should actually execute and what should execute where.[00:08:31]Papadopoulos: Yeah. You had graciously pointed out this blog from a dozen years ago on, hey this is inevitable that we're going to have this concentration of computing, for a lot of economic reasons as anything else. But it's both a hammer and a nail. You know, cloud stuff in some ways is unnatural in that why should we expect computing to get concentrated like it is. If you really look into it more deeply, I think it has to do with management and control and capital cycles and really things that are kind of on the economic and the administrative side of things, are not about what's truth and beauty and the destination for where applications should be.[00:09:27]Graham-Cumming: And I think you also see some companies are now starting to wrestle with the economics of the cloud where they realize that they are kind of locked into their cloud provider and are paying rent kind of thing; it becomes entirely economic at that point.[00:09:41]Papadopoulos: Well it does, and you know, this was also something I was pretty vocal about, although I got misinterpreted for a while there as being, you know, anti-cloud or something which I'm not, I think I'm pragmatic about it. One of the dangers is certainly as people yield particularly to SaaS products, that in fact, your data in many ways, unless you have explicit contracts and abilities to disgorge that data from that service, that data becomes more and more captive. And that's the part that I think is actually the real question here, which is like, what's the switching cost from one service to another, from one cloud to another.[00:10:35]Graham-Cumming: Yes, absolutely. That's one of the things that we faced, one of the reasons why we worked on this thing called the Bandwidth Alliance, which is one of the ways in which stuff gets locked into clouds is the egress fee is so large that you don't want to get your data out.[00:10:50]Papadopoulos: Exactly. And then there is always the, you know, well we have these particular features in our particular cloud that are very seductive to developers and you write to them and it's kind of hard to undo, you know, just the physics of moving things around. So what you all have been doing there is I think necessary and quite progressive. But we can do more.[00:11:17]Graham-Cumming: Yes definitely. Just to go back to the thought about latency and bandwidth, I have a jokey pair of slides where I show the average broadband network you can buy over time and it going up, and then the change in the speed of light over the same period, which of course is entirely flat, zero progress in the speed of light. Looking back through your biography, you wrote thinking machines and I assume that fighting latency at a much shorter distance of cabling must have been interesting in those machines because of the speeds at which they were operating.[00:11:54]Papadopoulos: Yes, it surprises most people when you say it, but you know, computer architects complain that the speed of light is really slow. And you know, Grace Hopper who is really one of the founders, the pioneers of modern programming languages and COBOL. I think she was a vice admiral. And she would walk around with a wire that was a foot long and say, “this is a nanosecond”. And that seemed pretty short for a while but, you know a nanosecond is an eternity these days.[00:12:40]Graham-Cumming: Yes, it's an eternity. People don't quite appreciate it if they're not thinking about it, how long it is. I had someone who was new to the computing world learning about it, come to me with a book which was talking about fiber optics, and in the book it said there is a laser that flashes on and off a billion times a second to send data down the fiber optic. And he came to me and said, “This can't possibly be true; it's just too fast.”[00:13:09]Papadopoulos: No, it's too slow![00:013:12]Graham-Cumming: Right? And I thought, well that’s slow. And then I stepped back and thought, you know, to the average person, that is a ridiculous statement, that somehow we humans have managed to control time at this ridiculously small level. And then we keep pushing and pushing and pushing it and people don't appreciate how fast and actually how slow the light is, really.[00:13:33]Papadopoulos: Yeah. And I think if it actually comes down to it, if you want to get into a very pure reckoning of this is latency is the only thing that matters. And one can look at bandwidth as a component of latency, so you can see bandwidth as a serialization delay and that kind of goes back to Clark thing, you know that, yeah I can buy that, I can't bribe God on the other side so you know I'm fundamentally left with this problem that we have. Thank you, Albert Einstein, right? It's kind of hopeless to think about sending information faster than that.[00:14:09]Graham-Cumming: Yeah exactly. There’s information limits, which is driving why we have such powerful phones, because in fact the latency to the human is very low if you have it in your hand.[00:14:23]Papadopoulos: Yes, absolutely. This is where the edge architecture and the Worker structure that you guys are working on, and I think that's where it becomes really interesting too because it gives me — you talked about earlier, well we're now introducing this new tier — but it gives me a really closer place from a latency point of view to have some intimate relationship with a device, and at the same time be well-connected to the network.[00:14:55]Graham-Cumming: Right. And I think the other thing that is interesting about that is that your device fundamentally is an insecure thing, so you know if you put code on that thing, you can't put secrets in it, like a cryptographic secrets, because the end user has access to them. Normally you would keep that in the server somewhere, but then the other funny thing is if you have this intermediary tier which is both secure and low latency to the end user, you suddenly have a different world in which you can put secrets, you can put code that is privileged, but it can interact with the user very very rapidly because the low latency.[00:15:30]Papadopoulos: Yeah. And that essence of where’s my trust domain. Now I've seen all kinds of like, oh my gosh, I cannot believe somebody is doing it, like putting their S3 credentials, putting it down on a device and having it talk, you know, the log in for a database or something. You must be kidding. I mean that trust proxy point at low latency is a really key thing.[00:16:02]Graham-Cumming: Yes, I think it's just people need to start thinking about that architecture. Is there a sort of parallel with things that were going on with very high-performance computing with sort of the massively parallel stuff and what's happening today? What lessons can we take from work done in the 70s and 80s and apply it to the Internet of today?