Thursday, December 25, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Power of Openness - New Media Case Study

Why does openness matter? Perhaps no industry can help us understand the answer better than new media - defined roughly as information and entertainment, including video, delivered over IP networks, especially the Internet.

The new media market is still at a nascent stage, with large media companies like Turner and Disney reporting that their new media revenue comprises just 5-10% of total. However, it is growing rapidly and analysts predict that within 5 years the advertising revenue for all new media will be somewhere in the $5-10 billion range (NewTeeVee). This growth of advertising in online video echoes people's shifting viewing habits. ABI research recently reported that the percent of American households that watch video online doubled from 32% in 2007 to 64% this year. So, it is natural for advertisers to follow the eyeballs to online. Recently, provided a comprehensive look at global growth of online video viewing and how this is translating into network traffic, as shown in Tables 1 and 2 below.

But what's driving the growth in online viewing when there seems to be a lot of negatives? Computer screens are smaller than TVs, the resolution is typically inferior and the sound is often poor. Research indicates a couple things are the primary motivators for online viewing: people like the flexibility to watch whenever and wherever they want, and they really like the immersive, social aspect of web watching.

The Internet Began as a Social Network

I am probably not the first person to observe that the Internet began as a social network. It was a way for researchers at different government bodies and universities across the US and then the globe to easily share information and collaborate on projects. What the Internet then evolved into during the late 1990s and earlier in this decade - what we might call the corporate Web 1.0, or the read-only web - really should be thought of as an aberration. Just as every business in the pre-Internet era had to be listed in the white pages, and some took out ads in the yellow pages, as the Internet became the way for buyers to find offers, every business needed to essentially list themselves on the Internet with a web page, and then a site. For those of us still needing proof, this week's news that newspaper advertising fell 18% year-over-year in Q3 should be convincing evidence of the power of openness (See Editor and Publisher ).

Unlike phonebooks, however, which were closed systems controlled by the publishers and constrained by print economics, the openness of the corporate Web 1.0 led to an explosion in the number of web sites, which can be seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Total Sites Across All Domains August 1995 - October 2008

Source: Netcraft

The emergence of the current generation of Social Networks, then, can best be thought of as the Internet coming full circle, back to its social roots. Of course, in the 30 plus years since the original ARPANET was launched, the types of things people can share across the Internet has exploded. The original Internet was bandwidth constrained and the computers it connected relatively weak and expensive, and so the Net was consequently reserved for collaboration on only the most serious pursuits. Today, though, the combination of ubiquitous broadband network connections, powerful and cheap computers (and other devices), advances in technology to IP-enable everything, and amazing pieces of code called Web APIs, has ignited an incredible diversity of Web applications, or ways for people to share across the Internet. Voice (Skype), Video (Hulu, YouTube), Photos (Flickr), Relationships (Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn), Commerce (eBay, Amazon).

TV 2.0

The same forces that boosted the number of web sites seen in Figure 1 are today drawing video viewers online. Internet video opens up a new set of opportunities for viewers to engage in the content in ways that were previously impossible – they can do things like choose different camera angles, delve into interactive stats and, depending on the business model, share the viewing experience with friends online. Ultimately, online video gives the audience a different, and a potentially richer, experience than television.

The ability to offer a richer experience is due in large part to the open nature of the Internet. The Internet’s openness invites innovation in the user experience because it transforms video content from a siloed piece of media into a social and contextual piece of media.

Consider MySpace, where 2/3 of videos are viewed from user profiles. This marriage of video and social networks portends radical changes to video discoverability and monetization. Imagine the power to offer brands the ability to target their advertising based on the meta data from the video and extensive details of the user profiles. This is just one example of the power of the Internet to reinvent TV. As more and more video content goes online, the openness of the Internet will reveal new consumption patterns, which will in turn drive new business models

Saturday, November 1, 2008

too long away

Hi All,

I knew I'd been neglecting this space, but I didn't realize I hadn't written since July. Wow - what a severe breach of netiquette. Mea culpa mi amigos.

I've been really busy at work - in April I took a position at a very cool new media start up as their director of marketing. i've been enjoying it quite a bit.

I've also been very excited by the prospect of a democrat taking the white house. I admi, I've got Obama fever. Hey - if you are of the same ilk, my suggestion is don't wait till monday or tuesday to buy your champagne - might sell out.

In 2004 I volunteered on the kerry campaign - went door to door in wake forest and raleigh trying to get out the vote. I can't tell you how disappointed I was when we lost. first reaction was to move to canadia. once over this, I couldn't help but be very disappointed in the lack of ideas and inspiraion from democrats - just totally uninspiraitonal.

Man, what a difference 4 years can make!! finally someone who can bring this country together, end this stupid war in Iraq and get the economy on track.

I'm planning a party as soon as the results are in at our house in Raleigh - lmk if you want to come

Friday, July 4, 2008

To GUI or not to GUI

there's been an excellent discussion going on on the Ubuntu Server List recently that reveals the multi-dimensional complexity of this topic

as I see it, this question - to GUI or not to GUI - has at least the following 3 dimensions:

1. It has a user dimension - does a user need/want a GUI (the Windows admin converting to Linux or the new admin)? or does a GUI limit the admin (the *nix expert)?

