The top 8 new open source projects

From blockchain to SDN to container management, these rookies made big waves in open source

Open Source Rookies of the Year
Black Duck

Open Source Rookies of the Year

For nine years, the Black Duck Open Source Rookies of the Year awards have recognized the most innovative and influential open source projects launched during the previous year. This recognition is a tribute to the success and momentum of these projects, as well as an affirmation of their prospects moving forward.

The mix of up-and-coming open source projects changes all the time, but Rookies of the Year always provides an important snapshot of industry trends. After all, for the past decade, open source has becomes the cauldron in which developers of all stripes cook up new technology. We chose eight winners this year; visit Black Duck to see a selection of our honorable mentions as well.

The past year saw a surge of activity in several areas. One of the most interesting was in blockchain technologies, which continue to stake out their positions in the immutable data ecosystem, going beyond cryptocurrency exchange. Machine learning -- including deep learning and neural networks – also came up big, as intelligence is added to everything from financial services to design and manufacturing.

Big data, software-defined networking (SDN), container management, and security were also hot areas. Congratulations to the winners! We hope this selection offers insight into the direction of technology development across the industry.

[ Docker, Amazon, TensorFlow, Windows 10, and more: See InfoWorld's 2017 Technology of the Year Award winners. | Cut to the key news in technology trends and IT breakthroughs with the InfoWorld Daily newsletter, our summary of the top tech happenings. ]

Sawtooth Lake
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Sawtooth Lake

Sawtooth Lake, Intel’s new distributed ledger platform for the Hyperledger project, was developed to address concerns about the scalability and security of existing blockchain technologies, particularly bitcoin. It offers a modular solution and a tamper-resistant consensus algorithm for random leader election to claim new blocks based on a Proof of Elapsed Time, which requires much less power than bitcoin’s Proof of Work -- and enhances security in the bargain. Sawtooth Lake can satisfy many use cases by establishing domain-specific transaction families in which rules are predefined for a domain and the transactions occurring within it. It’s another important step in making blockchain suitable for business applications.

Carbon Data
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Carbon Data

Apache CarbonData is a fully indexed, columnar, Hadoop-native data store that integrates with Spark for query optimization. Its unique approach to data organization, multilevel indexing, and optimization allows for faster data filtering, better compression, and enhanced search and query processing for more efficient use of compute resources. Dictionary encoding allows aggregation to be accomplished faster, with “ deferred decoding” occurring after aggregation. CarbonData’s versatility derives in part from its single file format for distinct data access patterns, such as OLAP querying, sequential access (big scan), and random access (narrow scan).

Deep Scalable Sparse Tensor Network Engine (DSSTNE)
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Deep Scalable Sparse Tensor Network Engine (DSSTNE)

Amazon’s DSSTNE -- pronounced “destiny” -- changes the neural networks landscape by optimizing for data sparseness and scalability and focusing on optimal use of multiple GPUs. Inspired by the large-scale and low-latency computing needs of Amazon’s product recommendation feature, DSSTNE is designed to support large networks, sparse datasets, and parallel training. Amazon claims DSSTNE performs between two and 15 times faster than Google’s TensorFlow when handling sparse data sets. Yet DSSTNE isn’t interested in being everything to everyone; a focus on scale and sparse data positions DSSTNE as a deep learning framework and recommendation engine for e-commerce and the enterprise.

OpenCORD
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OpenCORD

Open Networking Lab -- a nonprofit focused on realizing the full potential of software-defined networks -- is behind OpenCORD, an end-to-end solution that combines SDN, NFV, and cloud with commodity infrastructure to bring datacenter-grade scale and agility to service provider networks. (“CORD” stands Central Office Rearchitected as a Datacenter.) OpenCORD spans the telco central office, access, home, and enterprise, using common infrastructure with open building blocks to reduce both capital and operating expenses and accelerate time to market with programmable, flexible networks. OpenCORD is backed by such providers as AT&T, South Korea Telecom, China Unicom, and NTT -- and has joined forces with the Open Networking Foundation to drive network solutions with open source software and software-defined standards.

Poseidon
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Poseidon

This year, two organizations are striving to revolutionize network security by leveraging cutting-edge machine learning and software-defined network capabilities. Backed by technology accelerator In-Q-Tel (IQT) and working closely with the U.S. government, academia, and the U.S. Intelligence Community, challenge labs Lab41 and CyberReboot have launched the Poseidon project. Poseidon answers two key questions -- what is on your network, and what is it doing? -- by providing situational awareness to the items added or removed from your network, as well as the traffic being generated. It uses machine learning techniques, examining the interactions on the network and learning distinct cues of disallowed or malicious activity. In some preliminary tests, Poseidon caught 84 percent of malicious activity with a very promising 2.2 percent false-positive rate.

Trireme
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Trireme

Trireme is one answer to a burning question: How do you harden your Linux environment and ensure that containers can run efficiently and securely? In its ongoing exploration of SDN and the convergence of security policies, scale, and remediation efficiency, the cloud security startup Aporeto launched the Trireme project, a cloud-native security solution for distributed applications. It allows the creation of security policies at scale through end-to-end authentication and authorization. Aporeto has chosen to work closely with Kubernetes due to its flexible network policy framework, rapidly growing community, and close attention to cloud-native applications and scale.

Ansible Container
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Ansible Container

Ansible Container is the result of the Ansible development team’s desire for an alternative to Docker files. It automates the container build, deployment, and management process using nothing but Ansible Playbooks. Ansible Containers is platform-agnostic, able to target the most common container orchestration engines, including Kubernetes and OpenShift. This modularity allows you to target Docker during development and Kubernetes during deployment, for example, with a simple configuration change. Since its reveal at DockerCon in Summer 2016, this project has seen marked community and technological growth. As it nears its 1.0 release in 2017, the focus is on extending the services to a broader set of use cases and roles.

Kolibri
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Kolibri

The online learning nonprofit Learning Equality has set out to revolutionize education for low-resource communities around the globe with its Kolibri application. While not yet available for public download, Kolibri makes learning resources available to students and teachers in areas with limited education resources, from rural schools and after-school programs to refugee camps and orphanages. Kolibri provides interactive exercises, self-paced resources, and collaborative learning tools, with real-time feedback and guidance for both students and teachers. To efficiently disseminate resources, Kolibri “seeds” endpoint devices over the internet with installers, updates, and content. Seeded devices share new content and updates with other devices via an offline local network. Kolibri compresses content with minimal loss in quality, allowing large quantities of content to reside on small, low-cost devices.