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IBM joining OpenJDK – repeat after me “pragmatic”, “pragmatic”, “pragmatic” October 12, 2010

Posted by Sacha in English, IT.
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Things have started to move quickly in Java-land. Yesterday, IBM announced they would partner with ORCL on Java and participate in the OpenJDK project. They also said that in doing so they would shift their Apache Harmony resources towards OpenJDK.

Note: I can insure you that the “pragmatic” word is going to be used and abused in the next few weeks when talking about Java…

Market

From a market standpoint, ORCL played hard-balls and won.

One of the only possibilities for a Java fork to be successful was for IBM to co-lead it. With this announcement, the “pragmatic” view wins. I imagine IBM was able to negotiate and obtain from ORCL a proprietary license on the OpenJDK codebase. I also hope they were able to negotiate substantial *and specific* changes in how the JCP will work in the future.

For IBM, no drama, no legal fees, no long lawsuit, just business as usual. For ORCL, a first victory in how they intend to treat the Java community. Oh, and for the other players (VMW, RHT, SAP, HP, etc.) it probably means they will have to shut-up and follow IBM “leadership” (with one possible caveat explained below).

Community

This is really a blast against the Java community. The JSPA dictates that companies leading a JSR have to provide a license to anybody requesting it. That is the very foundation of the JCP: to create a market place where all competitors are on an equal-playing-field. Yet, in that case, SUN refused to grant such a license, providing an interpretation of the JSPA that would make laugh a 5 years old kid. Everybody else thought this interpretation was vastly nuts. Fast-forward a few months and this becomes ORCL’s interpretation.

This probably also means the Apache Harmony project just died (Yes, resources allocation and life and death of a project are indeed topics that should be discussed on a DEV mailing-list… don’t hide behind your finger.)

How can the Java community trust a leader which doesn’t stand by its own constitution?

Anything good?

So, “pragmatically”, this news announces the end of a long-standing deadlock in the Java community: we can all hope the JCP will be rejuvenated on top of the JSPA and Harmony dead bodies, that new SE JSRs will be initiated, that ORCL will start investing more resources in new JSRs, etc. That’s the best case scenario.

Yet, I have a hard time seeing how a new “JCP” can work if any JSR lead can, at any point in time, refuse to grant a license on that JSR to a competitor… What if ORCL was to refuse to grant RHT of VMW a Java EE license?

What’s next?

The only free electron that could change the situation is GOOG – and that electron is pretty excited given their lawsuit with ORCL.

Until now, nobody really leveraged that JSPA issue aggressively. Yet, GOOG could decide to sue ORCL for refusing to give the ASF an appropriate Java SE license (or help the ASF sue ORCL). I see this as the only remaining open item that could change the game. And if this doesn’t happen, ORCL will have won by KO.

Oh and obviously, it will be interesting to see what the JCP EC members will vote on the new JSRs for Java SE 7 and 8 (be ready to count the number of times the “pragmatic” word will be used in the comments section). My bet is that unless GOOG sues ORCL, the JCP EC will just “pragmatically” accept those new JSRs and send some flowers to the Apache Harmony project.

Conclusion

Unless GOOG initiates a lawsuit against ORCL over the JSPA, I think this is game-over. ORCL essentially tells the Java ecosystem that the good old JCP is dead, that they are willing to rejuvenate it but not at the expense of loosing control on the only FOSS JVM out there, that is the price to pay. While that might seem fair, the problem is that this is a unilateral decision done at the expense of a legal agreement signed by many.

Next time you shake Larry’s hand and he tells you “we have a deal”, don’t get too excited…

CloudBees is hiring! Product Management & Marketing position October 8, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English.
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CloudBees is hiring for a Product Management & Marketing position, you will find the detailed description in this document.

For you to be a fit, you are probably a rising star, much brighter than me, with high energy, extroverted and with a great personality. You are also a self-starter, you don’t need to be micro-managed, you are very comfortable with blogging and social media (your online activity will impress us). Oh, and obviously, you are familiar with the Java infrastructure world and you are convinced that the cloud is a massive paradigm shift.

If you didn’t run away, why don’t you send me an e-mail?

This is going to be a fun ride – don’t miss it!

Onward,

Sacha

 

Are you ready to put your source code “in the cloud”? October 4, 2010

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One question that comes up frequently when I introduce CloudBees is whether companies are actually OK to host their code “in the cloud” (or at least build/test it over there).

==> complete article available on blog.cloudbees.com

Time to Fork Java? si vis pacem, para bellum October 4, 2010

Posted by Sacha in English, IT.
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Here are my 2 cents on Greg Luck’s post about whether the time has come to fork Java (in what he proposed could become “Lava”).

