January 2010

Earlier today Oracle executives laid out their strategy for integrating Sun’s assets with Oracle.  The whole event spanned over 4 hours.  I’ll just update readers on the section that related to Sun’s open source assets.

The GlassFish application server will be repositioned to address departmental needs while the strategic Oracle WebLogic Server product will remain targeted at enterprise customers requiring performance and scalability.  Long-time readers will recognize this strategy as one we’ve been using in the application server market with WebSphere Application Server Community Edition and WebSphere Application Server.  It’s a smart move on Oracle’s part because, as we’ve found, and as MySQL and Oracle DB usage shows. Customers have different middleware needs for different projects.

MySQL will continue to receive investment and be managed within the separate open source division at Sun.  MySQL will also have a separate sales force.  Recall that that GlassFish and WebLogic Server, which compete on paper, but address different use cases, will be sold by the same sales force.  More specifically, GlassFish will be sold by the sales team responsible for selling Oracle’s strategic Fusion Middleware suite. And yet, Oracle has decided to put MySQL and Oracle DB into separate the divisions and assign a separate sales team to MySQL.  Hopefully this is temporary and MySQL will be managed and sold by the Fusion Middleware division in the near future.

OpenOffice will continue to receive investment and will be managed within a separate business unit.  There will be a focus on integrating OpenOffice with business intelligence and content management offerings.

Oracle announced that it has over 4000 customers that acquire Linux and Linux support from Oracle.  Oracle expects to accelerate Sun’s Solaris efforts, but target their investment to drive Solaris further into mission critical workloads and focus less on x86 or the SMB market.  While Oracle didn’t say this specifically, one has to wonder if Oracle’s Solaris investments will regulate Linux to something less than “mission critical” workloads, at least alongside Oracle DB. Frankly, I’d be surprised to see Oracle try to substitute Solaris into existing Oracle DB accounts running on Linux.  More likely, Oracle will offer customers both choices and let them decide.  Although Oracle will likely attempt to influence the decision through better performance and integration with Solaris.

Oracle intends to keep VirtualBox and allow users to crate images on their desktop that can be deployed into OracleVM pools.

Finally, there wasn’t much news about the future of Java, other than the fact that JavaOne will be held September 19-23, 2010 and will be  collocated with Oracle Open World and also expand to local events in Brazil, China and India. While JavaOne will be collocated with Open World, they will be two separate conferences.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

I received a press release announcing that REvolution Computing, a provider of software and support for the open source “R” statistical programming language had appointed R co-creator, Robert Gentleman, to its board of directors. The press release was a great impetus for me to look at R again.

For background about R, Ashlee Vance wrote:

“…R is a popular programming language used by a growing number of data analysts inside corporations and academia. It is becoming their lingua franca partly because data mining has entered a golden age, whether being used to set ad prices, find new drugs more quickly or fine-tune financial models. Companies as diverse as Google, Pfizer, Merck, Bank of America, the InterContinental Hotels Group and Shell use it.”

Zack previously suggested that R could become  an alternative to SAS or IBM/SPSS’s offerings in the business intelligence space. However, it seems that both SAS and SPSS have recognized the opportunity presented by R.

For instance, Jon Peck of SPSS wrote:

“Starting with Version 16, SPSS offers a free plug-in that lets users run R code within SPSS having full access to the active SPSS Statistics data, and writing its output to the SPSS Statistics Viewer. With Version 17, we began creating dialog box interfaces and SPSS-style syntax for R packages we thought would be interesting to SPSS users…We see the SPSS-R connection as a way for users to take advantage of the large number of R packages without the pain part of R.”

As Ashlee points out, R is being used by academics, university students and enterprises. If ignored, R could very well have become a threat to SAS and IBM/SPSS franchises.

IBM has a history of utilizing open source for competitive advantage. Instinctively, I thought SPSS decided to support R after being acquired by IBM. I’m encouraged to learn that SPSS made the decision to support R well before the IBM acquisition. It’s also great that SAS has followed suit. I suspect that SPSS and SAS made their individual decisions based on three factors. First, they likely both realized that based on the penetration of SAS and SPSS in the statistical community, neither were going away anytime soon. Second, adding R support enabled both vendors to take advantage of the community of users building extensions and new statistical methods for R. Finally, both vendors likely realized that customers have different skills and analysis needs, and as such, R would be used in conjunction with SAS and SPSS’s programming languages for statistical analysis. In short, both vendors had more to gain by adding R support than by attempting to fight an customer-driven trend.  It’s great to see vendors responding to the opportunities posed by open source projects instead of solely focusing on the risks.  As expected, commercial software vendors are quickly adopting their stance on open source as an enabler for growth.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Red Hat’s CEO Jim Whitehurst kicked off his third year at Red Hat with a State of the Union address.  In his post, Jim discussed Red Hat’s efforts within the Java community:

“Late last year the Java Community Process (JCP) reached a significant milestone when they approved the specification for the next generation of Enterprise Java; JavaTM Platform, Enterprise Edition 6 (Java EE 6). We believe that the approval of this specification starts a new chapter in the story of Java and we are proud to have contributed and acted in a leadership role in the formation of this standard which aims to make enterprise Java easier to use and more appealing to more developers, while still maintaining the benefits of open standards.”