2. It has an IT department dimension - if I have Windows admins and I want to deploy Linux, I need to retrain, rehire, or give them a GUI they are comfortable with. If I am a Linux shop, and my company merges with a company that is a windows shop, how do I reconcile these two departments and their systems?

3. and it has an enterprise dimension - if I don't have some centralized system that automates change and configuration management (ccm), then I am very reliant on the sysadmins that know the complexities of the config files, that know scripting, cron, etc., and that follow revision control procedures (back up all .confs before making changes...). And if these admins leave, or don't follow procedure, the business is hurting. So enterprises have a strong business continuity motivation to implement a system that takes some of the complexity out of the ccm process.

therefore, the trick, IMO, to implementing a CCM system is to provide enough of what the noobs need, without limiting the experts too much and, at the same time, giving the enterprise more visibility and control.

These market requirements drive the design specs:

1. the system needs to be modular and flexible, with GUI and cli/scripting options
2. it needs to be functionally segregated (role based access control) so that different users can access different functions depending on their expertise
3. it needs to be scalable - client/server, many as one changes even with the GUI
4. It needs to be secure - ssl-encrypted, built-in revision control
5. it needs to be multi-platform, preferably covering *nix and windows
6. of course, it needs to be open source ;) seriously, an open source and open standards approach greatly enhances the ability to integrate with other lifecycle management tools like patching, monitoring, reporting, etc.

the problem with most open source ccm options is that they address one or a small subset of the needs to the exclusion of the others. Oliver mentions func, which I agree is a very nice improvement over scripting for medium to large fedora shops and soon probably other distros as well. But it doesn't help the Linux noob, and it doesn't give the enterprise any greater visibility or control. Is it a far better way for the *nix expert to do what they already do today with scripts and such? Yes. will it help Linux penetrate windows accounts, doubtful (and, in fairness, I don't think it was ever intended to do so). eBox and Webmin, on the other hand, simplify things for the newby, but they don't scale, they don't provide enterprise security or control (rbac, revision control, etc.) and they do handicap the expert.

So, my question to the Ubuntu server team, is, if you buy the above framework and rationale, what are their goals for a future Ubuntu server management system? who's the intended audience? Personally, I think they ought to cast as wide a net as the universe of existing systems will allow.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Trying to be Viral

Have you noticed how hard everyone is trying to be viral these days? It's almost oxymoronic to be deliberately viral. Do you agree?

Or maybe the annoying attempts that I've noticed recently are just bad, and it wouldn't matter if they were attempting to be traditional campaigns, they'd still be bad.

One that I found particularly annoying was a hand-written card that I received at my office with a url written on it:

No context, no nothing - like I've got that much time and I'm that curious to go to this web site. STUPID!!

And I see all kinds of companies doing this - putting some little tease out there, but not indicating what it's about and suggesting that people go to a web site to discover the big secret.

If you have connections on madison ave, can you please pass the word along that these campaigns suck?



I was in New York this week and on my way to lunch asked a colleague to snap this shot of me with the actors in Monty Python's broadway play Spamalot.

Friday, April 18, 2008

‘Customer Affinity’ New Measure of B2B Mktng Effectiveness

Great article summarizing research by the CMO Council on the importance of transparency and trust between B2B technology vendors and their customers.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

CA-Sponsored Study Finds Data Center Automation Will Grow

study surveyed 300 CIOs and other top IT executives at companies in the U.S., EMEA and APAC with more than $250 million in annual revenue. It found the top three goals companies are hoping to achieve with data center automation efforts are uptime/business continuity, performance management, and enabling dynamic response to changes in business demand
More interesting than what this study "found" (didn't we all already know this?) is who sposnosred the research - of my knowledge, they don't really have a DCA solution now, do they? Comments?

read more

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Open source a no-brainer for SaaS providers

Open source will start to dominate software infrastructure for providers of SaaS (Software as a Service) within three years, according to Gartner analyst Yefim Natis. Lower cost and better flexibility, compared to closed source, or proprietary software, are key factors for the growing popularity of open source in this segment of the market.

read more

Monday, March 31, 2008

Podcast with Syd Williams of Lyceum Associates

Just recorded this podcast with Syd Williams of Lyceum Associates

"Openness in Software"

Duration: 20 minutes (It takes a few moments to load)


[1] With all the recent news on software openness, how are Microsoft and Google positioning themselves?
[2] To what extent is Microsoft playing catch-up?
[3] Does Microsoft suffer from brand deficiency, and is this affecting its bid for Yahoo!?
[4] How will worsening economic conditions affect IT spending? Which companies might benefit?

We Want It, and Waiting Is No Option

The Web empowers both groups and individuals as a place where choice is not only an option, but an imperative.
Awesome quote from this great article: “Storytelling is a hard problem that is cognitive rather than technological,” he said (while I breathed a heavy sigh of relief). “It requires a specific set of skills, and there are business models that enable storytelling, but maybe don’t require the whole manufacturing or broadcasting business that goes with them.”

read more |

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Yahoo, Google, MySpace form non-profit OpenSocial Foundation

Google, Yahoo, and MySpace forge a nonprofit foundation to ensure that OpenSocial stays a community-driven spec "in perpetuity".

read more

Democrats - Just Say No to Clinton's Brand of Cynicism

Man, this takes the cake. Hilary's lie that she was threatened by sniper fire in Bosnia is just plain cynical and ugly.