Some context

First of all, some background. Since its inception, SUN had done a decent job stewarding Java into a multi-billion dollars ecosystem. It has not always been an easy ride, but things have steadily progressed (remember the days where it wasn’t legal to provide an Open Source implementation of the J2EE specs?)

As time passed, SUN became more financially challenged, and it became obvious that SUN wasn’t willing to relinquish its control over the JCP, but yet, wasn’t able to inject as many dollars as it used to in JCP specifications, research and engineers. So essentially, the Java ecosystem was forced into increasing its investment in something a competitor had control over. Furthermore, SUN had always done a terrible job at monetizing its own spec work, and this actually helped to position them as a benevolent dictator. Yet, when Schwartz decided it was time to aggressively monetize their Java investment, this over-control/under-investment situation became embarrassing.

But the real contention point was Apache Harmony, the Apache implementation of Java SE. While SUN had Open Sourced their Java implementation, they did it under a GPL license + Exception for SE and a straight GPL license for ME (more on this here). The goal was clear: they wanted to open source Java *while* maintaining their ME royalty revenues intact. From that standpoint, Apache Harmony was potentially a very big risk as it would allow phone vendors to migrate to a royalty-free Java implementation! Consequently, against everybody’s interpretation of the JSPA, SUN refused to grant the Apache Harmony project a full fledge Java SE license. That decision put Java in a complete dead lock:

  • EC members (who only have a negative power i.e. they can only enforce a NO vote, they cannot enforce a YES vote against SUN’s will for the base platforms) refused to let SUN start any new spec;
  • Only SUN could start a new Java SE (or ME) spec;
  • ==> No new Java SE (7) spec will be created unless SUN gives a proper license to the Apache Harmony project

All EC members had made it VERY clear that they would stand by their word, and they did! Well, all members … until ORCL became the new JCP prima donna.

What’s the deal today?

So, while ORCL’s stance on Apache Harmony and the JCP was crystal clear back when SUN was in charge of the JCP (ORCL wanted a SUN-independent JCP body, they wanted SUN to give a full license to the Apache Harmony project, etc.) and had been very vocal about it, things have changed since they acquired SUN.

ORCL is now the one in charge of the JCP and, guess what, they refuse to give the Apache Harmony project a suitable license, as requested by the JSPA. ORCL’s lawyers, who yesterday were reading that document in one way, now read it the exact other way around.

Will this become ORCL’s new signature: “when ORCL’s lawyers have the same opinion two-weeks in a raw, the only conclusion you can draw is that they changed their mind an even number of times.”

And that is exactly in that context that the ORCL vs. Google Android lawsuit has to be seen: ORCL sent a very clear signal: they won’t allow any dissident implementation, be Harmony or Android. Either you play by the rules, or you’ll suffer ORCL’s punishment. Except that in Harmony’s case (which is clearly not in the same situation as Android since they politely asked for a license), ORCL is interpreting the rules as they see fit.

I was hoping for ORCL to announce something meaningful for Java at JavaOne this year (better renamed JavaHalf), but they didn’t. This is bad, it means they are not likely to change their mind easily.

What are the consequences?

Larry made the bet the Java industry would bend and surrender. Possibly. This is a tough call: if ORCL remains in charge of Java the way they do today, it puts the IBM/RHT/VMW/GOOGL of the world at his mercy – which is not a sustainable mid-to-long term business decision. On the other hand, if they go nuclear, fork Java and take their independence, this could hurt them short-to-mid term. Tough call.

So, fork or no fork? Si vis pacem, para bellum.

My opinion: si vis pacem, para bellum (“If you wish for peace, prepare for war”).

Larry will not change his mind unless the battle of will evolves.

Consequently, Palmisano, Schmitt, Maritz and Whitehurst have to join forces and work towards an independent Java Community, a complete fork. Whether this will ultimately have an impact depends on i) how fast they move, ii) how good their plan is and iii) whether they can demonstrate to the world they can work together in a non-partisan way. If the above are true, the threat to ORCL will be too big and ORCL will be the one to bend. I think such a fork is very feasible.

Furthermore, it would be such a A-Bomb PR that this could actually help rejuvenate interest in the Java platform – especially if the launch of this new standard body was coupled with some technical announcements (new “ForkedJava” 7.0, roadmap for a new ForkedEE, etc.)

But all of this can only happen if IBM is part of it. IBM owns IP rights on a LOT of the Java IP; this would mitigate the risk of ORCL suing this new standard body. Furthermore, I’d love to see some of ORCL’s best customers join this standard body: while this has to be led by the key Java players, the ecosystem at large must stand up, and that includes the END USERS of that technology, the SI, the ISV; not just the usual suspects.