Craig Muzilla, Vice President of Middleware at Red Hat picked up on the Java thread and wrote a nice post ahead of Oracle’s roadmap presentation on Wednesday.  While many will be following Apple’s every move on Wednesday, those of us in the Java community will be listening to Oracle’s plans for Sun products, including Java.

“As Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison said shortly after the acquisition announcement  in April of last year, Java is “the single most important software asset we have ever acquired.”

We agree with Mr. Ellison’s statement; Java is one of the most important technologies developed and adopted during the past twenty years. It has fostered significant innovation throughout the IT industry and has enabled businesses and governments to operate with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Java is larger than any single company; we are all part of Java, customers and vendors alike.

We encourage Oracle to fulfill their original proposal and establish an independent governance process for the JCP (Java Community Process). And, finally, we encourage Oracle to continue the tradition of making the technology easily accessible, to vendors and customers alike, to secure its broad adoption and continued strength in the market.”

Craig points out that Oracle was amongst several vendors, including IBM and Red Hat, calling for Sun to make the Java process more open and less susceptible to any one vendor’s influence or control.  While I’d be surprised if Oracle announced an independent governance process for the JCP on Wednesday, I don’t think Oracle will act to damage the Java ecosystem.  Customers and developers have invested too much in Java products over the past decade on the basis of their investment being protected through a multi-vendor community.  The customer backlash would far outstrip any perceived competitive benefit of tightening control over the JCP.  Oracle’s far too smart of a vendor to risk that or encourage non-standard Java usage as we’ve seen with Android.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Forrester’s Jeffrey Hammond recently posted some really interesting data on custom software spending based on a survey of 1,138 IT professionals in North America and Europe in Q42009.

According to Forrester, companies will spend, on average, 27 percent of their software budget on custom software development.  An additional 35 percent of their software budget will be spent on packaged applications while the remaining 37 percent will be spent on platform and infrastructure software.  Keep in mind that this data is specifically focused on software budgets, not personnel costs or hardware.  Purchasing software such as application servers, IDEs, design & modeling tools or testing tools, make up the 27 percent.  In essence, companies will spend, on average, 27 percent of their software budget to purchase software that will enable their developers to build custom applications or customize packaged applications.

I was most surprised to learn the types of applications that are being custom developed.  Not surprisingly, industry-specific applications tops the list.  However, information and knowledge management, CRM, Finance & Accounting, Order Management and ERP applications follow closely behind.  Jeffery explains the findings:

“It may seem a bit surprising that CRM is the third place category when it comes to custom development – after all CRM is a solved problem with packaged app options like SalesForce and Siebel – right? Well, not necessarily – as firms double down on keeping their existing customers and finding new ones they are investing in a larger concept of customer relationship management, including enhanced self service, improved user experiences, and customer-centric integration of the systems that run their businesses – that’s pretty hard to buy out of the box.”

I agree packaged software often has its limitations versus custom software.  However, there is no reason that capabilities that deliver, for instance, enhanced self service or customer-centric integration, could not be layered onto a packaged application.  The build versus buy discussion suggests a binary choice. The reality is customers do both, they buy packaged applications and build extensions and tailor the packaged application to their needs.  This points to the importance of tailorable and extensible software building blocks.  It could be suggested that source code availability delivers a more tailorable and extensible application starting point than closed source products can provide.  However, open and extensible APIs have a significant role to play in allowing developers to take a piece of software, open source or not, and use it as the basis for an application that their business or customer requires.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

By now you’ll have heard that the EU has approved Oracle’s acquisition of Sun. This is good news for Sun employees and for the broader open source vendor community. JBoss founder Marc Fleury recently wrote the following about the Sun/MySQL/Oracle situation while the EU was still deliberating:

“..here is the part that really bothers me: this is making OSS acquisitions look very dangerous and dicey.”