This is what dodging sniper fire actually looks like, Hilary. [update - if anyone had really dodged sniper fire, I doubt it's something they would forget, as hard as they may try]

Shame on you - oh, wait a minute - you have no shame. You will do or say ANYTHING to get elected. You know what, though - beyond what this lie tells us about how untrustworthy she is, to lie about something like this, where so many real people - young, old, moms, dads and kids - died and suffered - a lie like this shows an utter lack of respect for the heroism, suffering and loss that Bosnian's experienced in that awful conflict. Hilary needs to drop out of the race right now before she does any more damage to Democrat's chances. I'm going on the record (as if anyone cares :) if she gets the Democratic nomination, I'm voting for McCain - no brainer. Hell, McCain could pick Cheney to be Veep and I'd still vote for him over Clinton.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's Philly Speech

Wow - what a speech. I wonder if he went to Pat's for a cheese steak afterwords...

Apple US retail sales leap past PC par

Apple took 14 per cent of the US retail computer market last month - 25 per cent if you look at its share in terms of sales revenue - source NPD

read more |

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

BMC buys BladeLogic for $800 mln

It had to happen. Data center automation has been white hot lately, and after HP picked up Opsware back in July, that left one big public pure play in the space, BladeLogic. I think this was probably a smart move for BMC

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spokeo - leaders in Spam

So, I feel like an idiot. I got completely hoodwinked into joining this social network aggregator called Spokeo, which despite being a cool idea, has resorted to spamming as a means to get the word out about themselves. Few things piss people off more than when a web site sends emails to their contact list without the person's EXPLICIT permission - maybe the reason they don't ask for that permission is because NO ONE would EVER grant it.

If you got an email saying that I was looking for you on Spokeo, I sincerely apologize. I have deactivated my account and sent Spokeo the following message explicitly forbidding them from sending any more emails to my contacts.

"I disactivated my account because I never knowingly agreed for you to send emails to my contacts.

I hereby forbid you from doing so."

to which I received the following confirmation: Your comment has been submitted. Thank you!

I am surprised that Mr. Kawasaki (scroll to bottom of page) would allow his name to be associated with a sleazy outfit like this.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Write Your Own Forlorn Spitzer Picture Caption

HELP! black hole in throat [hack] sucking me in lips first!

add your caption in the comments

SearchMe Baby

interesting that Sequoia Capital, which backed Google along with Kleiner, is behind SearchMe, which I have to say is freaking HOT looking!! I'll admit to being pretty ignorant to the machinations of VC firms, so like on one hand, Sequoia knows the search space, but on the other, do they really want to eat Google's lunch? I guess they made their money (understatement) with Google's IPO, so why not get back in?

So, quick look at Google's BOD, Kleiner is on there, as is Sherpalo, but no Sequoia, so no conflict, perceived or otherwise. In fact, in a quick look at Sequoia's web site, I didn't see any Public companies that their partners serve on. I wonder if that's a fund policy...would seem to make sense, maybe I'll explore this more in another blog

Anyway, back to SearchMe - I read about it this morning on techcruch, and went to their site. All I could do there was register for the beta, so I did. Then I saw this option to add their promotional video to my blog - I was like "as if!" why would I do that? (said as if this blog actually gets meaningful traffic :-| Then I watched the video, and, unlike the vast majority of promo videos, it was really well done, and SearchMe looks oh so cool. So I decided, what they hey, I'll throw this puppy up on Jocs Florals.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dear Sun, Please Shut Up

One of my favorite movies of all time is Office Space. In particular I think John McGinley is brilliant as one of the two Bob consultants. One of my favorite lines of his is when he's interviewing Michael Bolton (David Herman) and says "I am. I'm a Michael Bolton fan!"

I'm that way about Sun - I'm a Sun fan. I think they have done so much great stuff over the last few years in terms of open source. They are a totally remade company, and it's really awesome.

But I have to say, it's getting pretty damned annoying and depressing that some of their top dudes (and yes, they are all dudes) frequently let the downright dumbest things leave their lips. I blogged about an earlier instance of this that occurred during their analyst call right after they announced plans to acquire MySQL. At least Schwartz and Green did better on the do-over call that followed the official closing of the MySQL deal, which took place just 6 weeks later (well done!).

Now, it seems, their VP of Java Marketing has caught the disease, splurting out in geeky exuberation that he just can't wait to port JVM to Apple's iPhone and iPod touch. Problem is, as I read in el reg, there's this little thing called the Apple End User License Agreement that explicitly forbids it.

As the article makes painfully clear, it would be one thing if Klien had said something innocuous like "we would love to take advantage of the newly-released SDK to port JVM to these innovative devices," or something like that. But, oh nooo. Instead, he dove head first into the pile of manure, saying that he and his team (any of them still have a job, I wonder?) had spent the past 24 hours "furiously looking through" the Apple documentation. This caused el reg to wonder out loud if any of them can read (LMAO).

