Archive for February 2006
If Parity Communications rings a bell, that’s because it’s the name of Paul Trevithick’s company, Paul being Higgins’ project leader. Paul, John Clippinger and Mary Ruddy are the founders of the SocialPhysics project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Higgins is the implementation of many of the ideas being worked on there.
The goals of of the project are ambitious. From the proposal:
The Higgins Trust Framework platform intends to address four challenges: the lack of common interfaces to identity/networking systems, the need for interoperability, the need to manage multiple contexts, and the need to respond to regulatory, public or customer pressure to implement solutions based on trusted infrastructure that offers security and privacy.
Higgins is definitely one of the truly innovative and interesting projects going on at Eclipse. I’m very happy to see the additional backing of IBM and Novell behind the project. It’s great news for them and for Eclipse.
If you’re interested in learning more about the project or contributing, here is the project newsgroup.
For those that have never been to an OSBC, it is a fairly unique show. There are basically equal numbers of lawyers, venture capitalists, software entrepreneurs and technology consumers. With a few token adventurers from the larger open source communities thrown in for good measure. My only criticism of the event, which I also plan to make in the panel I’m on this afternoon is that with all the talk about open source business models, the one that seems to get ignored at this event is probably the biggest one of them all: namely, those companies that make a business out of commercially adopting open source technologies from the larger communities such as Apache and Eclipse. The focus here seems to be entirely on those start-up firms that are building single community open source projects/products like SleepyCat, SugarCRM, MySQL, etc. Not that they don’t deserve the attention, but I don’t think that they represent the only “open source business” model out there.
I am curious to hear from companies out there in the Eclipse ecosystem as to why they decide not to participate at OSBC. I don’t mean necessarily as exhibitors, because the lack of developers here makes that pretty obvious. But there are clearly some interesting and successful businesses being built on top of the Eclipse technology whose stories are not being told here. Why not?
Both my wife and my mother would agree that I am terrible with this stuff. I meant to post this on the date, really I did!
It has certainly been a busy two years!
Note: Republished to fix the typo in the date.
This week, Borland made some very audacious moves when they announced an acquisition of Segue and a divestiture of their IDE tools business. As others have commented, this does not mean the end of JBuilder or Delphi, but these are certainly bold and strategic moves.
I can still recall using TurboPascal almost twenty years ago and thinking it was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen. Borland’s contribution to our industry have been large, and I believe that they deserve a great deal of recognition for what they’ve accomplished for developers everywhere with Delphi, JBuilder and other products.
From what I’ve seen of the commentary so far on Borland’s announcement, it appears that many are missing a key point: from everything we’ve seen and read, the future of Borland will be based on Eclipse technology. Last March, Borland announced that it was going to be moving all of their lifecycle tools onto the Eclipse platform and they’ve been working on that since. Many of their tools such as the clients for Together, CaliberRM and StarTeam have been built on Eclipse for quite some time. Borland has, and continues, to generate significant revenue from products based on the Eclipse technology.
It is important to realize that Eclipse has created a strong, growing and diverse ecosystem. Companies like Borland exemplify how they can work with the open source community, build on a standard framework, and provide commercial innovations for the benefit of the industry and customers.
Borland’s contribution to Eclipse remains strong. Just recently Borland and IBM proposed that they co-lead a top-level project at Eclipse to consolidate the many modeling-related projects at Eclipse. The GMF project led by Richard Gronback of Borland has a great community building around it and starting to release some pretty exciting code.
To date, Borland has not been involved in the Application Lifecycle Framework project. However, Segue has been involved for some time. I am hopeful that going forward, Borland will continue and build upon Segue’s investment there and become a full participant in the project.
Simon Phipps wrote an interesting blog post musing about the how the Japanese business model of interlocking companies (keiretsu) and the long tail intersect to describe the functionings of open source communities. Basically, the idea is that open source communities can be described as “code keiretsus around a long tail of applications”.
For those interested, the “long tail” theory first appeared in Wired Magazine and points out that in the new digital world, a great deal of money can be made servicing markets that would have previously been uneconomic due to low volumes. Anyone interested in learning about how this idea applies to Eclipse should go see Carl Zetie’s talk at EclipseCon.
Although the metaphors are interesting, I think the analysis falls apart in one place, where he says:
So how do these ideas relate? By combining them, we have a potential model for certain kinds of open source community such as GNOME, Apache and Eclipse.
This “code keiretsu” is unlikely to include direct competitors, but will include a diverse array of interests serving many points in a target deployment system.
It is around the area of competitive co-operation that I think that the idea needs some polishing. Specifically, Eclipse stands out as an example of where direct competitors are not only participating, they are doing so within the bounds of specific projects such as Web Tools (BEA, IBM, JBoss, Oracle) and Data Tools (Sybase, IBM) to name but two examples. What we’re seeing at Eclipse is very much the diverse array of interests that Simon expects, but the experience shows that the model needs to be be extended to include direct competitors as well.
As regular attendees to the Eclipse Members Meetings are aware, Siobhan O’Mahony from Harvard Business School has been doing research on the new business models that Eclipse is bringing to the forefront. Her ideas around Competing on a Common Platform seem closer to the mark than code keiretsu, despite the fact that the latter is so much cooler as a label.