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Google promises to be good with Knative as it releases Cloud Run serverless containers

Admits open-source API bigger than any one company, but it is not letting go


Google's Cloud Run service, which lets you run containers on Kubernetes (K8s) using a serverless model, has hit general availability, and El Reg has taken it for quick spin.

Cloud Run is for both Google Cloud Platform and Anthos, which presents various ways to use Cloud Run on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) on-premises or in other clouds.

The idea of the service is that developers can think mainly about their code and the container in which it runs. You deploy the container with Cloud Run and it will auto-scale from zero to 1,000 (the default maximum) or more, according to demand.

The auto-scaling is based on three factors: CPU utilisation; concurrency (number of requests per container instance); and the number of requests. By default, each instance will support up to 80 concurrent requests, though if Cloud Run detects that the CPU is maxed out, it will create new instances before the maximum is reached.

Since it is container-based, the configuration of the container in terms of runtimes and dependencies is a developer choice, provided it is based on 64-bit Linux. Containers are stateless so you will need additional services to provide and persist data as needed.

Google calls this model "serverless containers". Serverless platforms like AWS Lambda, Azure Functions or Google Cloud Functions let you deploy code to a fully managed runtime. Although this is cleaner than having to worry about containers, it is also less flexible since you have little influence over the details of the runtime environment. It can also be inefficient. Cloud Functions can only handle one request at a time, which means more instances will be created at busy times. Cloud Run lets you tune this for best efficiency.

A Hello World Cloud Run project

We took Cloud Run for a short, er, run, downloading the GCP Cloud Shell, writing a few lines of JavaScript for Node.js, and letting Cloud Run deploy it to GCP.

Cloud Run is based on the Knative API. This extends K8s to provide the deployment and auto-scaling features used by Cloud Run. That said, if you use the GCP version of Cloud Run, it might not use K8s. "Knative is the API that Cloud Run is based on. On the fully managed version of Cloud Run we don't actually run a K8s cluster," said product manager Donna Malayeri, also a member of the Knative Steering Committee, in a podcast. "But we do have a K8s API server. So the API that you use to deploy your application... is the Knative API."

In other scenarios, such as Cloud Run for Anthos, or your own K8s cluster, Cloud Run does use a K8s cluster.

No one company should aspire to control outcomes

There are some industry politics around Knative, which is open source under the Apache 2.0 licence. Kubernetes is maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), part of the Linux Foundation. It had been expected that Knative along with Istio, a service mesh used by Knative, would in due course be handed over to CNCF. In October, though, Google stated that it would not do so "for the foreseeable future" to the disappointment of many in the community.

Google has now responded with a blog post in the form of an open letter from the steering committee (currently four Google members, and one each from Pivotal, IBM and Red Hat). The letter states that future membership of the Steering Committee and Technical Oversight Committee will be based on both code and non-code contributions to the project. It also says that "no one company should aspire to control outcomes" and takes an aggressive stance towards protecting the "Knative trademark", with the promise of legal help from Google as needed. This would perhaps deter others from forking Knative.

The letter does not address the question of why Google is unwilling to hand the project to a foundation. There is indirect reference to this by Malayeri in the podcast mentioned above, though it is pretty confusing. "The feedback we heard from both our partners on the steering committee as well as the community at large was, Google isn't the only contributor any more. Now Google was 60 per cent of the contributions. Why don't we look at this again, why don't we broaden this space?" said Malayeri, promising "more diversity in Knative". She then said:

Our goal is not to have this be a Google-controlled project. If that were the case it would have been a lot easier to just open source this and throw it over the wall versus what we intended to do, which is to build an open and vibrant community.

Does Google believe that handing over stewardship to a vendor-neutral foundation is "throwing it over the wall"? And that it prevents an "open and vibrant community"?

The fact is that Google does not want to cede control of Knative and must regard this as a commercial advantage, while at the same time wanting to make the right noises about it being a cross-vendor project. It is a tension that is unlikely to go away. ®

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Windows 11 Paint: Oh look – 'progressively' rounded corners. And it is prettier.... but slightly worse

New iconography, minimalism, less text – and at least it is not Paint 3D

Microsoft's redesigned user interface for Paint in Windows 11 is prettier but perhaps a little less useable than the previous version.

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Weeks after Red Bee Media's broadcast centre fell over, Channel 4 is still struggling with subtitles

Got a Disaster Recovery plan? Ever tested it? You probably should...

Confusion continues to reign in the world of television, including UK national broadcaster Channel 4, weeks after a broadcast centre cockup wrought havoc upon servers.

Things went horribly wrong at Red Bee Media's broadcast centre back on 25 September. Yes, that was the weekend before we ran an accidentally appropriate episode of Who, Me?

A fire suppression was triggered and severely damaged a lot of critical hardware. The net result was that a number of UK television channels (including the BBC as well as Channel 4) suffered a wobble. While others have recovered, Channel 4 remains unable to provide accessibility services, such as subtitles or audio description.

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WTF? Value of Finnish open-source-as-a-service startup Aiven jumps $1.2bn in 7 months

Cloud data market heats up as company lures $60m in Series C funding

Finnish open-source-as-a-service provider Aiven has attracted a $60m extension to its Series C funding which now values the firm at $2bn.

The latest cash injection suggests remarkable growth in the nominal value of the Scandinavian startup, founded five years ago, which was worth $800m when it got its first $100m-tranche of Series C funding in March.

Aiven sells open-source data technologies as a managed service. Unlike some DBaaS systems, which punt proprietary or less permissive licences for their as-a-service offers built on open source technologies, Aiven provides a stack of as-a-service systems in their true open source form.

