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 :-)

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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!!!!!!!

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Microsoft's 'Openness' Pledge A Potential Patent Trap

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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