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MS Releases Open Source Alternative To BigTable 163

Posted by kdawson
from the devil-puts-on-gloves dept.
gollito writes in with news that Microsoft has released an open source alternative to Google's BigTable file system, which is used on large distributed computer clusters. Matt Asay writes for CNet: "I also believe that Microsoft's fear-mongering around open source cost it years of productivity and quality gains that it could have been delivering to customers through open source. I hope that reign of ignorance is over."
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MS Releases Open Source Alternative To BigTable

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  • by Jonas Buyl (1425319) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:15PM (#27891849)
    So this means pigs CAN fly?
  • I lol'd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aranykai (1053846) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (resnogls)> on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:15PM (#27891851)

    Is this really news, or just another opportunity for us to have everyones favorite slashdot debate?

  • really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Darlo888 (1235928) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:20PM (#27891879)
    They open sourced the surface?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Misleading headline. Here's [theregister.co.uk] the link to the Register article with more details. Nothing to do with the Surface. Steve
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Man, there needs to be a facepalm moderation.
  • Which license? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:20PM (#27891885)

    So... the linked article says the Kumo search team (the ones who develop the FS) USE open source. But I can nowhere see that the FS is released as open source. A citation would be good, especially since the used license would be quit important.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The product is called Hbase [apache.org]/ Apache license, so it is open source.

    • Re:Which license? (Score:5, Informative)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @07:52PM (#27892895) Journal

      So... the linked article says the Kumo search team (the ones who develop the FS) USE open source. But I can nowhere see that the FS is released as open source. A citation would be good, especially since the used license would be quit important.

      You should check your glasses and re-RTFA. Two points there:

      1) The Kumo search team did not develop the FS. They've used the one Apache Hadoop [apache.org] (guess the license).

      2) The Kumo search team have implemented a BigTable analog on top of Hadoop FS, and that's what they've open sourced. The result [apache.org] is a subproject of Hadoop now (again, guess the license).

      Also, this isn't obvious from TFA itself, but looking at the sources that it references, this is really old news: the blog post they link to is from 2007. It is also before Powerset was bought by Microsoft (that happened in 2008), so the relevance of all this to Microsoft policies is unclear.

  • by wilsoniya (902930) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:22PM (#27891899)
    Google doesn't sell/license BigTable in any way. It's used internally. I fail to see how it's possible to release an alternative to something which can't be acquired in any form.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:34PM (#27892007) Homepage Journal

      Google doesn't sell/license BigTable in any way. It's used internally. I fail to see how it's possible to release an alternative to something which can't be acquired in any form.

      Not completely correct. You can use BigTable right now. There are Google AppEngine APIs that can access BigTable. You just can't use it without using Google's servers, that's all.

      If, at this point, you still can't see why it's completely obvious why Microsoft would write an alternative to BigTable and open source it, all I can say you haven't been paying attention.

      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @11:23PM (#27893975)
        Open sourcing anything software-related is a bad idea for Microsoft, unlike Google. Google are in the search/advertising business, not the software business. Their "crown jewels" are the databases they've collected about everything. Microsoft are in the sofware business. Their "crown jewels" are the source code for their products.

        You'll note that Google aren't opening up their crown jewels: you can't just download their raw web page index and do your own thing with it. Since they're not in the software business, they can afford to give away or open their software tools. Since Microsoft are in the software business, that hurts them.

        Now there's an interesting symmetry here. Being (primarily) in the software business should mean that actual content and databases isn't too important for Microsoft. If they wanted to hurt Google, they would open up their raw msnsearch indexes and other useful content databases. That would hurt Google, because people could download massive competing data collections and create their own competing search engines without the huge resource investment in crawler farms etc.

    • by prockcore (543967) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:35PM (#27892021)

      Using Google's AppEngine, you can use BigTable.. so while you can't install it on your own servers, you can still write software that uses it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        Using Google's AppEngine, you can use BigTable.. so while you can't install it on your own servers, you can still write software that uses it.

        Which means that your appliance that uses BigTable needs continuous access to the Internet.

    • by madsenj37 (612413)
      Do the services that Google sell depend upon Big Table in anyway? If so, then this is an alternative to BigTable.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      I fail to see how it's possible to release an alternative to something which can't be acquired in any form.

      Really? So if all proprietary compilers where not sold, but were instead kept in-house as development tools, then GCC would cease to be an open source/free software alternative to them?

    • by ozphx (1061292)

      Google doesn't sell/license BigTable in any way. It's used internally. I fail to see how it's possible to release an alternative to something which can't be acquired in any form.

      I don't sell or licence my dick to other men in any way. It's also used internally.

      However if you are looking for an alternative to my dick, you could consider buying a dildo.

      Then you could put my surrogate dick in your mouth and shut the hell up. Seriously... think before you post?

