Larry Augustin Angel investor and advisor to early stage technology companies.
Jeff Waugh Passionate about the philosophy of Software Freedom and the business of Open Source.
Ismael Ghalimi Founder and CEO of Intalio, creator of BPMI.org and initiator of Office 2.0
Ivelin Ivanov Member of the JBoss core team as well as Director of Product Development.
Vinnie Mirchandani Founder of Deal Architect, former technology industry analyst (with Gartner), outsourcing executive (with PwC, now part of IBM) and entrepreneur (founder of sourcing advisory firm, Jetstream Group).
David Rossiter Runs an IT PR agency focused on helping companies communicate with IT industry analysts.
Here is a direct link
to my ITGumbo post for Tuesday. It's about open source and the nature of the collective pressure it's exerting on proprietary vendors. As I mentioned earlier, I'm unable to reproduce the posts here in full, so I'll provide a quick snippet below:
A pivotal reality being ignored in the debate of whether open source can mount more serious pressure on proprietary behemoths like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and the like, is the fact that open source doesn't necessarily compete on an individual product/platform basis with the aforementioned. Not only because doing so remains beyond the individual reach of smaller open source vendors but due to the strength of the collective squeeze being applied to the proprietary model by open source. This collective form of competition is far more robust than any an open source operating system can muster, individually, against the Windows hegemony, for example.
Here is a direct link
to my ITGumbo post for Thursday. I've added some commentary on the open exchange which recently took place between Linus Torvalds and Jonathan Schwartz as well as why it's important for OpenSolaris to succeed as an open source effort. Regretfully I'm unable to re-post my ITGumbo entries on this my personal blog, so if you want to read you'll have to follow the link.
Here is a direct link
to my ITGumbo post for Monday. This entry is a suggestion for introducing the concept of community capacity as an operational model for open source communities. SInce I was mistakenly duplicating entire entries here on my personal blog that were authored for ITGumbo, I am going to revert back to posting links.
As highlighted by a post from Matt Asay on a session at OSBC 2007
the most interesting developments to watch along the fast moving open
source track, happens to be that of the intersection with the
proprietary software world. This collision is set to result, not in the
elimination of one of the two, but in a process of hybridization. The
software industry's rapidly changing competitive landscape will require
that open source and proprietary vendors adapt to the respective
strengths and weaknesses of the other in order to survive.
Consequently, the present chasm between the approaches on both sides of
the equation will come to resemble more of a thin red line,
characterized by the advent of more traditional methods on the open
source end and more open-focused plays by proprietary camps.
Earlier this year, Gartner DataQuest reported that the compound
annual growth rate (CAGR) of open source software (43%) between 2006
and 2011 will more than quintuple that of proprietary software (8%).
The firm also projected open source software sales to reach $4.23
billion in 2007, and triple that figure by hitting $13.10 billion in
2010. One reality to keep in mind is that these numbers portray
different phases of the growth curve
for the open source and proprietary driven business models, so a
divergence in CAGR should be expected. Yet, all assessment of the
absolute validity of these projections aside, they do, in fact, point
to the well-documented trend of substantial growth by open source
companies. Since it isn't a question of whether open source is actually
sustaining growth or not, it becomes one of how this growth is going to
affect the business of software.
The continued maturation of open source as a bona-fide disruptive
force will continue to draw its clash with proprietary software to
closer and closer confines. One marked by increasing competition for
the same accounts, customers and new business. Currently, open source
is progressing towards that point by eating away at proprietary market
share from the bottom-up. And as OSBC 2007 is demonstrating, open
source is also applying pressure by becoming a player in decisions made
at the C-level executive suite (top-down). However, there are still
vast pockets of proprietary strongholds which have yet to experience
the effects of open source disruption.
In order for this to occur open source will have continually
incorporate features of the proprietary approach. What does that mean?
