With all of that moving and shaking, open source advocates are bound to worry about the fate of their database darling, but face it, after an acquisition of this nature, most of the execs who engineered it will be in the wind within 18 months. Still, it doesn’t look good and the fact that Widenius was apparently disdainful of Sun’s efforts to update the database over the past year and said the latest 5.1 release was released before it’s time.
Also worrisome to Sun partners — both developers and others — is the notion that Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz is driving out great talent. They point to the departure in November of Rich Green the well-regarded ex-Sun exec who had returned earlier to run Sun’s software efforts.]]>
Amidst all the cloud talk, there were a few deliverables mentioned in Monday’s keynotes including activation codes for four new Azure Services outlined by Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie on Monday morning. Developers and VARs can use those codes to poke around and try out the hosted services.
Those services — hosted by Microsoft but available to participating developers — are Microsoft SQL Services that add reporting and other capabilities to the previously announced SQL Server Data Services; .NET Services including “.NET framework concepts” such as Windows Workflow (WF) and access control; Live Services for storing, sharing and synchronizing data and documents; SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services.
It was unclear from the various Ozzie, Bob Muglia and David Thompson speeches exactly which of the SQL Server data services (there will be many) will be accessible soon. This is another rolling rollout.
Muglia, the senior vice president of servers and tools, likened this PDC slate to the 1992 Professional Developers Conference where Windows NT was outlined. He was smart to steer clear of any mention of the past two PDCs and their Longhorn promises.
Throughout the session, which was streamed, the question was (and remains) what the toll will be for the use of this infrastructure. To borrow from an infamous quote attributed to former Microsoft exec Paul Maritz: “What’s the vig?”
Microsoft, the ultimate capitalist, isn’t doing this out of the goodness of its heart. The business model here is every bit as important as the technology — which remains unproven. Most likely it will come in and under price Amazon.com’s for-rent infrastructure.
Ozzie addressed that issue. Kind of. Basically, the business model remains under wraps and will evolve. Here’s the money quote (so to speak) from Ozzie:
“When it is released commercially, Windows Azure will have a very straightforward business model, with costs primarily being derived as a function of two key factors, and apps resource consumption and a specific service level that we agree to provide.
The pricing and models for all the Azure services will be competitive with the marketplace, and we’ll provide a variety of offers and service levels where there may be differentiated requirements across the breadth of developers and markets that we serve as a company from the individual developer to the enterprise.
Azure services offerings will be available directly through the Web and through existing channels and programs, and we’ll give you more details about our offerings as we get closer to commercial release.”
Ozzie was good enough to credit Amazon.com’s efforts from the stage, acknowledging that Microsoft and others would be standing on its shoulders going forward into this massive cloud.
UPDATE (10/28): Here’s what Muglia told The Wall Street Journal re: cloud pricing and profitability:
“As we start charging customers we will start to be able to make money,” Muglia said in an interview.
“We’re in investment mode now,” he added. He said the service should be profitable fairly quickly.
As the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference kicked off this morning in Los Angeles, bicycle riders outside the convention center distributed T-shirts and fliers promoting the Salesforce.com development platform, Force.com, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Microsoft Blog. They also gave out donuts.
Salesforce.com showed impeccable timing, because inside the show, Microsoft launched its own hosted development platform, Windows Azure. Azure, formerly referred to as Windows Cloud, will also face competition from the Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services.]]>
“Buying from my competitors.”
The response tickled the audience of more than 400 solution providers. But Spierkel said Ingram had worked too hard at supporting partners to be cut out of the picture because of a competitor with a cheaper price. It was the first of many times during the week that Ingram would preach the value-over-price mantra.
Attendees agreed that Ingram’s support can sometimes make it worth overlooking distributors that slash prices. But throughout the week, partners highlighted a larger issue. As their business models change to focus less on pushing product and more on selling managed services, their relationship with Ingram is changing too.
