Open for Business

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Eclipse JSF Tools Turns 1.0

I would like to congratulate Raghu Srinivasan from Oracle (Eclipse JSF Tools Project Lead) and his team for helping the community produce its first official release of the JSF Tools Project. A couple of weeks ago the Eclipse Foundation announced the Europa release which among other things included Web Tools Platform (WTP) 2.0 of which the JSF Tools Project v1.0 is an important piece.

JSF Tools v1.0 is a key milestone as it simplifies the development of JavaServer Faces applications in the Eclipse environment. The highlights of this release include performance improvements, a new Web Page Editor as well as a graphical editor for building HTML/JSP/JSF web pages. This release is also extensible by design, it comes with an extensibility framework that allows third party developers to come up with their own enhancements.

This release is yet another milestone in delivering "productivity with choice" to our customers. For more information on other recent activities around Oracle's involvement with Eclipse check out this blog entry.

- Download Eclipse Europa:
- Release notes for Eclipse WTP 2.0:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another Trinidad Milestone

Last week the Apache MyFaces Trinidad team announced another milestone, the release of Trinidad v 1.2.1. This release comes with a JavaServer Faces 1.2 component library initially based on parts of Oracle's ADF Faces. Featured tags in this release include : breadcrumbs, navigation panels, panes, and tabbed panels. More tags can be found on this page. JSF 1.1 is still supported via Trinidad v 1.0.1.

Trinidad 1.2.1 binary and source distributions can be found in the central Maven repository under group id "org.apache.myfaces.trinidad". Downloads are available here.

If you need more frequent information on Trinidad, visit Matthias' blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Montreal, Je Me Souviens...

After a short but efficient visit to Austin last week where I had the pleasure to speak at the Austin Oracle User Group and meet wonderful and equally interesting people, I am on the road again, precisely in Montreal. One of the people I wanted to meet F2F is whurley who attended my talk in Austin and posted a great summary on his blog. BTW, nice hanging out with you whurley!

The only thing that could be misleading in whurley's summary is when he says: "Their customers already use Eclipse for Java/Java EE development..." This is not true, our Java EE and SOA customers continue to enjoy JDeveloper as a superior development environment for their enterprise Java development. That said, we do have a well defined Eclipse strategy which is centered around "Productivity with choice" whereby we want to provide some of our customers who for whatever reason choose to develop using Eclipse the same level of productivity as they could have gotten using JDeveloper. That is one reason why we are stepping up our involvement in the Eclipse community.

Today I am in Montreal to speak at the ORA*GEC conference and meet key customers and partners in the region to share our view on open source and share some very cool features in our increasingly rich SOA stack. Although French is my native language I just realized it's more challenging than I thought to present tech stuff in French. To all my friends in Quebec, I promise to do my best!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Apache Trinidad Graduates!

About a week ago and after 12 months hanging out in the Apache incubator, project Apache Trinidad received all the votes necessary from the Incubator PMC to graduate. Trinidad got 12 binding +1 votes by the Apache Incubator PMC, and two more non-binding by the Incubator community. It's been an exciting time in which we've seen more and more people from Oracle and of course outside Oracle join the community as users and even as committers. The traffic on the Trinidad mailing lists is really encouraging and the community is growing rapidly. In addition to Oracle which relies heavily on Trinidad for its own development, several companies are using including consulting shops who find the Trinidad components very useful and mature enough to build highly interactive web applications for their clients.

Trinidad is now going to be an important part of Apache MyFaces. You know where to go, we're working on the logistics to migrate the project from the incubation infrastructure to the MyFaces side of the house. Try it and let us know what you think.

Congrats to the Eclipse BPEL Designer Team!

I simply want to congratulate Michal and the BPEL Designer crew for winning the 4th prize at the popular JAX conference in Germany. Check out the news here if you can read German. Keep up the great work!

I also want to point out for those of you who don't know yet, there are other Oracle-led Eclipse plug-ins which we are really proud of:
- JSF Tools Project
- Project Dali JPA Tools

Finally we have announced last month project EclipseLink which will provide developers with world-class O/R mapping capabilities (via the TopLink product line donation).

Go ahead and try those Eclipse projects out and let me know what you think. We also welcome your participation ;)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Quick Thoughts on Flex and Open Source

Adobe plans to open source Flex, its development framework for building Flash-based web applications this should take effect when they go beta in June with the next Flex version code named Moxie (will be called Flex 3). Adobe is planning to use the Mozilla Public License or MPL. They are still planning to sell their Eclipse-based Flex Builder.

I read on CNet that "the move is also meant to appeal to open-source developers who shun closed-source and proprietary products. Adobe already offers the Flex software development kit for free and provides the source code." Also read on the same article that Jeff Whatcott, vice president for product marketing at Adobe's enterprise and developer business unit said "For some people, (open source) is a philosophical requirement, a sign of integrity and trust in a vendor, this will close that gap and address any lingering doubts they have about our openness and commitment to community."

