Entries Tagged 'Conferences' ↓

Your chance to define the “state of MySQL”

We are very honoured to have been asked to give a “state of the MySQL” keynote presentation at the Percona Live MySQL Conference and Expo in April.

While this will not be in any way an official “state of the dolphin” presentation, I think it is fitting given the expansion of the MySQL ecosystem that the Percona Live event includes an independent perspective on the state of MySQL. The full title of the presentation – MySQL, YourSQL, NoSQL, NewSQL – the state of the MySQL ecosystem – reflects that.

We want to present an independent perspective on the health of the MySQL ecosystem in 2013, drawing on our research and analysis, as well as the views of the participants in that ecosystem.

You have a chance to directly influence the content of the presentation by taking part in our 2013 Database survey.

The aim of this survey is to identify trends in database usage, as well as changing attitudes to MySQL following its acquisition by Oracle, and the competitive dynamic between MySQL and other databases, including NoSQL and NewSQL technologies, as well as MariaDB, Percona Server and other MySQL variants.

There are just 15 questions to answer, spread over five pages, and the entire survey should take less than ten minutes to complete.

All individual responses are of course confidential. The results will be published as part of a major research report due during Q2.

The full report will be available to 451 Research clients, while the results of the survey will also be made freely available via the keynote presentation.

Thanks in advance for your participation. We’re looking forward to analyzing and presenting the results. Once again, you can find the the survey at http://bit.ly/451db13

Things I wrote down during OSBC 2011

Two years ago I published a post entitled “things I wrote down during OSBC”. It tuned out to be surprisingly popular, so I decided to try the same formula again.

Just as was the case two years ago these are presented chronologically. I wrote down a lot more than this, to be clear, but these were the most quote-worthy things. Also, as in 2009, some of them confirm things we already think about commercial open source (or in some cases data management), others were interesting ways of expressing old ideas:

“The next generation of computing is being led by users, rather than vendors.”
Jim Whitehurst

“The value of open source has moved from commoditization to innovation.”
Michael Skok

“I believe we’re experiencing the beginning of an ecosystem that will eventually rival that of the relational database.”
Mike Olson

“We’ve over-used relational models for too long.”
Adrian Kunzle

“There really is a role for ad hoc support rather than support subscriptions that provide insurance that we don’t get a lot of value out of.”
Adrian Kunzle

“IT departments don’t want to move data, they want to do data processing where the data lives.”
David Champagne

“The terminology ‘NoSQL’ is as bad or probably worse than ‘big data’. It’s not about the query language, it’s about the data model.”
James Phillips

“The value in performing analytics on all of your data is way better than having the best algorithm to analyze a sample of data.”
Amr Awadallah

“If you choose not to have a contributor agreement, that’s fine. If you choose to have one we think it’s better to have a standard contribution agreement.”
Amanda Brock

“There is a significant transaction cost to having a contributor agreement.”
Simon Phipps

“These days you have to be cagey to manage to avoid one terabyte of data: you need to be aggressive about throwing stuff away.”
Mike Olson

“Having Rob Bearden talk about operationalizing open source is like Jesus coming to the Vatican and explaining what he really meant.”
Peter Fenton

“The common misconception is that open source means open development and an open loop. That turns out to be not empirically proven.”
Peter Fenton

“There are three components [to operationalizing open source]: technology, community and the business model. If you don’t get the first two right the third is irrelevant.”
Rob Bearden

“The size and health of a community is directly proportional to the innovation, complexity of the problem and the size of the market it disrupts.”
Rob Bearden

“Misalignment between a business model and the community’s tolerance point will never be accepted. This will manifest itself in multiple distributions.”
Rob Bearden

(Incidentally, I would encourage anyone with an interest in open source-related business strategies to download the slides from Peter and Rob’s presentation.)

“The best place for open source is a market that’s well-defined, where you can disrupt the price point, not the features and functionality.”
David Skok

(Similarly David Skok’s slides are a must-have for anyone with an interest in sales and marketing aspects of open source-related business strategies.)

“We’ve been aware for some time that some sort of reform was needed for the OSI.”
Simon Phipps

(Also, anyone interested in the plan to reform the membership of the Open Source Initiative should download these slides.)

Presenting NoSQL, NewSQL and Beyond at OSBC

Next Monday, May 16, I will be hosting session at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco focused on NoSQL, NewSQL and Beyond.

The presentation covers our recently published report of the same name, and provides some additional context on the role of open source in driving innovation in distributed data management.

Specifically, the presentation looks at the evolving influence of open source in the database market and the context for the emergence of new database alternatives.

I’ll be walking through the six core drivers that have driven the development and adoption of NoSQL and NewSQL databases, as well as data grid/cache technologies – scalability, performance, relaxed consistency, agility, intricacy and necessity – providing some user adoption examples for each.

The presentation also discusses the broader trends impacting the data management, providing an introduction to our total data concept and how some of the drivers behind NoSQL and NewSQL are also impacting the role of the enterprise data warehouse, Hadoop, and data management in the cloud.

The presentation begins at 3pm PT on Monday 16. The event is taking place at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. I hope to see you there.