[00:16:24]Papadopoulos: Well, we talked about this sort of, there are a couple of fundamental issues here. And one we've been speaking about is latency. The other one is synchronization, and this comes up in a bunch of different ways. You know, whether it's when one looks at the cap theorem kinds of things that Eric Brewer has been famous for, can I get consistency and availability and survive partitionability, all that, at the same time. And so you end up in this kind of place of—goes back to maybe Einstein a bit—but you know, knowing when things have happened and when state has been actually changed or committed is a pretty profound problem. [00:17:15]Graham-Cumming: It is, and what order things have happened. [00:17:18]Papadopoulos: Yes. And that order is going to be relative to an observer here as well. And so if you're insisting on some total ordering then you're insisting on slowing things down as well. And that really is fundamental. We were pushing into that in the massively parallel stuff and you'll see that at Internet scale. You know there's another thing, if I could. This is one of my greatest “aha”s about networks and it's due to a fellow at Sun, Rob Gingell, who actually ended up being chief engineer at Sun and was one of the real pioneers of the software development framework that brought Solaris forward. But Rob would talk about this thing that I label as network entropy. It's basically what happens when you connect systems to networks, what do networks kind of do to those systems? And this is a little bit of a philosophical question; it’s not a physical one. And Rob observed that over time networks have this property of wanting to decompose things into constituent parts, have those parts get specialized and then reintegrated. And so let me make that less abstract. So in the early days of connecting systems to networks, one of the natural observations were, well why don't we take the storage out of those desktop systems or server systems and put them on the other side of at least a local network and into a file server or storage server. And so you could see that computer sort of get pulled apart between its computing and its storage piece. And then that storage piece, you know in Rob’s step, that would go on and get specialized. So we had whole companies start like Network Appliances, Pure Storage, EMC. And so, you know like big pieces of industry or look the original routers were RADb you know running on workstations and you know Cisco went and took that and made that into something and so you now see this effect happen at the next scale. One of the things that really got me excited when I first saw Cloudflare a decade ago was, wow okay in those early days, well we can take a component like a network firewall and that can get pulled away and created as its own network entity and specialized. And I think one of the things, at least from my history of Cloudflare, one of the most profound things was, particularly as you guys went in and separated off these functions early on, the fear of people was this is going to introduce latency, and in fact things got faster. Figure that.[00:20:51]Graham-Cumming: Part of that of course is caching and then there's dealing with the speed of light by being close to people. But also if you say your company makes things faster and you do all these different things including security, you are forced to optimize the whole thing to live up to the claim. Whereas if you try and chain things together, nobody's really responsible for that overall latency budget. It becomes natural that you have to do it.[00:21:18]Papadopoulos: Yes. And you all have done it brilliantly, you know, to sort of Gingell’s view. Okay so this piece got decomposed and now specialized, meaning optimized like heck, because that's what you do. And so you can see that over and over again and you see it in terms of even Twilio or something. You know, here's a messaging service. I’m just pulling my applications apart, letting people specialize. But the final piece, and this is really the punchline. The final piece is, Rob will talk about it, the value is in the reintegration of it. And so you know what are those unifying forces that are creating, if you will, the operating system for “The Network is the Computer.” You were asking about the massively parallel scale. Well, we had an operating system we wrote for this. As you get up to the higher scale, you get into these more distributed circumstances where the complexity goes up by some important number of orders of magnitude, and now what's that reintegration? And so I come back and I look at what Cloudflare is doing here. You're entering into that phase now of actually being that re-integrator, almost that operating system for the computer that is the network.[00:23:06]Graham-Cumming: I think that's right. We often talk about actually being an operating system on the Internet, so very similar kind of thoughts.[00:23:14]Papadopoulos: Yes. And you know as we were talking earlier about how developers make sense of this pendulum or cycle or whatever it is. Having this idea of an operating system or of a place where I can have ground truths and trust and sort of fixed points in this are terribly important.[00:23:44]Graham-Cumming: Absolutely. So do you have any final thoughts on, what, it must be 30 years on from when “The Network is the Computer” was a Sun trademark. Now it's a Cloudflare trademark. What's the future going to look of that slogan and who's going to trademark it in 30 years time now?[00:24:03]Papadopoulos: Well, it could be interplanetary at that point. [00:24:13]Graham-Cumming: Well, if you talk about the latency problems of going interplanetary, we definitely have to solve the latency.[00:24:18]Papadopoulos: Yeah. People do understand that. They go, wow it’s like seven minutes within here and Mars, hitting close approach. [00:24:28]Graham-Cumming: The earthly equivalent of that is New Zealand. If you speak to people from New Zealand and they come on holiday to Europe or they move to the US, they suddenly say that the Internet works so much better here. And it’s just that it's closer. Now the Australians have figured this out because Australia is actually drifting northwards so they're actually going to get within. That's going to fix it for them but New Zealand is stuck.[00:24:56]Papadopoulos: I do ask my physicist friends for one of two things. You know, either give me a faster speed of light — so far they have not delivered — or another dimension I can cut through. Maybe we'll keep working on the latter.[00:25:16]Graham-Cumming: All right. Well listen Greg, thank you for the conversation. Thank you for thinking about this stuff many many years ago. I think we're getting there slowly on some of this work. And yeah, good talking to you.[00:25:27]Papadopoulos: Well, you too. And thank you for carrying the torch forward. I think everyone from Sun who listens to this, and John, and everybody should feel really proud about what part they played in the evolution of this great invention.[00:25:48]Graham-Cumming: It's certainly the case that a tremendous amount of work was done at Sun that was really fundamental and, you know, perhaps some of that was ahead of its time but here we are. [00:25:57]Papadopoulos: Thank you. [00:25:58]Graham-Cumming: Thank you very much.[00:25:59]Papadopoulos: Cheers.Interested in hearing more? Listen to my conversations with John Gage and Ray Rothrock of Sun Microsystems:John GageRay Rothrock To learn more about Cloudflare Workers, check out the use cases below:Optimizely - Optimizely chose Workers when updating their experimentation platform to provide faster responses from the edge and support more experiments for their customers.Cordial - Cordial used a “stable of Workers” to do custom Black Friday load shedding as well as using it as a serverless platform for building scalable customer-facing services.AO.com - AO.com used Workers to avoid significant code changes to their underlying platform when migrating from a legacy provider to a modern cloud backend.Pwned Passwords - Troy Hunt’s popular "Have I Been Pwned" project benefits from cache hit ratios of 94% on its Pwned Passwords API due to Workers.Timely - Using Workers and Workers KV, Timely was able to safely migrate application endpoints using simple value updates to a distributed key-value store.Quintype - Quintype was an eager adopter of Workers to cache content they previously considered un-cacheable and improve the user experience of their publishing platform.