I am sorry Jeff but this says ABSOLUTELY nothing about Adobe's openness. Flex is as proprietary and as far from open as it gets. Adobe still locks me in when I use Flex whether the source is open or not it doesn't really matter. Only one vendor defined Flex and only one vendor provides runtime for it. In my opinion, open source is not enough. We at Oracle continue to step up our open source contributions but we believe in a much more important source of openness and that is open standards to which we religiously adhere. That's what really gives you the freedom you are looking for as a user. The freedom to switch vendors down the road should you need to. So when we open sourced our reusable user interface components (Apache Trinidad), in addition to opening the source to which the community responded very positively, it was a 100% standards-based contribution (in this case the standard in JavaServer Faces).

I am not trying to take anything away from the success Flex/Flash enjoys it definitely helps build much more interactive web pages and seems to be very popular. I personally block Flash animations on my browser (Firefox) but advertisers like to use flash to make your pages look like fireworks which really annoys me. The way Oracle believes pages should be built is using JavaServer Faces (JSF) components (typically embedded in JSP pages) and if you need richer UI you do that by injecting some Ajax into it. We believe Ajax and JSF go very well together and hold such great promise that we have decided to donate our Rich Client Framework (RCF) to the OSS community. Stay tuned for a bunch of OSS-related announcements in a couple of weeks at JavaOne. Using JDeveloper (100% free), Apache Trinidad or ADF, one can build highly interactive standards-based user interfaces without knowing anything about JSF, JavaScript, XML DOM, CSS, DHTML, etc. Developers are shielded from the complexity of Ajax development… I would like to disclaim that we do support Flash as one of the rendering options for JSF components like charts. You build your JSF-based page and later you could potentially make the decision to render the chart in Flash. Because the JSF component definition is separate from the rendering you can still do that in an elegant way and we support that in ADF Faces as part of the Rich Client Framework.

To make the long story short my point in this entry is the following: Flash is not a bad thing, some people seem to like it and use it quite heavily. But open sourcing it or parts of it (especially the tooling) doesn’t make it open enough for me and the kind of people I talk to in the developer community. They understand very well that openness comes from standards not necessarily from opening the kimono and showing the code even under a friendly license like MPL.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Dial 1-800-GOOG-411

This might not be open source but it is FREE. If you are tired of being charged $1.5 by your cellular carrier for every 411 call, try Google's Voice Local Search. It is still experimental but we know what Google means by experimental or beta. It's usually pretty darn good. Although it was released earlier this month I just had a chance to try it today and I it worked just fine. About 75% of my attempts worked, when I'm not lucky I just say "back" and I get another chance. This service doesn't include residential requests but you can use it to find businesses. You can try "San Francisco California" and "Mas Sake Sushi" and it'll connect you or just say "text message" and it'll send you an sms (both free of charge).

This is a $7B/year market, more than 2.5 billion 411 calls are made every year in America. AT&T is toying with the free 411 calls but competition for this service comes from Jingle Networks which seems to have captured more than 5% of the 411 U.S. market in 2006. Another serious player is TellMe which was recently acquired by guess who... Microsoft of course.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

IBM wants to finish JBoss

After losing its founder and leader to music and other personal interests shortly after being acquired by Red Hat, JBoss has a new set of issues to deal with. Marc Fleury left after sharing with his colleagues how he felt about working with Red Hat: "I am increasingly experiencing diminishing returns on my emotional and professional investments at Red Hat."

The new danger comes from outside. IBM and Covalent announced today that they had each contributed a significant amount of IP to Apache's Geronimo to help users migrate from JBoss to Geronimo. Although I personally consider this a serious attack on JBoss, Shaun Connolly (VP of product management in the JBoss division of Red Hat) begs to differ calling the IBM-Covalent initiative "uninteresting". I still think that JBoss today is far more superior than Geronimo if they play a feature war. But we all know the better products don't always win. I also believe that existing JBoss customers may not want to switch to a less performant application server if they are already in production. If it works why fix it? But I still think that when giants like IBM or Microsoft go after a much smaller company, we know how that movie ends.