Preparing for the Future of Open Source

The presentation of North Bridge Ventures’ Future of Open Source survey has long been one of the highlights of the Open Source Business Conference, keeping attendees up to date with the views of open source users and vendors alike, and providing details about the trends that will shape open source in the future. The 451 Group was happy and honoured, therefore, to be asked to collaborate more closely in the creation and presentation of this year’s Future of Open Source Survey.

Continued at the Future of Open Source blog.

451 Group at Open World Forum

Open World Forum is only a few weeks away and once again The 451 Group will be represented at the event in Paris.

On the morning of September 30 I’ll be taking part in the Open Analysts summit: The 2010 barometer of Open Source, along with Roberto Galoppini, James Governor from Red Monk, Jeffrey Hammond from Forrester Research and Mathieu Poujol from Pierre Audouin Conseil.

“By attending this first ever Open Source Analysts Summit, you will be able to debate with the major analysts today about their vision of how Open Source is evolving in 2010, and their predictions for the future. This panel discussion will explore trends in the adoption of Open Source by both customers and vendors, as well as how business strategies and procurement policies fit into the picture.”

Then in the afternoon I’ll be taking part in the FLOSS Visions track, which includes a series of presentations on a variety of topics of interest to free and open source software. I’ll be presenting on the topic of regional variations in attitudes to open source adoption.

“The objective of this presentation is to discuss the different attitudes to FOSS adoption in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. It will include the results and a discussion of The 451 Group’s survey of 1,700 open source users and comparison of the results from different regions.”

Day one also includes a keynote on the state of open source in 2010, a roundtable on the challenges of open communities, and keynote presentations from Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director, Eclipse Foundation; Walter Bender, MIT Media Lab and SugarLabs Founder; Dominique Vernay, Chairman, Systematic; and Franz Meyer, COO EMEA, Red Hat.

Day two, October 1, begins with a keynote and roundtable discussion on the topic of open democracy before breaking in to a number of tracks covering software as a commons, interoperability between forges, marketing, the video industry, open cloud, diversity, the open innovation awards, and open technologies for the future.

The session on how corporations benefit from communities looks interesting, although it is entirely in French. Last year they had those headsets so you could pretend to be at the United Nations, so I may give that a go if they are available, or the session on best practices in the governance of open source also looks good.

The event concludes with the conclusion of the open BRIC summit, presented by Michael Tiemann, president of the Open Source Initiative, vice-president at Red Hat, and the presentation of the 2020 FLOSS roadmap from Jean-Pierre Laisne, chairman of OW2, and open source strategy director at Bull.

Please break our open source business strategy model

UPDATE An updated version of the business strategy framework can be found here. UPDATE

Last week I presented “From support services to software services – the evolution of open source business strategies” at the OSBC event in San Francisco.

The presentation was effectively a work in progress update on our research into the various strategies employed by technology vendors to generate revenue from open source software.

It included a partial explanation of my theory that those strategies do not exist in isolation, but are steps on an evolutionary process, and also introduced our model for visualizing the core elements of an open source-related business strategy.

I provided a number of examples of how the model could be used to compare the strategies of various open source businesses. Here, for example, is the visualization of MySQL’s strategy.

I was pleased with the response to the presentation, not least the number of people who asked us to send them the slide so they could fill it in for their company and send it back to us.

This is definitely something we would like to do in the future but before we do I would like to ensure we have dealt with any problems related to the model. For now I would be more interested in hearing from companies that feel their strategy is NOT covered by the model.

As Jack Repenning has pointed out, the model does not offer the granularity to express some of the nuances of the various “open complement “ strategies where open source code is not monetized directly but via complementary products (and in my own presentation I had to go beyond the model to discuss “open inside” – building proprietary products on open foundations, and “open edge” – using open source to drive innovation on top of a closed platform).

My initial feeling is that there will always be a level of detail that cannot be expressed in a simplified model such as this, although if I can build them in I will.

The development model category also needs some tinkering, not least to cover “gated community” approaches.

Additionally, of course, the model is not great when it comes to multi-product companies (although multiple models can be used to explain a larger strategy).

So anyway, if you think your company does not fit our model, do please tell us how. To help you understand how the model works, here’s a quick user guide and glossary of terms.

Revenue triggers:
These are the things that paying customers actually pay money for (apart from advertising which is an indirect relationship). They should be pretty self-explanatory. When we refer to “support services” we mean support, training, consulting, implementation services etc. “Software services” refers to SaaS and cloud delivery. Vendors can have multiple revenue triggers for a single product.

Software license:

For the purposes of this exercise we are interested in whether the company has a preference for permissive or reciprocal licensing for the underlying open source project, or uses both.

End user licensing:
What licensing strategy is applied to the product that customers pay for (as opposed to the project that it is based on)? It could be the same open source license (single open source) or a combination of open source licenses (assembled open source). It could be that the same code is available using open source and commercial licenses (dual licensing) or that commercial extensions are available (open core). Alternatively, a vendor may not monetize the open source project itself, but offer complementary software or hardware products (open complement), or may turn the open source code into a fully proprietary product (closed). Pick one.

Development model:

This requires a two-part response. Is the open source code developed in public, in private, or a combination of the two (public/private)? Pick one.
Is the development effort dominated my employees of a vendor, or the result of true community collaboration, or an aggregate of multiple projects? Pick one.

