ARCHITECHT Daily: Apache is losing money fast. Does the tech industry owe it more?

I'll admit up front that I don't know a whole lot about the inner workings or economics of the Apache
ARCHITECHT Daily: Apache is losing money fast. Does the tech industry owe it more?
By ARCHITECHT • Issue #79
I’ll admit up front that I don’t know a whole lot about the inner workings or economics of the Apache Software Foundation, so it’s entirely possible there’s more to this story from The New Stack—that the ASF is running a $130,000 deficit on revenue of only $1.2 million in 2016 (and it will only get worse if nothing changes)—than what’s on the surface. Nonetheless, it’s a disheartening situation. It seems like it also should be an avoidable one.
According to the article, ASF President Sam Ruby suggests the foundation needs a CEO and needs to get better at making decisions and managing its budget. He says ASF is looking to raise more money by selling more sponsorships, a goal it hopes to achieve in part by creating a new pitch deck. Invoking a different leadership structure is certainly a solid idea, and there is a lot the ASF could do to attract more members—starting with redesigning the website and revamping the sponsorship levels, rewards, etc.
But I’m not certain ASF needs a new pitch deck. In today’s tech world, no one should need an education on the the value of open source. Even the ASF, which one could argue is waning in terms of influence, shouldn’t need to go out selling.
Among the companies hosting projects in ASF, running major parts of their infrastructure on ASF technologies, or somehow reselling ASF technologies are: Apple, Google, Amazon, IBM, Netflix and Twitter. That list could go on for days, considering that we’re talking about projects such as Hadoop (and its whole ecosystem), Spark, Kafka, Cassandra and Mesos.
(On a related note, the Apache Mahout machine learning project is still a thing! It’s based on Spark now, rather than MapReduce, and is being actively developed despite being driven entirely by volunteers.)
Companies certainly do contribute to ASF in ways other than direct sponsorship, but even still: A platinum sponsorship at $100,000 a year is less than the annual salary for pretty much any single employee at any large tech company. And there are lots big users of ASF technologies that are nowhere to be seen on the list of ASF sponsors, even at the paltry $5,000 a year bronze level. 
If open source truly is important and the open source spirit really does matter, I’m pretty certain we can do better than leaving the ASF twisting in the wind. 

Sponsor: Cloudera
Artificial intelligence
I get that this article is trying to do the right thing, and that women are often overlooked as leading AI researchers, but something about the way it’s presented rubs me the wrong way. Nonetheless, these are smart people doing smart things and you should read up on what they’re up to.
Speaking of women in AI, this is a response to advice from Google’s Fei Fei Li on how startups can compete in AI. The author essentially thrashes Google and encourages people to join his AI community. The idea of democratizing AI research—not just access to the technology—is laudable, but this particular argument is reductive at best.  •  Share
Just like with Go before it, there are lots of reasons that some StarCraft players give to explain why an AI can’t beat them. I’m rooting for Byun Hyun Woo, but I wouldn’t bet my life on humans maintaining their edge for too long.
A startup called Lightmatter won $100,000 and is working on specialized AI chips that use light, rather than electrons, to speed up computations.
I have lots of questions about this story, in which Benioff reportedly uses something called Einstein Guidance to tell whether his execs are snow jobbing him on projections. For starters: If he has supreme confidence in the software, why not just use that as the basis from the beginning?
Despite Warren Buffett’s predictions, Accenture says auto insurance companies will actually generate more revenue thanks to autonomous vehicles, although they’ll have to shift their business models to capitalize.  •  Share
I personally have little interest in using AI to judge facial expressions, but it you’re interested, here’s an interview with Rana el Kaliouby of Affectiva about where we’re at in that field.
Results from Google’s “Quick, Draw!” experiment. This is interesting, maybe even fun, and I’m sure there’s a valuable application of this data somewhere.  •  Share
I, and others, pointed to Facebook’s ParlAI system for building conversational models earlier this week. Here’s the paper on Arxiv, if you’re interested in the nitty gritty.  •  Share
Cloud and infrastructure
There’s stealthy storage startup called RStor that’s founded by former Facebook hardware and data center leaders. Cisco has reportedly invested $80 million into it.
The world cannot have enough approaches to solving security for containers and microservices, which have some inherent benefits but also some unique risks.
It will be the first of the major cloud providers with a data center footprint in Africa. It’s a good start, because the whole Middle East and Africa region is a cloud dead zone at the moment.
Here’s some more info on what’s possible, and what might be in the works, for Microsoft’s new Cosmos DB. It doesn’t seem like a Cloud Spanner competitor yet, but is definitely targeting DynamoDB.
Let’s assume there’s a lot to learn in this collection of presentation videos by network engineers from Facebook, Dropbox, Amazon, Google, Netflix and more.
It’s not the first company to try this, although I’ve yet to see much evidence of liquid immersion in the wild. It seems like it would be quite expensive at any significant scale.
This quick Q&A answers some questions about how to use Docker in production, but also raises some more questions. Basically, the benefits are there but you need to do do your homework or the headaches will be there, too.
Media partner: GeekWire
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