Speaking of movies let's rewind the JBoss/IBM movie. Let me refresh your memory on a few events that put together are confusing to say the least:

- In September of 2003, JBoss and IBM team up to cool off the growing popularity of Microsoft's C#
- Not too long after this Marc Fleury started bashing BEA and IBM on his blog
- In May of 2005 IBM purchases Gluecode a company that employed most Apache Geronimo contributors and positions this acquisition as their entry level, lightweight application server. They later called the Geronimo-based product WAS Community Edition.
- Exactly two years after deciding IBM was nice and C#/Microsoft evil, Marc Fleury partners with Microsoft (Sept 2005). Their partnership shocked me (and I was not the only one) but I thought it was pretty clever after all. Marc described that day as his best day ever.
The idea there was that half JBoss servers were running on Windows so let's work together on making JBoss work even better on Windows and SQL Server,
Active Directory and single sign-on, etc.
- Then Red Hat buys JBoss, Microsoft becomes great friends with Novell and Fleury doesn't like working for Red Hat, fakes a paternity leave and never comes back to work. [Sorry I had to compress the story]
- Next IBM feels JBoss is kind of vulnerable and decides to partner with Covalent to hurt them even more, hence the announcement.

Concretely IBM
(which roughly employs half of Geronimo's committers) and Covalent (which already provides support for Apache's Tomcat, HTTP Server and Axis) are getting together to provide quality support for Geronimo and lure people away from JBoss. Paul Buck, director of IBM WebSphere open source said that they were going to provide a migration tool that would go through the J2EE application itself and look for any required changes at the source that we know are different between JBoss and Geronimo.

I am interested in your thoughts, do you think IBM with this move is going hurt JBoss' business in a significant way? Can somebody tell me why we never see Glassfish in these battles? It's also a Java EE open source application server but no one seems to take it seriously. I'd be interested to hear from anybody who reads this blog who uses Glassfish in the enterprise.

Oracle on The Linux Foundation Board

It's no news that Oracle has been a serious player in the Linux community. Our commitment to the Linux community started way back in 1998 when we released the industry's first commercial database on Linux. We also like Linux because we run our own IT systems on Linux and realize first-hand the benefit of lower IT costs from using Linux in a grid computing infrastructure. Additionally, Oracle's Linux kernel team contributed a cluster file system OCFS to the Linux kernel under the GPL license. OCFS2 was the first ever cluster file system in the mainline Linux kernel. Finally we recently announced Oracle Unbreakable Linux 2.0 which is a support program that provides enterprises with world-class global support for Linux.

All this to say that Oracle/Wim's nomination on the Linux Foundation board is no accident. Who better than Wim Coekaerts to represent Oracle on that diverse board?

Congrats Wim!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Apache Trinidad version 1.0.0-incubating

A little more than a year ago Oracle donated a rich set of UI components based on the JavaServer Faces specification to the Apache Software Foundation under the Apache 2.0 license. The donation was originally part of Oracle ADF and the community chose the name it Apache Trinidad. Today we’re excited to announce that we reached another milestone: the release of Apache Trinidad Core version 1.0.0-incubating.

Both binary and source code are available at the Apache Incubator Trinidad Podling page.

Live demos and release notes are also available.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

What is EclipseLink?

Hopefully by now most of you know that Oracle has been actively contributing resources and IP to the Eclipse community. Oracle has been an active member of the Eclipse community since its inception and a leading participant in both the Eclipse Web Tools Platform (WTP) and the Technology project. Oracle currently leads the JavaServer Faces tooling, Dali JPA tools and BPEL tools projects. Before diving into to the announcement, I would like to personally thank all the developers they know who they are who spontaneously stopped by the Oracle booth at EclipseCon'07 to tell me how much they thought Oracle is doing a better job of working with the OSS community and how much their perception of Oracle had changed.

So what’s new?

- First, Oracle is now a board member of the Eclipse Foundation.
- Second, Oracle steps up its involvement from simple membership to “Strategic Developer” status. Based on the size of our latest donation (see below) and the level of involvement required for this project and Oracle’s interest in the success of the Eclipse platform we decided to upgrade our status.
- Third, Oracle is donating its award winning Java persistence framework, Oracle TopLink, to the open source community. What’s the big deal TopLink was already donated to the JCP and project Glassfish as well as Spring 2.0? That was TopLink Essentials (TLE) not TopLink. I will post another blog entry soon explaining the difference between TLE and TopLink. Basically Oracle TopLink which has been around for 13 years is hands down the industry's most advanced persistence product with object-to-relational, object-to-XML, and Enterprise Information System data access through all of the major standards, including the Java Persistence API, Java API for XML Binding, Service Data Objects, and the Java Connector Architecture. TopLink supports most databases and most application servers and most development tools.
- Last but not least, based on this major contribution (TopLink source code and test cases), Oracle proposed an Eclipse project to deliver a comprehensive persistence platform. The project’s name is Eclipse Persistence Platform (EclipseLink). EclipseLink will be led by Oracle.