Bottom line: unless Larry decides to become the nice Java guy, the Java ecosystem has to stand-up.

Born Again Linux – let’s reshuffle the cards September 20, 2010

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Last week, Amazon made an announcement which didn’t get due credit: they’ve released their own version of Linux. And guess what: it could very well become one of the top two Linux “distributions”.

Much like ORCL did 3 years ago, Amazon took the most widely deployed enterprise Linux clone, CentOS, and customized it for its AWS usage. What does it really brings to them?

ISV ecosystem

From an API/package standpoint, leveraging the CentOS distribution brings them binary compatibility with RHEL, the leading Linux distribution which supports the largest number of ISVs out there. While AMZN’s Linux distribution sounds like a purely technical exercise today, the day they decide to build a proper ISV program, the work that existing RHEL ISVs would have to perform to support that “new” environment would be marginal (unlike, say, if AWS had decided to use Debian or Ubuntu).

Performance

From a “back-end” standpoint, AWS has a very specific hardware base to support, this is the dream of any OS distributor and which only the like of Mac OX, Sun, HP UX, etc. could partially enjoy: you don’t need to support thousands of different devices of all kind and their respective incompatibilities: you target a very small set of well defined hardware configurations. This allows you to focus on key drivers and hyper-optimize your OS. No other vendor could ever reach that level of optimization since Amazon is probably the only one to know what hardware runs in their datacenters.

Cost

The former point also has an interesting consequence: the cost structure required to maintain such “distribution” is much reduced: they leverage all work and QA that RHT does on the core packages, and only focus on maintaining a well defined set of drivers/hypervisors. As you can imagine, for RHT the situation is radically different: supporting all those random hardware devices, comes at a significant cost.

The net result of this is that AMZN is in a position to deliver a more power-, performance- and cost-efficient Linux distribution than anybody ever could and ISV would have no technical trouble supporting it.

My only criticism? They do need to find a proper brand name for their OS. “Amazon Linux AMI” won’t fly if you want people to remember and name your product…

What does it mean?

Unless you are in denial about what impact the cloud will have on IT, you probably realized that significant computing load will move to the cloud in the next 5 years. Given the current market forces, chances are high that AWS will represent a sizable share of that market. Consequently, AWS Linux could become a key Linux “distribution” in the next 5 years (they don’t “distribute” it per se – they “run” it, the GPL could face interesting use-case loopholes here).

You could even imagine have AWS license their Linux power-pack to other regional IaaS (telco operators with a hosting business to retro-fit would be a prime target I’d imagine).

If such scenario indeed happens, RHEL could end-up becoming the new HP-UX, only surviving in aging on-premise environments (and on “private cloud” comets). In the mid-term, RHT could decide to license a lower-cost cloud-specific RHEL version – but that would only slow their revenues and margin fall and looks more like a IaaS-specific consulting business than anything truly subscription-based. In the longer term, the real question for RHT is whether they want to become a cloud provider themselves, but RHT has a long history of not being ready to trade a strategic bet against the risk of upsetting one of its “partners” (such as good buddies ORCL and AMZN).

As for an acquisition of RHT, this won’t happen at the current price level IMO except if a bidding war takes place (see next paragraph, “Enter Star Wars”, on how this could be triggered at current price levels).

For ORCL and AMZN, as long as RHT can do all of the work and produce RHEL (hence CentOS) for free, the deal is probably good enough for them.

Enter Star Wars: The VMW+SUSE scenario

(Note: it is Sunday the 19th of September 2010 as I write this, cruising altitude of 42’000 feet).

I’ve seen the tweets of a potential acquisition of the NOVL business by VMW. NOVL’s current market cap is very low. Furthermore, if as implied by the rumor, VMW has been able to negotiate to split the deal with a private equity fund and only pay for the SUSE business, this becomes a bargain.

For argument’s sake, let’s say this SUSE asset acquisition indeed happens; as we well see, this would further accelerate the plan described above.

VMW would probably see multiple advantages to this acquisition.

First, they would get to solve a long standing issue: in order to become a true “full-stack” enterprise player, they do need to onboard lots of ISVs, fast. Problem:  to date, they haven’t been able to do so successfully. The only way they would have to accelerate this process at warp speed would be to “buy” those ISVs them by acquiring SUSE. While SUSE supports less ISVs than RHEL, their catalogue is significantly broader than VMW’s and I have no doubt an acquisition by VMW would rejuvenate the interest of this distribution by ISVs.

