451 CAOS Links 2011.10.14

Dennis Ritchie RIP. Microsoft adopts Hadoop. And more.

# Dennis Ritchie, creator of C and co-creator of Unix, died aged 70. This article from Joe Brockmeier puts his influence into perspective.

# Microsoft announced plans to team up with Hortonworks and the Apache Hadoop community to create a distribution of Hadoop for Windows Server and Windows Azure.

# Hortonworks explained why it decided to work with Microsoft to support its Hadoop plans.

# Black Duck Software closed a $12m round of financing led by new investor Split Rock Partners.

# OpenOffice.org e.V pleaded for financial support for the OpenOffice.org project, prompting a statement of clarification from the Apache Software Foundation

# Microsoft noted that The Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) Working Group confirmed the availability of the AMQP 1.0 specification. Red Hat confirmed its support.

# Red Hat updated its JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform, JBoss Enterprise Data Services Platform and JBoss Enterprise Business Rules Management System product lines.

# Cloudera announced an integration partnership with MicroStrategy.

# Monsanto is creating is data integration and visualization platform based on the Cloudant suite.

# Samba can now accept code from corporations.

# VMware Micro Cloud Factory now includes PostgreSQL and RabbitMQ.

# Univa announced StackIQ will market, sell and support Univa Grid Engine to its customer and reseller channels.

# Openwave Systems is going to integrate Open-Xchange’s email technology into the Openwave Rich Mail product.

# X.commerce, a new business at eBay combining PayPal and Magento, joined the OpenStack community.

A totally unscientific look at the historical trends regarding forks

Back in September last year, as the LibreOffice announced its separation from OpenOffice.org and Oracle, I published a quick post comparing the relative success of a variety of forks.

Inspired by Alan Bell, I used Google Trends charts to illustrate the relative level of interest in a number of projects and their forks. Hardly a scientific study… but Google Trends charts do provide us with an indication of the level of interest in a fork, compared to its parent, illustrating the impetus a project has to separate from its parent.

Brian Proffitt published an interesting post last week using Newtonian physics to describe how a fork needs enough velocity to escape the orbit of its parent.

A look at the charts used in my previous post shows how quickly a child can overtake its parent – at least in terms of Google search results – if it has enough momentum.

It took Joomla (in red below) just two quarters to overtake Mambo (in blue) , for example, while it took Ubuntu about a year to surpass Debian.

Other forks are less immediately successful. It took Adempiere about three years to overtake Compiere, for example, while vTiger (in red below) has taken six years to close the gap on (but not surpass) SugarCRM (blue).

Brian’s post argued that the history of forks did not favour OpenOffice.org, but there are other examples of forks that have failed to achieve the success of ECGS, X.org and Webkit (Brian’s examples).

Perhaps this is not the fault of the child, but the nature of the parent, however. Dave Neary suggested that vendor-driven projects have an advantage over community-driven projects in artificially maintaining momentum in the face of a community fork.

That would seem to be a reasonable suggestion, but it does beg the question about what the when, or if, LibreOffice might gain enough momentum to overtake OpenOffice.org.

For one thing, OpenOffice.org does not fit the description of Debian, or SugarCRM. It was a vendor-led project, but does not remain so (despite IBM’s likely dominant role in its future).

For another, the LibreOffice fork came from within, rather than being the result of external influence on the developer community.

So will the OpenOffice-LibreOffice chart more closely resemble Mambo-Joomla or SugarCRM-vTiger?

Almost three quarters after the split, LibreOffice (in red) has certainly narrowed the gap on OpenOffice.org (in blue), but not by a significant margin. However, it is too early to draw any conclusions.

451 CAOS Links 2011.06.14

Apache OpenOffice.org proposal approved. SkySQL Tekes new funding. And more.

# The proposal for OpenOffice.org to become an Apache incubator project was unanimously approved.

# Rob Weir discussed how the relationship between OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice need not be a zero-sum game.

# Simon Phipps offered his thoughts on the potential positive and negative outcomes.

# Tekes, the main public funding agency for research, development, and innovation in Finland, awarded SkySQL a grant of €250,000 and a loan of over €600,000.

# Opscode announced the general availability of Opscode Hosted Chef, formerly the Opscode Platform, and launched the Private Chef appliance.

