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Microsoft has operating system patents; Linux has none

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This post was also published in CNET News.The uproar in the open-source community over Microsoft's embrace of Novell says a lot.

It reveals that many open-source backers fundamentally don't understand the software business. When vendors compete, customers win. This is good.

Contrary to the numerous rants in the open-source community, the recent deal between Microsoft and Novell--in which the companies have agreed to interoperability, reselling and patent protection--is actually an excellent business deal and a good thing for the open-source community.

Microsoft is growing up after its antitrust issues. It is actually listening to its customers. Chief information officers have been telling Microsoft for years that they are sick of interoperability issues and that Microsoft has to stop acting like a big baby and learn to play well with others. The good news here is that Linux is now woven into the business fabric of every major company.

The reality of the technology business is that…

Googlology: Avoiding the steamroller

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This post was also published in VentureBeat.It used to be de rigueur in Silicon Valley to stay out of the way of Microsoft’s product road map – even areas Microsoft hinted they might pursue. Nowadays, venture folks more commonly ask, “What are you going to do about Google?”

The reality of the marketplace is that unless a startup builds a huge community, Google pays only around $50 million for a company (if you’re lucky) and then only if they want to jumpstart a feature by buying a startup.

At this point, Google has trounced Yahoo with consumers. Google expanded its offerings by acquiring several YAW2 (Yet Another Web 2.0) companies with no viable business models, such as wiki software producer JotSpot, Upstartle (maker of the online word-processing program Writely) and of course YouTube. As a result, almost no gaps are left in Google’s consumer portfolio… and no $50+ million opportunities remain for startups other than in “Social Networking,” where Google might buy an existing community…

Everything will cost nothing

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It is obvious at this point that the cost of data communication, storage, and processing is rapidly approaching zero. The cost of these commodities follow an exponential curve towards zero when viewed along a timeline of a century, let alone a millennia. Almost every good and service in our economy is following a similar pricing curve. The accelerating reduction in price of goods and services has become particularly pronounced in this century as we approach the tail end of the exponential curve. For example, the cost of a full day of food and crossing a continent was exorbitant 2000 years ago, relatively pricey 100 years ago, and it now costs $10 for some burritos and pizza and $100 for a JetBlue flight. When compared to the cost 2000 years ago, $110 is relatively nothing to eat all day and travel 3000 miles. Similarly, computing with a free tshatshki calculator costs almost nothing compared to having to have a team of people counting with abacuses 2000 years ago. The following …

Blue is the new green

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This posting plots numerous measures of the individual states of the United States with a blue-red gradient. The electoral map of the 2004 Presidential election correlates remarkably to measures such as gross state product, per capita income, federal taxes paid vs. received, number of state employees, college education rate, infant mortality rate, obesity rate, and divorce rate. An explanation for this correlation is how industries within the United States have gravitated to distinct geographic area, as shown in the following map. California hosts two industries, Technology in San Francisco/Silicon Valley and Entertainment in Los Angeles. New York City hosts both the Finance and Media industries in one city. Advanced Manufacturing is hosted in the Great Lakes region, centered on Chicago. Seattle hosts Aerospace and New Jersey hosts Pharmaceuticals along the I-95 corridor. All of these industries require intensive intellectual capital. Florida's Tourism and Texas' Energ…

Why corporate web sites stink

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This post was also published in BusinessWeek. There's a raft of new tools for improving the way sites interact with users — but many businesses have yet to learn how to use them

Why are so many new consumer Web sites so cool while business sites just sit in the Internet ether, flat and lifeless like old magazines stacked up in a dentist's waiting room?

It has a lot to do with some tools with names like LAMP, AJAX, and enterprise mash-ups. More on these in a moment. First, sit down while I explain why these new sites are hot, and your site is not.

In case you haven't noticed, consumer Web-site features and functionality have evolved dramatically over the last few years. Industry wags have labeled the new Web-development craze as "Web 2.0," and point to the likes of Google Maps, MySpace, and Zillow as examples of where the consumer Web experience is headed.

These new Web sites rock. They have rich user interfaces. You can move maps around with a mouse click. Menus…

Big company open source behavior patterns

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This post was also published in InfoWorld. Open source has definitely challenged the business models of existing infrastructure software players. Following is an ontology of different types of big company reactions to open source, and an example of each type of behavior pattern.

Join the Party - IBM

"Join the Party" open source players contribute extensively to existing open source projects, even those that are competing with their proprietary products. IBM has regularly made major contributions to open source technologies that compete with their own products. Examples include IBM's support of Linux, which competes with their AIX UNIX operating system, and Geronimo and PHP, which compete with its WebSphere business. IBM is clearly the most sophisticated large player in the open source space - IBM follows its customers, and if the customers want open source, IBM is going to be the one to deliver it to them, and make money with services along the way.