The second reason is that VMW currently present the same weaknesses as RHT do – their predators, once again, are the mega-IaaS, simply because they do not need them. The difference here is that I suspect VMW would have the cojones to become a cloud provider of its own. In doing so they’d probably upset tons of existing partners but that might be the price they have to pay to remain relevant long-term. Don’t forget VMW has strong MSFT DNA in-house and just look at what MSFT is doing.  Bottom line, by acquiring SUSE, VMW would get its own cloud-OS, much like Amazon just did. Furthermore, unlike AWS, VMW wouldn’t not need to worry about whether they’ll need to acquire their Linux provider one day. If NOVL was to disappear, this could trigger a bidding war for RHT – no company currently largely dependent on RHEL or CentOS (IBM, ORCL, AMZN, etc.) would want to stay with a big strategic hole in their stack…

Last but not least, I am pretty certain VMW would love to get a few of those delicious NOVL patents in case MSFT get aggressive: firing a scud or two in their Office business would calm them down.

(To keep things simple, I’ll not cover here the challenges that VMW would inevitably face in running an Open Something project, despite their acquisition of SpringSource, FOSS is clearly not in their DNA).

Conclusion

5 to 10 years from now, I don’t see an on-premise Linux distribution/subscription to be a viable business: too limited of a market, too expensive to maintain. While this might be a long way to go, I do think that the (courageous) decisions required to escape from that black-hole must take place now.

“Nice web site, guys” August 27, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.
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After the launch of cloudbees.com, I’ve received quite a few congratulations e-mails (thanks!). Most of these e-mails mentioned they really liked our web site.

The company who worked on our web site’s design is Hyperweek, founded by Raphaël Briner. (Hyperweek is not a web design shop though – they helped us only because we know them personally and asked politely).

Hyperweek is a social publishing platform and one of the things they do  is to help  companies promote their brand by creating rich-media social networks around their products/business.

For example, one of their customers is the well known Hublot luxury watchmaker for which they have built a social platform for the Hublot customers – a next generation VIP club!

Another example I really like is “Notre Histoire” (“Our History”) a social site that aims at collecting any kind of media (movies, pictures, etc.) from citizens about “the 20th Century in Switzerland” – very nice concept.

Thanks Julien for your hard work!

Onward,

Sacha

CloudBees is now live! August 26, 2010

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After several months of stealth-mode activity, CloudBees has now gone live. From the initial vision document to the current day, an enormous amount of work has been achieved and I am very proud of our team.

If you are interested to know what CloudBees is about, read our introductory blog and visit CloudBees’ web site. As you will see, our vision will be executing along two axes: DEV@cloud (SaaS for developers) and RUN@cloud (PaaS for production). While our initial offering falls under the DEV@cloud umbrella, we are already working on our RUN@cloud offering – so stay tuned.

On a personal basis, while I had been used to work with a very distributed team at JBoss/Red Hat, my daily interactions were mostly with European- and US-based colleagues. At CloudBees, the situation is more extreme: with people on 5 different timezones, spanning from -9h to +8h to where I live, this has been very stimulating! Have a question or an idea? Just jump on IRC and you can be sure to find somebody 7/7, 24/24.

So, what can you do for us? Well, if you are using Hudson (or if you would love to be using it), you should definitively give a try to our Hudson as a Service (HaaS) offering. I think you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to register and use it – and only pay for what you need. No more fights with your IT department to get the boxes you need, have them setup and maintained, etc. Just start a job and it will execute on a fully dedicated and fresh instance – billed by the minute (!). Best: you don’t have to change anything to your existing Hudson habits. And since our beta program has limited availability, you’d better register now.

Onward,

Sacha

ORCL vs. GOOG: hopefully just a bad timing August 16, 2010

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A few years back, I remember sending an e-mail to the JCP EC mailing-list in which I was wondering how GOOG was able to “leverage” so large chunks of Java without licensing it – I was finding that odd, especially for a company sitting on the JCP EC, hence supposedly elected to make Java move forward*. The feedback I got back from one of the Google’s rep had been relatively aggressive (and that I interpreted as “if you think I am infringing on some IP, show it to me, otherwise ST*U”). My goal at that time wasn’t to corner GOOG, but to better understand something that seemed like an elephant in the room. The fact that nobody from SUN replied to my comment and that the discussion thread died so quickly told me that the elephant had to be pretty big.

Fast forward a few years and we learn that ORCL has sued GOOG over some Java-related patents. Am I supposed to be surprised? Because I am not. The GOOG gooorilla is walking on fragile grounds with his big feet and Larry wants to show who is the boss.

