Monthly Archives: March 2020

Debian Linux Was the Most Vulnerable Operating System in the Last 20 Years

Many believe Windows is the most vulnerable operating system, which makes users running it sitting ducks in front of attackers trying to hack into their computers.

But according to an analysis published by TheBestVPN based on data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Vulnerability Database, Debian Linux was the operating system with the biggest number of vulnerabilities in the last 20 years. Between 1999 and 2019, researchers discovered a total of 3,067 security flaws in Debian Linux, while Windows Server 2008, which is the Windows version with the biggest number of vulnerabilities, is far behind with just 1,421 security bugs.

[Source: Softpedia News]

The Promise of IT Automation (And What You Should Do About It)

By 2023, 40 percent of infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams at large enterprises will use AI-informed automation, according to Gartner research on the future of AI technologies. The likely benefits of IT automation? Increased productivity, agility and scalability.

In fact, “hyperautomation” made Gartner’s list of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2020, according to Gartner Distinguished VP Analyst David Cearley.

“Hyperautomation looks at two things. Number one, an expansion of automation, where everything that can be automated will be automated,” Cearley said. “Second, hyperautomation looks at going from RPA [Robotic Process Automation] and task-oriented automation to adding much more sophisticated AI-based process automation and building digital twins for the organization for digital ops.”

Four promising opportunities for IT automation in the workplace are data center automation, cloud automation, remote office automation, and mobility automation – with digital transformation driving all four areas. But IT leaders must take action to ensure their organizations are set up to realize the benefits of automation.

“Although the potential for success is enormous, delivering business impact from AI initiatives takes much longer than anticipated,” says Chirag Dekate, senior director analyst at Gartner. “IT leaders should plan early and use agile techniques to increase relevance and success rates.”

We’ll consider a few best practices for successfully implementing IT automation a little later but first, let’s explore three insights about IT automation from recent research.

Insight #1 – IT automation will reshape the workforce

Research firm Forrester predicts that 2020 will usher in major changes to the workforce because of IT automation. How major?

  • An estimated 1.06 million knowledge worker jobs will be replaced by automation, according to Forrester’s “Predictions 2020: On the Precipice of Far-Reaching Change.”

  • Employees on the frontlines who interact directly with customers will be impacted as well, with contact centers predicted to cut their staffs by 40 percent, the same study found.

  • People in “high risk” jobs – office administration, production, transportation and food preparation – will be among the most vulnerable to automation, according to the Brookings Institute.

“Unsurprisingly, employees are wary of automation. Automation’s impact to the future of work will be both sweeping and sensible, but these changes can place unprepared leaders on their heels or put companies in peril.”

Insight #2 – Automation may ultimately advance the workforce

Some roles will not be at risk from automation. Companies will still rely on workers for positions that depend on human characteristics like intuition, empathy, and mental and physical agility. The Forrester study predicted that in 2020 there will be an additional 331,500 of these sorts of positions, including teachers, cross-domain knowledge workers, and digital elites.

Those in impacted fields, like contact center workers, may benefit in surprising ways. For example, while there will be fewer contact center workers, “agent whisperer” technologies will give employees that remain the tools to offer an enhanced customer experience – and they’ll be rewarded with higher salaries for those increased customer experience (CX) skills.

For an idea of how IT automation will shape employees’ lives, we can look to other periods in time when mass automation occurred.

“Historically, workplace substitution by machines has freed up humans to focus on higher-value tasks or to create new ones,” writes the Brookings Institute. “The Agricultural and Industrial revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, for example, were periods of immense workplace automation – but, the share of the population engaged in work actually rose as new demand engendered new products, services, and work.”

Insight #3 – Automation can serve as a bridge to cloud

Eighty-eight percent of IT executives, managers and staff describe IT automation as “extremely” or “somewhat” important for achieving their organizations’ objectives, and 93 percent say they’ve completed cloud automation, according to Pica8’s “IT Automation Survey.” The drivers for automating the provisioning and managing of cloud computing workloads include digital transformation, a desire for IT agility and better security.

Automation is “key to seamless cloud migration,” minimizing risks from human error with processes such as workflows, file transfers, P2P and B2B transfers, multi-factor authentication, auditing and reporting, according to JaxEnter article “How automation mitigates security concerns surrounding cloud migrations.”

Consider Five IT automation best practices

IT automation holds serious promise as part of an overall digital transformation strategy. Follow these five best practices to increase your success at adopting IT automation:

  • Choose solutions wisely: Look for automation solutions designed for enterprise network deployments and workflows rather than DevOps workflow-oriented data center tools.

  • Start small: Begin with inexpensive, open networking automation tools with the remote/campus switch deployment, configuration and maintenance capabilities you need to start out.

  • Start simple: Avoid dependence on expensive and scarce network engineers by deploying simpler, GUI-based open networking campus automation tools non-programmers can handle.

  • Challenge your vendor: Ask your networking vendor why you’re paying for a solution stuffed with a bunch of advanced features you don’t need.