It certainly doesn't imply an abandonment of the core principles of
open source, rather a continued transformation into a viable option for
customers who are remotely aware of the open source value proposition,
at best. How this is to be accomplished is a separate topic in and of
itself, but it suffices to say that it will be an extended effort and
one which will take form according to situational differences. The
point at which this process begins in earnest, will be concomitant with
more proprietary vendors realizing that they won't can no longer
maintain current margins, let alone grow, without duplicating some of
the features the open source value proposition. At a macro level, this
stage will be yet another in the full-fledged evolution that is shaping
the 21st century IT industry as a whole.
Currently, both the open source and proprietary vendors who are
actively responding to the competitive threat and opportunity presented
by this collision can be categorized as frontrunners. In the absence of
a large scale movement by the majority on either side, it will be some
time before the aforementioned hybridization can overcome its formative
inertia. Regardless, when activity commences in full, it has the
potential to alter the complexion of the entire business of software.
I got around to reading one of Dana Blankenhorn's post about "Following the money in open source,"
which hints to the distribution of rewards within the open source
ecosystem. Dana starts out by mentioning the fact that the open source
development model is relatively transparent while the use of that open
source in the enteprise tends to be opaque. He continues to say that
open source companies invest quite a bit of resources at the beginning
in trying to build community, attract participants while growing a
business infrastructure. …an assertion that I happen to disagree with
for a couple of reasons.
In my perspective, the nature of the open source model enables a
more organic, naturally occurring growth than the proprietary model.
There is less need to acquire working capital throughout the embryonic
stages of product development/delivery as focus is on establishing a
surrounding community infrastructure, something which is best
accomplished by focusing on writing quality, readable software, plus a
bit of documentation. It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt
that the cream definitely rises when it comes to open source as
software which meets a timely need or solves a problem, doesn't tend to
languish in anonymity forever. It may take time but grassroots momentum
turns out to be almost impossible to derail once it gets going. As a
matter of fact, it complements momentum created as a result of high
powered marketing/P.R. efforts. Being able to actively court push from
the bottom-up enables open source operations to eschew investing
resources to do the same using traditional approaches..
Just yesterday I published a post related to how I feel the open source model enables rapid scaling
by promoting the concept of shared ownership. Accordingly, this concept
is relevant to the manner in which rewards (which can take a number of
different forms) are distributed throughout open source ecosystems.
Perhaps the reality that value is spread throughout the commons of an
open source community is an answer to the question of where is the
first open source billionaire and billion dollar business.
It suffices to say that the open source model provides the opportunity
to realize a more cost-efficient ramp-up to critical mass as a tradeoff
for lower valuation values in the beginning. However, as time
passes what begins to matter most is the quality of the product and
integrity/competence of the company behind it. Red Hat is entering that
phase, where the fact that it is an open source solutions company
matters far less than its reputation for high quality products and
services. Others are bound to follow as well.
I'll extend Dana's mention of the media buffet into an analogy of
open source as a buffet line, where a multitude of food is provided in
direct proportion to the nature of each dish. For example, hor'deurves
are normally there in relatively copious amounts seeing how they are
typically smaller and consumed far easier. Whereas, larger items such
as pot roast might only be set out one at a time and so forth.
Successful open source communities speak to the same balanced
proportions by promoting only what is needed at the time/in the near
future. Proprietary companies who are prompted to take on outside
investment as a way to offset the costs of scaling a start-up, tend to
expand their business infrastructure in anticipation of
revenue growth instead of alongside it. Which isn't necessarily a bad
thing, but it can add to the pressure to grow, grow, grow in place of
remaining focused on build, build, build in preparation of more stable
long term growth.
Therefore in response to Dana's closing poll/question, I don't
really think there's one singular hold to be had on jumbo shrimp along
the open source buffet. Microsoft obviously has its hands all over the entire
tray with Windows and Office suites, but I don't see it being there to
be had in the same way when it comes to open source. It's just not in
its DNA to promote concentration of ownership and disproportionate
distribution of rewards. Perhaps I'm off the mark and is a matter of me
not having yet witnessed it with my own eyes, but I don't think that's
the case...we'll see.