Walks like a trend, talks like a trend, must be a trend. Sun, if not for your own sake, then for the sake of those of us who are rooting and sticking up for you, please put some stricter corporate marketing/communications policies in place.

Microsoft's Hilf on Interoperability - source Uberpulse

good perspective from Hilf, who sounds like he has a cold, on the changes happening inside Microsoft and what they mean for the industry.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hyperic and OpenNMS Announce Joint Collab and Integration

Hyperic and OpenNMS are working together on real code for real customers. Our companies have been good friends for quite some time, and our products are very complementary. So, when some customers expressed a desire to merge some of their functionality, it was a no-brainer.

Cool! with all the recent brouhaha about vc-backed versus community driven open source, this deal is like a bridge over troubled water - nice going guys!

read more

Bits: Under Apple’s Watchful Eye, Games and Business Appli

Apple has created tools for programmers to build interesting applications to run on the iPhone. But all programs must be distributed through Apple, which will take 30 percent of the sale price.

I love this line, espec the end: "the iPhone, and the iPod Touch, are in fact on a path to become very powerful handheld computers, with features that business executives and game fanatics alike might find useful. (I know, some people are both.)"

read more

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

take a trip to McDonald's

ah the early 70s, when it was cool to be a freak

Friday, February 29, 2008

Google Open Source Team at Drupalcon '08

If your a Google open source fan, you'll want to read this to know where their rock stars will be making appearances over the coming weeks.I dugg the story, though, because of its brilliant description of a Google employee as a "Geek herder extraordinaire" I wonder if that's her title :-)

read more | digg story

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Open Source Google Apps Provisioning Toolkit Appears

The objective of the Open Source Google Apps Provisioning Toolkit is to provide a browser-based interface for creating and updating user accounts in Google Apps. It also happens to be very fast at provisioning accounts - averaging 20 account creations per second. SWEET!!!!!!!

read more | digg story

Microsoft's 'Openness' Pledge A Potential Patent Trap

Gartner analysts give developers word of caution regarding Microsoft's openness

read more | digg story

Mark Shuttleworth - Open Voices - Linux Foundation Podcast

Jim Zemlin of Linux Foundation interviews Mark Shuttleworth. There's So much great stuff here, you have to give it a listen.

Here's one snippet:

I think one thing that’s really important to understand is the difference between someone who works full-time for you and someone who works as part of a community contributor to your project that you’re interested in.You get very different kinds of contributions from those two. Some companies, I think, think that once they open source a product or if they join the open source community, then other people will do all the work that they don’t want to do and that’s only really true of certain kinds of things.I think what you get from the long tail of contributions in a community is a fleshing out, a rounding out of your product, a rounding out of the platform.So, if you’ve written, you know, an adapter to make something work with one database, then the community might well contribute extensions to that to make it work with two or three other databases; things that are nice to have for you, but not essential on your critical road map.And the flip side is that, you know, if you want to do rigorous QA, you won’t find that coming from the community, but you will find lots of interesting little QA tidbits coming from the community.And so, I think companies that understand how to interact and engage with a community, how to have their own full-time guys doing the things that they will do best, but also expose enough of the platform, expose enough of the project for other people to come in and do interesting bits of work tend to do better.

read more | digg story

Bourne Conspiracy Game Preview

GOT to get this game - so I guess that means I've got to go get a xBox

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How do you define ‘commercial open source’?

Mattew Aslett of 451 puts this question extremely well in his blog, specifically probing into how the answer to this question determines who will and will not need to get a license from Microsoft to write code to it's APIs and patented protocols.

read more | digg story

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Microsoft Patent and Open Source Thingy

I think Red Hat's EVP and General Counsel does a good job defining the skeptical response to Microsoft's announcement. While I agree with their desire to see actions, I am confused by the problem Red Hat and others have with Microsoft's limiting the patent license exclusion to non-commercial developers or non-commercial distribution. To me, that seems to pass the common sense test.

If I think about an example, let's say someone who works as a programmer at a for-profit open source company, say Groundwork Open Source, makes a contribution to the expressly non-commercial Open Source project Nagios that includes code that talks to Microsoft's stuff. As long as that piece of code is distributed in a non-commercial way, no problem. But if Groundwork decides to include that bit of functionality in their commercial solution (which may or may not be Open Source), then Groundwork needs to get a license (which Microsoft promises to provide in a non-discriminatory way and at a fair rate - and btw, I agree wholeheartedly with the skeptics here - proof will be in the pudding). I struggle to see what's unfair about this or how it differs substantially from the stance taken by commercial open source companies that have different license terms for different versions / uses of their product - companies like MySQL, and Alfresco. Alfresco's licensing page puts it this way:

Alfresco Software Ltd. provides its software (enterprise content management system, web content management system) under a number of flexible licenses, designed to meet the particular requirements of different types of users:

For Open Source Projects

  • If you are developing and distributing open source software under the GNU General Public License (“GPL”), then you are free to use Alfresco under the GPL License. More Info

  • If you are developing and distributing open source software under an OSI-Approved License, but not the GPL, and want to link Alfresco’s GPL software with yours, Alfresco provides the GPL License with a FLOSS Exception. More Info

For Commercial OEMs, ISVs and VARs

For OEMs, ISVs, and VARs who distribute Alfresco with their proprietary products, and do not wish to license and distribute their source code under the GPL, Alfresco provides a flexible OEM Commercial License. For more details please see our OEM Program Information.