  • Consider Linux: Adopt Linux-based open networking to easily integrate with open source campus automation and management tools.

How could IT automation benefit your organization?

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Intel’s Compute Runtime Adds oneAPI Level Zero Support


Intel’s open-source Compute Runtime for OpenCL and now oneAPI support on Linux has added oneAPI Level Zero support.

For what started out as the Intel “OpenCL NEO” stack a few years ago has evolved into being a key piece of Intel’s oneAPI ambitions. Hitting the Compute Runtime source tree on Friday was the oneAPI Level Zero support.

The oneAPI Level Zero API is Intel’s direct-to-metal interfaces for offload accelerators, including GPUs. The documentation explains, “It is a programming interface that can be published at a cadence that better matches Intel hardware releases and can be tailored to any device needs. It can be adapted to support broader set of languages features, such as function pointers, virtual functions, unified memory, and I/O capabilities.

As implied by the name, this is the lowest level of the oneAPI interface and allows direct control over the GPU/FPGA/accelerator memory allocations, IPC, system management interface, async scheduling, and other primitives. Level Zero was inspired in part by the likes of OpenCL and Vulkan while Intel’s higher-level oneAPI components like Data Parallel C++ and Threaded Building Blocks are to be implemented over the Level Zero interface.

Open-source, cross-platform and people seem to like it: PowerShell 7 has landed

It may be shuttering its events, but the release door at Microsoft has continued flapping with the emission of admin darling PowerShell 7. We first looked at the preview of PowerShell 7 almost a year ago and found little to complain about. Frankly, the same can be applied to today’s release – with improvements in compatibility, some handy new operators and parallelisation, the open-source tool is a viable replacement for the venerable Windows-only PowerShell of old.

Admins seem to like it too, and it is currently hovering at number 38 in the TIOBE Progamming Community Index (an indicator of the popularity of programming languages).

[Source: The Register]

The New Compiler Features Of LLVM 10.0 / Clang 10.0


After running behind schedule from the planned release last month and an extra release candidate being warranted, LLVM 10.0 should be releasing this coming weeks along with its sub-projects — most notably, the Clang 10.0 C/C++ compiler. Here is a look at the big ticket items of LLVM/Clang 10.0.

The release of LLVM/Clang 10.0 is expected in the coming days while GCC 10 will be releasing in the next few weeks. As for the changes with this half-year update to this innovative compiler infrastructure, LLVM 10.0 highlights include:

– For Intel AVX-512 CPUs, -mprefer-vector-width=256 is now the default behavior for limiting the use of 512-bit registers due to the AVX-512 downclocking that can occur. This matches the behavior of GCC now while those wanting the previous behavior can pass -mprefer-vector-width=512 if wanting to increase the use of 512-bit registers but with possible performance implications from the AVX-512 frequency impact.

– AMD Znver2 (Zen 2) improvements.

– An option to help with the JCC microcode erratum impact.

– Support for Arm’s Cortex-A65, A65AE, Neoverse N1, and Neoverse E1 cores.

– Octeon+ MIPS CPUs are now supported and improved support for existing Octeon processors.

– IBM z15 target support.

– Besides new Arm CPU targets, the AArch64 back-end for LLVM 10 also has more optimized ARMv8.1-M code generation, auto-vectorization for the ARMv8.1-M MVE vector extension, and other improvements.

– IBM POWER has seen a number of improvements too including better register pressure estimates, improved cost model for the vectorizer, vectorization of math routines using the IBM MASSV library, and other enhancements.

– LLVM’s WebAssembly target has much better SIMD support, thread-local storage (TLS) now works, and other support improvements.

– Many improvements to RISC-V’s LLVM support.

– LLDB can now handle debugging Windows ARM/ARM64 binaries and also has better support for being built by MinGW.

– MLIR landed as the promising new IR being picked up by an increasing number of projects.

– Numerous AMDGPU LLVM back-end improvements.

The Clang 10.0 C/C++ front-end meanwhile has going for it:

– Expanded C++20 support, including C++ Concepts support and other features, but the support isn’t yet finished in full.

– A variety of diagnostics improvements with continuing to ramp up the usefulness of their warnings and ensuring they are accurate.

– Skylake-AVX512/Icelake/Cascadelake/Cooperlake targets will now default to not using 512-bit ZMM registers in vectorized code unless 512-bit intrinsics are used in the source code, due to the AVX-512 frequency hit that can lead to lower performance. Similar to the LLVM change, -mprefer-vector-width=512 can be used to restore the previous behavior.

– When building for WebAssembly, wasm-opt will be run if found on the system for helping to reduce the generated code size.

– Various other changes to better match GCC’s behavior for different commands and outputs.

– Various minor improvements to Clang’s OpenCL C/C++ kernel language support.

– Expanded OpenMP 5.0 support including for range-based loops, collapsing of imperfectly nested loops, unified shared memory for NVIDIA NVPTX, and other additions.