Can you provide more details about EclipseLink? (from the EclipseLink FAQ)

EclipseLink will deliver a number of components (listed below) which together will constitute a solid framework with support for a number of persistence standards. Here is a list of some planned components:
- EclipseLink-ORM will provide an extensible Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) framework with support for the Java Persistence API (JPA). It will provide persistence access through JPA as well as having extended persistence capabilities configured through custom annotations and XML. These extended persistence features include powerful caching (including clustered support), usage of advanced database specific capabilities, and many performance tuning and management options.
- EclipseLink-OXM will provide an extensible Object-XML Mapping (OXM) framework with support for the Java API for XML Binding (JAXB). It will provide serialization services through JAXB along with extended functionality to support meet in the middle mapping, advanced mappings, and critical performance optimizations.
- EclipseLink -SDO will provide a Service Data Object (SDO) implementation as well as the ability to represent any Java object as an SDO and leverage all of its XML binding and change tracking capabilities.
- EclipseLink -DAS will provide an SDO Data Access Service (DAS) that brings together SDO and JPA.
- EclipseLink -DBWS will provide a web services capability for developers to easily and efficiently expose their underlying relational database (stored procedures, packages, tables, and ad-hoc SQL) as web services. The metadata driven configuration will provide flexibility as well as allow default XML binding for simplicity.
- EclipseLink -XR will deliver key infrastructure for situations where XML is required from a relational database. The metadata driven mapping capabilities EclipseLink-ORM and EclipseLink-OXM are both leveraged for the greatest flexibility. Using this approach to XML-Relational access enables greater transformation optimizations as well as the ability to leverage the Eclipse Persistence Platform’s shared caching functionality.
- EclipseLink -EIS provides support for mapping Java POJOs onto non-relational data stores using the Java Connector Architecture (JCA) API.

Oracle's love story with Eclipse seems to be getting stronger, is JDeveloper dead?
I keep getting this question over and over. So before anybody posts it in the comments I will address it. At Oracle we believe in "Productivity with Choice". Oracle remains fully committed to JDeveloper as the IDE of choice for Java and service-oriented architecture development. That said, we are also committed to helping our customers who for whatever reason choose Eclipse for their development. So the answer is crystal clear, JDeveloper is stronger than ever and Oracle will continue to invest in making it better.

These Eclipse-related announcements are yet another proof that Oracle continues to deploy significant efforts to initiate, lead, and contribute technology and resources to the OSS community. Stay tuned for more on Oracle and OSS!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Productivity with choice

This article published in the Oracle Magazine March/April 2007 issue explains well our tooling strategy and why Oracle is committed to both JDeveloper and Eclipse to increase our customers' productivity no matter what development platform they end up using. Thanks to Rich Schwerin for putting it together:

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Oracle supports UC Berkeley lab to work on OSS systems

Oracle along with IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., NNT Multimedia Communications Laboratories Inc., and Nortel Networks, are pledging annual contributions of up to $170,000 for the next five years. This financial help will help the RAD lab to innovate and make its creations freely available under the open source Berkeley software distribution license. In addition, these companies are going to make some resources availble to act as consultants. In 2005 the RAD lab was launched with a $7.5M donation from Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

The projects will be focused for the most part on Artificial Intelligence based systems to help maintain large distributed computing systems used by data-intensive Internet businesses.

More on this in the press release.

Oracle's Ajax-enabled contribution coming up

On May 17th during Oracle’s general session at JavaOne 2006, Thomas Kurian announced that Oracle is about to open source yet another exciting technology. Indeed, a year ago Thomas announced at JavaOne that we were going to open source our ADF Faces components which are server-side user interface components based on the JavaServer Faces standard. Thomas also announced that same year that we were going to make Eclipse better by leading a couple of initiative. Well, Oracle delivered. Today we have open sourced ADF Faces and we are leading three different Eclipse plug-ins which are Dali (O/R mapping design time for EJB30 and JPA), JSF tooling and co-leading the BPEL design time with IBM. As for the ADF Faces components (excluding the rich client or Ajax-enabled components) they have been donated to the Apache software foundation. The project is currently waiting to graduate out of incubation and more information can be found here:

So what’s exciting about these Ajax-enabled JSF components anyway?

Oracle has enhanced its already extensive JSF component library ADF Faces, with a set of rich and interactive components that will be part of the ADF Faces Rich Client donation to the open source community. All these components leverage extensively the technique referred to as Ajax. Ajax is a Web development technique for creating interactive web applications. The intent is to make web pages feel more responsive by asynchronously exchanging data with the server, so that the page does not have to be entirely reloaded each time the user triggers an event. Ajax applications are typically more responsive and provide richer interactivity.

Oracle has already donated 100+ server-side (or thin-client) components to the Apache community. Additionally, Oracle will be donating a new set of rich Ajax-enabled components, which will bring the total number of donated components to 150+ JSF components.