For Enterprises, Government Organizations, Small-to-Medium-sized Businesses

Alfresco licenses Alfresco Enterprise under a Commercial License to paid subscribers, similar to how MySQL, Red Hat, and other leading open source companies license their technology. Those wishing to use Alfresco for free under the GPL should download Alfresco Community. Our Alfresco Enterprise software solution is the industry’s leading enterprise content management system. It comes with full enterprise-class production-level support; documentation; certification of a range of third-party databases, middleware, operating systems, and applications; timely resolution of bugs or other errors in the code; and updates and upgrades.

I just don't see how Microsoft's position is substantively different from Alfresco's

When Good Isn't Good Enough

A company with fewer than 50 employees needs great programmers, not just good ones. And once you find them, you have to hold on to them. Truer words about small tech companies never spoken.

read more | digg story

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lyceum Roundtable: Podcast on Software Development & MSFT+YHOO

About 2 weeks ago I did this podcast with my friend and colleague Syd Williams, who is President of Lyceum Associates, on the topics of Microsoft/Yahoo!, the move to cloud computing and thin clients and overall market shifts in software and the Internet.

Duration: 19 minutes (It takes a few moments to load)

[1] While everyone seems to focus on advertising as the primary catalyst behind Microsoft's decision to bid for Yahoo, to what extent does software development play a role? Is there a Trojan horse strategy at work here? Could Microsoft, in fact, use Yahoo to defend its core proprietary model?

[2] In the past Greg has discussed and written about market shifts favoring thin clients? With all the talk now about cloud computing, does he see this accelerating?

[3] What could we expect of today's different players? How might positions shift?

Bravo Microsoft

So I've spent a bit of time pouring over Microsoft's Interoperability announcement and I have to say I am impressed. It really looks like they're starting to get it, and I agree with them that it will be good for the industry, and it will also be good for Microsoft.

Here are a few excerpts that will be of particular interest to Open Source folks:
  • Microsoft is providing a covenant not to sue open source developers for development or non-commercial distribution of implementations of these protocols. These developers will be able to use the documentation for free to develop products. Companies that engage in commercial distribution of these protocol implementations will be able to obtain a patent license from Microsoft, as will enterprises that obtain these implementations from a distributor that does not have such a patent license.
  • Expanding industry outreach and dialogue. An ongoing dialogue with customers, developers and open source communities will be created through an online Interoperability Forum. In addition, a Document Interoperability Initiative will be launched to address data exchange between widely deployed formats.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sun ships management piece of xVM strategy

The Ops Center codebase has already been released under the open-source GPLv3 license and is available at

read more | digg story

Monday, February 18, 2008

Yo Obama - Change Your Stump Speech

I like Obama. I plan to vote for him and I hope he wins the Democratic nomination. But I have to say - his stump speeches are getting really boring. "We are going to take back this country, from sea to sea. If you vote for me on [date], I promise we will not just win [state], we will win the Democratic nomination and we will win the White House! Thank you [state]. I love you." Do you agree?

Of All the Hurdles to a Merger

Microsoft would face the task of integrating the culture of Yahoo into its own. Merging corporate cultures is generally a major undertaking in any acquisition. What would set this integration apart, though, is where the culture clash is likely to occur — in the two companies’ basic philosophies on technology.

read more | digg story

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Here's some thoughts I put together on community building that I think could serve across any industry - if you have thoughts, please comment

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Open Source: Changing the Software Supply Chain for Good

The ability for enterprises and the IT service providers (aka VARs) that serve them to customize open source software is why it is the better way to deliver software.

SugarCRM Distribution Case Study (originally published in LinuxWorld Magazine, February, 2006)

SugarCRM, the open source customer relationship management company, offers a good example of how to motivate and empower channels in an open source model. SugarCRM has several versions of their product, the freely available Sugar Open Source base product, and commercial Sugar Professional and Sugar Enterprise versions. They've signed up 70 partners worldwide in 15 months, a community that now contributes some 30 to 40% of the company's revenue. Because these partners have access to the source code, they do things like local language translation - half of the languages the product is offered in were developed and are maintained by partners. Partners also contribute enhancements to the SugarCRM open source community, called, enhancements that include LDAP integration/authentication, plug-ins to other contact repositories, and skins. Interestingly, just as SugarCRM offers different product tiers (free and two commercial flavors, all open source), so too do many of SugarCRM's partners. Many post product extensions to SugarCRM on, which can be downloaded and distributed free, and they also offer commercial versions of these extensions for heavier-duty usage. In this way, the hybrid free/commercial open source model exemplified by SugarCRM spawns an entire ecosystem of hybrid resellers/developers.