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:24PM (#27891911)
    "...I hope that reign of ignorance is over."

    don't count on it, you know about embrace/extend/extinguish?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Summarizing the entire quote in the article summary:

      Matt Asay writes for CNet:
      "Wah!"

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      "...I hope that reign of ignorance is over." don't count on it, you know about embrace/extend/extinguish?

      Now I can see how they can do that with protocols (e.g. the IE extensions to HTML), business models get harder and open source... well you can embrace it, and extend it, and both are only making it stronger, that is the nature of the beast isn't it? The FOSS model can not be extinguished. It's in a way like a cancer. You can merely try to slow it down, but as long as there are people that are either idealistic or have no interest in keeping their sources secret, the FOSS model will survive.

  • Crap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:27PM (#27891937) Homepage

    Article says that they "use open source". Doesn't mean they give ANYTHING back at all, because they are not distributing it, thus the HEADLINE is so false it's unbelievable.

    For instance, say they took even a GPL'd piece of software, extended it to add marvellous and important new features and then KEPT IT IN HOUSE. They can still use it, still claim it's "open source" but they NEVER have to let anyone but themselves see that code.

    It's bad editing, bad reviewing, bad summarising and just outright lying. There is nothing "Open" about anything being done here apart from the software that MS chose to use.

    • Re:Crap (Score:5, Informative)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:38PM (#27892043) Journal
      They did: they gave to the Hadoop project an open source equivalent to Google's BigTable. Not only was this mentioned in the article, it was also mentioned in the summary.

      Note also that while Google has a bigTable, they have not released it as open source (as far as I can tell, but they do sell it as a webservice). So there may be some desire to undercut Google here with this move.
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by Vertana (1094987)

        Nowhere in that summary does the word Hadoop appear.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by phantomfive (622387)
          Indeed, this is so clear that one could reasonably assume I was not suggesting that they used the word 'Hadoop' in the summary. In fact, your assumption in such a case would be correct: I was not actually implying that they used the word Hadoop in the summary. I WAS however implying that Microsoft did release open source software, which was mentioned in the summary. My second sentence was referring to the primary clause of my first sentence.

          My post was accurate in this case, but I admit sometimes they
      • Hadoop is the open source equivalent to Google's MapReduce.
    • Re:Crap (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mc1138 (718275) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:58PM (#27892169) Homepage
      Looking at Microsoft's history, I could see them releasing it, making it freely available, just to take a little bit away from Google. The animosity between Microsoft and Google isn't exactly a secret, and neither is Microsoft's do anything to win attitude. Case in point, look at how they've handled piracy overseas. Rather than crack down, they've been lenient to help keep their market share up. Better Window's for free than no Windows at all... I could see them going totally open source if they thought it would improve their hold on the market or at least hurt some competitors.
    • Re:Crap (Score:5, Informative)

      by bockelboy (824282) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @06:04PM (#27892217)

      Actually, you're not even close.

      A company called Powerset developed the open-source alternative to BigTable called HBase. This was developed as an Apache Software Foundation project under the Apache license.

      Microsoft bought Powerset for a bucket of money because their search technology based of Hbase was pretty damned good. This was last year. This year, the folks behind powerset - as Microsoft employees - were given the go-ahead to continue committing to the ASF project and they continue to make it better. For what I can see, they aren't keeping anything juicy in-house.

      It's honest-to-goodness MS committing to an Apache project.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ruphus13 (890164)
      This came about as a result of their acquisition of Powerset. Those guys have been working on Hadoop, and contributing back for a while (pretty much since the beginning). Here's what the linked article in the OP [theregister.co.uk] states, "When Microsoft acquired the company, Powersetters Michael Stack and Jim Kellerman took a hiatus from their full-time HBase contributions. But by October, Redmond had cleared the pair to resume their open coding. And that's what we'd call giving yourself cancer. "While Microsoft has suppor
  • by Punto (100573) <puntob.gmail@com> on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:30PM (#27891965) Homepage
    is it mentioned anywhere? I can't find it.
    • by Q-Hack! (37846) *

      is it mentioned anywhere? I can't find it.

      I was wondering the same thing. If it is just the standard MS open development model, then it is not really news. GPL on the otherhand...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by larry bagina (561269)
        It's apache, which is more free than GPL.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by wrook (134116)

          It's apache, which is more free than GPL.

          While this is an informative post, modding it insightful is a bit trollish. If your definition of "free" means "less restricted", then it is certainly true. If your definition of "free" refers to the "free" as commonly used in "free software", then the statement is meaningless. Either it is free (gives me the 4 freedoms) or it isn't. There isn't "more" or "less".

          By saying it is "more free than the GPL" you are making a distinction which is completely unnecessary in this context. The Apache license is b

        • More Or Less (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SuperKendall (25149)

          It's apache, which is more free than GPL.

          More free if you want companies to be able to use the software without giving anything back to you.

