Category Archives: Open Source

IBM/Sun Post: I Forgot About Solaris

When I wrote about IBM’s potential interest in acquiring Sun to gain control of Java, I forgot about the Solaris factor. But this was mentioned in yesterday’s Times article about the acquisition, and I have seen it mentioned other places as well.

What I forgot about was Red Hat and Linux. IBM sells a lot of Red Hat Linux. After Red Hat acquired JBoss in 2006 they began competing with IBM’s WebSphere division, which must have put strain on their partnership around Linux. IBM started hedging its bets with Novell’s SUSE Linux, but open sourcing Solaris would give IBM its own alternative to Red Hat Linux.

Add that to the potential for gaining control of Java and you have two pretty compelling reasons for IBM to acquire Sun.  Of course there are probably any number of other factors, but these strike me as the most strategic.

Open Source for Business – Really

Mike Herrick calls attention to a recent article about Pay Pal and their use of open source to run their business.

Among the more interesting aspects of the article is that Scott Thompson was working for Visa prior to taking the CTO job at Pay Pal. Visa apparently would not have considered using an open source platform for processing transactions. Of course, Visa started out a long time ago.

This is as clear an example as you can get of the difference between pre-Web and post-Web IT architectures. Pre-Web transaction processing was all about mainframes, and middleware systems that tried to duplicate the mainframe environment in a distributed world. Open source seems foreign since it didn’t really grow up as part of the traditional environnment. Post-Web transaction processing is all about scaling up and partitioning out using racks of commodity hardware and open source.

Web sites often started small, using any resource at hand (i.e. free open source software) and then needed to grow and grow to unprecendented volumes, and still maintain reasonable cost control. And traditional solutions designed to support the scale of a single enterprise did not meet the requirements of the Web environment – certainly not at a sustainable cost.

Running a business on open source? Sure, we see it every day. And with our new release of Fuse we are likely to see it more and more. Even customers who traditionally would not consider open source for the “family jewels” are starting to use it in some projects, including mission-critical applications. The Internet businesses are really seen as leading the way here.

The open source trend is not stopping at the operating system, either. That should be clear by now. Open source middleware, databases, service enablement, and routing/mediation engines are continuing to grow in popularity.

The industry has seen hardware go thorugh a commoditization cycle, in which the cheapest solutions are constructed of the best standard parts from various sources. Competition at the component level –CPU, disk, display, etc. — helped drive down prices.

Now we are beginning to see the commoditization of enterprise software, with Linux probably the big break through. Again, in the spirit of competition, it has helped drive down prices. And as the TPC has known for years, it’s not only how many transactions you can process that’s important, it’s also the cost per transaction.

It is natural now to “move up the stack” to open source middleware, database management systems, messaging systems, service enablement, routing & mediation…

And the post-Web IT architectures such as those successfully deployed at Pay Pal,, Google, eBay, and others are more and more being looked at as examples of how to drive down cost, improve performance and availability, and sustain constant change.

More on open source and the new Fuse release from Guillaume and James and Hiram.

Open Source Update

Last week Darryl Taft asked me to comment on IONA’s open source announcement, for his eWeek article on open source SOA.

I am always glad to hear from Darryl. He’s one of the best in the business. And it’s not unusual for him to pick out a few sentences or paragraphs that best fit the story, and omit some other things I say. There’s no way I can complain about what he included, and I think he did a great job on the story. But this time something interesting got left out.

I told Darryl that we thought of the LogicBlaze guys as having been more successful at open source than we were (the part about open source being a challenge for a commercial software company did make it into the story), although we have of course made excellent progress with CXF and STP.

The concern after the acquisition – and I think it’s fair to say this was felt on both sides – was that the larger, commercial license oriented company (IONA), might try to direct the LogicBlaze folks and therefore somehow diminish or interfere with their success. I am very pleased that this did not turn out to be the case – things have gone as well as I could have hoped in that department.

By coincidence we held an extended management meeting this week, and prior to it our CEO forwarded for background reading an article by Cayton Christensen and Michael Overdorf (sorry but I could not find any good link for Michael) entitled “Meeting the Challenge of Disruptive Change.”

(I looked for a free link to the article but could not find one.)

The article describes the challenges that established companies face embracing disruptive change (like, for example, open source SOA). One is organizational – how an organization that institutionalizes a capability in one area (say commercial software) typically creates a corresponding disability in another, perhaps related, area (say open source), that inhibits its ability to embrace necessary change.