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UK's competition regulator announces market study into music streaming biz

Watchdog is getting comfortable with its new digital remit

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said this morning it would be carrying out a market study into the music streaming industry.

The announcement states that following discussion by the board, the regulator would now "consider and develop the final scope of the market study, before formally launching it as soon as possible."

In a letter to MPs [PDF], chief exec Andrea Coscelli wrote it was agreed that such work "supported a strategic goal of the CMA to foster effective competition in digital markets, ensuring they operate in a way that promotes innovation and the consumer interest."

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Northern Ireland Water ready to take the plunge with HR and finance software, prepares to flush Oracle R12.2

Utility biz has £28m to spend on replacement system

Utility provider Northern Ireland Water (NIW) has set aside £28m to replace its current Oracle E-business Suite with a new HR and finance system.

According to recently released tender documents, the business is looking for a tech outfit to "supply, implement and support a suite of new core corporate systems for its finance, commercial, inventory, human resources (HR), payroll and learning and development (L&D) needs."

The Prior Information Notice, designed for early market engagement before the competition officially starts, said the need for new enterprise software arises because of "the approaching expiration of the licencing and support contracts for its current core corporate systems."

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If your apps or gadgets break down on Sunday, this may be why: Gpsd bug to roll back clocks to 2002

Alternative headline: Yet another widely used project maintained thanklessly by 'some random person in Nebraska'

Come Sunday, October 24, 2021, those using applications that rely on gpsd for handling time data may find that they're living 1,024 weeks – 19.6 years – in the past.

A bug in gpsd that rolls clocks back to March, 2002, is set to strike this coming weekend.

The programming blunder was identified on July 24, 2021, and the errant code commit, written two years ago, has since been fixed. Now it's just a matter of making sure that every application and device deploying gpsd has applied the patch.

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Share your experience: How does your organization introduce new systems?

The answer is rarely obvious. Take part in our short poll and we'll find out together

Reg Reader Survey The introduction of new systems into an organization is essential. If we stay still, if we continue to rely on legacy systems, if we fail to innovate – well, we (or, in reality, the company) will die. As business guru Sir John Harvey-Jones once put it: “If you are doing things the same way as two years ago, you are almost certainly doing them wrong.”

But who should lead innovation in our companies? Who should be introducing new systems? The answer is not obvious.

On one hand, the introduction of new systems into the business should be led by the business. In principle, the people doing the work, dealing with the suppliers, selling to the customers, are best placed to be standing up and saying: “We need the system to do X,” whether their motivation be to reduce cost, increase revenues, make products more efficiently, or even bolster our environmental credentials.

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These Rapoo webcams won't blow your mind, but they also won't break the bank

And they're almost certainly better than a laptop jowel-cam

Review It has been a long 20 months since Lockdown 1.0, and despite the best efforts of Google and Zoom et al to filter out the worst effects of built-in laptop webcams, a replacement might be in order for the long haul ahead.

With this in mind, El Reg's intrepid reviews desk looked at a pair of inexpensive Rapoo webcams in search for an alternative to the horror of our Dell XPS nose-cam.

Rapoo sent us its higher-end XW2K, a 2K 30fps device and, at the other end of the scale, the 720p XW170. Neither will break the bank, coming in at around £40 and £25 respectively from online retailers, but do include some handy features, such as autofocus and a noise cancelling microphone.

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It's one thing to have the world in your hands – what are you going to do with it?

Google won the patent battle against ART+COM, but we were left with little more than a toy

Column I used to think technology could change the world. Google's vision is different: it just wants you to sort of play with the world. That's fun, but it's not as powerful as it could be.

Despite the fact that it often gives me a stomach-churning sense of motion sickness, I've been spending quite a bit of time lately fully immersed in Google Earth VR. Pop down inside a major city centre – Sydney, San Francisco or London – and the intense data-gathering work performed by Google's global fleet of scanning vehicles shows up in eye-popping detail.

Buildings are rendered photorealistically, using the mathematics of photogrammetry to extrude three-dimensional solids from multiple two-dimensional images. Trees resolve across successive passes from childlike lollipops into complex textured forms. Yet what should feel absolutely real seems exactly the opposite – leaving me cold, as though I've stumbled onto a global-scale miniature train set, built by someone with too much time on their hands. What good is it, really?

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Why Cloud First should not have to mean Cloud Everywhere

HPE urges 'consciously hybrid' strategy for UK public sector

Sponsored In 2013, the UK government heralded Cloud First, a ground-breaking strategy to drive cloud adoption across the public sector. Eight years on, and much of UK public sector IT still runs on-premises - and all too often - on obsolete technologies.

Today the government‘s message boils down to “cloud first, if you can” - perhaps in recognition that modernising complex legacy systems is hard. But in the private sector today, enterprises are typically mixing and matching cloud and on-premises infrastructure, according to the best business fit for their needs.

The UK government should also adopt a “consciously hybrid” approach, according to HPE, The global technology company is calling for the entire IT industry to step up so that the public sector can modernise where needed and keep up with innovation: “We’re calling for a collective IT industry response to the problem,” says Russell MacDonald, HPE strategic advisor to the public sector.

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A Raspberry Pi HAT for the Lego Technic fan

Sneaking in programming under the guise of plastic bricks

There is good news for the intersection of Lego and Raspberry Pi fans today, as a new HAT (the delightfully named Hardware Attached on Top) will be unveiled for the diminutive computer to control Technic motors and sensors.

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