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OK, I've grabbed the bait Savio Rodrigues (of Big Blue fame) has cast for me.


Savio's a good guy and we've traded opinions in the past, so here we go again.


Savio asserts "The OSS business model is great to grow from $0-$50M, but very difficult if you're trying to get to $100M.".


In my inimitable Philly style, my response is: Dude, that same statement can be made of most software companies, open source or not.


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Microsoft's Bill Hilf Reveals Its Open Source Strategy caught my attention, as well as July's Microsoft's Open-Source Strategy Coming Into Focus.


I found Dana Blankenhorn's response interesting, and I have to agree with many of his points.


Microsoft's stance on open source is pretty clear to me:

  • Microsoft has no plans on flipping any of its flagship products to open source. Period. The effort vs. reward equation just does not make sense since it would be a HUGE effort to make the code consumable by a community.
  • Microsoft sees some value in understanding open source; hence its investments in Port25 and CodePlex.
  • Microsoft sees some value in open source technologies that run on or interoperate with its platforms and products.
  • Microsoft sees some value in enabling people to see (but not touch) parts of their code; as evidenced by them Releasing the Source Code for the .NET Framework Libraries. This is not open source, but it does yield some benefit to developers targeting the .NET platform.
  • Microsoft will aggressively fight/compete with products (open source or closed source) that pose a threat to its core products. Hence, Bill's points re: Red Hat Enterprise Linux.


Now, while I do work at Red Hat, I should also disclose that I know and respect Bill Hilf. We started working together a few years ago on the JBoss / Microsoft alliance. At that time, we agreed to set aside the Java vs. .Nyet (sorry Bill) debate and focus on better serving our developer and production users that target Windows. Among other things, we focused on interoperability (Web Services, etc.) and have participated in various plug-fest workshops over the years.


So, I have to admit that I'm disappointed to see Bill Hilf dance around the questions and hide behind such FUD as proprietary software "guarantees".


As much as I hate to say it, Microsoft could learn something from IBM's strategy. They make no bones about it: they work in the open source on piece-part components that they Bluewash into their closed-source products. While it's not a pure open source business's clearly an open source strategy.


C'mon Bill, drop the FUD (that's Ballmer's shtick, not yours) and just say it as plainly as I have above.


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Larry's Groundhog Day

Posted by shwncnnlly Nov 16, 2007
I was reminded this week of one of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day. It's the story of an egocentric man who finds himself repeating the same day over and over again.


What triggered this reminder was Larry Ellison's closing keynote at this year's Oracle OpenWorld.


But before we get to that, let's look back a year last year's OpenWorld where Larry's quotes are best summarized as:
"Red Hat...Red Hat....giggle giggle...Red Hat...Red Hat"


Bottom-line on last year's speech: Larry grabbed Red Hat Enterprise Linux...rebranded it Oracle Unbreakable Linux...and declared Red Hat, Inc. public enemy #1.


Fast forward to this year and the headlines read... "Larry Ellison levels guns at Red Hat". Sounds familiar...but with a year to prepare, I've gotta believe Larry's speech writers and product marketing folks have something special to share.


"Oracle has been in the Linux business for a year now. With the Red Hat code all we did for the first year was fix bugs". Hmmm...funny, this is not an issue that I've heard from customers...but Larry's a smart guy, so let's move to the next point.


"Now Oracle is growing a lot faster than Red Hat. Red Hat has been growing too because it is a growing market." I always think of Pierre Fricke's blog whenever a comparison like this comes up.


"Oracle VM takes on VMware". OK, OK, this sounds important since it's "one of the biggest software launches in the company's history". I'm almost giddy with anticipation....until I look at the product website. Is it just me or do the key features of Oracle VM sound an awful lot like...Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform which was released last March as I recall?


Anyhow, since I'm the middleware guy at Red Hat, I'll leave the details of how accurate my assessment of Larry's Groundhog Day moment is to the Linux and Virtualization experts out there.


Moving on to a topic of keen interest to me, you gotta love Oracle's interest in BEA. I can see it now, Oracle finally acquires BEA and Larry promises he will "fix" the BEA products. Soon after, Larry introduces the revolutionary OraLogic Server 11g and explains that he will raise the price on the product because BEA customers feel that the products have been priced too low for too long.


Now that's real innovation and customer value!


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