Who owns the copyright for the open source code? Is it the vendor in question, a foundation, a distributed collection of companies/individuals, or another company (withheld)? Normally this would be a matter of picking one of the four options, although if a portion of the copyright is withheld, that could be used along with one of the other three.

Do your worst.

451 CAOS Links 2010.03.23

Marten Mickos joins Eucalyptus. Novell rejects Elliot. Perspectives on OSBC. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Mårten Mickos was named CEO of Eucalyptus Systems.

# Novell’s board rejected Elliot’s takeover proposal as inadequate, will review other alternatives.

# North Bridge Venture Partners published the results of its Future of Open Source survey.

# Rob Bearden was appointed executive chairman of the board of Pentaho.

# The Eclipse Foundation announced the creation of two new EclipseRT projects: Eclipse Gemini and Eclipse Virgo.

# The Tokyo Stock Exchange selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the platform for its next-generation trading system.

# Red Hat announced the launch of JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform 5.0.

# Russia approved Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, on the condition that it continue to develop MySQL.

# Brian Aker asked and answered the question “Where did all of the MySQL developers go?”

# rPath joined the Linux Foundation.

# Sonatype announced Maven Studio for Eclipse, an Eclipse IDE optimized for Maven.

# MoSync added support for Android devices in its cross-platform mobile development SDK.

# GoAhead software shifted to an open source model based around the OpenSAF high availability middleware project.

# Olliance published an interview with Miguel Valdés Faura, CEO and co-founder of BonitaSoft.

# Glyn Moody interviewed Eben Moglen about his plan to save us from the big data hoarders.

# Protecode launched the Library IP Auditor, an extension to the Protecode Enterprise IP Analyzer product.

# Monty Widenius reflected on year one of MariaDB.

# The CodePlex Foundation announced the formation of its second open source gallery.

# Carlo Daffara published a small and unscientific, but very interesting, exploration of OSS license use.

# Opentaps released version 1.4 of its open source ERP + CRM system.

# Novell and Ingres announced that Ingres’s database is available within SUSE Studio as part of the SUSE Appliance Program.

# Glyn Moody dissected Microsoft’s view on the Apple v HTC patent fight and sees trouble ahead.

# Microsoft announced that it is taking a more active role participating in the development of the jQuery JavaScript Library.

Perspectives on OSBC

# LinuxPlanet reported on one of two CAOS presentations at OSBC, while Stephen Walli blogged about 451 CAOS’s visual model for open source business.

# Jay Lyman’s post on OSBC 2010 – Age of open source enablement.

# Tarus Balog’s perspective on OSBC day one, and day two.

# Matt Asay reported on Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst’s keynote at OSBC.

# Good recap of Tim O’Reilly’s keynote at OSBC: the future’s in the data.

# A review of OSBC, from a Microsoft interoperability perspective.

FOSS: War is over (if you want it)

At the Open World Forum event in Paris this morning I presented a quick overview of the state of free and open source software in 2009 and a look at the trends shaping FOSS into the next decade. The presentation was just 10 minutes rather than the 20 I had originally understood it to be, so I wanted to use the blog to expand a little on the discussion and my thinking.

War is over (if you want it)

Aside from the ongoing adoption of open source, one of the trends that has defined FOSS in 2009 has been the numerous declarations that the war between open source and proprietary software is over – and moreover that open source has won.

Perhaps the highest profile of these came from The Economist’s article published in May which stated:

“The argument has been won. It is now generally accepted that the future will involve a blend of both proprietary and open-source software.”

This was a clear indication that the acceptance of free and open source licensing had reached the mainstream, but if open source has “won”, how has victory been achieved?

  • Open source software is ubiquitous

Gartner’s assessment that by 2012, 90% of enterprises will use open source has now almost become a mantra among FOSS advocates. If anything we at The 451 Group would see that figure as a conservative estimate, but whether the figure is 90% or 92% or 95% is really picking hairs – it is clear that the overwhelming majority of enterprises and government agencies are now using FOSS somewhere within their infrastructure.

  • End user adoption is increasing

The recent decision by IDC to increase its prediction of the size of the open source software market in 2013 to $8.1bn from $5.8bn similarly gained a lot of attention among FOSS enthusiasts. While we would not dispute the figures, we would point out how that compares to the size of the overall software market. An educated guess suggests that it could be in the region of 2%, maybe 3% or 4%.

Again though we are picking at hairs and the key message is that while FOSS has gained a tremendous reach, it has a long way to go in terms of penetration – although the silver lining in that is that there is a huge opportunity for growth.

  • Open source software is pervasive

One area that FOSS has seen much more penetration is amongst proprietary software and hardware vendors. The likes of IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and Adobe are all now using and contributing to open source software, indeed you would be hard pushed to find a technology vendor that isn’t making use of open source software development and licensing strategies, or building on open source code.

Each of these vendors is using FOSS to its advantage and on its own terms, and we have seen “mixed models” that combine FOSS and proprietary software come to dominate.

  • Mixed models

At the 451 Group we’ve done a lot of research into how vendors make money from FOSS and one of the key findings is that the line between FOSS and proprietary software has blurred as FOSS has been embedded in proprietary products and vendors following the Open-Core model have added proprietary extensions to FOSS.

We have also noted that while individual developers still have a key role to play in open source communities, modern communities like Eclipse are now dominated by vendor interests.