# Infobright launched version 4.0 of its open source analytic database.

# Glyn Moody questioned whether we still need the FSF, GNU and the GPL.

# Cenatic published its analysis of the criteria for adopting open source software in public administrations.

# Nuxeo and Hippo announced a technology alliance through which they have built an ECM/WCM connector based on the OASIS CMIS standard.

# The VAR Guy wondered whether Canonical’s Ubuntu focus is too diverse.

# Sandro Groganz discussed what US-based open source vendors need to know about Europe.

# The Xen code for Dom0 has been accepted into the Linux mainline kernel.

# Brian Proffitt covered the two faces of UK open source.

# The VAR Guy encouraged Adobe to engage more with open source.

# Matt Asay pondered Red Hat’s potential to challenge Oracle with a database of its own.

451 CAOS Links 2011.06.10

Yet more Apache OpenOffice fall-out. Bacula Systems raises $5m. And more.

# As the proposal to incubate OpenOffice.org at Apache went live, controversy about the proposal continued. The Free Software Foundation unsurprisingly voiced its support in favour of the LGPL LibreOffice project,which Keith Curtis outlined his opposition to the plan.

# Bacula Systems raised $5m from KM Capital Partners and from the Swiss Canton of Vaud.

# Joe Brockmeier explained how Microsoft’s patent loss could be bad news for open source.

# Computacenter raised the prospect of legal action against open source support supplier Sirius for complaining to Parliament about its “Microsoft bias”.

# Jahia announced the commercial release of its Jahia 6.5 content management system.

# Couchbase announced the general availability of Membase Server 1.7.

# Talend announced Talend Cloud, its cloud-enabled integration platform.

# Stefano Maffulli considered the implications of the declining adoption of copyleft licenses.

# Ian Skerrett introduced some key finding from the 2011 Eclipse community survey.

451 CAOS Links 2011.06.03

Reaction to Apache OpenOffice proposal. The rise of Github. And more.

Apache OpenOffice proposal
# Oracle confirmed that it had proposed that OpenOffice.org become an Apache Incubator project (as initially reported by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols). The project will be backed by IBM, which is providing the staff resources.

# IBM representatives, including Bob Sutor, Ed Brill and Rob Weir discussed the positive aspects of the move while Bradley M Kuhn declared it an ” insidious attack” on the LibreOffice despite noting that the ultimate long-term outcome is likely to be all positive for LibreOffice.

# Meanwhile Jay Lyman offered a perspective from The 451 Group, including disappointment that Oracle didn’t move quicker, while Ian Skerrett discussed why open source an ideology don’t necessarily mix.

# The Document Foundation, meanwhile, indicated that the announcement impact was neutral on the LibreOffice project, but did state that would welcome the reuniting of the OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice projects and was willing to start talking with Apache Software Foundation. ASF president Jim Jagielski discussed the next steps for OpenOffice.org as a potential incubator project. Additionally, The Document Foundation announced LibreOffice 3.4.0.

The best of the rest
# Github is now the most popular open source forge, according to data released by Black Duck Software.

# Pedro Côrte-Real published research that indicates GNU makes up about 8% of GNU/Linux.

# Heroku added Node.js support to the Celadon Cedar release of its PaaS platform.

# Nuxeo updated its Nuxeo Document Management and Nuxeo Enterprise Platform products.

# Andrew Katz asked ‘Why does the UK Government need to own the copyright in software it has developed?’

# O’Reilly Radar published an interview with former White House deputy CTO Andrew McLaughlin on the Civic Commons local government code sharing initiative.

# Open Ocean launched a “start-up pitch” competition for would-be European open source start-ups.

# MapR Technologies announced its intention to contribute some of its Hadoop modifications to the Apache project.

# Matt Asay argued that no one is ‘morally obligated’ to give back to open source.

# Canonical launched its Ubuntu-Ready hardware certification.

# The Mageia community announced the first release of its fork of Mandriva Linux.

451 CAOS Links 2011.04.19

Oracle discontinues commercial OpenOffice plans. OpenStack releases Cactus. And more.

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

# Oracle announced that it is to discontinue its commercial version of OpenOffice and move OpenOffice.org to become a community-based open source project.

