Assimilation Release 1.1.2 “Happy 2016” is out!

Download Assimilation Release 1.1.2 - the Happy 2016 release

On January 2nd we put out version 1.1.2 of the Assimilation System Management Suite – the Happy 2016 release. This release adds enhancements related to best practice analyses and adds support for openSUSE, Scientific, and ScientificFermi Linux – along with a few bug fixes. We also have some surveys that we’d love for people to take – to help direct us in our future work.
As we have in the past, we offer supported free trials of the Linux version of our system management suite – just follow the download link and the instructions you’ll find there.

How IT Administrators get better by contributing to Open Source Projects

I’ve been asked to give the keynote address at the 2015 Cascadia IT conference. For my keynote, I’d like to tell stories of their contributions – large and small – and how they helped and how they were uniquely valuable. Although I have a number of stories of how various IT admins (system, network, security, etc.) have contributed to my projects (Linux-HA/Pacemaker and the Assimilation Project), I’m looking for more. This post is a request to send me your stories of how IT admins have contributed to open source projects in large or small ways.

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Living Dangerously With Crypto In the Assimilation Project – Part 3

In this article, we talk in more detail about the Assimilation Project’s reliable UDP protocol, our decision to avoid session keys, factors influencing our initial choice of crypto libraries, and touch on key revocation. So, like before we’re looking forward to your comments on our design choices. Like before, grab your thinking cap, sit down with your crypto buddies and think hard about what we’ve done.

Living Dangerously with Crypto in the Assimilation Project – How Many Keys?

This article outlines our approach to keys and key management given our unique problems in a pragmatic and effective way. Although we will use crypto libraries with well-proven algorithms, we will use them in slightly unconventional ways. So, get your crypto buddies, grab a beverage (adult or otherwise), put on your thinking cap, and think hard about how we’re planning on approaching these challenges. Although I’ve tried to think all this through, I’m not a crypto expert – which is why I’m asking for your help.

Crypto background for the Assimilation project

Since its inception, the open source Assimilation project has been concerned with security, and paranoid at every opportunity. Like a lot of software, it has serious security concerns. On the one hand, our nanoprobes run on every server in the enterprise and exercise root privileges – creating a potentially dangerous attack surface. On the other hand, we incrementally create a high-value database which has fine-grained and up-to-date information about everything in the environment – software versions, ports, services, IP addresses and MAC addresses, known security vulnerabilities – a veritable treasure map for an attacker. This article details why cryptography is essential for communication in this environment, and some unique aspects of the problem we’re solving that affect how we use it. It is our hope our readers (this means you!) will give us a thorough flogging^H^H^H^H^H^H^H review of how we use cryptography in our software in this article and the next.

Announcing Assimilation version 0.1.4

We are proud to announce the latest in our series of releases of the Assimilation software which will culminate in an incredibly useful production release. This release is eminently suitable for trials in an environment where the caveats are acceptable. We have quite a few pre-built Ubuntu packages, and a few CentOS/RHEL packages – so go forth, download and subdue the galaxy!

Welcome to Assimilation Systems Limited

I’m Alan Robertson, founder of Assimilation Systems Limited – this is my first blog post about the company. Let’s start this first post with a little history of the project and the company.

I founded the Assimilation Project back in 2010, as a result of thinking about a really big supercomputer (over 2 million cores) I was working with which had a very unusual networking architecture. It was a very cool and odd computer. Along the way, I puzzled over how one could effectively monitor it in the presence of this non-traditional networking topology – without using the built-in monitoring hardware (which would be like cheating). After a while, I realized I knew how to make monitoring on normal computers scale in a way that seemed really interesting. Being a techie at heart, I was really jazzed and decided I had to implement it…