There has also been a lot of M&A activity involving open source, with some of the highest profile deals resulting in Oracle (almost owning MySQL) as well as Java and OpenSolaris, VMware owning SpringSource and Citrix owning Xen.

As well as buying into FOSS, proprietary vendors are also increasing their contributions to FOSS, with the highest profile example of that being that Microsoft is now a contributor to Linux and recently created the CodePlex Foundation to encourage wider contributions to open source – two developments that would have been unthinkable this time last year.

  • Accepting the inevitable?

For years Microsoft was seen as a King Cnut figure, attempting to hold back the open source waves – and not just commanding the waves to retreat but actively building walls and barriers to hold back the waves.

What happened is that overtime those waves slowly eroded those defenses until it became obvious that the company needed to stop building barriers and start building a boat in which it could ride the open source waves and find a way to co-exist with FOSS.

Microsoft is no different from any other proprietary vendor in this regard. The like sof IBM and Oracle and SAP have all had to find their own ways of coexisting with FOSS.

As a side-note, some people have been critical of Microsoft’s strategy here – pointing out that it is only interested in encouraging open source developers to promote its proprietary platform. On that I defer to Linus Torvalds and his view that “the ability to make the code better for your particular needs” is the point of open source.

And of course it is true that Microsoft has not invested $1bn in open source in the way that IBM did in Linux, but then less than a year later IBM was able to claim that it had recouped most of that $1bn in sales of proprietary software and services.

The result of all this, as Matt Asay put it, is that:

“Open source has won. Open source increasingly finds itself in virtually all software, open source or proprietary.”

If you want it, war is over
Of course, not everyone will see that as any kind of victory at all. As Andrew Oliver recently stated, “The only war is maintaining a distinction” between open source and proprietary.

In 2009 we have seen signs of push back from FOSS advocates in resistance to what they see as dilution of the open source brand. We are seeing increasing demands for the Open Source Definition, which defines open source licenses, to be applied also to development models and business and end user licensing strategies.

A software project might be licensed under an OSI-approved license, but if 98% of the developers are employees of a single company there is a valid question as to whether that is truly an open source development project. Equally if a user needs to acquire a proprietary license for key features and functionality, there is a valid question as to whether the overall software can be considered open source.

There has been growing debate on this issue and we would agree that the time to act is now given the rise of these mixed models and the increasing influence of proprietary vendors in open source projects.

This is especially true as mixed models are not inevitable. Red Hat is the most successful FOSS vendor and does not mix open source and proprietary licenses, and there are plenty of other example of vendors and users that take a pure approach to FOSS at Open World Forum.

Of course it must be remembered that even if you choose not to mix FOSS and proprietary licensing, FOSS must co-exist with proprietary software – if not within your own data centres then with the systems of your partners and customers, and it is important to note that isolationism could be just as damaging to the perception of FOSS as the dilution of the open source brand.

  • Accepting the inevitable?

Which brings us back to the image of Cnut, commanding the waves to go back, only this time we have FOSS advocates potentially battling the waves of mixed models.

So the question FOSS developers or users need to ask themselves is whether you are going to build barriers, or build boats, and find a way to co-exist on your own terms.

Is war over?
All of which begs the question of whether the war between FOSS and proprietary software is truly over. It’s worth returning to the declarations of victory again. The Economist also said:

“Open-source software has won the argument. Now a new threat to openness looms.”

While Mark Taylor from Sirius noted that:

“Open source may have won the argument, but that does not mean the world will now change.”

What Mark was referring to were the procurement policies that enable FOSS to be considered alongside proprietary software. We’ve seen multiple countries adopting polices that encourage the use of open source by government and enterprises, and the UK has just caught up with this, but it must be remembered that the procurement procedures for most organisations were set up specifically to deal with proprietary licensing. It will take time for that procedures to change and for FOSS to compete on a truly level playing field.

That’s one of the trends we expect to see emerging as a new battleground for FOSS in 2010 and beyond and another, that the Economist was referring to, is cloud computing, open data and the threat of platform lock-in.

In fact we have argued that we see open source as complementary to cloud computing and that open source has a role to play in reducing that lock-in, although that is perhaps the subject for another presentation entirely.

Other issues that are too important to simply be glossed over now but that will be discussed in the sessions at Open World Forum and in other blog posts include patents, open standards, open access and open government.

Two issues that I did want to conclude on though are those of FOSS as civic participation and FOSS as a public resource.

Since the Obama administration was elected in the US we’ve seen a massive move towards openness. That hasn’t, yet, resulted in a formal policy on FOSS, but we have seen White House director of new media, Macon Phillips, talking about open source as the “best form of civic participation” – of governments using open source to connect with citizens and encourage collaboration.

And I think we see that this is one of the reasons behind the European Commission’s interest in FOSS, alongside the closely-related issue of FOSS as a public resource. Recently we’ve seen The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, saying that it sees it has a duty, as a publicly funded organisation, to invest public funds in open source.

And its in that context that we have seen the recommendation added to the 2020 FLOSS Roadmap, that FOSS should be recognised as a public knowledge asset. I think that this, as well as the other issues mentioned above, will represent some of the emerging battlegrounds for FOSS in the next decade as the movement moves from a position of acceptance to a position where collaboration and sharing is recognised as a key driver in the promotion of the European software industry, and in enabling the digital recovery.