“There is a divergence of needs between Ingram and the partners,” one partner said on condition of anonymity. “My needs are not necessarily those of Ingram’s any more.”
That’s because the partner has decided it is more beneficial to build his own hosted services infrastructure than go with Ingram’s Seismic managed services offering.
Another VTN member said Seismic came a little too late.
“We invested in the technology before Ingram started Seismic and we were a little annoyed,” said Larry Baum, CEO of The Computing Center. “But of all the aggregated programs out there, I think Ingram’s offering is the best.” So The Computing Center offers a “hybrid” of services from its own infrastructure and from Seismic.
Ted Warner, president of Connecting Point and founding VTN member, said it comes down to “are you going to outsource or do your own deal. We do our own thing.” Many long-time VTN members said they have the business processes in place to start offering their own services and be more profitable than they could be through a partnership. Still, Warner stressed that Ingram and fellow VTN members have been fully supportive of that choice.
Many partners have said that newer VARs are more likely to benefit from Seismic, and one newer member of VTN confirmed that “I don’t think I could build up the variety of services that Seismic offers,” he said.
For its part, Ingram pitched Seismic hard all week, including in keynotes and during sessions. Vice president of services Justin Crotty, who runs the managed service program, urged partners “to combat commoditization” by differentiating themselves in ways other than price (namely through services). Then he urged partners that have built their own infrastructure to join Seismic when they are “ready for a refresh” or to add new services.
Whether or not his message stuck will be seen over time.]]>
Terms of the deal have not yet been announced. Cisco executives were unavailable to discuss the impact of the deal on Cisco or Jabber partners.
Though Cisco already owns instant messaging and presence features, Jabber’s applications are open source and based on its own Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP). These applications are therefore easier to integrate into emailing, calendaring and other Web 2.0 software across the board, giving Cisco a leg up in the collaboration race against Microsoft and IBM.
Cisco said in a statement that the Jabber acquisition would enable presence and messaging to be used in WebEx Connect and its UC platform to provide both “on-premise and on-demand solutions.” Cisco executives said in August they would make Webex collaboration announcements this month, and those will also likely be part of this collaboration strategy.
“Enterprise organizations want an extensible presence and messaging platform that can integrate with business process applications and easily adapt to their changing needs,” said Doug Dennerline, Cisco senior vice president of the collaboration software group, in a statement. “Our intention is to be the interoperability benchmark in the collaboration space.”
Cisco is not actually leading the way when it comes to open source collaboration, since, for example, Novell’s Teaming collaboration offering is open source and can integrate into most emailing, calendaring and enterprise 2.0 applications.
Also, Cisco is not alone in identifying collaboration as a space for immediate movement. Last week, IBM announced an expansion of its enterprise Web 2.0 strategy, which will enable social software platform Lotus Connections to integrate into iEnterprises’ CRM software, as well include new mashup capabilities. IBM also announced The Center for Social Software, a social software research center that will serve as the incubator for new enterprise 2.0 products.
For Cisco, the Jabber acquisition also brings a new set of customers to maintain and possibly up-sell. The Department of Homeland Security, Wells Fargo and FedEx are just a few of Jabber’s extensive list of major customers that have both implemented its products and built up customized applications based on XMPP.
“This isn’t just a technology, this is an ecosystem,” said Peter O’Kelly, principal analyst at O’Kelly Consulting. “It’s in Cisco’s best interest to keep that vibrant community.”
O’Kelly added that Cisco has a good track record of acquiring companies and “not breaking them.”
The Jabber acquisition is expected to close in the first half of fiscal year 2009. Upon the deal’s close, Jabber employees will be incorporated into the Cisco Collaboration Software Group.]]>
This is a developers’ release based on the desktop edition of the Linux fan-favorite Ubuntu operating system. The release should help developers tailor apps to smaller screens
Ubuntu MID will start to follow the usual Ubuntu six-month release cycle starting with the Ubuntu 8.10 release.]]>
“Both the main MySQL server code and the code for many ancillary projects have been converted to Bazaar and are published on Launchpad,” blogged Kaj Arno, MySQL’s vice president of community. (Sun Microsystems bought MySQL earlier this year.)
