October 2007

Matt Aslett at The 451 Group reports:

“Red Hat and GroundWork Open Source announced an interesting expansion of their partnership today that sees Red Hat offering 24×7 telephone premium support for GroundWork products, as well as the sale of GroundWork training classes.”

I, like every one, wondered why Red Hat went with GroundWork versus Hyperic. At first I thought this is just some piece of marketing from GroundWork, but since the press release has a quote from Red Hat, I have to believe someone over at RH thinks this is a good idea.

It seems strange considering Hyperic is the foundation of the JBoss ON product. What’s stranger is that Hyperic isn’t listed on RHX under systems monitoring providers (only Zenoss & GroundWork are listed). Javier, what’s the deal? :-)

A NetworkWorld review said this about GroundWork’s OSS product in June 2007:

“In contrast to Zenoss Core and Hyperic HQ, GroundWork Open Source’s free-for-the-download open source network monitoring and management product, called GroundWork Monitor, is quite basic and lacking in features.”

<conspiracy_theory_hat_on> The only thing I can think of is that RH is staying away from Hyperic because of Hyperic’s VCs. Accel Partners & Matrix Partners are both Hyperic investors, as they were in JBoss investors. It’s well within the realm of possibility that RH executives, after paying over $300M for JBoss, are not eager to jump into bed with Accel or Matrix again. GroundWork’s VC’s don’t include Accel, Matrix or Benchmark (where one of the Accel guys jumped to after the JBoss deal). </conspiracy_theory_hat_on>


First, I’m an IBMer. These are my views. IBM does not necessarily agree with them.

Second, I think most of you will agree that I’m relatively friendly towards Microsoft when they may a positive OSS move. I am not anti-Microsoft just because it’s cool to love Apple these days.

With those two items out of the way, I couldn’t help but shake my head when reading about Microsoft’s Oslo project for “model-centric apps”.

An InfoWorld article describes Oslo:

“With Oslo, Microsoft is making investments aligned with a vision to simplify the effort needed to build, deploy, and manage composite applications within and across organizations. The effort builds on model-driven and service-enabled principles and extends SOA beyond the firewall.”

Another description comes from Tim Rayburn’s blog (via Google):

“Oslo is not a product, but rather an over-arching project which will contain within it updates to many products and services including BizTalk Server, Visual Studio, and more. “

“..extends SOA beyond the firewall”…oh, you mean to companies that aren’t Microsoft shops? Great, tell me more! I read and re-read the IW article & Tim’s blog to see if there is any mention of non-Microsoft technologies. You know, SOA and especially Composite Applications, are supposed to be about heterogeneous environments. I didn’t find a thing that leads me to believe that Oslo has much to do with interoperability. So, “extends SOA beyond the firewall” should really say “extends SOA beyond the firewall from one 100% Microsoft shop to another 100% Microsoft shop”

Next, for those of us who think standards are generally good ideas…IW sets us straight:

“Microsoft’s approach is not about Unified Modeling Language (UML), a technology of which Microsoft has not been a big supporter…A modeling language is part of Oslo, but Microsoft is building a modeling language, a set of tools, and a unified repository.”

Anywho, it’s all vaporware and likely will be well beyond 2010 (Massimo is being overly generous when he suggests 2009):

“It’s pretty ambitious, and as a matter of fact, I believe we’re not going to see anything concrete until well into 2008 and possibly 2009,” said analyst Massimo Pezzini, vice president of the application platform strategies group at Gartner.

Microsoft, open you eyes…your “SOA” customers care about more than .NET and all customers benefit from open standards. This is not a new news.

I saw a press release about Nuxeo’s new product focusing on “SOA”. I didn’t know what that meant, and didn’t know much about Nuxeo. So, off I went to the Nuxeo website. I then asked Nuxeo CEO, Stefane Fermigier a few questions, which he graciously agreed to answer.

Stefane’s answer to question #3 is great. After I found out that Nuxeo does ECM software, I asked how they position against Alfresco. In an answer that would make Dave Rosenberg smile, Stefane essentially said, “we don’t..we position ourselves and compete against the commercial enterprise vendors”. Very cool. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear that Nuxeo’s Rich Client Platform (RCP), based on Eclipse RCP, is generating a lot of customer interest.