Open source and cloud computing – a match made in heaven?

Next Wednesday The 451 Group will be taking part in Red Hat’s Open Source Cloud Computing Forum, the line-up for which has been finalized this week.

Starting at 9.30am ET the event is designed to is to foster discussion across a broad range of technical topics related to cloud computing, including: virtualization, security, management, open standards, hybrid public-private clouds, and data formats.

We are pleased to be able to take part in the event, presenting an independent overview of the confluence of open source and cloud computing. The overview of our session is as follows:

    Open source software has been a fundamental building block for cloud computing, enabling cloud platform providers to quickly and cheaply assemble the infrastructure required to provide cloud computing services. The 451 Group examines the key open source projects and vendors that are enabling cloud computing, as well as how the principles of open source software are being extended to cover open APIs and open data formats that reduce the dangers of lock-in.

The rest of the day includes presentations from Red Hat on core cloud services, Cobbler, Condor, KVM, Libvert and Thincrust, as well as representatives from Eucalyptus, Cloudera, Compiere and Zmanda.

It promises to be an interesting day. More details are available here, while you can register for the event itself here.

In the meantime, we’ve got a fair idea of how we see open source and cloud computing coming together, but if you have any thoughts, we always welcome feedback.

Call for papers: upcoming European open source events

Two of the biggest open source events in Europe both announced their calls for papers today. Open World Forum 2009 will take place in Paris in October (preceded by the Open Source Think Tank) while Open Source Meets Business 2010 will take place in Nuremberg in January next year.

The theme for Open World Forum 2009 is “Free, Libre and Open Source Software: at the heart of the Digital Recovery”. The organizers are looking for suggestions for the forum, as well as participants for the 2020 FLOSS Roadmap. They are also looking for CIOs, NGOs, start-ups, politicians, and anyone with a radical new insight or viewpoint on economic, technological or social trends, to take part in related summits.

Heise.de’s Open Source Meets Business, meanwhile, is focused on business best practices, technology solutions and future technology. The organisers are looking for case studies of companies and organisations which utilize open source, IT professionals from user companies, and representatives of open source projects – maintainers, committers or companies.

Is community engagement an engineering, marketing or operational function?

Last week during my presentation of Open Source is Not a Business Model at the ISV Forum I was running through some observations about community engagement best practices for traditional vendors when Stephen Walli asked me whether we thought a community manager should report to engineering or business executives.

As Stephen notes I side-stepped the question somewhat, noting that it depended how far along the five step community engagement process a company is, although I thought that ultimately the answer was that a community manager should report to the business.

In his post Stephen outlines why he believes “there is exactly one right answer: Engineering” (Although I should note that the choice offered in his blog is between engineering and marketing, in response to which I would agree with him).

My reasons for opting for a business report were based on the issues addressed in this chart:

(Based on a graphic used by The Eclipse Foundation and research done by Carleton University and Nortel. For more see this post).

If a company does not enjoy the full benefits of open source engagement until it has take company-wide, business-driven approach to open source rather than a project-by-project, engineering-led approach to open source, then I would argue that ultimately the person responsible for liaising between the vendor and its communities ought to report into a business executive, such as the COO, or equivalent.

Until a company gets to that stage in the engagement process, In would agree that it makes more sense for the “community manager” to report to engineering in the individual product group for all the reasons Stephen writes about (arguably we’re actually talking about different job roles here).

As a side note, Dave Neary claimed during OSBC that “if a company feels the need to hire a community manager then that is an admission of failure”, which appeared to run contrary to other advice we’re seeing, until he pointed out that company’s can’t manage the community and shouldn’t try.

As he explained (also in response to Stephe’s post) “A community manager should enable the community and remove roadblocks to make sure the relationship [with the vendor] is as frictionless as possible. There is a role for that but community manager is not a good title for it”.

So whatever you call it, IMO the role is an engineering function while the company is taking an engineering-led approach to community. As soon as it takes a business-led approach the role ought to become an operational function.

Things I wrote down during OSBC

There were plenty of clever and interesting things said during this week’s Open Source Business Conference. These are the things I felt compelled to write in my notebook, in chronological order. Some of them confirm things we already think about commercial open source, others were new ideas to me, or interesting ways of expressing old ideas:

Michael Skok:
“If we have a better product, and it happens to be open source, we’re going to win. But it has to be in that order”.

“The best business plans are disruptive at the market level, but not at the adoption level”.

John Lilly:
In five years 100% of software will contain open source. (Michael Skok may have put these words in his mouth slightly, but the point stands).

Larry Augustin
“The downturn in exposing business models that were weak anyway”.

Robin Vasan:
“Any software vendor that has a non-friction model gets under the radar from a budget standpoint [in the current climate]. Two or three years later they’ll be trying to harvest that deal”.

“The further up the stack you go the less need there is for the source code”.

Brian Gentile:
“Open source research and development and distribution is an operational advantage”.

Dries Buytaert:
“Open source development communities are always a bit broken. Dysfunction is normal.”

Jim Whitehurst:
“There is no open source business model.”

“Our biggest competitor is not Microoft, it’s not Novell, it’s people stopping paying us for support”.

