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Introducing the Open Source Insights Project

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Open Source Insights

Google has been working on software supply-chain security for many years, and transitive dependencies remain one of the most complex and least understood aspects. While we will be integrating this data into our Cloud and internal products in a variety of ways, we believe there is an immediate value in helping developers understand and visualize dependencies. Today, we are excited to share an exploratory visualization site: Open Source Insights, which provides an interactive view of the dependencies of open source projects.

Software development practices have evolved significantly over the last few years. Collaborative development with distributed feature development, consumption of open source and third-party packages, and publicly maintained software libraries have become commonplace, partly as a result of the widespread use of open source software. The advantages of open source are so clear that people and companies that would once have rejected OSS are now adopting it as a critical element of their environment.

But there are challenges brought by OSS too. The pace of change is electric, and it can be hard to keep up. The software packages that a large project depends on might update too frequently to keep a clear picture of what is happening. And those packages, in turn, can change their dependencies to provide new features or fix bugs. Security problems and other issues can arise unexpectedly in your project as a result, and the scale of the problem can make it all difficult to manage. Even a modest OSS project might depend on hundreds of packages.

There are tools to help, of course: vulnerability scanners and dependency audits that can help identify when a package is exposed to a vulnerability. But it can still be difficult to visualize the big picture, to understand what you depend on, and what that implies.

Open Source Insights provides a visualization of a project’s dependencies and their properties. Our exploratory website can be used to get an overview of how a particular software package is put together. Among other features, it provides interactive tools to visualize and analyze full, transitive dependency graphs. It also has a comparison tool to highlight how different versions of a package might affect your dependencies, perhaps by changing their own dependencies, adding licensing requirements, or fixing security problems.

Dependency graph for express 4.17.1

Open Source Insights shows you all this information about a package without asking you to install the package first. You can see instantly what installing a package—or an updated version—might mean for your project, how popular it is, find links to source code and other information, and then decide whether it should be installed. Insights also helps you see the importance of your project by showing the projects that depend on it: its dependents. Even a small project is important if a large number of other projects depend on it, either directly or through transitive dependencies.

Open Source Insights continuously scans millions of projects in the open source software ecosystem, gathering information about packages, including licensing, ownership, security issues, and other metadata such as download counts, popularity signals, and OpenSSF Scorecards. It then constructs a full dependency graph—transitively tracking dependencies, dependencies' dependencies, and so on—and incorporates the metadata, then publishes it so you can see how it all might affect your software. And the information it provides is continually updated.
Filtered dependency graph showing how eslint 7.27.0 depends on chalk 2.4.2 and 4.1.1

Filtered dependency graph showing how eslint 7.27.0 depends on chalk 2.4.2 and 4.1.1

This information can help visualize how software is put together, whether an update is worth doing, or how to fix a problem.

Today, Open Source Insights supports npm, Maven, Go modules, and Cargo. While we work on adding additional packaging systems, we want to hear from you: How could this data fit into your development workflow? What would make it more useful? You can reach the team at deps.dev to share your thoughts; we’ll be collecting feedback for the upcoming months and look forward to hearing your ideas on how best to improve supply-chain security.

Visit our website at deps.dev to try it out.

From the Google Cloud team: What this means for GCP’s open cloud

For users of open source software, this may be the first time you’re seeing dependency and vulnerability information in an organized and accessible way. If you’re using a managed service based on open source, it’s important to remember that you may not be affected by all vulnerabilities listed. Your provider may have taken steps to harden the products you use, and when a new vulnerability is disclosed, your provider may take responsibility for patching this on your behalf.

Google Cloud follows both these steps to help users get the benefits of open cloud while prioritizing security. Multiple layers of hardening create defense-in-depth, which helps protect services like Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Cloud Run and Cloud Functions from a container escape vulnerability. For components that are the user’s responsibility, we’re constantly rolling out new services—like GKE Autopilot—that automate these responsibilities.

We’re committed to protecting our customers, both through our patch rewards program and the recently launched cyber insurance partnership, the Risk Protection Program, which moves from shared responsibility to shared fate. We look forward to bringing our customers new information on their open source dependencies.

By Andrew Gerrand, Michael Goddard, Rob Pike and Nicky Ringland of the Open Source Insights Team

Google Summer of Code 2021 students are announced!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Thank you to all the students and recent graduates who applied for Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2021 by submitting final project proposals! We are excited to announce that the 199 mentoring organizations have selected their students. Here are some notable results from this year’s application period:
  • 6,991 applications submitted by 4,795 students
  • Students from 103 countries applied
  • 1292 students were selected from 69 countries
Starting today, participating students will be paired with a mentor to begin planning their projects and milestones. For the next few weeks (May 17–June 7), students will get acquainted with their mentor and start to engage with the project’s open source community. This Community Bonding period also allows students to familiarize themselves with the languages or tools needed to complete their projects. Coding then begins on June 7th, continuing through the summer until August 16th.

Though applications for GSoC have closed for 2021, there are other ways to pursue your interests in open source projects. Staying connected with the community or reaching out to other organizations is a good first step. Making contact with potential mentors and a software community sets the stage for future opportunities. A great resource is the student guide, which has suggestions on what to do if you weren’t selected for this year’s program. It also has a section on ‘Choosing an Organization’ which is helpful whether you would like to connect now with organizations on your own, or decide to apply to GSoC in the future—which we hope you do!

Here’s to the 17th year of Google Summer of Code!