Bazaar, a GNU project, is supported by Canonical, the Ubuntu people.
MySQL will also use Launchpad, a project-hosting and collaboration system, to host the MySQL code. “”This means that anyone can now publish their own branches of MySQL, with work in progress, fixes,” according to a Canonical blog.
The Launchpad repository is available from at Launchpad.net.
BitKeeper was “a good choice for us for the past five years as it is very good for distributed teams. However we wanted something more open that would make it possible to easily accommodate contributions from a wider audience. We looked at a lot of different systems and decided to go with Bazaar from Canonical,” Zack Urlocker, MySQL vice president of products said via email.]]>
The notion of functions served up direct to users from a vendor-owned-and-operated cloud poses a huge disintermediation threat to partners, as Richard Warren, of North Carolina Technologies told SearchITChannel.com, earlier this week.
But the cloud vendors still need to prove themselves able to fully compete in a world where 99.9% of users need remote or offline capabilities. They need to work on their data and apps even if they’re not (gasp) connected to the Web.
Google execs say they will prove their technology worthy of the enterprise, blazing the trail with the Google Appliance. Google Gears is starting to bring offline capability to the company’s consumer and business services — Google Reader is “Gears enabled” as is Google Docs. (The spreadsheet and presentations so far support just view-only offline access.)
The whole “offline thing” is by far Google’s biggest gap when it comes to corporate users, says Michael Cizmar, president of MC+A, a Chicago based collaboration specialist who is otherwise a big fan of Google and its cloud.
“The biggest drawback of the cloud is not being able to work remotely. As much as you think you’re wired, the second you get on a plane, you’re not,” he explains.
Richard Newman, managing partner of Reliant Security, agrees that the so-called
“ubiquitous” fast Internet access Google talks about is not all that ubiquitous. “There’s some fast wireless bandwidth but the current best available is the 3G network. At about $60 a month, that’s affordable for most corporate users but the truth of the matter is you’re lucky if you get a meg downstream and 384 upstream. And, it’s not available everywhere. You go to conferences and the service is always over-subscribed.”
And that takes you back to most customers’ absolute requirement that they be able to work offline.
Cizmar thinks that value-added partners — those who integrate disparate services and applications, those who build applications, and those who support customers — will be more valuable than ever in a cloudy future. And that will be true whether the infrastructure provider of choice is Salesforce.com, Amazon.com, Microsoft, NetSuite, add-your-own-favorite-company here.
“Solution providers provide [domain] and technology implementation expertise. That will still be needed. Look at Salesforce.com or NetSuite. We are a tech company and we have a partner that implements our NetSuite solution,” he notes.
The cloud can provide VARs who do their own app development a potentially huge market. “If you have an application, and put it on the Google marketplace, you’re immediately exposed to 500,000 customers. He admits he hasn’t yet done so, however.
The model of support and high-end customer care is the same whether the app runs in house or in the much-hyped cloud. “If you did Lotus Notes consulting, those customers needed the infrastructure then you as a partner built apps for it. You built the workflow apps, the custom templates. In this new world you’ll do the same thing but are not necessarily responsible for the infrastructure.”
Newman says the cloud will be a force in business applications, but widespread adoption will take time.
“There’s great promise to make any resource available anywhere but it’ll be a long time before people will rely on a cloud-based Microsoft Office clone,” he notes.
To hear about Google’s enterprise push, listen in on this week’s Partner News Podcast.
Barbara Darrow can be reached at email@example.com.]]>
Bricklin, in his trademark flannel shirt (it’s nearly 100 degrees out!) said hello before heading into Ross Mayfield’s Enterprise 2.0 keynote. Mayfield is chairman, prez and co-founder of Socialtext– the company working on Bricklin’s “Social Spreadsheet.”