The Network is the Computer

CloudFlare Blog -

We recently registered the trademark for The Network is the Computer®, to encompass how Cloudflare is utilizing its network to pave the way for the future of the Internet.The phrase was first coined in 1984 by John Gage, the 21st employee of Sun Microsystems, where he was credited with building Sun’s vision around “The Network is the Computer.” When Sun was acquired in 2010, the trademark was not renewed, but the vision remained. Take it from him: “When we built Sun Microsystems, every computer we made had the network at its core. But we could only imagine, over thirty years ago, today’s billions of networked devices, from the smallest camera or light bulb to the largest supercomputer, sharing their packets across Cloudflare’s distributed global network.We based our vision of an interconnected world on open and shared standards. Cloudflare extends this dedication to new levels by openly sharing designs for security and resilience in the post-quantum computer world.Most importantly, Cloudflare is committed to immediate, open, transparent accountability for network performance. I’m a dedicated reader of their technical blog, as the network becomes central to our security infrastructure and the global economy, demanding even more powerful technical innovation.” Cloudflare's massive network, which spans more than 180 cities in 80 countries, enables the company to deliver its suite of security, performance, and reliability products, including its serverless edge computing offerings. In March of 2018, we launched our serverless solution Cloudflare Workers, to allow anyone to deploy code at the edge of our network. We also recently announced advancements to Cloudflare Workers in June of 2019 to give application developers the ability to do away with cloud regions, VMs, servers, containers, load balancers—all they need to do is write the code, and we do the rest. With each of Cloudflare’s data centers acting as a highly scalable application origin to which users are automatically routed via our Anycast network, code is run within milliseconds of users worldwide. In honor of registering Sun’s former trademark, I spoke with John Gage, Greg Papadopoulos, former CTO of Sun Microsystems, and Ray Rothrock, former Director of CAD/CAM Marketing at Sun Microsystems, to learn more about the history of the phrase and what it means for the future: John GageRay RothrockGreg Papadopoulos To learn more about Cloudflare Workers, check out the use cases below:Optimizely - Optimizely chose Workers when updating their experimentation platform to provide faster responses from the edge and support more experiments for their customers.Cordial - Cordial used a “stable of Workers” to do custom Black Friday load shedding as well as using it as a serverless platform for building scalable customer-facing services.AO.com - AO.com used Workers to avoid significant code changes to their underlying platform when migrating from a legacy provider to a modern cloud backend.Pwned Passwords - Troy Hunt’s popular "Have I Been Pwned" project benefits from cache hit ratios of 94% on its Pwned Passwords API due to Workers.Timely - Using Workers and Workers KV, Timely was able to safely migrate application endpoints using simple value updates to a distributed key-value store.Quintype - Quintype was an eager adopter of Workers to cache content they previously considered un-cacheable and improve the user experience of their publishing platform.

Is Backing Up Your Website as Fun as Singing to Your Neighbors?

InMotion Hosting Blog -

Singing to your neighbor is hard to beat, but backing up your WordPress website just might be the thing to do it. What is in a backup? While browsing different web hosts or even articles of websites you may be wondering what exactly a backup is. Thankfully, it is a very simple procedure to explain. Basically, a backup is the act of saving your websites data in its current form and storing it on a secure server or some other external location. Continue reading Is Backing Up Your Website as Fun as Singing to Your Neighbors? at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

Taking the Holiday Leap with WP Engine

WP Engine -

iFly has been empowering humans to experience the freedom and thrill of flight since the company was founded in 1998. Today, more than 10 million people have traveled to one of iFly’s 80 locations across the globe to fly in one of their wind tunnels. The iFly experience has also grown into a popular gift… The post Taking the Holiday Leap with WP Engine appeared first on WP Engine.

Out of Office: How to Actually Disconnect During Your Summer Vacation

LinkedIn Official Blog -

With summer in full swing, vacation is on the minds – and calendars – of most of us. So much so, it’s one of the three most important benefits professionals want when considering a new job. Nearly 75% of professionals would turn down a job offer if the vacation policy didn’t meet their expectations, according to new LinkedIn research released today. Regardless, nearly half (46%) of professionals admit to not taking all their vacation time last year, pointing to reasons like having too much work... .