          Less free if you want changes to always be public for everyone forever.

          I'm all for BSD style licenses in some cases that allow a company to use code without contributing changes back to anyone. But do not redefine what "free" really means just because you have an irrational fear of prophetic guys with beards.

          Otherwise you are missing the whole point behind open source

          • BSD style licenses allow some changes to exist behind locked gates. The GPL doesn't allow you to lock the code. You take the code that someone else toiled over and you use it to make a profit you really should give something back to the guy that wrote the original code. Otherwise, create your own and give that away BSD style.

            I think the GPL is a more popular license this is indicative as to why.

    • "... the available Hadoop technology, Powerset decided to give back to the community by developing an open-source analog to BigTable that is built on top of HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System)."
      Since Hadoop is Apache License 2.0, presumably this extension is so too.

      It is called HBase according to the cited release post [powerset.com].

      Wiki:
      http://wiki.apache.org/hadoop/Hbase [apache.org]
      Yahoo and Adobe seem to run it too (see PoweredBy).

      Project website:
      http://hadoop.apache.org/hbase/ [apache.org]

      Looking inside the last release tarball, it really

  • Will be it attached to .Net? Probably, right?

    Meanwhile, the Big Table has python and java (or any JVM variant) as languages.

    And how open-source the MS Big Table will be? You can download it and use in your cluster or single PC?

    • Re:.Net? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ultrabot (200914) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @06:03PM (#27892199)

      Will be it attached to .Net? Probably, right?

      Java more likely (since it's built on Hadoop, which uses Java).

      Slighty embarrassing for microsoft, perhaps? But remember, this comes from a group that microsoft acquired, not something that has always been a part of microsoft.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by perryizgr8 (1370173)

      And how open-source the MS Big Table will be? You can download it and use in your cluster or single PC?

      apache license 2.0
      imo better than gpl.

  • i just wonder if they're as desperate as the couchdb bozos: http://www.slideshare.net/mattetti/couchdb-perform-like-a-pr0n-star [slideshare.net]
  • no surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:42PM (#27892069)

    Clearly Microsoft is using open source as a tactical weapon here, the way companies often do against entrenched competitors.

    But is this a new tactic for them? No. Back in the '90s, they competed against Netscape in the browser wars by giving away IE for free; unlike Netscape, which was hoping to eventually start charging for Navigator, Microsoft made IE part of Windows (so it was effectively free for anyone who already paid for the PC).

    And Microsoft released an "Open Letter to Netscape", asking its rival to cooperate with the W3C and avoid making proprietary extensions to web protocols. As if anything else about Windows desktop development at the time was based on open standards!

    Going back even further, at one point Borland International was the leading PC software tools vendor. Microsoft wanted this title for itself (remember "developers developers developers developers"), so to compete against Borland's Object Windows C++ framework, they came up with MFC. And following Borland's lead, they made MFC open source (or "shared source" or whatever. Source available).

    So no, they aren't having a change of heart. They will do whatever it takes to get control of this hot market segment.

    • Much of what you are saying here is inaccurate.

      Netscape was a product that was introduced as paid software. You purchased it. Microsoft's IE was a paid product also. You purchased it. It was the competitor to Netscape.

      Microsoft then decided, while IE was still a stand-alone browser, to give it away for free.

      In order to compete for market share this move put Netscape in a position to have to give theirs away for free.

      Clearly, we can see from this that Microsoft has given software away for free for a long

  • Lets see (Score:4, Informative)

    by codepunk (167897) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:47PM (#27892099)

    100 bucks a copy for os licenses x 50K boxes...hmmmm no thanks..

  • > ...Microsoft's fear-mongering around open source cost it years of productivity and
    > quality gains that it could have been delivering to customers through open source.

    Yes, but did it cost Microsoft any *money*?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)

      Yes, but did it cost Microsoft any *money*?

      Vista. It cost MS its reputation. Before then, MS, in the non-tech world was considered pretty decent. Sure, XP was as insecure as heck, froze up randomly, etc. But it was decent enough. Then came Vista. By being totally committed to proprietary designs, MS managed to release a train wreck which cost them customers, their reputation, and many man-hours on the redoing of Vista.

      Just look at what Apple did with OS X. They took an open source foundation (BSD), added a nice GUI, some compatibility, and the

    • by MrMr (219533)
      No, it cost their customers money, it cost thousands of their employees their jobs, but it didn't cost the people who really matter any money.
  • by melted (227442) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:54PM (#27892133) Homepage

    And I can tell you that the entire original Register article was pulled out of author's ass. The CNet article just extended that ass pulling, Goatse style. Must be a slow news day. None of this will ever end up in Live Search. Nothing to see here, move on.

    Try the Powerset demo, compare it to even current Live Search or Google. Realize that this is just Wikipedia they've managed to index, even at that quality. Scratch your head and wonder why Microsoft paid $100M for it.