What this thing will do is combine the collaborative perks of wikis with the structural finesse of a spreadsheet, Mayfield said. That means it’ll let you do wiki-like things — searching, linking, authoring, tagging in the familiar row-and-table UI so beloved of Excel and Lotus 1-2-3 users.
“You can include a wiki page in a spreadsheet cell,” Mayfield said.
The analogy was made to the original compound documents, which melded graphics and tables and text from different sources into a (hopefully coherent) whole.
“We hope to have 80% of the features of Excel but create a better process for working across workgroups,” Mayfield said.
That would mean workgroups could work across organizational structure, geographies, you get the picture.
Barbara Darrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]]>
At TechEd 2008 part one (for developers) Gates hit on some familiar themes and presided over demos of upcoming modeling, database, and development technologies.
Not coincidentally, a lot of time was spent on software modeling (IBM Rational, the leader in enterprise-class modeling is hosting its own conference just miles away from TechEd’s Orlando venue. Accident? Plan? My money’s on the latter.)
Some scheduling tidbits from the keynote: Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 is due in August, Silverlight 2 beta 2 is due by the end of the week (with Go Live license); SQL Server 2008 release “within a month or two.” The Microsoft Sync Framework will be released in the third quarter and will support for the FeedSync open protocol format on devices. A CTP for Windows Mobile support will also be available in the third quarter 2008. Expect to hear more about next-gen “Oslo” modeling tools at the Professional Developers Conference next fall.
Some recurring themes: Gates stressed again that all Windows server functionality will be mirrored in analogous services. He also reiterated (again!) that Exchange Server will some day rely on a SQL data store and that SharePoint, which already uses that store to some extent, will get even deeper integration with it over time. “SharePoint is already using SQL in a very rich way and we will expose more to the SharePoint developer,” he said.
Microsoft Technical Fellow Brian Harry demonstrated development modeling techniques in Visual Studio Team Foundation that would let the developer check his code against a visual representation of the application. The diagram would depict which parts of the app work on the client (thick or thin) and which on the server.
In theory these tools would enable developers to work in a scenario tailored to their needs or persona (shades of the Office user experience spiel here.)
What WAS clear is that he talked about how developers will be able to develop for outside databases (namely IBM’s DB2 database) without leaving the Visual Studio IDE. Hmm. Take that IBM!
As Microsoft has said, SQL Server 2008 will add support for geospatial and other visually-oriented data types. Technology fellow Dave Campbell talked up the nascent SQL Server Data Services as part of the company’s strategy of putting data where it most makes sense. SSDS, running on Microsoft infrastructure, can act as a data hub for information flowing in from wherever and can sync up using the aforementioned sync framework with local data.
Campbell built a blogging app on the fly, incorporating a digital photo taken of him onstage. Because of its database roots, this application and its underlying data can be protected using SQL Server strictures. And, contributors can be paid for their contributions using the database’s native transactional capabilities.
Overall development stuff:
S. Somasegar stressed again that developers in the Microsoft sphere will be able to apply their existing skill sets “and frankly their code anywhere.”
Silverlight suits app development for browser clients while the Windows Presentation Foundation — which Gates called a “perfect superset” of Silverlight — can take full advantage of fatter Windows clients.
“You can do great things in Silverlight, but there will always be things in WIFE that you cannot do in Silverlight. WPF assumes the full power of the PC, not just the browser. Think 3-D thinks like ink recognition or playing video back at arbitary speeds. WPF connects into all of Windows.”
Somasegar presided over a demo of Crossfader, a social networking application being built with Silverlight. It promises to enable development of apps that share digital music, pictures, videos using a visual, moving conveyor belt interface.
Somasegar said overall development for this app will take three months, compared to over a year if developers used older tools.
Barbara Darrow can be reached at email@example.com.]]>