How to Choose a Web Host: A 15-Point Checklist

DreamHost Blog -

Choosing a web host can be challenging — especially if you’re just starting your first website. There’s a lot of information to digest about hosting your site, and it’s easy to forget something important when you’re weighing the pros and cons of various providers. However, if you know the right questions to ask, you can navigate the waters of web hosting without fear. There are many excellent plans to pick from. Making the right choice is simply a matter of considering your needs alongside what each service provider has to offer. In this post, we’ll discuss why it’s necessary to determine your site’s hosting needs before you begin shopping. Then we’ll share a 15-point checklist to help decide which web hosting provider is right for you. Let’s get going! Why It’s Vital to Identify Your Hosting Needs Upfront There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all web hosting. Every website has different needs when it comes to storage, performance, features, and price. So before you start looking at plans, you’ll want to determine your site’s hosting requirements. By knowing what you need ahead of time, you can narrow down your choices more quickly and avoid making costly mistakes when selecting your host. Some questions you might ask include: How large is your website and what are its storage needs? On average, how much traffic do you expect each month? What’s your hosting budget? What are your current website management skills? What might you need help with? Apart from storing your site, what services will you need from your hosting provider? Your answers to these questions will eliminate some hosts right away. Then, you can use the checklist below to determine if other hosting options are a smart match for your site. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up How to Choose a Web Host (A 15-Point Checklist) There are many aspects to consider when choosing a hosting provider, and the process can seem overwhelming at first. That’s why we’ve listed out the 15 most important questions to ask when evaluating a hosting provider: How Reliable Are the Host’s Servers? Is It Easy to Upgrade Your Plan? Can You Easily Add a Domain? Are There Significant Differences in the Sign-Up and Renewal Costs? Does the Host Have a Generous Refund Policy? Is There a One-Click Installer? Will Your Host Provide Email Addresses for Your Domain? Will You Have Easy SFTP Access? How Difficult Is It to Find and Edit .htaccess? What E-Commerce Features Are Included (If Any)? Can You Easily Navigate and Use the Control Panel? Are SSL Certificates Included? How Often Will You Have to Renew Your Subscription? Does the Web Host Offer Easy Site Backups? Can You Quickly Access Support 24/7? Now, let’s dive into each question in more detail to guide you towards the best host for your situation. 1. How Reliable Are the Host’s Servers? Performance and uptime can make or break your website. Your website’s performance influences Search Engine Optimization (SEO), bounce and conversion rates, and how trustworthy your site appears to visitors. We’re not exaggerating when we say that the reliability of your server has a direct impact on your website’s bottom line. Any provider you consider should have an uptime guarantee of at least 99%. At DreamHost, our uptime guarantee is 100%, as per our Terms of Service. It’s also wise to check out what performance-related features a given host offers. This can include built-in caching, access to a Content Delivery Service (CDN), and more. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan 2. Is It Easy to Upgrade Your Plan? If you’ve created a website with all the elements it needs to succeed, chances are it’s going to grow. With any luck, you’ll see an increase in traffic and conversion rates. This will likely mean you’ll have to upgrade your web hosting plan. Related: When Should You Upgrade Your Hosting Plan? Most new sites start on a shared, low-cost plan. As your online presence expands, however, you’ll need more resources, bandwidth, and disk space to maintain your site for all its users. A host that offers easy upgrades to a Virtual Private Server (VPS), Managed WordPress, or Dedicated Hosting plan can make this process smoother. If you choose a host that makes it difficult to change your plan, you could find yourself migrating to a new provider just a few months after launching your site. Already Have a Website? We’ll Move It for You!Migrating to a new hosting provider is a pain. Sit back and let our experts do it! We’ll move your existing site within 48 hours without any interruption in service. Included FREE with purchase of any DreamPress plan.Move My Site 3. Can You Easily Add a Domain? As your digital brand grows, you may find that you not only want to expand your current site but start a new one as well. Alternatively, perhaps you simply like collecting domain names or you want to get into website flipping. Whatever the reason, if you’re going to purchase additional domains, you’ll need a host that makes it simple to acquire and manage them. Choosing a provider that offers unlimited domains ensures that you won’t ever run out of space. Related: The Complete Guide to New Top-Level Domains (TLDs) 4. Are There Significant Differences in the Sign-Up and Renewal Costs? It’s important to choose an affordable host. However, be careful when signing up, as you don’t want to get roped into a plan that’s more expensive than it seems on the surface. Some companies will offer attractive sign-up deals for new customers. Then, when it comes time to renew, they’ll raise the price. Make sure to look into your potential host’s renewal fees as well as the initial sign-up cost. Some difference between these two is an industry norm. However, you’ll want to keep the contrast as low as possible and avoid a higher renewal rate entirely if possible. 5. Does the Host Have a Generous Refund Policy? In an ideal world, you’ll choose the perfect host the first time around, your website will flourish, and you’ll never need to cancel your service. However, things don’t always go according to plan. If you need to cancel your hosting for any reason, you’ll want to avoid excessive fees. It’s also wise to choose a host that offers a trial period so that if things don’t work out in the first few weeks of service, you can cancel without penalty. 6. Is There a One-Click Installer? As the most popular Content Management Service (CMS) on the web, WordPress often receives additional support from hosting companies. Managed WordPress plans and WordPress-related features can be especially helpful if this is the platform you intend to use. A particularly useful feature that some hosts offer is a one-click WordPress installer. Better yet, some hosts will pre-install WordPress for you. This can save you a lot of time during the initial setup. You can also find one-click installers for other platforms, such as Joomla and Zen Cart. Related: What Is a WordPress One-Click Install? 