By directly participating in the improvement of open source products, partners benefit by offering products that are tailored to their customers' needs. This helps their sales by giving them the flexibility to custom-fit the product to meet their client's needs, and it also adds an important revenue stream, since partners can charge for truly custom integration and development. One such SugarCRM partner, AnySoft (, has developed about 20 new modules for Sugar Suite, one of which earned them the spot as current SugarCRM Project of the Month. According to AnySoft CEO Marcelo Leite, "I always try to have the user's perspective of the product, and use our business experience to understand how the software can make a company work better." Leite adds, "One of the modules I created, the Organizational Chart, lets users have a visual representation of who's who in the customer account, easily rearrange the tree, and keep the focus on the right target." Sweet.

What's more, the emerging popularity by companies like SugarCRM to offer both freely distributed versions and commercial versions of their products allows traditional VARs to ease their way into open source. They can begin by simply reselling the commercial version and offering traditional integration and support services. Once they become more comfortable with the product, with how their customers use it and how their customers would like to see it improved, they can bring a developer or two on board to build a custom module for that customer. The choice is theirs to make this enhancement freely available to the vendor and other VARs or to charge for it.

read more | digg story

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Average IT spending growth down, pressure to reduce costs up

Source: CIO Insight

CIO insight survey shows IT budgets growing more slowly, but money still available for high priority initiatives like Virtualization and Open Source.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Many IT Admins Still Not Sold on Virtualization

management is the soft underbelly of virtualization - this article does a great job of exposing this so that people embarking on virtualization now can build management into their roll-out

read more | digg story

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Boosting teamwork with wikis

It's not just for online encyclopedias: smart business owners use the new wiki software to encourage collaboration and save money.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Will the Recession Help or Hurt Open Source?

Well, it looks like we're going to find out the answer to this question over the coming months. The latest piece of data on the service sector seems to have convinced everyone that we are in a recession, and it could be a doosey.

One of the things I've heard some open sourcers say is how they often get stopped by purchasing. Line management loves their product, it does all that the expensive proprietary systems do (or all that the company needs them to do) and it usually costs a fraction. So on down the line it goes, until the proposal lands on the desk of purchasing - and when they see that the proposed BI/system management/database/enter open source solution category here costs 1/5 or less than the product it replaces, they pull out their big fat REJECT stamp and slam it down several times. Their reaction is natural, if annoying. How on earth, they wonder, could it be that something that costs so much less could be as good? And, more importantly, how can I justify all the approvals I've made over the past couple years for this obscenely expensive solution if there's an alternative out there that costs so much less?

I know there's been some discussion and debate by open source pundits about whether low cost should even be mentioned as one of open source's benefits (my opinion - absofrickenlutely!). Now, more than ever, is the time to tout this. Tout? No, Shout!!!

With top lines shrinking and business demands on IT to deliver agility and application uptime unabated, now is the perfect time for Open Source to breakthrough.

MySpace Users Build Up Ad Immunity

While News Corp. is thrilled about its social network's ad-revenue growth, Google and many marketers are frustrated about click-through rates

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Is Obama a Mac and Clinton a PC?

What a brilliant headline!!!

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Monday, February 4, 2008

Microsoft's war plan

great inside look at what happened to make Yahoo so vulnerable

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Your Success Depends on Your Talent

What business leaders can learn from the Super Bowl-winning practices of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Click read more to check out this article. I made some similar observations here a while ago.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Open Source Systems Management: What SysAdmins Want

For the past couple months, we've had a poll running on asking visitors what they'd like to see as the next feature. As anyone who knows me can attest, I am a huge believer in the wisdom of the crowds, and so the NetDirector roadmap will follow where our community takes us.

The following graph shows the results of the poll so far (click on the image to make it bigger).

As interesting and useful as this feedback is (and, btw, thank you for everyone who participated), I think it is equally interesting to read between the lines of this poll's results. The top three features requested, Windows support, and integration plugins to the two most popular open source patching tools, Apt and Yum, speak clearly and unequivocably to the need for better tool integration. As things stand today, there is no open source tool for managing across Linux, UNIX and Windows systems. Further, even in the Linux/UNIX world, Sys Admins must rely on seperate tools for managing configs (Webmin, command or scripts) and patching those systems with something like Yum or Apt. The concept of lifecycle management, where managing configurations and set up is seemlessly linked with patching and provisioning simply does not exist.

If you want all this, you have 2 choices - shell out beacoup bucks for a proprietary system from someone like Opsware (now HP) or BladeLogic, and get about twice the features you actually need and want, or build it (and then maintain it) yourself.

In the next dot release of NetDirector, we are going to go some ways towards helping integrate these various tools. We'll be offering a Windows agent, and we'll be vastly improving the developer docs so that, hopefully, we can convince people on the Yum and Apt projects to help create NetDirector plugins to these tools. Hopefully, we will also be able to include in this release a feature to allow SysAdmins to run their own scripts through NetDirector.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Relieving the systems management burden

fresh research and survey data of IT ops folks looks at what causes them pain - free report avail for download, no registration required

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Nokia spends €105m on mobile Linux developer

Finnish handset giant Nokia is buying mobile Linux developer Trolltech, in an all-cash deal valuing the company at about €105m.