Now, while I don’t really care about this ego-war, I think the timing of this legal action is very badly chosen. The SUN acquisition has closed for months now and ORCL hasn’t yet communicated what they would do with the JCP: will they be Java’s benevolent dictator or not? How? Under what terms?

JavaOne 2010 is not far ahead, so we will most probably get our answers soon, but it would have been much more readable if ORCL had i) officially stated they would further open up the JCP (as they repeatedly requested SUN to do) and ii) sued GOOG. This would have shown leadership and strength: “not only are we going to further build Java but we are going to step up to defend it – so beware!”.

Consequently, I really hope this is just a bad orchestration and that ORCL will announce good things at JavaOne 2010. If not, this could quickly get ugly…

Onward,

Sacha

*) a good part of the JCP contractual document, the JSPA, is dedicated to how the Intelectual Property of any Java spec flows from contributors to licensors – so IP issues were a hot JCP topic.

Banks and the cloud – tiny sample August 16, 2010

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As I am preparing for the launch of my new venture, I visited 3 banks in NYC last week. I admit that I entered into those meeting ready to hear that they were not ready for that shift, that clouds(*) weren’t secure/SLAified/robust enough for them, that it had to further mature, etc.

Consequently, I was actually surprised when the first two banks told me they were already working in the cloud(*) and ready to accelerate that move. The last one told me what I initially expected to hear (that SOX and other regulations would prevent them to do so), but that then sounded awkward based on the initial two reactions I had gotten. Maybe I didn’t ask the question to the right person.

This is certainly not a meaningful sample of any sort to do statistics, but I think it is a very encouraging signal at the very least.

Other interesting data is that those two banks were interested in a standardized cloud API (that we do not have today) so that they could “address” their IT assets in the same way as clouds, in a transparent and unified fashion. Makes sense.

Onward,

Sacha

P.S.: By default when I write “cloud”, I mean “public cloud”. <sarcasm>In the same way, when I say “it is cloudy today” I mean that “the sky is cloudy”, not that I have clouds in my bathroom or my car.</sarcasm>

GAE+VMW: co-petition in the cloud-era May 26, 2010

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During Google IO, Google announced “Google App Engine for Business“. Well, it seems the marketing department has been more active than then engineering team lately…

This is the exact same GAE platform, including its ugly limitations, with the following key differences in terms of its offering:

  • They announced a roadmap for 2010 where they’ll provide an SLA, a management interface, and support for SSL certificates (…)
  • It will be priced at 8USD per app per month … but this will be ONLY for INTRANET applications and pricing will scale with the number of users in your intranet up to a maximum of 1000USD/month/app
  • They intend to release an offering for public-facing applications (you know, this “Internet” thing) but they haven’t worked out the pricing yet
  • They will provide later this year a SQL-based offering

Translation?

This is a purely reactive move to the smart VMForce announcement. Google is a huge company, they consider themselves as the cloud company, they’ve had GAE available for TWO YEARS now and the only think they come up with is … a roadmap listing revolutionary features such as SSL support and an SLA… This is immensely weak. If anything, this announcement reinforces what GAE’s current deficiencies are.  The pricing information also indicates the very reactive nature of this move: their offering is only for intranet apps (…) since they most probably do not want to release their pricing before VMForce does (VMForce hasn’t disclosed what pricing scheme they’d use). And they also probably realize that coming up with a public pricing scheme will be tough (and a departure from their current scheme – based on “people being nice”).

The other part of the announcement was Spring’s availability on GAE’s platform. But, wait, aren’t those two companies supposed to be fiercely competing (or about to)?!? Yes, they are, and it seems to show that in the cloud-era, companies are willing to make “co-petitive” partnerships pretty easily if it can ease their own agenda. In this case:

  • VMSource gets to amplify their desire to see Spring as the defacto Java programming model of the cloud (remember, they seem to fully ignore EE6!),
  • Google gets to hide the mud by providing the Spring API on top of a highly restrictive platform (which probably wouldn’t satisfy anybody writing modestly sophisticated apps)

This is going to be a fun decade :)

Onward,

Sacha

Hiring – Marketing May 11, 2010

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BzzzzzA few weeks ago, I announced I was back into the game. Well, things are moving well and the engineering team is doing wonders!

Now, in order to launch our first offering and reach as many users and customers as possible, we are recruiting for the following position: Technical Sales and Marketing Manager*.

This person will be responsible for all pre-sales prospect/customer-facing systems and activities including (but not limited to) web site presence (implementation, content creation and follow-up), presence on social tools (Facebook, twitter, etc.), presence at conferences, evangelization, etc.