7. Will Your Host Provide Email Addresses for Your Domain? Whether you have a business site, a blog, an e-commerce store, or some other type of website, your visitors will probably need a way to get in touch. Having an email address that’s associated with your site’s domain (i.e., zoe@mysite.com) appears more professional and is easier for users to remember. Checking out a potential host’s email services is a must if you want to incorporate this feature into your online presence. Choosing a host that includes this service in its web hosting packages or provides it for a low cost means you won’t have to set up custom email addresses manually. 8. Will You Have Easy SFTP Access? File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) are vital tools for website maintenance. At some point, you’ll likely have to use one or the other to resolve an error, customize your site, and carry out different tasks. Your host should provide credentials so that you can use FTP or SFTP via a client such as FileZilla. This information should be easy to locate so that you can access it at any time. Additionally, some hosts will provide their own FTP clients for your use as well. This is a nice bonus and can be an easier and more secure option than third-party FTP clients. 9. How Difficult Is It to Find and Edit .htaccess? For WordPress users, the .htaccess file is a crucial part of your site. It contains a wealth of configuration information that influences permalink structure, caching, 301 redirects, file accessibility, and more. You may need to edit .htaccess at some point to resolve an error, tighten security, or carry out other tasks to improve your site. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy, since .htaccess is a hidden file. Even if you can find the file, editing it via SFTP can be risky. It’s helpful if your web host provides a file manager for editing .htaccess, to minimize the risks to the rest of your site. 10. What E-Commerce Features Are Included (If Any)? All websites have the same basic needs. However, if you’re running an e-commerce site, you’ll need some unique features. For instance, you’ll probably want more frequent backups and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to reach customers around the world. A specialized e-commerce website hosting plan can help you get the support your online store needs at an affordable rate. Some plans — including our own e-commerce plans — will even pre-install WooCommerce and the Storefront theme for WordPress retailers. Related: How to Start an Online Store in 1 Hour with WooCommerce 11. Can You Easily Navigate and Use the Control Panel? You’ll be spending a lot of time in your hosting control panel. Being able to navigate around your account easily can make managing your website much less challenging. Plus, you won’t have to rely on support as much when you’re figuring out tasks such as billing and upgrading. Choosing a host that offers a custom control panel can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Our control panel, for instance, offers clear navigation menus. That way, you can easily find information on your site, contact support, or edit your account information. 12. Are SSL Certificates Included? Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates are vital for keeping your site and its users safe. This is particularly true if you’re dealing with sensitive information such as credit card details, SSL certificates, and the like. Adding an SSL certificate to your site is usually an additional expense. However, some hosting providers will include one in your plan at no extra cost. Choosing one of these hosts can save you a little extra money while helping to keep your site secure. 13. How Often Will You Have to Renew Your Subscription? Many hosts require a monthly subscription from their customers. There’s nothing wrong with that model, and if your fees are low enough, you might not mind having to pay monthly. However, this option isn’t always the most cost-effective. Other hosts will offer one or even three-year plans. By paying for a longer term upfront, you can often save some money down the line. When comparing prices between hosts, make sure to consider this. Don’t forget that you’ll have to renew your domain name as well. This is usually an annual occurrence, although you can find options for two- and three-year registrations here at DreamHost. You can also sign up for an auto-renewal program to avoid forgetting to renew your domain. 14. Does the Web Host Offer Easy Site Backups? We all like to think the worst will never happen to us. However, it’s best to be prepared. Accidents and attacks happen, and if you’re in a position where your site has been destroyed, you’ll want a way to restore it. Backups ensure that you have a way to bring your site back if it’s lost. While there are many methods available for backing up a website, one of the easiest is to do it through your web host. It’s even more convenient if your host offers automated daily backups for your site, along with one-click on-demand backups. 15. Can You Quickly Access Support 24/7? Your relationship with your web host will hopefully be a long one. Reliable customer support is key if that relationship is going to be mutually beneficial. Making sure any host you’re considering has multiple contact methods and a 24/7 support team can guarantee that someone will be available whenever you need help. Additionally, specific support for WordPress, e-commerce, or other niches can come in handy. Choosing a host with a team that is knowledgeable about the tools you use will ensure that your site has the best support possible. For example, if you opt for DreamPress, our WordPress-specific managed hosting, you’ll get priority access to our elite squad of in-house WordPress experts. Finding the Right Web Hosting Service When it comes to choosing a web host, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. There are many factors to consider, and your decision could ultimately determine your website’s success or failure. However, if you go into your web hosting search with your needs clearly outlined, you’ll eventually find the best provider for you. Asking careful questions about the quality of the host’s services and equipment, the additional features it offers, and its pricing will steer you in the right direction. If you’re a WordPress user, that direction just might be DreamHost’s Starter Shared Hosting plan. This plan is a low-cost option that’s ideal for small business owners or those just starting out. With Shared Hosting, there’s no limit to the amount of disk space you can use for your site. Unlimited bandwidth means when your site goes viral, you don’t have to stress about storage space. Most importantly, with any DreamHost plan, you’ll be able to answer “Yes!” to each of the questions on this checklist. The post How to Choose a Web Host: A 15-Point Checklist appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