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Of Open Agents and Wheel Reinvention: The BMC Performance Ma

Cote lays out a strong case for an open systems management agent based on BMC's agent he worked on

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The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version)

"Web 2.0" in just under 5 minutes. this is a wicked cool video explaining web 2.0 from technology guts to end-user application. comprehensive and consumable.

form Dr. Michael Wesch, Kansas State University

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Open Source SysAdmin Tools: Mind the Gap

In talking with some other people in the open source systems administration / data center automation space recently, I made a surprisingly astute observation while describing where NetDirector fits into the mix. For the set up and administration of a single local server or node, you've got tried-and-true tools like YaST and Webmin, and the newer ebox. These are great for helping SysAdmins who may be newer to Linux/UNIX and for old hands that just don't want to muck around with .conf files. But they don't scale very well to multi-node and distributed environments, where things like revision control, many-as-one (AKA globbing) and RBAC become gotta haves.

If you want these features Today, you need to step up to something like Puppet or cfengine. These tools give you all the power, scalability and control you could ever want. What they aren't, though, is easy to use. So, there's this massive gap between the easy-to-use tools on one hand and the scalable tools on the other. And this is where NetDirector plays.

With NetDirector, less-experienced Admins get a GUI for fill-in-the-blanks administration of many of the most popular open source server apps running on one or a group of servers. In the near future, we will enable more experienced admins to create and run their own scripts through NetDirector against a set of distributed nodes. And NetDirector provides tight role-based access control (RBAC) so that, for example, the script functionality can only be accessed by certain Admins, and more junior Admins can only interface with services via the GUI modules.

Why does this matter? It matters, I think, because if you are a mid sized company, you don't want to have different tools for different admins. You want one tool that all admins can use.

And this brings me to the last wicked cool thing about NetDirector. The next dot release, scheduled for mid feb, will include a Windows agent. With Windows support, in addition to filling the gap between single-server tools and massive CM tools, NetDirector will also bridge the fizzure between Linux and Windows tools.

In the interest of full disclosure, what you can do with NetDirector on Windows will be limited initially, since we don't have any plugins for Windows-based applications (yet). But, if for some reason you are running Apache on Windows, you will be able to use NetDirector to manage it. But the key thing is that this sets the foundation for NetDirector really being able to serve as the single, central administration tool for mid-sized enterprises, since just about all of these guys have some Windows. And, it's free and open source (yes, I can use the term open source confidently, since we are also moving to GPLv2 in the Feb. release).

And where we plan to go with NetDirector is very exciting. So, we'll have the script plugin available soon for running scripts against Linux/UNIX servers. And later, we'll implement the ability to run batch scripts through NetDirector on your Windows machines. And how about Windows service plugins, like a SQL Server GUI, an Exchange GUI, etc.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Parody Video Tom Cruise WANTS you to see!

Jerry O'Connell gives valuable insight on acting, the writer's strike, and um . . .

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Tom Cruise Maniac Laugh (REMIX)

alright - this might be funnier.PS I wish I knew how to put the actually toutube video in my blog

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Leaked Tom Cruise Interview on Scientology Parody

Maybe the funniest thing I have seen this decade.Parody of the leaked Tom Cruise interviews about Scientology and his beliefs in the "religion/cult"

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cisco Networker Barcelona

Working the Cisco Netwker Show in Barcelona, WhatsUp Gold's Peter Christensen is finding that, as more and more critical services move to the data network, like VoIP, the importance of solid, easy to use monitoring solutions is going up up up.

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The Social Media Press Release - Digital Snippets

“SMPRs are used to help digital content creators tell their stories, not just a place where you tell your stories to content creators. That’s a pretty fundamental shift from traditional PR practice, and one that we think far better reflects the current nature of successful communications. Once released to the public, the traditional press release is not able to evolve the story. The content is often long, tremendously detailed and heavily editorialized text that the “traditional journalist” is paid to sift through. An SMPR, however, cuts out the editorial and streamlines the core content into easily digestible, quotable and most importantly, updatable “Digital Snippets”. This makes every item posted on an SMPR a potential “asset” for the influencers to quote, republish and editorialize credibly."

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sun Buys MySQL, Reaffirming Commitment to Open Source

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Sun is serious about Open Source, and it's a damned good thing!!

But I have to say that it's a shame this IR audiocast with Schwartz, Green and Mickos about the deal so royally flunked the Straight-talk test. Where in the hell is Sun's corporate marketing?

I tuned in late, just in time to hear the third from the last questions, which was something like: What does this mean to Sun's relationships with PosgresQL and Oracle?

Schwartz - we believe in PostgresQL so much that we spent a billion dollars on MySQL - HUH?

To clarify, Green added that open source is all about customer choice, and we're not choosing...WHAT?

I plan to listen to the rest once the replay is available and will add to this post as appropriate.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Berlind dumps ZDNet for CMP

Well, I guess I need to update the links section of my blog. David Berlind, the best IT journalist, is moving from CNET property ZDnet over to CMP. Best of luck David!! And keep it real, ayyyyight?

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Is Change the "root of all evil"?

I was struck by Enterprise Strategy Group Analyst Bob Laliberte's quote in this eWeek article in which he said "Change is the root of all evil—just ask any IT manager."