# The Document Foundation issued a statement that suggests it is not interested in reunification with OpenOffice.org. At least we think that’s what it means when it says “the development of TDF community and LibreOffice is going forward as planned”. We’ve asked for clarification. Certainly they are interested in welcoming OpenOffice.org developers, indeed they are now accepting new members.

# OpenStack announced the availability of its ‘Cactus’ release.

# Alfresco provided the first preview of its Activiti BPM software in Alfresco Community 3.4.e.

# Talend and Ingres announced a strategic partnership.

# CollabNet Subversion Edge is being used by an estimated 200,000 developers six months after its introduction.

# uTest is partnering with Mozilla to jointly develop an open source test case management system.

# Spring Data Graph 1.0 is now available, providing integration between Spring and Neo4j.

# ioBridge released ThingSpeak, an open source thing for the “Internet of Things”.

Java mutiny in the making

The Apache Software Foundation’s latest statement on the Java Community Process highlights continued dissatisfaction and dissent from Oracle’s stewardship and involvement in open source software.

This comes after some ups and downs for Oracle and its oversight of Java and other open source software that was previously under the auspices of Sun Microsystems. Oracle started off on a rough path when it sued Google over its implementation of Java in Android without preemptively or clearly stating that it was not attacking open source. At about the same time, it let OpenSolaris die a slow, somewhat confusing death. Oracle won a point when IBM came out with its support in favor of the JCP and OpenJDK over Apache Harmony, and this contributes to the adversarial positioning between Oracle and the Apache Software Foundation. However, Oracle has also seen an erosion of open source support and confidence as OpenOffice.org developers have migrated away from Oracle, many to contribute to the new Libre Office project.

Oracle’s moves illustrate the company’s lack of complete understanding of open source and the value of open source software communities. While it appreciates and leverages open source as an effective, efficient software development approach, it does not truly see the value of providing software to a community and attaining benefits of efficiency, reach and innovation as a result. This is not to say that supporting an open source software community will automatically translate into commercial and community success (not the case with Symbian, for example), but Oracle does not appear to support community as a priority in its proprietary and admittedly successful software strategy.

MySQL can be an example of Oracle doing things right with open source, though we may see similar dissatisfaction and defection as Oracle moves further toward commercialization and further away from free, community software. Still, Oracle at least showed it could continue and contribute and support a successful open source project in the case of MySQL. The same may not be said for OpenSolaris, OpenOffice.org or, increasingly it appears, Java.

451 CAOS LInks 2010.10.20

Funding for Revolution Analytics. Canonical and open core. And more.

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

# Revolution Analytics closed an $8.6 million third round of funding.

# Joe Brockmeier asked is Canonical going open core, and does it matter.

# Mark Shuttleworth denied any plans for Canonical to go open core, says explanation on copyright assignment is coming.

# Oracle wants LibreOffice members to leave the OpenOffice.org council.

# Stephen Colebourne accused Oracle of attempting to stack the JCP vote.

# VMware introduced Code2Cloud development tools, developed with TaskTop.

# MaestroDev partnered with SonarSource and updated its Maestro orchestration software for OSS.

# The Apache Software Foundation announced Apache Maven Version 3.0.

# Open-Xchange updated the Open-Xchange Server with support for HTC, Android 2.1 and 2.2.

# VMware outlined Spring Data Access projects for distributed data technologies.

# The Symbian Foundation’s executive director is stepping down.

# Azul launched its Zing elastic runtime, including open source components from the Managed Runtime Initiative.

# Rapid7 introduced Metaspoilt Pro, based on the Metasploit Framework.

# Cray, Data Direct Networks, LLNL and ORNL formed OpenSFS, a Lustre-focused non-profit technical organization.

# CollabNet acquired Subversion hosting provider Codesion.

# Jaguar Land Rover and SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle Company have
joined the GENIVI Alliance.

# Makara announced version 1.1 of its Cloud Application Platform with support for memcached and Zend Framework.

# Sonatype has updated and enhanced its Maven Central repository.

# Funambol introduced CAPRI, an open source framework for developing sync-centric apps for smartphones.

# Wind River released Wind River Linux 4.

# Black Duck grew sales 58% in Q3.

# Krishnan Subramanian explained why open source is key to cloud economics.

# The Veterans Affairs Department will adopt an open source model to modernize its electronic health records system.

451 CAOS Links 2010.10.15

The future of the JCP. A new Mozilla CEO. And more.