A gentle introduction to Linux Kernel fuzzing

CloudFlare Blog -

For some time I’ve wanted to play with coverage-guided fuzzing. Fuzzing is a powerful testing technique where an automated program feeds semi-random inputs to a tested program. The intention is to find such inputs that trigger bugs. Fuzzing is especially useful in finding memory corruption bugs in C or C++ programs. Image by Patrick Shannon CC BY 2.0 Normally it's recommended to pick a well known, but little explored, library that is heavy on parsing. Historically things like libjpeg, libpng and libyaml were perfect targets. Nowadays it's harder to find a good target - everything seems to have been fuzzed to death already. That's a good thing! I guess the software is getting better! Instead of choosing a userspace target I decided to have a go at the Linux Kernel netlink machinery. Netlink is an internal Linux facility used by tools like "ss", "ip", "netstat". It's used for low level networking tasks - configuring network interfaces, IP addresses, routing tables and such. It's a good target: it's an obscure part of kernel, and it's relatively easy to automatically craft valid messages. Most importantly, we can learn a lot about Linux internals in the process. Bugs in netlink aren't going to have security impact though - netlink sockets usually require privileged access anyway. In this post we'll run AFL fuzzer, driving our netlink shim program against a custom Linux kernel. All of this running inside KVM virtualization. This blog post is a tutorial. With the easy to follow instructions, you should be able to quickly replicate the results. All you need is a machine running Linux and 20 minutes. Prior work The technique we are going to use is formally called "coverage-guided fuzzing". There's a lot of prior literature: The Smart Fuzzer Revolution by Dan Guido, and LWN article about it Effective file format fuzzing by Mateusz “j00ru” Jurczyk honggfuzz by Robert Swiecki, is a modern, feature-rich coverage-guided fuzzer ClusterFuzz Fuzzer Test Suite Many people have fuzzed the Linux Kernel in the past. Most importantly: syzkaller (aka syzbot) by Dmitry Vyukov, is a very powerful CI-style continuously running kernel fuzzer, which found hundreds of issues already. It's an awesome machine - it will even report the bugs automatically! Trinity fuzzer We'll use the AFL, everyone's favorite fuzzer. AFL was written by Michał Zalewski. It's well known for its ease of use, speed and very good mutation logic. It's a perfect choice for people starting their journey into fuzzing! If you want to read more about AFL, the documentation is in couple of files: Historical notes Technical whitepaper README Coverage-guided fuzzing Coverage-guided fuzzing works on the principle of a feedback loop: the fuzzer picks the most promising test case the fuzzer mutates the test into a large number of new test cases the target code runs the mutated test cases, and reports back code coverage the fuzzer computes a score from the reported coverage, and uses it to prioritize the interesting mutated tests and remove the redundant ones For example, let's say the input test is "hello". Fuzzer may mutate it to a number of tests, for example: "hEllo" (bit flip), "hXello" (byte insertion), "hllo" (byte deletion). If any of these tests will yield an interesting code coverage, then it will be prioritized and used as a base for a next generation of tests. Specifics on how mutations are done, and how to efficiently compare code coverage reports of thousands of program runs is the fuzzer secret sauce. Read on the AFL's technical whitepaper for nitty gritty details. The code coverage reported back from the binary is very important. It allows fuzzer to order the test cases, and identify the most promising ones. Without the code coverage the fuzzer is blind. Normally, when using AFL, we are required to instrument the target code so that coverage is reported in an AFL-compatible way. But we want to fuzz the kernel! We can't just recompile it with "afl-gcc"! Instead we'll use a trick. We'll prepare a binary that will trick AFL into thinking it was compiled with its tooling. This binary will report back the code coverage extracted from kernel. Kernel code coverage The kernel has at least two built-in coverage mechanisms - GCOV and KCOV: Using gcov with the Linux kernel KCOV: code coverage for fuzzing KCOV was designed with fuzzing in mind, so we'll use this. Using KCOV is pretty easy. We must compile the Linux kernel with the right setting. First, enable the KCOV kernel config option: cd linux ./scripts/config \ -e KCOV \ -d KCOV_INSTRUMENT_ALL KCOV is capable of recording code coverage from the whole kernel. It can be set with KCOV_INSTRUMENT_ALL option. This has disadvantages though - it would slow down the parts of the kernel we don't want to profile, and would introduce noise in our measurements (reduce "stability"). For starters, let's disable KCOV_INSTRUMENT_ALL and enable KCOV selectively on the code we actually want to profile. Today, we focus on netlink machinery, so let's enable KCOV on whole "net" directory tree: find net -name Makefile | xargs -L1 -I {} bash -c 'echo "KCOV_INSTRUMENT := y" >> {}' In a perfect world we would enable KCOV only for a couple of files we really are interested in. But netlink handling is peppered all over the network stack code, and we don't have time for fine tuning it today. With KCOV in place, it's worth to add "kernel hacking" toggles that will increase the likelihood of reporting memory corruption bugs. See the README for the list of Syzkaller suggested options - most importantly KASAN. With that set we can compile our KCOV and KASAN enabled kernel. Oh, one more thing. We are going to run the kernel in a kvm. We're going to use "virtme", so we need a couple of toggles: ./scripts/config \ -e VIRTIO -e VIRTIO_PCI -e NET_9P -e NET_9P_VIRTIO -e 9P_FS \ -e VIRTIO_NET -e VIRTIO_CONSOLE -e DEVTMPFS ... (see the README for full list) How to use KCOV KCOV is super easy to use. First, note the code coverage is recorded in a per-process data structure. This means you have to enable and disable KCOV within a userspace process, and it's impossible to record coverage for non-task things, like interrupt handling. This is totally fine for our needs. KCOV reports data into a ring buffer. Setting it up is pretty simple, see our code. Then you can enable and disable it with a trivial ioctl: ioctl(kcov_fd, KCOV_ENABLE, KCOV_TRACE_PC); /* profiled code */ ioctl(kcov_fd, KCOV_DISABLE, 0); After this sequence the ring buffer contains the list of %rip values of all the basic blocks of the KCOV-enabled kernel code. To read the buffer just run: n = __atomic_load_n(&kcov_ring[0], __ATOMIC_RELAXED); for (i = 0; i < n; i++) { printf("0x%lx\n", kcov_ring[i + 1]); } With tools like addr2line it's possible to resolve the %rip to a specific line of code. We