Bob Sutor
“Most technology vendors wish they developed software not just to the same technical quality but the same process quality, as Linux”.

Fabrizio Capobianco
To create a successful open source project you need:
– a huge market
– a commodity market
– a large community
– a price cushion
– an implementation of an open standard (optional)

“Do not sell anything to your community. Do not even sell them support”.

“If everything goes to the cloud, five years from now, then copyleft is dead [unless you use the AGPL]”.

Dave Neary:
“If a company feels the need to hire a community manager then that is an admission of failure”.

“A community manager should enable the community and remove roadblocks to make sure the relationship [with the vendor] is as frictionless as possible. There is a role for that but community manager is not a good title for it [you can’t manage the community].”

Coming to America

I’ll be heading over to the West coast at the end of the month for a short trip that will take in EclipseCon – including the Open Source Executive Strategy SummitOSBC, and the Open Source ISV Forum.

It promises to be a busy and interesting trip and I’m looking forward to an intensive week of meetings, discussions and briefings on the past, present and future of open source.

I have a fairly full schedule already, but if you are going to be at any of these events and are interested in arranging a meeting or just want to say hello or share a pint, drop me a line via twitter @maslett or email.

EclipseCon Open Source Executive Strategy Summit

Ian Skerrett has announced the details of the Open Source Executive Strategy Summit, a one-day event scheduled to take place alongside this year’s EclipseCon next month.

The summit is a one day event for business executives responsible for their organizations open source strategy and is designed to answer two questions: 1) ‘What Open Source Strategies Are Working Today?’ and 2) ‘What Will Work in the Future?’.

I’m very grateful to how been asked to get involved in the event and present the findings from our recent report Open Source is Not a Business Model, detailing the framework for developing open source strategies based on the various development, licensing and revenue generation tactics.

I’m also looking forward to hearing Larry Rosen‘s presentation on “Optimizing Your Open Source Licensing Decisions”, Paul Clenahan‘s case study on “Actuate’s Open Source Product Strategy”, and Jochen Krause‘s case study on “The transition of the RAP development team to Open Source”, not to mention the panel discussion on the future of open source in the software business.

Full details of the event, including how to register, are here.

Opportunities for open source M&A

On the open source panel at the recent 451 client event I was asked by Raven what impact I expected the current financial situation to have on M&A for open source vendors. I responded that I expected to see an increase in M&A activity related to open source in the first half of next year.

My view was in stark contrast to those expressed during the M&A panel later that afternoon when the general view was that there would be a significant slowdown in M&A spending during 2009 for the IT sector as a whole.

I thought it would be worth explaining why my view of open source M&A opportunities was different from those of the M&A panel.

Is open source a special case? Yes and no. There are two reasons I expect to see more M&As involving open source vendors, only one of which is specifically-related to the fact that the vendors are open source.

The (Im)maturity issue
Let’s say there are 120 meaningful commercial open source vendors operating right now (that number is a guess). Only a handful are public, and only a handful are in a position to think about going public in the next couple of years.

The majority of open source vendors are at the next tier down – they are looking for latter-stage funding to drive business and revenue expansion with the hope of getting towards an exit three-to-five years from now. That is just the sort of position you don’t want to be in given the current financial situation.

Of course there are also a lot of vendors in the same position who are not open source. My sense is that there is a disproportionate number of open source vendors at this stage, however, due to the relative maturity of commercial open source.

A lot of open source vendors raised funds in the first half of the year, but a significant number didn’t and even though there is money out there if you have the fundamentals right, some of the open source vendors out there are going to struggle to find new funding.

Of those some will fail (which is a good thing – I’ll come back to that another day I think), and others will get acquired – either by fellow open source vendors or by proprietary rivals.

The open source issue
That brings us on to the open source-related aspect to all this, which is that open source vendors are potentially going to become more attractive targets. If we assume that open source is likely to prosper in the downturn (which is arguable but like Jay I believe open source may have an advantage in hard economic times especially as significant project spending is delayed while open source becomes even more attractive for smaller, skunkworks-style projects) then proprietary vendors are going to look more at open source vendors.

We expect to see more community open source software usage – rather than commercial open source adoption – in the short term, so proprietary vendors won’t be looking to open source to cover revenue losses but to provide the necessary momentum to lift them out of the mire by up-selling either to commercial support or proprietary alternatives once people do start spending again.

Also if IT spending on proprietary software does stagnate they will need to be seen to be doing something to provide either long-or short-term growth (which is why I would expect to see SaaS as another target market).

Put those two issues together and I believe we will see a number of open source vendors who are happy to be acquired and a significant number of proprietary vendors looking to acquire open source. The question is what impact will this have on the multiples involved for open source vendors.

I don’t believe we will see a repeat of the high valuations we’ve seen in recent years with open source vendors – particularly as the sort of vendors that would command such a valuation won’t be looking to be acquired and the proprietary vendors won’t be prepared to pay above the odds. There could be some bargains out there.

Anyway, that’s the thought process that went through my head between Raven asking me the question and me opening my mouth to answer it (although not in as much detail, clearly). I’d be interested to hear what other people think.

The 451 Group at ICT 2008

Next week I’ll be jetting over to Lyon to attend ICT 2008, the European Commission Information Society’s research event for information and communication technologies.