    • If The Reg was claiming it, most likely it is true. They generally don't make stuff up. If it is a mistake on their part it doesn't mean they made it up. And until you can get a response from The Reg on your comment you shouldn't be accusing them of lying.

  • by bryanduxbury (1235994) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:55PM (#27892147)
    This article is really confused. Powerset, before it was acquired by Microsoft, started work on HBase, which is a BigTable-like storage system that runs on Hadoop. Both HBase and Hadoop are Apache projects that are out in the open basically in no relation to Microsoft.

    Microsoft has allowed two of the primary HBase developers, who work at Powerset, to continue their open-source work on HBase, which is definitely cool. But to say that Microsoft is releasing this is just flat out wrong.

    (Full disclosure: I am a non-Microsoft-employed HBase committer.)

  • by Nick Ives (317) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:56PM (#27892155)

    I hope that reign of ignorance is over.

    Lets see... Nope, Ballmer is still in charge!

  • So completely missing from article summary and article itself is any information about the software.

    This guy is just late to the party. HBase was contributed to the hadoop project by Powerset. A startup that microsoft bought.

  • Probably HBase (Score:3, Insightful)

    by allenw (33234) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @06:02PM (#27892195) Homepage Journal

    None of the articles say it, but they are probably talking about HBase [apache.org]. If this is the case, this is seriously old news.

    HBase was started by the Powerset guys before being acquired by Microsoft. After the acquisition there was a lot of concern in the Hadoop community about whether the Powerset guys would be allowed to continue to contribute. They have, and as far as I can tell, the community is not particularly concerned about MS's involvement.

  • A fast reading got me confused about that terminology. Lets see:
    - Last july Microsoft bought Powerset, that were developing what would be the base of a semantic search engine.
    - That company (before all of that) used Hadoop, and helped to build over it a BigTable-like distributed storage engine, called HBase.
    - And in last october (thats Microsoft contribution to open source) Microsoft enabled the Powerset's developers that were contributing to HBase to continue their work there.

    They aren't releasing any "new
    • by melted (227442)

      >> a new search engine based on that work

      Thas was made up by The Reg and regurgitated by CNet. Kumo is NOT "based on that work".

      • If The Reg was claiming it, most likely it is true. They generally don't make stuff up. If it is a mistake on their part it doesn't mean they made it up. And until you can get a response from The Reg on your comment you shouldn't be accusing them of lying.

  • they are a business, they care about profit.
    the great thing about being a monopoly is, you don't have to ship quality products - your customers can have whatever they want so long as it's black.
    seriously, if you are a de facto monopoly, as ms has been for the last, say 20 years, and you make 50 % gross margins , why on earth would you spend money on quality ?
    that sort of thinking is what seperates techies, who toil in the trenches, from c suite execs

  • Site here: http://hypertable.org/ [hypertable.org] GPLv2 license
  • by HermMunster (972336) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @06:44AM (#27895623)

    Microsoft is not distributing open source software. This is not an open source product. It can't be used on multiple platforms. It can't be modified and freely distributed. It is not open source.

    Microsoft does openED source where you can view the code but never use it outside of your project and never on another platform other than Windows.

    Open Source was defined around 15 years ago in the attempt of ensuring that the definition for open source was long standing.

    Microsoft and open source together is an oxymoron.

    Microsoft claimed in 2007 that Open Source was dead and that Linux was dead. Their attempt to do this was about the time they claimed that open source violated 235 of their patents. Then they refused to state which ones even though the consumers world-wide asked for it.

    They were the same company that sued TomTom and backed the company with funding for SCO to sue IBM and other linux backers.

    We do not, in open source, put any trust in Microsoft nor do we let them attempt to Embrace, Extend, Extinguish Open Source by closing it or limiting it. They are trying to get big business to think that the only acceptable form of open source is that which is defined by Microsoft.

    Everyone should be objecting to Microsoft and this 100% of the time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)

      They are allowing developers that work for a company they purchased (so the developers work for Microsoft) to continue contributing to software released under the Apache 2.0 license.

      No matter what the rest of the company is doing, this activity is exactly the "Open Source" that you seem to think it isn't.

    • by gilesjuk (604902)

      This is the problem with the dual personalities of Microsoft. You know that if you use their open source and make a good profit you could end up being sued for not having licenced the patents covering the technology.

      Avoid at all costs. At least until their get their split personality syndrome under control.

  • by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @10:36AM (#27896985)

    Also, who cares if its 'open source'.

    Its only news if its Free software [gnu.org]

    Thank you, but I'll store my data on *MY* server, using protocols implemented in *Free* software.

  • What 'open source' license is Kumo released under. Does it pass the definition of Open Source at Perens.com [perens.com], in relation to redistribution, source code, derived works, restrictions, technology-neutral ...

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