won't need it though - the raw %rip values are sufficient for us. Feeding KCOV into AFL The next step in our journey is to learn how to trick AFL. Remember, AFL needs a specially-crafted executable, but we want to feed in the kernel code coverage. First we need to understand how AFL works. AFL sets up an array of 64K 8-bit numbers. This memory region is called "shared_mem" or "trace_bits" and is shared with the traced program. Every byte in the array can be thought of as a hit counter for a particular (branch_src, branch_dst) pair in the instrumented code. It's important to notice that AFL prefers random branch labels, rather than reusing the %rip value to identify the basic blocks. This is to increase entropy - we want our hit counters in the array to be uniformly distributed. The algorithm AFL uses is: cur_location = <COMPILE_TIME_RANDOM>; shared_mem[cur_location ^ prev_location]++; prev_location = cur_location >> 1; In our case with KCOV we don't have compile-time-random values for each branch. Instead we'll use a hash function to generate a uniform 16 bit number from %rip recorded by KCOV. This is how to feed a KCOV report into the AFL "shared_mem" array: n = __atomic_load_n(&kcov_ring[0], __ATOMIC_RELAXED); uint16_t prev_location = 0; for (i = 0; i < n; i++) { uint16_t cur_location = hash_function(kcov_ring[i + 1]); shared_mem[cur_location ^ prev_location]++; prev_location = cur_location >> 1; } Reading test data from AFL Finally, we need to actually write the test code hammering the kernel netlink interface! First we need to read input data from AFL. By default AFL sends a test case to stdin: /* read AFL test data */ char buf[512*1024]; int buf_len = read(0, buf, sizeof(buf)); Fuzzing netlink Then we need to send this buffer into a netlink socket. But we know nothing about how netlink works! Okay, let's use the first 5 bytes of input as the netlink protocol and group id fields. This will allow the AFL to figure out and guess the correct values of these fields. The code testing netlink (simplified): netlink_fd = socket(AF_NETLINK, SOCK_RAW | SOCK_NONBLOCK, buf[0]); struct sockaddr_nl sa = { .nl_family = AF_NETLINK, .nl_groups = (buf[1] <<24) | (buf[2]<<16) | (buf[3]<<8) | buf[4], }; bind(netlink_fd, (struct sockaddr *) &sa, sizeof(sa)); struct iovec iov = { &buf[5], buf_len - 5 }; struct sockaddr_nl sax = { .nl_family = AF_NETLINK, }; struct msghdr msg = { &sax, sizeof(sax), &iov, 1, NULL, 0, 0 }; r = sendmsg(netlink_fd, &msg, 0); if (r != -1) { /* sendmsg succeeded! great I guess... */ } That's basically it! For speed, we will wrap this in a short loop that mimics the AFL "fork server" logic. I'll skip the explanation here, see our code for details. The resulting code of our AFL-to-KCOV shim looks like: forksrv_welcome(); while(1) { forksrv_cycle(); test_data = afl_read_input(); kcov_enable(); /* netlink magic */ kcov_disable(); /* fill in shared_map with tuples recorded by kcov */ if (new_crash_in_dmesg) { forksrv_status(1); } else { forksrv_status(0); } } See full source code. How to run the custom kernel We're missing one important piece - how to actually run the custom kernel we've built. There are three options: "native": You can totally boot the built kernel on your server and fuzz it natively. This is the fastest technique, but pretty problematic. If the fuzzing succeeds in finding a bug you will crash the machine, potentially losing the test data. Cutting the branches we sit on should be avoided. "uml": We could configure the kernel to run as User Mode Linux. Running a UML kernel requires no privileges. The kernel just runs a user space process. UML is pretty cool, but sadly, it doesn't support KASAN, therefore the chances of finding a memory corruption bug are reduced. Finally, UML is a pretty magic special environment - bugs found in UML may not be relevant on real environments. Interestingly, UML is used by Android network_tests framework. "kvm": we can use kvm to run our custom kernel in a virtualized environment. This is what we'll do. One of the simplest ways to run a custom kernel in a KVM environment is to use "virtme" scripts. With them we can avoid having to create a dedicated disk image or partition, and just share the host file system. This is how we can run our code: virtme-run \ --kimg bzImage \ --rw --pwd --memory 512M \ --script-sh "<what to run inside kvm>" But hold on. We forgot about preparing input corpus data for our fuzzer! Building the input corpus Every fuzzer takes a carefully crafted test cases as input, to bootstrap the first mutations. The test cases should be short, and cover as large part of code as possible. Sadly - I know nothing about netlink. How about we don't prepare the input corpus... Instead we can ask AFL to "figure out" what inputs make sense. This is what Michał did back in 2014 with JPEGs and it worked for him. With this in mind, here is our input corpus: mkdir inp echo "hello world" > inp/01.txt Instructions, how to compile and run the whole thing are in README.md on our github. It boils down to: virtme-run \ --kimg bzImage \ --rw --pwd --memory 512M \ --script-sh "./afl-fuzz -i inp -o out -- fuzznetlink" With this running you will see the familiar AFL status screen: Further notes That's it. Now you have a custom hardened kernel, running a basic coverage-guided fuzzer. All inside KVM. Was it worth the effort? Even with this basic fuzzer, and no input corpus, after a day or two the fuzzer found an interesting code path: NEIGH: BUG, double timer add, state is 8. With a more specialized fuzzer, some work on improving the "stability" metric and a decent input corpus, we could expect even better results. If you want to learn more about what netlink sockets actually do, see a blog post by my colleague Jakub Sitnicki Multipath Routing in Linux - part 1. Then there is a good chapter about it in Linux Kernel Networking book by Rami Rosen. In this blog post we haven't mentioned: details of AFL shared_memory setup implementation of AFL persistent mode how to create a network namespace to isolate the effects of weird netlink commands, and improve the "stability" AFL score technique on how to read dmesg (/dev/kmsg) to find kernel crashes idea to run AFL outside of KVM, for speed and stability - currently the tests aren't stable after a crash is found But we achieved our goal - we set up a basic, yet still useful fuzzer against a kernel. Most importantly: the same machinery can be reused to fuzz other parts of Linux subsystems - from file systems to bpf verifier. I also learned a hard lesson: tuning fuzzers is a full time job. Proper fuzzing is definitely not as simple as starting it up and idly waiting for crashes. There is always something to improve, tune, and re-implement. A quote at the beginning of the mentioned presentation by Mateusz Jurczyk resonated with me: "Fuzzing is easy to learn but hard to master." Happy bug hunting!