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

# Mike Milinkovich explained why the Eclipse Foundation will support Oracle’s plans for Java 7, and outlined its concerns about the Java 8 JSR.

# Stephen Colebourne outlined the choices facing Java Community Process executive committee voters: pragmatism or bust, before later proposing a third option: a split in the Java Community Process between core and ecosystem projects.

# Gary Kovacs was named the new CEO of the Mozilla Corporation.

# New Relic raised $10m in series C funding.

# Oracle maintained its commitment to OpenOffice.org and released OpenOffice.org 3.2.1 and OpenOffice.org 3.3 Beta.

# SkySQL formally launched its services and support for the MySQL database with the release of SkySQL Enterprise.

# Android drove $1bn ad revenue for Google.

# Ross Gardler described the Apache Software Foundation’s open development methodology.

# Red Hat updated its messaging, realtime and grid technologies with the release of Red Hat Enterprise MRG 1.3.

# Actuate’s Nobby Akiha offered some advice for closed source companies transitioning to open source.

# OSSCube released OSSCube Voice – an open source integration of Asterisk and SugarCRM.

# StumbleUpon confirmed plans to open source OpenTSDB: a scalable time series database built on top of HBase.

# SugarCRM claimed 60% revenue growth in Q3.

# Civic Commons asked What’s the return on investment for open?

# The Free Software Foundation announced the criteria for its hardware endorsement program.

# Adobe’s Dave McAllister discussed why it and other software vendors, release open source code.

# Engine Yard formalized its support for fog, the cloud computing library for Ruby applications.

# The Linux Foundation’s survey suggested Linux adoption over next five years will outpace Windows.

# Datameer announced the general availability of its Datameer Analytics Solution for Hadoop.

# SGI announced support and benchmarks for VoltDB’s Database.

# Ingres announced the availability of Ingres Database 10.

# Vyatta integrated Sourcefire Intrusion Prevention System rules.

Oracle legal move evokes many questions

There are many questions that arise out of Oracle’s copyright and patent infringement complaint against Google regarding its use of Java in Android. There are several things that make the suit significant to the entire industry: it centers not just on software copyright, but also software patents (an increasingly and hotly debated issue), the quickly-expanding smartphone market and open source software. The first question is: what is Oracle doing?

Many are speculating that this is simply an effort to further and more effectively monetize Java, a storied program language that has move more toward openness and survived several supposed death sentences as newer languages arrived. Still, with all of the open source parts — GlassFish application server, MySQL database, OpenOffice.org suite — is Java the most significant to Oracle? It may be, but regardless of what Oracle is doing, its legal moves here may certainly have an impact on the many other open source projects from Sun that are now under Oracle’s umbrella.

Oracle may also simply be initiating an IP licensing effort around Java, but as Microsoft has found, this can be a delicate endeavor to say the least. Another possibility is that Oracle, not typically mentioned or meaningful when we discuss the hot market of smartphones, wants to make sure the world knows its Java code is in many of that Android technology. Still, there are more constructive ways to go about that, I would think.

We have questioned Oracle’s full appreciation for open source software before, but its latest action simply brings more questions to mind.

The smartphone market is seeing incredible opportunity, competition and innovation right now? In addition, with waves of iPhone and more recently Android popularity, the smartphone market might even be poised for a slow in growth (even though it is by many accounts the fastest growing technology market). Still, if there is some slowing that was part of the natural market cycle, will Oracle take some or even all of the blame?

Given that Google is adept at software development and using open source, we also have to wonder about the impact of any and all major workarounds. Plans may already be well underway to circumvent the use of Java in Android and any range of other devices or markets where it has managed to stay relevant despite its age. This could finally make Java less relevant, or at the least have a negative effect on Java development going forward.

One thing seems clear, Oracle’s move makes all that software patent discussion and debate more relevant and more real. We have sensed a coming storm over software patents, but we did not anticipate a first shot from Oracle, frankly. One of the biggest questions now is what kind of reaction will this trigger from the likes of the Open Invention Network, Linux Foundation (of which Oracle is a Platinum member and Google is a Gold member) or others with resources and interest in legally defending Linux and open source software?