One of the solutions involves gaining new capabilities through acquisition, which is exactly what we’ve just done. But, Christensen and Overdorf say, this does not work if the acquiring company tries to integrate the new folks into the existing organization’s practices. So the trick is to take on board the new capabilities and enhance, rather than inhibit, their successful characteristics.

What we did was work through our new, combined strategy together (this strategy is described in the eWeek piece and on our website) and although there have been some inevitable compromises and difficult decisions, the result is something stronger than before.

All because of the synergy we’ve managed to establish in a short time following the acquisition, and one of the main reasons for it is that we managed to avoid telling folks what to do who already know what to do, and focused instead on establishing good synergy and cooperative spirit. This cooperative spirit is going to make IONA hard to beat in open source SOA.

Taking an open step

I first met James Strachan at a conference back in October, 2005, although I’d heard about him before that from my former DEC colleague, John Apps.
We were talking about JBI, Java, and related stuff when a well-dressed, energetic guy came over inserted himself into the converstation. It turned out to be Winston Damarillo, which was my introduction to him and his company, SimulaLabs. I had heard the Gluecode story (of course) but was not aware that Winston had started another company, which was basically an incubator of open source products such as ServiceMix. Since that time I’ve seen and talked with Winston many times, and of course today we released the announcement of the acquisition that brings James and his colleagues into IONA.
Debbie has written this up pretty well already, so there’s not much more for me to say but to welcome James and the rest of the LogicBlaze folks to IONA
This may seem like a relatively small acquisition, but it is a huge step for us, and hopefully for open source SOA in general.

Celtix progress – new site, 1.1 release

Yesterday Celtix got its own Web site, which is the result of a lot of hard work, and a new release to download with some new features and improvements.
Now Celtix and the open source business has its own home on the Web, separate from the corporate site.
It’s not so easy to run an open source business as a startup within an established company, so having a separate home on the Web is a significant step.
The benefit of offering open source from an established company is the ability to offer the same level of support we provide for our commercial products.
The challenge is to make the right decisions for the open source business, and separating the Website to me is an example of doing that. The open source business needs to follow open source business models, not the business model of the commercial business, and an open source Website often differs from a commercial products website.

Update on Celtix Enterprise

I’m sorry this is a little late, but I wanted you to know (if you don’t already) that the new version of Celtix Enterprise now includes milestone 1 of CXF M1 and also milestone 1 of Qpid M1 (both Apache incubators).
Also Jarek Gawor has posted a simple tutorial on creating a Web service with JAX-WS using CXF and Geronimo that you might find interesting.

Open Source the Enterprise Way

Four years ago I did the first study for IONA about the importance of open source. It was pretty clear this was something we needed to get involved in.
And so we did, beginning to explore what was going on, and then getting increasingly involved in a variety of projects. Until today, our involvement has been pretty much a peripheral effort.
I am very glad to be able to say that we are taking a huge step forward this week with the announcement of Celtix Enterprise, which is the culmination of some very significant open source efforts we’ve been involved in during the past 18 months or so.
But Celtix Enterprise is certainly not the end of the road. In fact it is a beginning – an important and clear step toward open source the enterprise way – services and support for open source the way we provide them for our commercial products, 24 x 7. Without fail.
Which means you now have a great way to check out the best way to do SOA, the distributed way. The download is free, and the services and support completely optional.
The best way to start your SOA is create some services, connect them together, and evaluate progress. Don’t go out and spend your money on an expensive registry/repository solution before you have a large enough collection of services to require one. Don’t spend your money on an expensive SOA suite – it’s much better to pursue an incremental adoption route, and Celtix Enterprise gives you the perfect way to start.
Celtix Enterprise is new code built around a configurable microkernel architecture, the same approach as Artix, using Java technologies such as Java 5, JAX-WS, and JAXB. The configurable microkernel approach (which is, by the way, one of the major reasons I joined IONA seven years ago) is not unique in the industry, but IONA is its pioneer and has the most expertise.
Of course the adoption of open source in throughout the enterprise isn’t going to happen overnight, or even next year, or the year after that. But open source is already in the enterprise and already is having a significant impact. That’s why it’s important to support open source in conjunction with commercial software, and give it the same treatment.
Most companies have, or are going to have, a mixture of open and closed source software. What is really great is the ability to use open source where it makes sense, commercial software where it makes sense, and have consistent services and support across the two. Today’s applications almost inevitably cross open and closed source boundaries. Open source is in fact inescapable – the question is how to best support it all.