1. What’s the license story for Nuxeo?

“The code we write is licensed under the LGPL. Some parts which will be donated to the Eclipse Foundation (as part of the Apogee project) will also be dual-licensed under the EPL. The reason for this is that we want our platform to be reused by as many people as possible, including “traditional” (non open source) ISVs. With the LGPL, if you want to embed our components in your application, you can, with no constraints on your own license. Only if you improve our components, and use them in a publicly available product, are you mandated to provide back your changes to the project.”

2. What’s the history of Nuxeo?

“We’ve been in the business of open source information and document management for 7 years. We’ve started at the worst time to start up a software company (6 months after the first internet bubble crash), but we’ve been lucky to live in a country whose government was keen on open source at the time (from 2000 to 2005) and later on (2005-now) expanded in the private sector. We’ve also been smart in several decisions we have made. For example, we partnered with some big names in IT services companies (like Capgemini). We quickly moved up to higher value applications with real enterprise-level impact. We also expanded internationally starting from 2004.”

3. How do you position yourselves vs. Alfresco?

“We don’t position ourselves against Alfresco ;)

Our main competitors are Documentum, OpenText and Filenet (Vignette and Interwoven, which were strong competitors five years ago, seem to have disappeared altogether). We strive to provide similar levels of features and support so as to match the needs of our customers and our ecosystem. Customers usually pit us against these three guys in RFPs, and I would be lying if I told you we win every time, but we almost always end up first or second, which means we’re already on par with these market leaders.”

4. You website indicates that you get 30% of revenues from “development” – do you mean custom development? Are the features developed then put back into the generally available Nuxeo product?

“Yes, either improvement to the platform or some of its components to address the needs of a specific project, or new components that provide new functionalities, also needed for a specific project. In theory this is not mandatory because the choice to do so is left to the customer. In practice, we almost always end up putting these enhancements in the open source code base (and actually make such developments “live” on externally visible source code repository) because our customers understand that it’s the best way to protect their own investments.”

5. How have customers reached to Rich Client Platform (RCP) portion of your product line?

“We have not “marketed” the RCP part heavily towards the community, because we were already pretty busy with the server part, but we already have some serious customers. Actually, 50% of our biggest projects (well over several hundred thousand Euros) involve RCP to a certain degree. RCP is a strong driver for our business already. We plan to communicate more about Nuxeo RCP in the following weeks or months, and hope to spur some excitement in the community with this technology too.”

A colleague recently made a statement to the effect:

“These developers are really interested in the future plans for WebSphere Application Server. Many of them have invested a significant portion of their career on WebSphere. They have invested time building skills with WebSphere.”

I’m wondering whether a developer who has built skills with OSS product A is more, less or equally invested in the product’s life than another developer who has built skills with a commercial enterprise product B.

On one hand, it’s simpler, faster and cheaper to get started with an OSS product versus a commercial enterprise product. The lower barriers to entry result in developers championing for a product with their manager/director/CIO. The alternative is having to use the ‘corporate standard’ with minimal input on the choice (usually).

On the other hand, do the lower barriers to entry for OSS products enable developers to more easily switch their OSS product choice?

On the other, other hand, do the lower barriers to entry simply get the developer in the OSS product door? Once there, they ‘invest time’ to build skills with that OSS product and are unwilling to give much love to alternative choices, OSS or otherwise? <my vote is on this option>


A few days ago I discussed the results of IBM WebSphere’s software division as a proxy to measure the much heralded death of traditional software. (Spoiler alert: It’s not dying).

Matt wrote:

“Why is it that proprietary vendors seem to have to consolidate to survive right now? There are very few winners right now: IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP.”

“It’s cute to look at IBM as a bellwether of proprietary health, but I think you’re kidding yourself. All I have to look at is the customer wins that my company and others are having. There is a groundswell in motion, and it’s foolish to think that it will raise all boats.”

Awww shucks, I did something cute ;-)

To Matt’s first point, all markets consolidate over time. It’s as simple as that. With or without OSS, we would have seen those some 4 vendors dominate the software market.

We see consolidation in OSS markets also. I seem to recall Matt asking what VC in its right mind would invest in a startup going after “OSS markets that are spoken for” a la Red Hat & Linux. I can’t find the quote, but I’m 99% sure Matt said it…and hey, I totally agree.