451 CAOS Links 2010.05.11

Linagora explores Mandriva acquisition. OpenOffice.org extensions. 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.”

# Following reports that Mandriva is up for sale, Linagora confirmed that it is investigating an acquisition of the assets of the Linux distributor.

# The OpenOffice.org Community Council responded to the FSF’s free software extension listing.

# New Relic delivered a version of its performance management software for Apache Solr.

# Dries Buytaert compared the business models and commercial ecosystems of Joomla and Drupal.

# Tibco introduced Business Studio, a business process development tool, based on Eclipse.

# “Microsoft’s Got Nothin’” An analysis of the company’s patent strategy against Linux and OSS.

# Matt Asay explained why fragmenting Linux is not the way to beat Apple.

# Has Motorola acquired Azingo?

# Simon Phipps is joining ForgeRock as chief strategy officer.

# Federal Computer Week reported on how open source is NASA’s next frontier.

# Two UC Berkeley professors have proposed the Defensive Patent License to protect OSS from patent threats.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2010.02.05

Topics for this podcast:

*Matt Asay moves from Alfresco to Canonical
*GPL fade fuels heated discussion
*Apple’s iPad and its enterprise and open source impact
*Open source in data warehousing and storage
*Our perspective on Oracle’s plans for Sun open source

iTunes or direct download (32:50, 9.2 MB)

451 CAOS Links 2009.01.16

Trolltech becomes Qt Software, goes LGPL. Marketcetera launches open source trading platform. Can FOSS save the economy? Open Kernel Labs and Identi.ca raise funding. And more.

Official announcements
LGPL License Option Added to Qt Nokia/Qt Software

Jaspersoft’s Growth and Market Position Attracts Industry Visionaries to Advisory Board Jaspersoft

Marketcetera Releases Industry’s First Open Source Automated Trading Platform Marketcetera

Open Kernel Labs Attracts $7.6 Million in Venture Funding Open Kernel Labs

SpringSource Executive Elected to OSGi Alliance Board of Directors SpringSource

Engine Yard Introduces New Cloud Offerings Engine Yard

Joyent Buys Reasonably Smart Joyent

Sonatype — The Maven Company — Introduces Sonatype Nexus Professional, the First Maven Repository Manager for Commercial Software Development Teams Sonatype

News stories
Will Tough Times Lead to Open-Source Deals? New York Times

Bringing Up Open Source, Part 1: Enterprise Edition Jack M. Germain, LinuxInsider

From the Editors: Microsoft and open source Alan Zeichick, SD Times

Google Axes Unpopular Applications Nathan Eddy, eWeek

Blogs
Yes, We Can Make the Stimulus More Stimulating Dean Baker, truthout

The VAR Guy’s Open Source 50 The VAR Guy

Identi.ca Gets Funding to Make Open-source Twitter Variant Alistair Croll, GigaOM

Red Hat Nearly Doubles Its Partner Channel The VAR Guy

The Art of Community Jono Bacon

Great Entrepreneurs Build “Tribes” David Hornik, VentureBlog

Open source and the lone developer Bob Sutor

What do I do as Executive Director of GNOME? Stormy Peters

What happens with KDE with Qt license shift? Joe Brockmeier, ZDNet

Russia to create “National OS” Based on GNU/Linux? Glyn Moody, Open…

What happened to the GPL Project Watch List The Software Report

Job Openings for Drizzle, How Hiring Works Brian “Krow” Aker

Healthy Open Source Communities in 2009: Solo Practitioners coexisting with Professional Services Firms Joseph Bachana, DPCI

The Open Source Developer’s Wife Nathalie Fleury
A different perspective on the JBoss story.

451 CAOS Links 2009.01.02

A bumper CAOS Links rounding up the news and views from the festive period, including: Red Hat revenue up 22% in 3Q. Alan Cox departs for Intel. Evolving open source business strategies. The commercialization opportunity around OpenOffice.org. And more.