Does such a James Bond person really exist? Probably not. Consequently, the best fit is probably a very hands-on Sales Engineer with a strong Java middleware background who has already worked on program marketing and product marketing activities and would be willing to further grow into that marketing role. Oh, and you must be ambitious, smart and energetic. Track-record in community building and evangelization is a must! Ideally, this hero native’s tongue is English, lives in Boston and has already worked for startups.

Obviously, being a startup, we pay with low salaries and stock options (until we raise our first round of financing – and then we’ll decently pay).

If you are this 007, contact me at firstname@lastname.com.

Onward,

Sacha

EDIT: one of my co-bee made the following comment which I thought made sense: “As our market is technical people, it isn’t marketing in the sense of coming up with ad campaigns for the new Snuggie, but quite technical. Ideally they would be happy to get hands dirty on code for demos, understand important customer needs, understand a bit of the architecture etc. Google calls these people “developer advocates” – they get developers (the market) excited and signed up, and act as advocates for their interest internally… When looking at people, I would hope we can get someone that is good at blogs, twitter etc, as you say, “public speaking” both online and off. Someone that you want to hang out with. Basically, we want Iron Man”. (We have more details in a proper job description document btw.)

*) The word “Manager” needs to be put in the context of the company’s very early stage of development. The current position includes the management of complete processes and activities. However, it does not include any traditional management duties such as people management. Therefore, we are looking for an ambitious candidate who will need to be very hands-on and focused on operational activities.

The SpringForce/VMForce announcement April 29, 2010

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VMWare and Salesforce.com common announcement this week, VMForce, was really interesting.

First of all, it is yet another drum beat on the cloud march. The virtualization king (Market cap: 25B) and the CRM PaaS queen (Market cap: 11B) got together in what appeared to be a relatively ego-less offering: VMForce. One camp has the developer community; the other has the XaaS credibility (and is the biggest PaaS provider by far). This is not a lightweight marketing partnership: this is a pretty deep partnership under a unified brand umbrella.

This reinforces a message that will become a truism in the next few years: the cloud is new platform.

What is this really about? This announcement is about the PaaS leader, salesforce.com (CRM), offering itself a new programming model on top of its already successful platform, in order to extend its developer reach. CRM already has a strong set of services at its foundation: a relational-like multi-tenant database, pre-defined business schemas, REST APIs, etc. But all of those were only available from CRM’s own proprietary programming model. Thanks to VMForce, Spring users will have an easier path to Force.com.

But don’t be tricked, this doesn’t make VMForce the new “all-purpose”, generic PaaS offering: this remains a vertical-focused PaaS offering, aimed at Salesforce.com users. VMForce offers the advantages of its disadvantages: if you are a Salesforce.com user, this is going to boost your choices and flexibility by being able to leverage a substantial chunk of the Java ecosystem. Yet, if you are not a salesforce.com user (or if you are developing a non-CRM related application), VMForce represents a major lock-in into a platform that makes very little sense for your application.

So, who is the winner of that partnership, VMW or CRM?

The obvious beneficiary is Salesforce.com: it is already the PaaS market leader and through VMForce it keeps its lock-in while extending its developer reach. Brilliant. But does it necessarily mean that VMWare doesn’t benefit from that deal? While it is certainly a good financial deal for VMWare, it is almost secondary. The second beneficiary of this partnership is not the good old virtualization-focused VMWare, but VMWare’s middleware team: SpringSource. Acquisitions are never easy to pull correctly, especially when an operations-focused company acquires a development-focused one. Consequently, since SS’s acquisition last year, the middleware team has pretty much travelled in a black hole. Yet, VMForce (which should really be called SpringForce) will help SpringSource re-broadcast their message: they are after the cloud – and this is really what triggered their acquisition in the first place. So this announcement will definitively help restate their objective to the market.

But does it necessarily help SpringSource’s independent agenda as a PaaS provider? I am not at all convinced that it is the case. Lots of the PaaS’ hard problems have been solved in VMForce by simply leveraging Salesforce.com’s existing services. So, not only VMForce will not help SS’s independent agenda, it might actually represent a marketing/positioning challenge down the road when they’ll have to differentiate both offering.

Concerning the timing of the announcement, I was very surprised. It came out of nowhere, wasn’t announced as part of any cloud or developers conference, and the offering is not yet available, not even as a development offering. A beta developer release should be made available in the second half of 2010 with no known date for the GA production release. So, why so much hurry in the announcement? Both companies are known to be more reliable than MSFT’s vaporware PR.