The list below is a subset of the JSF rich component library that Oracle decided to contribute to the OSS community:

1- Table
The new table comes with the same functionality already provided by the current ADF Faces table component, plus some extra features that will dramatically enhance the end-user experience. The new table component comes with full support for asynchronously fetching data from the underlying services using the XMLHttpRequest object. The table provides scrolling through records, sorting, and single and multi-select out of the box, as well as built-in support for swapping columns at runtime.

2- Pop-up Menu
One of the coolest and most requested features in a rich and interactive end-user environment is the ability to right-click and display a popup menu at runtime. The new rich-client version of ADF Faces provides a popup component that can be attached to components such as a table. This will allow application developers to provide end-user actions via a popup menu that otherwise would have to be hard-coded in JavaScript. Now the developer experience is purely JSF/Java while the end-user gets the desired "thick-client" behavior in the browser.

3- Accordion
This is a common component in most desktop applications and helps the application developer optimize the use of real estate on the client side. The end-user can click on an accordion and display its content. The new ADF Faces component library comes with two different accordions: one that only displays one accordion at the time and one that can display multiple accordions at a time. So, now application developers will have the same type of functionality in the browser as they have in their desktop applications.

4- Tree
For most application developers the hardest Web widget to implement is a rich Tree widget. ADF Faces comes with a Tree widget that has built-in support for asynchronously communicating with the underlying services. When interacted with, the Tree component will not re-render the entire page, which enhances the end-user experience.

5- Menu
ADF Faces also comes with a "regular" menu component. This component can be used by application developers to create toolbars similar to what is used in desktop applications. The menu is leveraging Ajax and provides DHTML dropdown menus etc. From the application developer’s view there is no JavaScript needed to enable this JSF component - only JSF and Java.

With this new rich client component library application developers will be able to leverage Ajax to its fullest without writing a single line of JavaScript to get the rich desktop user experience on the browser. We are not sure yet if this donation is going to end up in Apache it is not up to us it is completely up to the Apache MyFaces community. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What is SASH anyway?

One of the challenges most people I talk to have in dealing with OSS is integrating projects that were designed to work together. Many people are trying to use Struts with Hibernate and/or Spring with Hibernate and end up having integration problems…The reality is that enterprises run open source and commercial software side-by-side and will continue to do so. That’s why Oracle partnered with SourceLabs to solve this issue for Oracle AS 10g customers. SASH simply means (Struts, Apache Axis, Hibernate and Spring). SourceLabs provides services around their tested SASH stack. Oracle customers using server-side Java are now able to improve productivity, reduce operational risk, and adopt open platforms with confidence.

I find this exciting and it’s inline with Fusion Middleware’s Hot-Pluggable message (believe me it’s not just a marketing buzzword) which essentially means that we are willing to compete on industry standards and if you find a module that works better than one of the components in the Oracle stack, you can seamlessly swap it out with the equivalent module of your choice. Oracle’s middleware is engineered to work well with third-party products, including open source and IBM's WebSphere line.

To get more information and even download SASH for Oracle AS 10g, go to the SASH section on OTN.

What is SASH anyway?

One of the challenges most people I talk to have in dealing with OSS is integrating projects that were designed to work together. Many people are trying to use Struts with Hibernate and/or Spring with Hibernate and end up having integration problems…The reality is that enterprises run open source and commercial software side-by-side and will continue to do so. That’s why Oracle partnered with SourceLabs to solve this issue for Oracle AS 10g customers. SASH simply means (Struts, Apache Axis, Hibernate and Spring). SourceLabs provides services around their tested SASH stack. Oracle customers using server-side Java are now able to improve productivity, reduce operational risk, and adopt open platforms with confidence.

I find this exciting and it’s inline with Fusion Middleware’s Hot-Pluggable message (believe me it’s not just a marketing buzzword) which essentially means that we are willing to compete on industry standards and if you find a module that works better than one of the components in the Oracle stack, you can seamlessly swap it out with the equivalent module of your choice. Oracle’s middleware is engineered to work well with third-party products, including open source and IBM's WebSphere line.

To get more information and even download SASH for Oracle AS 10g, go to the SASH section on OTN.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Is this where OSS is going?

When I saw this deal today I thought it summarized pretty well where open source seems to be going. The news in itself is not very exciting but it’s yet another open source startup raising a pretty good round from top tier VCs. In a nutshell, Alfresco which offers a document management platform raised an $8M series B investment round from Mayfield and Accel (which had already led round A). This confirms that:

- Open source is more professional. Open source developers are not what they used to be (midnight hackers working from their garage). More often than not, open source developers today are professional developers employed by large vendors (like Oracle or IBM) or well-funded startups like Alfresco or Spikesource (backed by Kleiner Perkins). Additionally large vendors offer professional support for open source projects (for example Oracle, IBM, Novell and HP support Linux).