Official announcements
Red Hat Reports Third Quarter Results Red Hat

OpenLogic Survey Highlights Enterprise Perspectives on Open Source Application Servers OpenLogic

Asianux Concludes Triumphant Year, Welcomes Fifth Member Asianux

News articles
The future of open source Jason Snyder, InfoWorld

Alan Cox: Moving on from Red Hat Sander Marechal, LXer

An Open Secret Marshall Krantz, CFO Magazine

Sam Ramji: Open source is burgeoning at Microsoft David Worthington, SDTimes

Sun executive reveals more open-source plans for JavaFX Chris Kanaracus, ComputerWorld

Big Blue urged to open Notes and Domino Timothy Prickett Morgan, The Register

Bring Open Source into Hedge Funds Peter Algert, BusinessWeek

Rails and Merb Web frameworks agree to merge James Niccolai, IDG News Service

Seven Predictions for Open Source in 2009 Roger Burkhardt, Dr Dobb’s Journal

Linux in 2009: Recession vs. GNU Bruce Byfield, InternetNews.com

Q&A: Amazon CTO Werner Vogels John Foley, InformationWeek

Blogs
We are all open source/proprietary now Matt Asay, Cnet

Companies drive open source success? Joe Brockmeier, ZDnet

Open source becomes paid software in 2009 Dave Rosenberg, Cnet

Open source business models must be voluntary Dana Blankenhorn, ZDnet

The War for Open Source Tarus Balog

Open source trends in 2009 Zack Urlocker, InfoWorld

Buyouts and Mergers to Proliferate in 2009 Sam Dean, OStatic

A new M&A for open source? Matt Asay, Cnet

Open Source: Not a Business Model and Not Broken Mark Radcliffe

Open Source Maturity Simon Phipps, Sun Microsystems

Increasing Ecosystem Co-operation Dave Neary

MySQL: Now and Then Stephen O’Grady, Redmonk

Does dual-licensing limit community? Joe Brockmeier, ZDnet

Mozilla CEO Confirms “Complicated” Relationship with Google, Since Chrome Sam Dean, OStatic

OpenOffice.org: About Turning OpenOffice.org Migrations into a Business Roberto Galoppini

The market opportunity for OpenOffice.org migrations Savio Rodrigues

OpenOffice.org Migrations: Easing Medium-Large Companies’ Migrations Roberto Galoppini

Measuring the true success of OpenOffice.org Michael Meeks

Why is OpenOffice “profoundly sick”? Matt Asay, Cnet

Alan Cox and the End of an Era Glyn Moody, ComputerWorld UK

Alan Cox leaves Red Hat, suggesting company’s future direction Matt Asay, Cnet

No such thing as a free Linux distro Joe Brockmeier, ZDnet

Open source makes serious headway in the U.S. Department of Defense Matt Asay, Cnet

Top Ten Open Source Legal Developments: 2008 Mark Radcliffe

JBoss Virtual Experience 2009 Rick Sharples

Cloud platforms of the future: Hadoop and Eucalyptus Dave Rosenberg, Cnet

A Good Foundation for 2009 Glyn Moody, ComputerWorld UK

Why IBM Should Open Source Notes and Domino Sam Dean, OStatic

Is open sourcing Domino a good idea? Stormy Peters

The Ubuntu Ethos Jono Bacon

Merb gets merged into Rails 3! Riding Rails

Rails And Merb Merge Yehuda Katz

Audio/visual
Comparison Of Open Source App Servers OpenLogic
“OpenLogic provides overview of open source application servers including EJB3 vs. Spring, EJB2 compatibility, and OSGi.”

Sun still radiating open source

Sun Microsystems always seems to be forced to defend itself, whether it is the company’s ongoing strategy amid dimmed revenue and earnings or its participation in open source. As one who recently considered the fate of a somewhat weakened Sun, I’d also like to highlight a recent series of promising technologies and efforts — dominated by open source — from the venerable technology giant.

Despite continued doubts, Sun continues to focus its strategy on open source software, which is finding its way into the company’s Solaris OS, storage technology with ZFS file system and MySQL database and elsewhere. The company recently launched a new Web site where it is figuratively letting its open source ponytail down and more succinctly staking out its place and participation in open source.