Another element that hasn’t been announced yet is the pricing. This is probably fine for such an early announcement, but not even the pricing SCHEME was announced. And I bet there is a good reason for that: Salesforce.com is known to build by user (which has its own set of consequences and constraints for a PaaS) and VMWare is known to build by the deployment unit (CPU, core, VM, or whatever makes more sense). It will be interesting to see how they can resolve that pretty significant “philosophical gap”.

In any case, what I’ll remember from this partnership is how smart that was from Salesforce.com to make an ego-less move away from its own proprietary offering in order to extend its developer reach, and all this under a 3rd party branded offering, with limited impact on its own engineering roadmap. And congratulations to the SpringSource team for striking a partnership which impacts their mothership as a whole, this is probably their best way to escape from the acquisition black hole.

Onward,

Sacha

Google to accelerate Chrome’s adoption? April 14, 2010

Posted by Sacha in English, IT.
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In the last few days, Google announced quite a few welcomed new features to their Google Apps offering, including better text/spreadsheet editors, an independent drawing tool, better Google Docs file sharing capabilities (those still remain pretty weak). That’s all great.

Yet, a postscriptum in their announcement also indicates that as of May 3 (read: first thing tomorrow morning in Enterprise-speak), the Google Mail/Calendar/Docs offline feature based on Google Gears will be disabled! That’s right, one of Google App’s key feature to simply be usable by many enterprises (i.e. being able to work offline) will be disabled in 3 weeks.

So, what are the options? Well, that is where things get interesting: Google promises that a solution based on the HTML 5 Web SQL Database spec should be available by then. So let’s look at the typical browsers out there and which are the ones supporting this feature:

Leading browsers not supporting this feature:

  • IE
  • Firefox
  • Safari

And since Opera is not officially supported on Google Apps, that leaves you with … Google Chrome.

Translation: “Dear valued customer, in 3 weeks we are going to abandon a key feature of Google Apps: offline files. Yet, if you want to still benefit from it, you have no other choice but roll-out our Google Chrome browser across your enterprise in that generous 3-weeks timeframe.

As much as I am a fan of Google Apps (and using it extensively on a daily basis), I am speechless about Google’s current move.

Onward,

Sacha

Back into the game April 1, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.
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Flying BeeOne year ago, I left RHT with the clear plan to be actively doing nothing for some time. I did, but quickly realized I wasn’t good at it: it is not easy to relax when your brain keeps wondering what you could be doing next.

So I’ve started working with several startups, including eXo Platform and Wallix, but that only increased my desire to be back into the game.

And so today is the official start date of my new venture. I won’t tell you much about it at this point:  I’d rather wait until we have something real to show – that shouldn’t take long.

But who is “we”? Five highly talented engineers from ORCL, SUN and JBoss. Last but not least, my friend Bob Bickel accepted to be our advisor. Life is great.

So stay tuned…

Onward,

Sacha

RHT FY10: great results – yet… March 25, 2010

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RHT just posted its FY10 results and they are very good and this, despite a weak US+EU economy and weak USD currency during that period.

Yet, some analysts have been negative about it and, consequently, after-hours trading was down -3.x%.

The best comment is probably from Katherine Egbert (Jefferies & Co), who wrote “They gave a conservative forecast. Given that the economy is in recovery and IT spending is improving, the question is why,”. You are wondering why?!? Where did you see that the economy is in recovery? Homes sales have hit their record low, unemployment rate has hit its record high, IT spending for SMB is low and will only marginally increase in 2010, etc.

The economy is doing fine, the economy is doing fine, the economy is doing fine… It seems Mr. Coué still has quite a few adepts.

eXo Platform raises 6m USD March 8, 2010

Posted by Sacha in English, IT.
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I am very happy to report that eXo has successfully raised 6m USD from two leading French VCs (Auriga Partners and XAnge Capital). Also, Bob Bickel will step up as chairman of eXo’s BoD. As announced a few months back, I am an advisor to eXo and I’ve also participated to this investment round.

I’ve always been impressed by eXo’s product portfolio, both in terms of width and depth. Yet, while eXo is well-known and has very solid references in France (Orange, M6, Geneva State, Generali, etc.), they are pretty much unknown in the USA. This is not surprising though: this is the result of a complete lack of sales presence in the USA and no marketing activities. Consequently, with this investment, eXo will accelerate their U.S. operations and recruit some key talents.

And this acceleration has already started: Katie Poplin, fame of JBoss’s marketing machine, has recently joined eXo as their worldwide marketing director (Katie was the steam engine behind all JBoss World events). And in case you didn’t know that yet, the highly talented Chantal Yang is behind eXo’s PR machine (through PageOne).