It promises to be a fascinating and lively event and will examine topics such as European Union priorities in ICT research for over €2 billion of funding available in 2009-2010, the major current technological trends which impact upon strategic research planning, and public research policies to stimulate research and innovation.

As part of the event I will be presenting on day one on the subject of the state of the OSS industry and commercial adoption open source, as part of the session on Security and Quality issues for Next-Generation OSS in a Business Context.

Meanwhile my colleague William Fellows will be presenting on day two as part of the session on Advanced technologies for virtualized systems and platforms for the future internet, while Csilla Zsigri is involved in the session on Architectures of participation: integrating experience, knowledge, info and data.

If you are planning to be at ICT 2008 and would like to meet up with any of The 451 Group team for a meeting, informal chat, or just to say ‘hi’ please drop us a line or come and see us at the sessions.

The convergence of open source and SaaS

Matt Asay has an interesting post today on how its getting harder to distinguish between open source and SaaS which reminded me of the presentation I was scheduled to give at a recent SugarCRM event in London.

Due to illness I was forced to cancel my appearance (and it’s a good job I did as my second child coincidentally chose that day to make an appearance – I at least avoided having to run off stage mid-presentation to head for the hospital).

Anyway, since then the slides for my presentation The Convergence of Open Source and SaaS have been gathering virtual dust on my desktop. Given they are unlikely to see the light of day I thought I might as well upload them to SlideShare.

Of course you miss the full details of the presentation, but the slides themselves give a pretty good overview of how we see open source and SaaS as complementary software development and distribution models (respectively).

As Matt notes they have their similarities “Both are all about getting software in the hands of prospective customers as fast as possible, and look to monetize that adoption downstream rather than upfront. Both provide a lower cost of entry and (often) a long-term cost savings, with a subscription-based revenue model.”

What we also see, however, is that some of their differences are also complementary. With particular reference to the thirteenth slide I should perhaps point out that I would not claim that open source and SaaS are the perfect match, but I think the slide shows how some of the benefits of open source can help to negate the weaknesses of SaaS, and vice versa.

There’s also a few stats in there related to our recent CAOS report Open Source is Not a Business Model.

As previously mentioned, see also Funambol CEO Fabrizio Capobianco’s slides from the World Computer Congress on the same topic.

By the way, one statement I would take issue with in Matt Asay’s post is the comment by his investor friend that “venture funding in open source appears to be going down, as reported by The 451 Group.” As the chart on our post indicates, VC funding for open source was down in Q3 (YoY) but was up in Q1 and Q2 and has fluctuated throughout its history.

Symbian lays foundations for open source

What happens between a company announcing its intention to license its code using an open source license and the resulting project being launched?

Mostly the answer involves a whole lot of legal discussions as the intellectual property and licensing issues are ironed out and the processes and structures are put in place to support the new project.

These sort of arrangements might be fascinating to those of us that study open source development and licensing models but they don’t necessarily make for dynamic conference discussions, if today’s Symbian Smartphone Show was anything to go by.

To be fair to those involved it can’t be helped that the legal hurdles needed to announce the official formation of the Symbian Foundation won’t be completed until later in the year.

But it was a shame that the eagerness of executives and developers to hear about the plans for the new open source project could not be matched by the ability of the presenters to talk openly about their intentions.

It certainly wasn’t for lack of enthusiasm on the presenters’ part, although the repeated necessary legal qualifications seemed to put an unfortunate brake on proceedings despite evident interest in the potential for soon-to-be open source mobile operating system.

The need to maintain the interest levels of would-be Symbian contributors is not lost on those involved in creating the Symbian Foundation as developers were repeatedly reminded that they could begin preparing for the new operating system today, safe in the knowledge that current APIs and the S60 compatibility layer would still be supported when the code is released some time next year.

There was also a lot of talk, of course, about the potential benefits of the soon-to-be open source Symbian code base. While a lot of these have been heard before in relation to other open source projects it is interesting to see an open source community being created in front of you. These then, were some of the major talking points:

  • Business drivers

Speed is the principle proposition of the Symbian Foundation, according to Symbian CEO Nigel Clifford, who noted that a common platform for mobile operating system development would reduce cost and effort for all concerned. It was noted a number of times that the project was being done for sound business reasons as economic drivers make it difficult to charge for software and most vendors have realised that the best way to make money money is through ancillary services and other products.

  • Maturity

The maturity of the code and the partner ecosystem was noted repeatedly, with Symbian being in a position to claim that the open source Symbian OS will offer the best of both worlds – freely available software based on a proven, mature and stable code base.

  • Differentiation

Much was made of the fact that the chosen Eclipse Public License will enable developers to collaborate on the core platform and user interface framework while differentiating on the extensions that add value such as user experience, applications, time to market and hardware support. Meanwhile Kevin Gunn, software product manager at Texas Instruments, noted that over time there would be less of a reliance on the expertise of Symbian developers and engineers, creating opportunities for third parties in terms of services.

  • Fragmentation

Fragmentation is a concern for any open source project and is especially so given the potential for vendors to differentiate. In that regard it is essential for the Foundation to prove the value of collaboration by continuing to churn out updates that enable the ecosystem to differentiate, noted Patrick Olsson, VP and head of software at Sony Ericsson. David Rivas, VP of technology management for S60 at Nokia was confident that if the foundation did do that the value that the platform provides for collaboration would prevent fragmentation.