One of the most obvious places Sun is putting open source to work is its Solaris OS, released in its latest form this week. Key among the highlights for the updated Solaris is the use of the open source ZFS file system. Similar to how Red Hat draws on the Fedora community and distribution for its Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Sun is taking ZFS from OpenSolaris, which continues to grow (yes, it’s true Linux has many vendors behind it and OpenSolaris only has Sun). Although Sun may still be struggling with some internal conflict over support for Linux alongside Solaris, the company deserves credit for successfully growing Solaris technology from the open source, OpenSolaris community.

ZFS is also playing a role alongside other Sun products, including Thumper servers, in Sun’s Open Storage initiative, which has grown business and revenue since launched more than two years ago. Although many believe Sun would be better off without its legacy hardware and systems business, here we see the company putting open source to work again for a promising, emergent story on storage.

Sun, which oversees the Microsoft alternative office project OpenOffice.org (rooted in Sun’s StarOffice software), is also broadening its backing of the OpenDocument Format, launching the ODF Toolkit Union with fellow ODF supporter IBM. We have seen some concerns about Sun’s oversight of OpenOffice.org and impact on ODF. Although there will still be challenges for Sun to effectively promote OO.o development and proliferation and the ODF, the ODF Toolkit Union seems a wise move to avoid the same issues with ODF, which last May won support from Microsoft in its own Office 2007 and subsequent Office software.

Another area where we don’t necessarily hear much about Sun, but where 451 Research Director Rachel Chalmers highlights the company is active, is virtualization. Sun’s open source xVM Server and related xVM Ops Center 2.0 help the vendor maintain an enviable fourth spot in the growing virtualization market, behind VMware, Citrix and Microsoft.

Sun has certainly been stung by its lowered outlook and earnings and an economic slump that has further erased high-end server business, but the company’s technology and its focus on open source continue to drive its relevance in the industry. Its biggest challenge now is, fittingly for its open source identity, converting that relevance to revenue.

Microsoft self interest is its commitment to open source

Microsoft continued its moves to make its Windows OS and other software more supportive and integrated with open source last week, releasing Web Application Installer software to facilitate development and use of popular Web applications, including open source software such as DotNetNuke web application framework, Drupal content management software, osCommerce e-commerce software and WordPress blogging software.

The release and Microsoft’s statements and stance are being viewed as both supportive and detrimental to open source. While I would agree developments such as these continue to blur the line between what is, or is not, an open source vendor, I do not agree with Microsoft’s contention that all software players are becoming ‘mixed-source’ companies. Sure, vendors and users seem to care less about whether the software they use, support, sell and pay for is open source or not, but those using open source to make products move faster and cost less, such as Red Hat, continue to differentiate themselves based primarily on open source.

I believe that Microsoft’s earnest intent is to make open source on Windows, ASP.Net and Silverlight as simple and supported as open source on Linux and Apache infrastructure, following on its previous movement toward open source. Would Microsoft benefit from making these newly-supported, open source pieces and products less efficient or integrated? Would it benefit from seeing them sway toward proprietary licensing and development? I don’t think so, since the company could already create that without open source. No, I belive Microsoft is genuinely looking to provide as good if not better support for open source software as anyone esle. Consider Drupal creator Dries Buyteart (also Drupal-based startup Acquia CEO) and his excitement at the prospect (even though he couldn’t test it since he didn’t have a Windows computer). Sure, Microsoft may be less inclined to offer its support in more competitive areas such as the OS with Linux or office software against OpenOffice.org. However, even in those cases we see recognition of reality and thus, collaboration, integration and support for open source from Microsoft.

For those who fear Microsoft’s talk of mixed-source means the company is looking to muddy the waters, a couple of things. First, there are a whole range of trends, issues and places — virtualization, SaaS, cloud computing, systems management, SOA, Web services, etc. — where the mixed-source mantra is getting pushed along quite well regardless of Redmond. Second, I have argued before Microsoft’s involvement in open source will rightfully draw the full and complete scrutiny of open source supporters, thus providing some good vetting to involvement by Microsoft and other proprietary players. In the end (and after several more confrontational approaches have failed), I think Microsoft may end up providing a significant paradigm for how proprietary software companies can successfully confront and coexist with open source.