- Open source is (slowly but surely) moving up the stack. First, the debate is not limited to Linux vs. Windows anymore. Also, the target open source end user profile is changing as open source moves up the stack. With Linux and Eclipse, typical users are system administrators and developers. Open source is moving beyond infrastructure software and tools into different areas with various degrees of success. Alfresco seems to be doing a good job in document management and Asterisk seems to offer a very popular PBX/VoIP telephony system (I am a happy Asterisk user without knowing much about PBX systems).

Is open source ready for ERP or CRM? Those of us who have been around a while in this industry know full well that VCs are not always right but in the last 18 months they have been very active investors in open source based startups with services-based business models. Time will tell if they were on the money! Let's not get too excited for now I don’t see traditional commercial software going anywhere anytime soon.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Orbeon delivers an amazing mix of AJAX and XForms

Just wanted to congratulate the Orbeon crew for putting out the 3rd major release of the LGPL-licensed Orbeon PresentationServer. OPS 3.0 features an AJAX-based XForms engine. The new engine brings responsive XForms user interfaces to mainstream web browsers without the need for plug-ins.

It’s all open source and available from ObjectWeb at:

Examples and documentation for OPS are available online:

Talking about ObjectWeb, Erik Bruchez (Orbeon’s Chief Architect) will give a talk about XForms at ObjectWebCon '06 in Paris on January 31. The talk will mainly consist of a live XForms tutorial built on top of OPS 3.0, with the goal of showing the audience that using the right platform, XForms is really cool and productive and can be used on mainstream browsers without plug-ins (if you use platforms like OPS 3.0).

I will also present at the same conference, come say hi if you’re around (see you there Erik):

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Oracle and NetBeans

Following the Sun-Oracle town hall meeting last week at Oracle headquarters where Larry and Scott made a few exciting announcements, I started getting questions about Oracle's position vis-a-vis NetBeans. The reason is that Scott (and later Jonathan Schwartz on his blog) mentioned some kind Oracle "adoption and endorsement" of NetBeans.

Oracle's IDE strategy is very clear, Thomas Kurian's interview on OTN earlier this week doesn't leave much room for interpretation and at the moment Oracle's tools strategy is limited to JDeveloper and Eclipse. Here is the statement from Thomas, Oracle's Senior Vice President for Oracle Fusion Middleware:

"At Oracle, we have our own development tool, Oracle JDeveloper, which is available for free download. Our new version, JDeveloper 10
g Release 3, has an extensive list of new features and is the single biggest release we have ever done of the product…

...Because we are committed to providing developers with choice, we are also taking a leadership role within the Eclipse community. We are currently leading three different groups within the Eclipse Foundation for Java and BPEL technologies, and we are actively involved in integrating our Fusion Middleware products with Eclipse. Oracle is focused on JDeveloper and Eclipse. We certainly think Sun's NetBeans initiative is important in the marketplace, and we're watching it very closely. But as of right now, Oracle is focused on JDeveloper and Eclipse and we have no plans to adopt either NetBeans or any of its technology. Any statements to the contrary by anyone else in the industry are not true."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Is open source software more vulnerable?

Do you think that more eye balls looking at open source projects make all bugs shallow or quite the contrary that some of these eye balls looking at the code could be malicious and take advantage of the exposed code to attack your open source based systems?

Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, stated: "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow". More formally: "Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone." by Eric S. Raymond in his essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar.

Apparently The U.S. government's Department of Homeland Security thinks otherwise. It is investing in an ambitious 3 year project aiming at improving reliability and security of widely deployed open source projects. In late 2004 the San Francisco based auditing software company Coverity found that the Linux kernel had far fewer security vulnerabilities than a typical commercial software package. According to this article, this same company was selected for this project along with engineers from Stanford and anti-virus vendor Symantec to pinpoint and fix dangerous vulnerabilities (such as buffer overflows and memory allocation bugs) in widely used open source projects such as Linux, Apache, Mozilla and Sendmail.

Can't wait to see the results of this project will confirm Linus' law or not. In my opinion, there is no general rule in this case. Open source is not safer nor is it more vulnerable than commercial software. It really depends on what we are comparing. An open source project is going to be more or less reliable based on its popularity (nobody was interested in attacking Firefox until it became successful) the governance behind it, the size of the community (the more the better)...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Another Oracle Donation to Open Source

This is exciting news web developers who believe in J2EE, so buckle up!

I am pleased to announce that Oracle is contributing a rich set of UI components based on the JavaServer Faces specification to the Apache Software Foundation under the Apache 2.0 license. The donation was originally part of Oracle ADF. What it will be called in the future is yet to be determined by the Apache MyFaces community.

What's in it for Oracle?

We like to get behind technologies we believe in. We think JSF holds great promise and Apache MyFaces is a great JSR-127 implementation. By supporting JSF and MyFaces we are hoping that more vendors are going to join us and strengthen the Faces community.