Obviously Bob didn't talk to NetDirector users :-)

But let me ask you - is Change the root of all evil? Or is Uncontrolled Change the root of all evil?

McAfee and Davenport webinar on viability of Enterprise 2.0

Free Webinar next week from two of the top Web 2.0 thinkers - register early...Click "read more" link below for description and link to register

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What does have against work?

Click the "read more" link below to check out this article and video of one of Monster's newest ads. It's so true that they make work look sucky, as if all jobs don't have somethy sucky about them.

I wonder if you can correlate the rise of online job boards, and Monster's ads like this one, with an increase in job-hopping.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Upcoming Event: BarCamp FUDCon 11-13 January 2008

11-13 January 2008, Raleigh, NC - NC State University Centennial Campus And Red Hat HQ

FUDCon stands for Fedora User and Developer Conference. FUDCon Raleigh 2008 will be held as a Bar Camp. A Bar Camp is an "un-conference" where people interested in a wide range of issues come together to teach and learn. Unfamiliar with the un-conference format? Here's the idea in a nutshell. Rather than having scheduled speakers, everyone pitches sessions the morning of the Bar Camp. Those sessions are put on a schedule, and lots of little groups form for intense group learning. Everyone is expected to teach, to talk, to participate. Yeah, it's different from a regular conference - but it works!

Berlind Interivews Google Apps 'founder' Rajen Sheth

If you're curious to know what Google Apps is all about and what's coming down the pike, check out this video podcast

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What Makes the Patriots Great?

As all 3 of you who semi-regularly read this blog know, I am a soccer (AKA football) fan. Even though I was pretty scrawny as a kid, I played American football in Middle School and in my freshman year in High School, and I was a Philadelphia Eagles fan in college. But since leaving college, I really haven't followed the sport.

However, my relatives in Worcester (pronounced Wooster), MA are HUGE Pats fans (and Red Sox fans and Bruins fans and...) and so I've been paying some attention lately, especially this season since they went a perfect 16-0.

As it happened, we were in New York this past week visiting my sister and her family for the season-ending NY Giants v. Patriots game in New York. A Pats win would induct them into an elite undefeated club with only 3 other teams.

My sister, brother-in-law and I stayed up to watch the game Saturday night. And it was a great game. Not just because the Patriots won, but also because how they won. The Giants led most of the game, but in the 3rd and 4th Quarters, the Pats staged a beautiful and totally unstoppable comeback, ultimately winning 38-35.

So, what makes the Patriots great? Well, football fans may be inclined to list a fearless and talented QB, awesome receivers, a decent running game and a great coach among the sources of their greatness. While I'd agree that none of this is untrue, I'd add that, in my opinion, none of these assets is the root source of their greatness. Rather, I think the true source of their greatness is the Patriot's Level-5 leadership.

For those of you who haven't read Jim Collins' book Good to Great, you can get a taste of the concept on the author's website. Collins writes:

Level 5 leaders are a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless. To quickly grasp this concept, think of United States President Abraham Lincoln (one of the few Level 5 presidents in United States history), who never let his ego get in the way of his primary ambition for the larger cause of an enduring great nation. Yet those who mistook Mr. Lincoln’s personal modesty, shy nature, and awkward manner as signs of weakness found themselves terribly mistaken, to the scale of 250,000 Confederate and 360,000 Union lives, including Lincoln’s own (Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative: Red River to Appomattox (New York: Random House, 1975), 1040; James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York: Ballantine Books, 1989), 854.).

While it might be a bit of a stretch to compare the good-to-great CEOs to Abraham Lincoln, they did display the same duality.

The Two Sides of Level 5 Leadership

Professional Will Personal Humility
Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great. Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult. Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
Sets the standard of building an enduring great company; will settle for nothing less. Channels ambition into the company, not the self; sets up successors for even greater success in the next generation.
Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck. Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company—to other people, external factors, and good luck.

Here's one example of this from the Giant's game: After the game, a reporter grabbed Patriot's QB Tom Brady before he darted into the locker room for a quick interview. I was struck by the sincere modesty Tom displayed in the interview. When the reporter asked why Tom went back to Moss with a long pass that resulted in a TD right after Moss had dropped a pass in the previous play, Tom instantaneously, and with a surprised tone in his voice, said "He didn't drop that pass. I under threw it." Well, I saw that play, and my take is that both the reporter and Brady were correct. The ball was under thrown, but it bounced right off Moss's hands as if they were made of stone. Point is that Brady could have easily said something like "well, I wanted to give him another chance," or "we all make mistakes," and that wouldn't have been a dig on Moss, it would have been pretty accurate. But he didn't - he was self-effacing, he took responsibility and he went back to Moss on the next play because he was open and because they had connected on similar passes dozens of times during the season. And when asked what he would remember most about the season, it wasn't any personal record, it was the team achievement - all Brady said was "16-0!"

This kind of humility and sincere and complete dedication to team only comes from one place - the top. Brady is a total Level-5 leader on the field because Belichick is a Level-5 leader on the sideline.

What about the IT industry? Who are technology's Level-5's?
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