As the ODF-OOXML world turns

Oh the drama. Most of us knew ISO approval of Microsoft’s OOXML format was not the end, but more of a beginning in the ongoing fight for the future’s file format. Any doubts of that were put to rest this week with a flurry of activity around OOXML’s approval, ODF adoption, Microsoft’s support and the stance of U.S. states and other governments.

Much of it started with Microsoft’s announcement that it would expand its Office 2007 format support, including ODF. The move, which means Office 2007 users will be able to set ODF as their default file format, is further evidence of changes at Microsoft and the need to support multiple formats and interoperability. However, it still drew criticism from a number of ODF proponents/OOXML opponents, whose concerns include the typical Microsoft skepticism, but also center on the software giant’s OOXML approval campaign and previous statements downplaying the market for ODF.

We also saw further objection to ISO’s OOXML approval, primarily an appeal from South Africa. As format expert and saga watcher Andy Updegrove points out here, the appeal centers on the approval process and also on the ‘business basis’ for OOXML’s fast-track approval. Despite that relatively rapid approval, Updegrove points out that, ironically, Microsoft Office users will not have the opportunity to use the file format until Microsoft’s coming Office 14, expected in 2010 at the earliest.

Microsoft credited customer and government demand for its new found ODF love, but we also saw indications it may also involve difficulties in backward compatibility with OOXML. As ZDNet’s Tom Espiner points out, ‘The company now says OOXML support would require substantially more work.’ This comes as no surprise to many open source software users who have come to the same conclusion over the years. In fact, the inability of Microsoft to support different versions of its own Office and format software has fueled many OpenOffice.org downloads over the last few years, including my own.

Still, customer demand as the reasoning behind Microsoft’s ODF support was reinforced by yet another development in the ongoing format saga: findings from the State of New York. While the state’s officials indicated it would be a mistake to name ODF or OOXML as the standard of choice, New York’s format wonks did indicate that openness is the path to the future. That does not necessarily mean ODF, but it certainly makes it more likely given the controversy, uncertainty and drama still surrounding OOXML.

Microsoft’s increased and improved support for ODF is real and it reinforces the idea that Redmond is moving to support open source, open standards and interoperability in response to customers, rather than contentions from critics or requirements from antitrust regulators. Microsoft will certainly continue to work to support and promulgate OOXML and the format has a friend in the broad use of Microsoft’s Office software. However, as OOXML faces continued skepticism, ISO appeals and an EU investigation, ODF (ISO approved in 2006 without controversy) stands ready for use with broad vendor support, growing adoption and, after this week, momentum.

The silver lining in OOXML approval

I kept waiting to weigh in on the ISO approval of Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) format, searching for some kind of silver lining for open source. Sure, there are those that say technical and interoperability issues will limit uptake of the standard. But this is Microsoft and Office we’re talking about, so it seems clear that there will be some pretty widespread adoption. While Microsoft will likely be penalized to an extent for any perception or reality of gaming the system, this will also be limited largely to its most ardent opponents. So we’re still in need of some truly silver-tinted lining.

Then I saw Paul McDougall’s report on the nations that represent emerging markets and how they voted against OOXML approval as an ISO standard. (Fittingly, Gartner’s Michael Silver is quoted, so this works as ‘silver’ lining on a couple of levels). OOXML opponents were headlined by Brazil, India and China (the BRIC minus Russia, which along with the U.S. and three-quarters of nations voted in favor). Others in opposition included South Africa and Venezuela. While they may not represent the most lucrative markets at present, these are in many ways the markets of the future. Why? First and foremost because they represent brand new users. They also lack some of the more elderly technology characterisitcs, such as a preponderance of proprietary software. These are new markets with new users and they are among the biggest opportunities for all IT vendors right now.

They also make up a more level playing field for Linux and open source software. This has emerged as a trend across desktop, server and office software with global popularity of OpenOffice and Open Document Format (ODF), ISO approved since 2006. In our report, CAOS 5-The SMB market opportunity, we found that opportunity is limited, particularly compared to the enterprise market and particularly in the case of Linux. However, one big exception was emerging markets, where both Linux and open source are better positioned and even at an advantage sometimes against Windows and other proprietary software.

There will certainly be adoption of Microsoft’s OOXML, and this highlights the need for ODF interoperabiity and support. However, we may find that in these emerging and greenfield markets, Microsoft faces its fiercest competition from ODF and open source.