Run like Hell - Ora…

Three simple things Sun should do to win

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This post was also published in InfoWorld.The industry trends around Linux, x86 processors, and scripting languages are clear. Unfortunately, Sun is swimming against the tide on all three of these trends, in fear that it could cannibalize its existing business. Following is a simple, three step strategy for Sun to swim WITH the tide, while still maintaining its revenue.

#1 - Migrate Solaris to Linux

Operating systems are a commodity. The Unix wars are over, and they have been won by Linux. IBM is migrating AIX to Linux. Digital Unix is dead. SGI Irix is dead. HP-UX is dead. Sun should announce a long term strategy of moving to Linux and start migrating Solaris features like DTRace to Linux, just like IBM contributed SMP and journaling code to Linux. Sun is unique in that it has a full Unix System V license from AT&T, so it can sell an indemnified Linux.

Proof point: IBM has a long term strategy of migrating AIX to Linux, and it has not cannibalized AIX/Power sales.

#2 - Migra…

An open letter to Jonathan Schwartz

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This post was also published in InfoWorld.Dear Jonathan,

Long time no see! The same way you enjoy writing open letters to IBM and others in your blog -- I wanted to write an open letter to you and Sun, and see if I can get a little clarity about your open source software strategy. As I am sure you have noticed, there has been quite a bit of momentum around LAMP in the industry, ranging from innovators like Google, Yahoo!, and Amazon, to the "Web 2.0" crowd like Friendster, MySpace, and Flickr. In addition, LAMP has increasing usage in the enterprise.

The "P" languages in LAMP -- PHP, Python, and Perl -- are all open source, and each provide their own virtual machine. It would be ideal if the Java JVM was open source so that open source projects like PHP could join up with the Java Virtual Machine. In turn, Java would be much more competitive with .Net, which supports numerous languages out of the box. Initiatives like adding dynamic language support in the JVM …

Confounding: Sun vs. scripting languages

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This post was also published in InfoWorld. During my five year tenure at Sun, Graham Hamilton, the Java CTO, killed every initiative to run scripting languages on the Java Virtual Machine. These include 1999's "javab", which would have run Visual BASIC syntax on the JVM, and 2003's "Java 3", which would have supported optional typelessness for Java objects.

Clearly, the industry trend towards scripting languages like PHP and Ruby has finally had an effect, since Graham has recently sponsored JSR 292: Supporting Dynamically Typed Languages on the JavaTM Platform. The time lag here is similar to the time lag it took Graham to support SOAP in favor of RMI after a ton of resistance, which Sun paid for dearly when they had minimal impact in the development of the web service standards we use today.

It's great that Sun has finally decided to support scripting languages in some way in the next couple of years. However it is clear that this change was done …

Integrate on the Front End with Lightweight Architecture

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This post was also published in InfoWorld. "Integration" is the third rail of enterprise IT. The mere mention of the word raises terrifying thoughts of huge budgets, endless meetings, and extremely complicated software.

But the days where each enterprise application is an island are coming to an end--even things as simple as an employee directory now need to integrate the HR systems of multiple divisions, accommodate cross-reporting and virtual teams, and integrate outsourced third parties. Like it or not, essentially every enterprise application today requires integration.

Naturally, enterprises have taken notice of the rise of "mash-up" applications on the Internet that integrate data from a variety of sources in new and useful ways. The trend was kicked off with sites like Housingmaps.com, which displays Craigslist housing listings on Google Maps, and has now reached quite a pinnacle with a conference called Mashup Camp where numerous people demonstrated useful…

Enterprise SOA apps take off on lightweight architecture

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This post was also published in InfoWorld.At the last InfoWorld SOA Executive Forum, I asked the audience for a show of hands on the following question: "Who thinks it's easier to build an app that communicates to a web service than it is to write an app that communicates to a database?" Of this very sophisticated audience of senior IT architects and managers only two people raised their hands.

After having spent countless amounts of time and money implementing service-oriented architectures, enterprises are finding that it's still incredibly difficult to build new user-facing applications that tie services together. Why? Because enterprises are trying to build composite apps with traditional technologies such as J2EE.

It's hard enough using this approach to build a basic HTML application that talks to a single database. It is nearly impossible when you're using the same tools to create applications with rich interfaces that integrate with multiple services inc…

Doing big things with lightweight architecture

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This post was also published in InfoWorld.Quite a few folks are beginnning to realize that most big websites, including Yahoo!, Google and Amazon.com, run on lightweight architecture. To define lightweight architecture, it is helpful to define its opposite:

Heavyweight architecture means you are running complicated infrastructure software like J2EE with complicated API's on a small cluster of expensive SMP machines.

Lightweight architecture means you are running straightforward, open source software stacks with service oriented API's on large clusters of commodity machines.

There are four common ways of achieving a lightweight architecture. Three of them are open source solutions, and the fourth is Microsoft's attempt:

LAMP - As many of you know LAMP is my favorite lightweight stack.
LAMP runs a vast majority of the massively scalable websites out there, and is also the favorite deployment stack for most of the "Web 2.0" crowd, including Friendster, Facebook, MySpace,…