This is going to be a fun ride! Onward,

Sacha

[FR] Paris JUG – Sorbonne! February 1, 2010

Posted by Sacha in Français, IT, JBoss.
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La semaine prochaine, le Paris JUG fêtera ses 2 ans. Déjà 2 ans? Seulement 2 ans? Une certitude, en à peine 2 ans, le triumvirat des co-fondateurs (Goncalves, Dewalle et Cadi) a réussi à établir le Paris JUG comme un point d’ancrage inévitable du monde Java à Pâââris. Alors que pour bon nombre de JUGs, la difficulté est de trouver des présentations intéressantes, le défi n’est pas le même pour le Paris JUG: leur challenge est de trouver des salles (peu coûteuses) permettant d’accueillir un nombre croissants d’auditeurs. Quel beau problème.

Et donc, pour les 2 ans du Paris JUG, j’ai l’honneur d’avoir été convié à présenter la keynote. Son titre: “La révolution Open Source a-t-elle eu lieu?”. L’événement aura lieu dans le lieu mythique qu’est La Sorbonne.

Que vous soyez de Paris, de province ou d’ailleurs encore, vous pouvez vous enregistrer ici pour assister à cet anniversaire.

A la semaine prochaine…

UPDATE: voici les slides de ma présentation.

JavaOne 2010? Dead or slow moving? (like, really really slow) January 13, 2010

Posted by Sacha in English, IT, JBoss.
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I was looking for information about JavaOne 2010 and despite being indeed listed on the Moscone Center events page, SUN/Java web pages make absolutely no mention about it and only refers to JavaOne 2009. No words about a call for paper neither. So, does SUN really think it can pull a JavaOne conference from scratch is less than 6 months?

Until ORCL’s definitive agreement for buying SUN has been closed, SUN is supposed to keep driving its business independently. I have a really hard time believing this total lack of communication and organization around a JavaOne 2010 conference fits that rule.

Onward,

Sacha

P.S.: too bad, the OracleOne TLD is already taken ;)

RHT Q3FY10 December 22, 2009

Posted by Sacha in IT, JBoss.
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From RHT’s Q3 report:

Total revenue for the quarter was $194.3 million, an increase of 18% from the year ago quarter. Subscription revenue for the quarter was $164.4 million, up 21% year-over-year.

And

Non-GAAP adjusted net income for the quarter was $33.5 million, or $0.17 per diluted share…

For reference, analysts estimates projected revenues of $188 million and earnings of $0.16 per share – without taking in account the recently settled 5 years old lawsuit.

Great work, onward,

Sacha

EE6 has been approved, yet… December 3, 2009

Posted by Sacha in English, IT, JBoss.
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It is with GREAT pleasure that I’ve learned that the JCP EC had approved the final ballot for Weld and EE6!

This really finishes the work started with EE5 and clearly positions EE6 as the most powerful and yet the easiest to use Java runtime environment, clearly ahead of Spring and its XML logorrhea. Furthermore, the definition of a powerful Web profile without the hassle of some of the most legacy EE specs (IIOP anybody?) will give fresh air to the too many IT teams building (and attempting to maintain) their own Tomcat on steroids.

Yet, a spec with no implementation is hardly usable (for my own sanity, please don’t mention the EE5/JBoss5 drama), and so I’m very impressed that JBoss already released JBoss 6.0M1 which contains some of the most important EE6 bits. Jason’s blog entry here, Dimitris’ here. Congratulations guys, the move away from 5.2 was a smart decision.

Yet, when closely looking at the Weld and EE6 votes, only one company didn’t vote for both JSRs: SpringSource/VMware. They didn’t politely cast an “Abstain” and explain the reason why in the comments, no, they simply didn’t cast a vote at all. How to interpret that non-move? Well, maybe they “forgot” – this happened to me at JBoss for a couple of “less critical” votes – and so I went to look at SpringSource’s official news and PR page, SpringSource’s official blog and even Spring “.org” page: nada, nothing, no official position (and Rod Johnson hasn’t blogged in more than 3 months – so no help from there either).

I don’t think this silence is clever as this will make people speculate that either i) SpringSource is still debating internally what their official stance should be or, worse, ii) that they will retain from giving an official stance for as long as possible to keep all options open and possibly change their opinion down the road as they see fit. Or maybe SpringSource didn’t cast a vote because VMWare refused to sign JCP’s JSPA agreement for some reasons related to their IP. Who knows?!? (disclaimer: I don’t)

In order to keep the worse rumors at bay, I think that SpringSource should clearly state ASAP i) why they didn’t vote and ii) what their official stance on EE6/Weld/etc. is. and iii) whether VMWare/SpringSource is still part of the JCP.

Onward,

Sacha

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