I can guarantee (offer not valid in Quebec) one of two things:

  1. There will be fewer than 3 ‘winners’ in the OSS vendor space in 10 years. There will be a decent # of startups, but few vendors in the middle. You’re either a startup swinging for the big 3, or you’re in the big 3. If you’re in the middle, you won’t be for long.
  2. There will be zero independent OSS vendors of significance (i.e. > $750M in revenue) in 10 years. They will have been acquired by one of the leading IT vendors in existence today.

I’m betting on #2, but even #1 makes the same point. The software market can’t support more than a handful of leading vendors. Niche vendors will, in the long run, lose out to vendors that can offer the broadest set of products.

To Matt’s second point: I completely agree that OSS spending is growing and that Alfresco is doing great. Kudos and well wishes. But in the end, it’s difficult to compare 1,000% growth vs. 10% growth without considering the base. For context, OSS is only going to represent 1.8% of total software spending by 2011. Is that good? Absolutely. Is it the end of life as we know it in the software market? Difficult to say, but change happens.  But change is always less pronounced, and often different, that predicted.  Remember, the mainframe’s death was predicted decades ago ;-)

Some of you know that I’ve decided to track the demise ;-) of the traditional software market on a quarterly basis using IBM’s WebSphere branded revenue as the basis. I use the WebSphere division for no other reason than it’s the part of IBM that I report into. Here are the 2Q07, 1Q07, 4Q06 and 3Q06 posts if you fancy. IBM announced 3Q07 results today.

A few points of interest from 3Q07:

  1. IBM Software grew at 6% (or 3% at constant currency: i.e. if currency exchange rates were fixed to equal their 3Q06 rates)
  2. WebSphere branded middleware grew 10%
  3. IBM’s other Software families grew 9%, 3%, 5% and 9% for Lotus, Rational, Tivoli and Information Management respectively

WebSphere middleware growth of 10% is the lowest we’ve reported in the past year. However, considering the growth we attained in 3Q06 (i.e. 30% Y/Y vs. 14% in 3Q05 & 3Q04), it’s not surprising that 3Q07 growth wasn’t in the 15%+ range. Remember that the 10% is growth off a large revenue base, which unfortunately, IBM does not make public. But, if you have access to Gartner or IDC data, you can easily get to a ballpark number of total WebSphere branded revenue.

WebSphere Branded Middleware Quarterly Revenue Growth:

Quarter Y/Y Qtr Growth From:
1Q04 24% Source
2Q04 N/A Source
3Q04 14% Source
4Q04 18% Source
1Q05 11% Source
2Q05 18% Source
3Q05 14% Source
4Q05 4% Source
1Q06 26% Source
2Q06 17% Source
3Q06 30% Source
4Q06 22% Source
1Q07 14% Source
2Q07 28% Source
3Q07 10% Source

Fourth quarter is going to be interesting!

Because I’ve been a hermit over the past few days, I’m only now reading about Sun’s open source event earlier this week. Sadly, I wasn’t invited (likely because I work at IBM and I’m a peon in the OSS landscape). :-)

Looks like there was more news about Project Indiana, Glassfish, and OpenOffice. I wonder if there’s a place to get the presentations that were used?

This statement caught my attention:

“Red Hat has created a project called Ice Tea to make OpenJDK run better in a Linux environment, Reinhold said.”

Just because two JDKs pass Sun’s test suite doesn’t mean there won’t be (unexpected) differences in the way they handle the same Java application. Sun’s TCK (Technology Compatibility Kit) attempts to minimize the impact of these differences, and generally does a good job, but differences will exist. That’s why most ISVs state which JDKs are supported. If your ISV says their Java product runs on all the leading JDKs, it could be that they’ve tested their app on the Sun, IBM and BEA JDKs. Or it could mean that the ISV has tested with one of these three (or an alternative) and is relying on Sun’s TCK tests to ensure there won’t be unexpected results on a different JDK. This isn’t such a bad strategy 99.99% of the time. But there must be a reason that some ISVs test on multiple JDKs ;-)

I wonder what % of ISVs will be enamored by the news that Red Hat is creating another JDK that could be added to the ISV’s test matrix. Being an OpenJDK variant helps if the ISV is already testing with the Sun JDK. But, a little different may be different enough. If Red Hat’s JDK doesn’t gain much traction (which is my guess, largely because of the ISV testing and support challenges), will Red Hat have spent their time tuning/improving the Sun JDK for RHEL?

Anywho, here’s a good description of Ice Tea from a Red Hatter.

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