Marc has a point, some vendors in a position to acquire open source vendors may think twice, if even slightly, about acquiring open source vendors. However, I suspect that trepidation will be short lived. The software industry relies on acquisitions for growth, and it’s not as if a large number of closed source startups are being formed these days. However, one has to wonder if the valuations for open source vendors will be somewhat tempered going forward. This has more to do with market trends than the results of an open source acquisition; RedHat/JBoss, Sun/MySQL, Oracle/Sun or otherwise.

Firstly, open source is no longer an unknown to be feared and possibly revered by established software vendors. These vendors have gotten more comfortable cooperating with and competing with open source vendors.

Secondly, while acquiring an established open source vendor is still viewed as a great way to enter a market or expand offerings within a market, the shift towards cloud computing appears to be a more pressing trend to address. Said differently, why purchase adoption in the data center when customers are increasingly going to deploy workloads in the cloud, where a different vendor may end up winning with an offering built with the cloud in mind versus being adopted for the cloud.

I’m not suggesting we won’t see any further open source acquisitions. That would be a silly statement. Rather, expect a larger number of cloud-related acquisitions than open source vendor acquisitions and expect higher multiples for cloud-related acquisitions. Of course vendors that fit into both the open source and cloud-related categories will be amongst the most attractive targets. And truth be told, a startup in 2010 is more than likely to use open source to drive developer adoption and monetize that adoption in the cloud. As a result, it’ll become increasingly difficult to distinguish an open source vendor from a cloud vendor. Either way, the exit potential for these vendors looks bright.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

SpringSource, a division of VMware, recently announced its intent to shift development of the SpringSource dm Server project to the Eclipse Foundation.

In analyzing the announcement, The 451 Group’s Matt Aslett wrote:

“The move to the EPL appears to be motivated by a decision that there is more to gain by encouraging wider doption of OSGi approaches through more permissive licensing and collaborative community development.”

Prior to the announcement, SpringSource offered dm Server under the GPL and a commercial license.  SpringSource now intends to shift from the GPL to the Eclipse Public Licensed (EPL) and no longer offer a commercial license.  SpringSource will offer a support subscription for dm Server instead of attempting to monetize usage through a commercial license.

I was quite surprised to hear about this business model change.  While the support subscription business model has been en vogue since the open source vendor movement began, there has been a dramatic shift towards the open core business model.  The adoption of an open core business model is predicated on the belief that revenue potential is optimized through the sale of commercially licensed products.  I remain convinced that support is not a scalable business model and does not address the issue of customers reverting into free users.  The largest and best known open source vendors have shifted away from support subscriptions to variations of an open core business model.  However, Matt used data from VC investments in open source companies to suggest:

“….that we may be starting to see a return to support and other services, rather than commercial code and licensing, as the preferred mode to monetize open source.”

Is SpringSource an example of a vendor returning to support and other services to monetize open source?  On the surface, yes.  However, I think the dm Server licensing and support changes represent a small piece of a larger vision.  When VMware announced the SpringSource acquisition, delivering and monetizing a cloud platform was a key component of their vision.  It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that VMware is attempting to drive dm Server adoption through the Eclipse Foundation and monetize the adoption when operations team want to deploy dm Server applications on Cloud infrastructure.  The dm Server support subscriptions are a stop gap until VMware can build out their Cloud offerings and dm Server adoption increases.  This is a perfectly valid strategy, especially when considering the interest in cloud computing and open source.  However, it’s not a proof point against the open core business model.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Acquia just launched a new Social Publishing for Open Government program to help U.S. federal agencies meet the government’s Open Government Directive (OGD).  The program provides government agencies with education and implementation services for using Drupal in general and to address OGD.  According to Acquia, services offered by the program include:

  • How to propose Drupal as a solution to meet collaboration technology platform requirements for the Open Government Directive plan
  • Training and support for setting up a Drupal site at http://www.%5Bagency%5D.gov/open
  • Planning for security and scalability of  an organization’s OGD Drupal site
  • Design and implementation of Drupal sites to meet specific OGD requirements
  • How to get Drupal Certification and Accreditation for Drupal for your agency

Acquia’s vice president of business development, Tim Bertrand, explains:

“Drupal has always seen great success in the government sector and now with the OGD in play, we expect that even more agencies will see the value of Social Publishing in meeting these requirements.”

Acquia will also offer a seminar series for U.S. federal, state and local governments to discuss adoptions and best practices for government use.  This is definitely a smart move as risk averse government agency IT decision makers will take comfort in the successes of their peers with Drupal Social Publishing.

Acquia appears poised to take advantage of the growing interest in open source and social media.  Increased use of Drupal will open the door further to open source usage within governments, in the U.S. and worldwide.  In doing so, Acquia is definitely playing its part as a founding member of Open Source for America.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

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