Why should I care?

I would say wait till you try it. This is going to give a big boost to the JavaServer Faces technology as well as the MyFaces project. The donated code comes with great functionality out of the box. How would you like to have high quality capabilities such as: file upload support, client-side validation, partial rendering of a page (AJAX-style), data tables, hierarchical tables, color/date pickers, progress indicators, menu tabs/buttons, internationalization and accessibility? This donation starts with more than 100 components which have already been thoroughly tested and come with high quality documentation.

How about tools?

Oracle developers are also leading the Eclipse JSF tooling project, we are going to make sure that this plug-in works well with MyFaces and its components to help J2EE developers develop and deploy great looking web applications using open source technology donated by Oracle.

After several months of effort, I'm very excited to see this donation go forward. We know that our donation is being placed in very good hands, and we look forward to seeing more components "blossom" as part of the Apache MyFaces project.

I'm Back!

I would like to apologize to my readers for being so quiet for the last couple of months. I've been too busy and on the road quite a bit. I had a chance to speak at the Gartner Open Source Summit in Florida as well as ApacheCon in San Diego. I hope you like the news in my next blog entry!

Monday, October 17, 2005

EuroOSCON 2005

I just landed a couple of hours ago in Amsterdam after a rather smooth flight from SFO through Chicago O'Hare. I came here to attend EuroOSCON 2005. I am looking forward to this conference where I will also be speaking on Wednesday and reconnecting with all my OSS buddies. I am sure a lot of people are wondering what Oracle is doing for open source, my presenation will touch on this of course but I will also be at the Oracle booth answering questions. Feel free to stop by if you're around.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What did Oracle and Zend Announce this Week?

Earlier this week, Oracle and Zend announced general availability of Zend Core for Oracle. This is exciting news, yet another sign that Oracle understands OSS and how commercial software can complement open source. Oracle is doing all it can to help developers out there with the performance, reliability and robustness they need. Let me try to shed some light on this announcement by answering some of the questions I have been getting.

Who's Zend anyway?
Zend is really the PHP company. They have Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski on their payroll, they are Zend's founders and also the original developers who helped PHP founder Rasmus Lerdorf rewrite a new PHP parsing engine in 1997. Andi and Zeev created the very popular open source Zend Engine. Zend's products are used by 8,000 companies worldwide including Lufthansa, Avaya, Sprint, HP and Boeing.

What's Zend Core for Oracle?
Zend Core for Oracle provides out-of-the-box IT organizations with a stable, high performance, easy-to-install and supported PHP development and production environment fully integrated with the Oracle Database. Without Zend Core for Oracle customers had to download all the pieces individually (Apache server, PHP, Oracle DB…) and cobble it all together. This was a very tedious, unpredictable experience that serious enterprises did not want to go through. Zend Core for Oracle is a one stop shop where you get one install file and you know it's going to work and if god forbid, it doesn't you get support from Zend (for PHP-related issues) and Oracle (for database-related issues). Safe feeling, isn't it?

Why should I care? LAMP is FREE!
This is the most frequent question and the answer is very simple. If free was the only criterion, then why is Geronimo not everywhere and why is Oracle still showing strong DB and application server sales, etc.? The truth is, people care deeply about more important things. We worked with Zend to do this because their customers as well as ours wanted us to deliver a solution like Zend Core for Oracle. There are 18 million websites out there written in PHP, scripting languages are too popular today for Oracle to ignore them. Zend is the leader in PHP deployments. It's also important to note that 25-30% of their customers run on Oracle (not all of them are LAMP worshipers). Oracle and Zend noticed that many already had their data in Oracle databases when they started using PHP to write web application. They enjoyed the quick turnaround and easy to deploy experience they got out of PHP. Others come from the LAMP stack and want more stability, performance, security and reliability and moved to Oracle DB. Also organizations with a significant investment in Linux and Oracle now have the option to deploy PHP apps on top of these databases and worry less about the issue of drivers then they may have seen in past. Zend Core for Oracle delivers an updated PHP OCI8 driver, which both companies have worked hard to make more reliable and stable for Oracle Database-driven Web applications.

Have you heard of OPAL? Well it's an acronym just like LAMP but it stands for [Oracle, PHP, Apache and Linux]. Believe me, it is more popular than you think. Zend Core for Oracle is an OPAL system - technically an OPA, it also runs on IBM AIX, Sun Solaris and Windows (currently still in beta).

Bottom line: The real challenge for open source software is to provide the ease of use and a clear chain of accountability that IT organizations require for mission-critical systems. Zend Core is a good answer to that.