By Romina Vicente, Project Coordinator for the Google Open Source Programs Office

Modernizing Oracle operations with Kubernetes and El Carro

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Google Cloud is releasing El Carro, an open source tool to help you transform and modernize your Oracle database operations. El Carro implements the Kubernetes operator pattern to deliver automation for provisioning and ongoing operations like backups, patching, and high availability for databases running in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. And it does so using the same declarative syntax that DevOps teams are using to manage applications. With El Carro, users can choose to modernize and transform their database operations in place and benefit from a consistent management experience and hybrid and multi-cloud portability. Released under the Apache License 2.0, you are free to use El Carro in any Kubernetes environment—you are in control.

Containers and Kubernetes deliver portability on standardized infrastructure, and today Oracle supports databases running in containers; they’ve also released container build files and images and helm charts to simplify provisioning. What is missing for the next level of integration is support for lifecycle operations and an extension of the Kubernetes API to the primitives needed for database management.

In addition, fully managed or autonomous services for Oracle may not make available all the required features, such as Active Data Guard, Multitenant, and In-Memory, parameters/flags, versions, and patch levels. DBAs also find themselves locked out of many roles, including sysadmin and root. These restrictions make many cloud architects fall back to lift and shift Oracle databases onto infrastructure as a service offerings and miss out on opportunities to modernize and transform database operations. And with transactional databases growing in number and criticality, organizations are struggling to deliver innovation and modernization. Engineers are already busy keeping up with sprawl and mundane operational tasks while adhering to strict change management processes.

How do we solve this database operations gap?

El Carro solves this. It is built with scalability in mind, using the same container orchestration infrastructure, Kubernetes, that powers many businesses and is a top choice for modern architectures. Its open API allows you to manage your database configurations as declarative code, enabling CI/CD or Gitops workflows for auditability and control mechanisms. El Carro automates many database lifecycle operations, like backups, replication, and patching. And, when it distributes databases on the nodes of a cluster, it is aware of the priority and resource requirements of each database to optimize tight packing while respecting quality of service. Lastly, it helps DBAs by delivering automation without restrictions and leaving DBAs in full control over their systems. You can choose to let the operator drive for you, but you can also take over the steering wheel yourself at any time.

Because Kubernetes is now the standard for portable infrastructure automation and orchestration, engineers appreciate how Kubernetes abstracts complex problems into manageable infrastructure as code. Kubernetes can scale from small projects to large projects that support the infrastructure that powers Google products and services for billions of users around the world. Moreover, Google pioneers the next generation of infrastructure as code that we refer to as Configuration as Data to declaratively establish a contract between developer intent and the runtime operation. According to the Cloud Native Survey 2020, two-thirds of respondents were either already running stateful workloads in production or were considering doing so within the next 12 months. We expect that datastores are going to drive the next wave of enterprise Kubernetes adoption.

A number of open source operators for databases, such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, and many others, have been released, are actively maintained by the community, and are popular among developers and architects looking for a hands-off approach to manage databases with their applications. El Carro extends the list of database operators to include Oracle.

What are we building with El Carro for Oracle databases?

The operator pattern emerged in late 2016 as an extension of the Kubernetes API and control loop aimed at automating more complicated and application-specific tasks that are beyond the native Kubernetes objects.

El Carro implements a custom resource definition (CRD), which is tailored to database management. Users set and change attributes of the custom resource using the Kubernetes API the same way they do for built-in objects such as pods, deployments, or services. The El Carro controller observes changes to the CRs and compares the declared state with the current reality in the cluster, then makes the necessary changes. Those changes could either affect the Kubernetes resources used by the database such as persistent volumes or the pod itself, or may result in issuing calls via SQL or command line tools to the database to create and modify users or other database objects.

Here’s a look at how this works:
El Carro Architecture
El Carro Architecture

The diagram above shows how the major components of a database managed by the El Carro Operator interact with each other. The controller monitors the CRD for any changes made by admins. It creates and manages the cluster resources that make up the actual database deployment: persistent volumes for filesystems and data, a pod to run containers with the actual database, and a daemon that allows the controller to securely run SQL commands on the database. And lastly, a service makes sqlnet connections available to applications and end users that can either run in the same Kubernetes cluster or outside of it.

At release time, the El Carro Operator can provision Oracle databases of 12c Enterprise Edition and 18c Express Edition. It manages instance parameters, pluggable databases, and users. You can take and restore backups either using rman or storage snapshots, and we are working to add additional features.

How to get involved with El Carro?

In the development process, we collaborated with users and partners in the Oracle community to help us validate the approach. "Pythian has helped Oracle users to automate and optimize the operations of their mission-critical systems for over 20 years,” says Simon Pane, principal consultant at Pythian. “We are excited about the possibilities that El Carro brings to users on their cloud modernization journeys. We are proud to work with the community on a vision for the future of database management.".

Sean Scott covers Docker for databases on his blog oraclesean.com, and says: "There are many benefits to running Oracle databases in containers. Adding Kubernetes orchestration introduces new opportunities to bring the DevOps and Oracle communities together."

You can try out El Carro today. Follow the quick start guide and try out provisioning of instances, databases, users. Import data via Data Pump, manage instance parameters, choose between different methods for backups, and try out a restore. Have a look at how we integrate with external logging and monitoring solutions. Reach out via our Google group and leave feedback for what features you would like to see next, or even create your own patch and pull request on GitHub.

By Bjoern Rost - Product Manager and Boris Dali - Team Lead, Engineering
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