A SaaS trailblazer, a REST activist, a firewall revisionist, even a president will all shape technology in the coming year.
Avi Kivity Virtual Linux Champ
If one day Linux provider Red Hat is a virtualization powerhouse, credit Avi Kivity, lead developer of the Kernel Virtual Machine, a hypervisor that runs inside the Linux kernel.
Kivity wasn't a virtualization expert in 2005 when he joined Israeli startup Qumranet, after having worked as a programmer at IBM, Talmai, Exanet, and a company he co-founded, Avionitek. "I had to read a lot of manuals," he recalls. His background in storage file systems, e-commerce marketing, and even flight avionics landed him in the team leader role for the C language-based development of KVM. When the team was ready to submit a hypervisor for inclusion in Linux, in October 2006, Kivity didn't know anyone in the Linux kernel development process, but he had been a lurker on the kernel mailing list. "One of the things I picked up was how to submit code," he says.
He had watched the prolonged, tangled discussion when the open source Xen hypervisor sought support from Linux kernel maintainers. He braced himself for feedback on KVM.
Among those commenting was Andrew Morton, Linus Torvalds' top lieutenant. Convincing Morton that KVM was "a minimal system, quite simple technically," was key, Kivity says. Linux kernel release 2.6.20 came out in February 2007 with KVM included--a short review for a 12,000-line code addition.
Unlike Xen, which operates outside the kernel, KVM was designed to use the kernel's scheduler and memory manager rather than duplicate them, and that meant it could be tightly integrated into the kernel without disrupting its operation, Kivity says. Morton said in 2007 that KVM "looked like it was kernel-ready on day one. It was an exceptional patch in many ways."
Red Hat acquired Qumranet three months ago, and Kivity continues in the job of chief maintainer of KVM for the kernel. With Linux expected to play a large role in virtualized data centers, and KVM looking like the hypervisor of choice among open source developers, Kivity is well placed to play a significant role in the future of virtualization.
If the information security industry has a rock star, it's HD Moore. The 27-year-old is a much-respected, though sometimes controversial, "white hat" hacker. He's the expert people look to when a major vulnerability is discovered or a new attack is unleashed. And once Moore releases code that exploits a threat, the race is on: The good guys scramble to patch it and the bad guys to exploit it.
Moore is the director of security research at BreakingPoint Systems, a network device testing platform provider. He's also the creator of the popular open source hacking tool called Metasploit, which IT groups use to test software and networks for weaknesses. The fact that Metasploit's also a favorite of the black hat hacker set doesn't worry Moore, who sometimes finds himself delicately bridging the two worlds.
"I tell people not to tell me things if they want to keep it secret," he says. Moore is happy to help figure out a security bug, but "I'm not going to keep your bug a secret," he says.
Moore is careful not to release a Metasploit exploit tool for a zero-day, or unknown, vulnerability until after the bug goes public or is already being exploited on victims' systems. He's even won over Microsoft, which hasn't always been a fan thanks to Moore's penchant for finding security holes in its software. Microsoft openly runs Metasploit in-house to test for security flaws in its software, Moore says.
Moore is credited with forcing Microsoft and other browser vendors to address security problems with his July 2006 Month of Browser Bugs project, publishing a new browser bug for 30 straight days. As BreakingPoint CTO Dennis Cox once said: "HD makes security hot. Everyone wants to take him to the prom."
SaaS As Innovation Driver?Software as a service is the clear No. 1 way enterprises consume cloud. InformationWeek's SaaS Innovation Survey reveals three tips to get the most from SaaS: Make it a popularity contest. Have an escape plan. And remember that identity is the new perimeter.
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