Streamline Your Online Donation Process with These 9 Steps

HostGator Blog -

The post Streamline Your Online Donation Process with These 9 Steps appeared first on HostGator Blog. Fundraising for your nonprofit group, school, or personal cause is usually more productive when it’s super-easy for people to donate. But online fundraising faces some of the same challenges as online retail. People often start a transaction, then quit because they get frustrated or distracted. As many as 60% of the people who go to a donation page abandon the process before they complete their online donation. That’s not great, but the best practices that reduce retail cart abandonment can cut donor abandonment, too. Here’s how to make your online donation process easier to complete. 9 Steps to Hassle-Free Online Donations Google’s Retail UX Playbook makes recommendations for eCommerce checkout that you can adapt to streamline your online donation process, too. 1. Make it easy for visitors to stay on the donation page. “Limit exit points” in the payment process, like links to social media accounts and related content, so you don’t lose potential donors to distractions. 2. Show donors how far along they are in the donation process. Have you ever started an online donation, then immediately wondered how long it’s going to take you to get it done, and maybe bailed out because you’re not sure you have time to complete it before your Uber arrives/baby wakes up/boss starts the meeting? It’s not just you (or me). People like to know what they’re getting into, even when what they’re getting into is a relatively short online payment process. Google recommends using a progress bar on the page if the conversion flow has more than 2 steps. 3. Remind your potential donors of why they’re entering their data. Your donation checkout pages should include your fundraising goal, so people are more likely to see the process through to the end. The example above, from the ASPCA, includes three clear reminders of why this person is donating: in the header, in the touching puppy photo, and in the paragraph on the side. By donating, they can be a lifesaver to animals. 4. Interruptions happen, but you can make it easy for donors to finish later. Your checkout page should let people complete their donation on another device, either by emailing themselves a link or saving their data for to come back to on your site. These first four steps focus on what should and should not be part of your online donation process. The next four steps focus on how your online donation form can move  people through the process to complete their donation. 5. Make sure that your online donation form only includes required fields. We’re talking about the fields that are required to verify donors’ identity and payment information. The longer your form is, and the more information prospective donors must enter, the more likely they are to abandon it. 6. Give users instant feedback as they fill out the donation form. Inline validation prevents the frustrating experience of filling out a form completely and then seeing it rejected because of a data entry error.  Set up your form to show a check mark when fields like email addresses, credit card numbers, billing zip codes are entered properly, and your visitors won’t have to scroll back up the page to fix errors. In the example below, from the Red Cross, correctly completed fields receive a green checkmark, while incomplete fields get highlighted in red with a X. 7. Enable autofill for your form fields. The less information people must enter by hand, the more likely they are to complete your donation form. That’s especially true if they’re visiting your site on a mobile phone. 8. Make your donation form mobile-friendly. Your donation form’s fields for card numbers, phone numbers, CVVs, and zip codes should use a numeric keypad. Is there anything more frustrating than trying to enter a credit card number on a typewriter-style keyboard? Especially on your phone? After you set up your form, preview it on several different browsers and devices—especially mobile browsers. When your form is live, it’s a good idea to run A/B tests to see which format delivers the highest conversion rate. 9. Say thank you! Finally, there’s one more thing your donation process should do. Always thank your donors immediately after they contribute. It’s a good idea to follow up again later via email with a progress report or results on your fundraiser. Hold On to Your Donor Data Even if you’re only fundraising for one project right now, hold on to your list of donors (and keep that data secure). Besides sending thank-you notes and project updates, you may want to reach out to those contributors if you have other fundraising projects in the future. And if you’re raising money for a nonprofit organization or political campaign, you’ll need good donor records to comply with reporting rules. Just make sure you abide by GDPR and request their permission to be contacted in the future. A donation plugin like the ones we’ll look at next can help you store and manage your donor information. Donation Plugins for Your WordPress Website The fastest and easiest way to start taking donations is to install a donation plugin on your WordPress site. Here are a few of the most popular WordPress plugins for nonprofits. 1. Give Give lets you customize your donation forms, accept one-time and recurring donations, and accept donations in honor of or in memory of someone. Give’s dashboard helps manage your donor information for receipts, tax reporting, and more. The basic plugin is free. Add-ons for upgraded features, credit-card processing, and branded payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal are available as monthly bundle subscriptions or individually. 2. Seamless Donations Seamless Donations offers a quick setup to link donations to your PayPal account. Seamless also lets donors choose between one-time and recurring contributions. You can buy premium extensions to add functions like custom donation levels, enhanced thank-you notices for donors, and a widget pack that lets you display recent donations, total donations, and other data on your site. 3. Charitable Charitable integrates with WordPress and has a free theme of its own that you can apply to your site. The free basic plugin lets you direct contributions to your PayPal account, and it allows you to set up multiple fundraising campaigns. Premium packages add more payment gateways, email marketing integrations, and more. Ready to Set Up Your Fundraising Website? Get started today with HostGator’s shared hosting plan that keeps your costs low and includes a free SSL certificate to protect your donors’ personal information. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

4 Smart Ways to Make Remote Work, Work for You

Pickaweb Blog -

The future of remote work has never looked brighter. More and more people are working remotely and there are opportunities of all kinds for them. You aren’t just limited to telecommuting, but you can keep your job and work from home, start freelancing and travel the world, or change locations frequently and have a remote The post 4 Smart Ways to Make Remote Work, Work for You appeared first on Pickaweb.

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