  • Risks

Of course no one likes to talk about the risks too much, but the presenters did a good job of acknowledging the scale of the project at hand, as over 20 million lines of code will be released over the next two years. Patrick Olsson admitted that for some members of the Symbian ecosystem there will need to be a change of culture to recognise the elements of the platform that are now a commodity and avoid attempting to compete on them.

  • Due process

As David Rivas noted, the biggest risk was in setting up the organisation to manage the project itself. He noted that the employees of foundation members will be responsible for development and engineering but that employees of the foundation itself will not get involved in development. Foundation employees (who will number 100-150) will be responsible for admin, foundation management, support, marketing and software management and will corral the development teams to create the roadmap without getting involved in directing development projects themselves.

There will be a series of councils covering architecture, feature roadmapping, user interface and release, although those again will be staffed by the employees of foundation members, rather than the employees of the foundation. The ownership of individual software packages will default, for the initial stages at least, to the original owner, who will be responsible for its development direction.

  • Licensing

The choice of the Eclipse license is seen as important in enabling differentiation, as noted above, but the transition will not be immediate. The official launch of the Symbian Foundation in the first half of 2009 will see the code launched under the Symbian Foundation License, which will enable code to be shared only amongst Foundation members. As the IP licensing issues are ironed out the code will move to the EPL over the next two years.

It’s OSCON week!

Another year has passed by in a flash and OSCON, O’Reilly’s annual open source convention, is upon us. Fellow 451 open source analyst and Portlander, Jay Lyman, will be with me all week at the Oregon Convention Center to check the pulse of the open source development community, meet with vendors and clients, reconnect with old friends, and count utilikilts (among many other things). It was my first trip to OSCON in 2005 that got me hooked on both the conference and the city. Now, heading into my fourth year at OSCON and my third year as a Portland resident, I’ll take the short commute tomorrow morning. Welcome back to Portland, “open sourcerors”!

Monday starts off with a packed schedule. I was asked just over a month ago to co-chair O’Reilly’s new Open Mobile Exchange day conference with Surj Patel of GigaOm (and former O’Reilly ETel conference chair). The topics surrounding open source and mobile are very exciting and there’s much to talk about. We’ve been racing to finalize speakers and the day-long agenda for this inaugural event. We have some great speakers lined up and I am looking forward to the presentations and open discussions. I hope to see some of you there. In the evening, I’ll be at a public talk by Mark Shuttleworth on Ubuntu and space travel. We’re expecting perhaps 200 people, and I am very pleased that Mark accepted an invitation to speak the night before he’s doing the OSCON keynote.

Tuesday is full of meetings – a Microsoft roundtable all morning, followed by a panel discussion at Collaborative Software Initiative with Wilf Pinfold (Intel), Dan Frye (IBM), Sam Ramji (Microsoft), and myself in the afternoon. Tuesday evening marks the start of OSCON with the keynote by Mark Shuttleworth, the Google / O’Reilly Open Source Awards, and a talk by Robert “r0ml” Lefkowitz on ‘exceptional software.’

It’s on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday that I’ll be able to attend a variety of interesting talks on the state of open source, some technical, others social. That is, when I am not busy with meetings. Every year I end up spending more of my time in the hallways sitting at tables for meetings than I do in the conference rooms listening to speakers. Let’s see if that changes this year.

If you’re planning to be at OSCON this year and you’d like to meet, send me an email. I still have some slots available in my schedule later in the week. If you’re not at OSCON and are hoping to connect with me by phone or email, please be patient as I will probably not be able to get back to you in a timely manner this week.

Open source in the enterprise: a CIO.com blogathon

I’m very pleased to say that I’ve been invited to join CIO.com’s first Executives Online discussion panel, Open Source in the Enterprise, this week. As the starter post explains, the event is a virtual round table discussion bringing together a number of open source executives, and me, to discuss the enterprise adoption of open source software between today and Friday June 6.

It promises to be an interesting discussion, and CIO.com has been good enough to give us some starting discussions points with its survey of attitudes towards open source in the CIO community. I’ll be posting more details here as the discussion evolves.

The panel includes:

  • Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation
  • Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier, Novell SUSE Evangelist
  • Bernard Golden, CIO blogger about open source issues
  • SugarCRM’s CIO, Lila Tretikov
  • SpringSource CEO Rod Johnson
  • Fabrizio Capobianco, the CEO of Funambo
  • Dominic Sartorio, president of the Open Solutions Alliance
  • Brian Gentile, president and CEO of JasperSoft
  • Bob Zurek, CTO at EnterpriseDB
  • WaveMaker CEO Chris Keene
  • Marten Mickos, the former CEO of MySQL and now the head of Sun’s database group
  • Jon Ferraiolo, leader of the OpenAJAX Alliance
  • Ira Heffan, legal counsel for TopCoder
  • Ron Gula, developer of Dragon IDS and the CEO of Tenable Network Security
  • Bob Sutor, the vice president of Standards and Open Source at IBM
  • Wikipedia’s Doman Mituzas
  • CIO.com’s Esther Schindler
  • and me