After posting direct links from this blog to my posts on ITGumbo and receiving feedback that a great deal of those who read this blog aren't really following them to the other, I've decided to give reproducing the entire posts over here a shot just to see how it works out. The following is my first attempt:
It looks like Norway is joining
(among others) Belgium, Finland, and France in the group of European
nations which require the use of open standards. The Norweigian
Standards Council, through Minister of Renewal Heidi Grande Roys, has
put forth recommendation that the country look to promote the
convergence of ODF and OpenXML as a means of eliminating potential
usage duplication. It should be noted that this is only news of a
recommendation being made and not a final decision having been
rendered, one which must progress through open hearings, ending August
20 of this year.
Still, there are several points of interest worth analyzing,
especially considering the notable trend of governments across Europe
and Asia stepping forward as supporters of open document standards. In
this case, Norway joins a select few which understand the utter
futility of supporting OpenXML and ODF. A critical point,
indeed, as Microsoft refused to take part in the OASIS Working Group
launched to get the ODF standard off the ground, but is now turning
around and promoting OpenXML as open simply on terms that it is in the
process of being made an ISO/IEC standard. Perhaps this move would have
been more appropriate 5 years ago as a parallel effort to the
development of ODF, but currently it brings the question of what
exactly does OpenXML bring to the table that ODF does not? Other than
better support for semantics and special formats from Microsoft's
closed binary formats, what impels governments worldwide to look at
OpenXML as a potential de-facto standard? These are questions that are
being posed by the same governments as they attempt to rationalize the
cost-benefits of both ODF and OpenXML.
More importantly the topic of merging OpenXML and ODF has once again
emerged as a possibility. Personally, I remain an avid supporter of
merging those two and any others which may overlap significantly.
Especially considering the comparative ease of evolving open instead of
closed standards. Not that there can't be any closely-related open
standards, but one quality open document standard should mostly
encapsulate the needs of a wide variety of use cases.
The question remains, is there really a need for another one or two
or even three other formats which only contain minor differences?
Succeeding versions of ODF, for example, should do well to address its
own shortcomings towards the goal of developing into a complete
standard. Along those lines, if OpenXML is stronger in terms of its
support of Microsoft binary formats and is truly open, why not
investigate the feasibility of merging the two? And if Microsoft is
really serious about pushing OpenXML as an open standard, the company
should have no problem at least entertaining such talk, right?
Of course, the reality is far from that straight forward as
Microsoft will continue to use its might to delay even the inevitable
(if format mergers prove to be such), under the guise of any number of
reasons. Even if other countries are tipping the scales in the direction of open as opposed to closed and there are already similar proposals for integrating standardized document formats,
it simply isn't in Microsoft's best interest to cave so soon. Not while
they are investing resources in strengthening the community around
OpenXML and definitely not before ODF has established enough traction
across the globe such that there is little ground to be gained
continuing along their current path.
What does this mean for the nations which have made and will
continue to make a commitment to open standards? Well, first of all, if
they harbor intentions of using mandatory support of open formats as a
gateway to more flexible and cost-effective open source software
solutions, OpenXML should most likely stay on their radar until ODF
proves capable of altogether replacing it as a more Microsoft-friendly
standard (not something the Redmond-based giant will make easy by any
means). Secondly, they should continue to persist as active backers of
the convergence of other standards across the world with ODF. This type
of action will do more to strengthen the reach of ODF and hedge
momentum on the side of fully open formats. Finally, it is also useful
to watch for more implementations of OpenXML, which is currently only
implemented by Office, and evaluate their quality as a barometer of the
efficiency of the format itself.
On account of preparing to attend the 2007 edition of JavaOne next week, I've slowed a bit with my posts to this blog. I've also neglected to provide direct links to posts on my other blog, so if anyone is interested in reading what I've been writing on that end, feel free to check it out here. I briefly considered just duplicating the posts but I ran into some funky formatting issues that I haven't had the chance to resolve. Oh well.