What happened to Oracle's commitment to Java/J2EE?
Today, you cannot think ONE language. This is the SOA age. Web services don't care what flavor the portal or the back-end business or persistence logic is written in? We don't need to pick a winner, we support open standards and interoperability. Also, we make sure we keep our finger on the pulse. Scripting languages particularly PHP are very popular, our customers use them, therefore we need to provide them with a pleasant/seamless experience to their job. We are more committed to Java/J2EE than ever, our app server is the fastest growing J2EE container in the market, our tools support the latest Java and J2EE specifications as soon as they are out (and most of the times before – EJB3.0 basis or RI in Glassfish for example).
PHP is actually interoperating quite nicely with Java on various levels. First we have been supporting PHP for 2 years in the Oracle application server. One can write a PHP page and deploy the HTML file on the Oracle container and it will be parsed and rendered seamlessly. Second, PHP5 (unlike PHP4) has great support for SOAP, this means Java can call PHP-based web services and vice versa. Also using BPEL PM, users can orchestrate Web services such that PHP-based partner links can call Java-based services. Finally there is a JSR we are planning to support as soon as it’s ready. It's JSR-223, Oracle and Zend are part of the expert group. It essentially allows Java to call scripting languages and vise versa. With all this in place in the Oracle stack, people could rapidly write PHP pages (if they choose not to use JSF or they already have existing PHP code) and easily talk to back-end business logic written in Java that makes DB calls.

OK, I'm interested where do I start?
I recommend the PHP technology Center on OTN (Oracle Technology Network). In there you'll find a bunch of links to useful resources including upcoming events, installation guides, articles, blogs, best practices and last but not least a link to download Zend Core for Oracle. Zend also has a page on their website specifically for people who are interested in Zend Core for Oracle: Finally I will be speaking at OSCON next week on this topic. So if you're planning to be there, feel free to drop by the Oracle booth and ask all the questions you want. If you are in the bay area I highly recommend attending the Zend/PHP Conference. Definitely check out Oracle's Ken Jacobs (aka Dr DBA) who will talk about Zend Core for Oracle and the relationship between Zend and Oracle.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Microsoft Befriends Foe and Takes Aim at iTunes

Yesterday (10/11/05) Apple announced record numbers and amazing profits. A third of Apple's revenue comes from iPod sales. So Apple takes the music/media business very seriously. Today Steve Jobs unveiled a new video iPod along with a new complementary version of iTunes that allows people to buy music videos. To top all this Walt Disney and Apple Computer have reached an agreement under which ABC and Disney Channel television shows will be available for download from iTunes for $1.99 per episode. Apple is clearly on a media roll.

All this is beautiful, Right?

Not really. Microsoft astutely chose this moment to settle its problems with RealNetworks in a two-part deal under which Microsoft pays $460M in cash to RealNetworks to settle the antitrust claims and $301M in cash to support RealNetworks' music and games efforts. Microsoft will recoup money by earning credits (amounts were not disclosed) for each Rhapsody subscriber referred through MSN. RealNetworks will support MSN Search and Microsoft will be a huge channel for RealNetworks music and also assist in the performance of RealPlayer on Windows. Here is another big win for RealNetworks: users of MSN Messenger will be able to play music from the Rhapsody catalog of 1 million songs while chatting. More details on this deal can be found here.

Bottom line:
Apple has iTunes the leading online music store, as well as iPod the leading digital music player. I hate to say it but the benefit of the M$FT/RealNetworks alliance is interoperability and openness. The truth is that Apple's strategy is based on customer lock-in (in fact I am one of those locked-in customers). Apple does all it can to make sure people who buy music via iTunes play it on the iPod. Can they continue to do this and maintain market leadership? Microsoft and RealNetworks beg to differ. Let’s see how all this media business unfolds and what role will Yahoo and AOL play in this battle. So stay iTuned... or not.

Geronimo is Certified

IBM's acquisition of Gluecode (read main contributors behind the Apache Geronimo project) is clearly giving a shot in the arm to Apache's J2EE application server. Apache Geronimo is now officially J2EE 1.4 certified. It would be interesting to see how this application server will hurt JBoss' growth. Although Geronimo is not nearly as mature or as popular as JBoss today, there are two things that could change that:

- First, IBM wants JBoss dead and they are putting the necessary resources behind Geronimo to improve it and close the gap with JBoss and I have to say they are showing frequent and rather fast progress.

- Second Geronimo is licensed under the Apache license which has less strings attached than LGPL (JBoss' license). LGPL, though not as "viral" as GPL, gets IT managers pretty nervous about its arguably blurry/open_for_interpretation implications. Some think LGPL still places too many requirements on organizations who modify and redistribute the code (check this thread out).

Bottom line: Geronimo joined JBoss and JOnAS (both LGPL) as fellow open source J2EE 1.4 certified servers. IMO, while J2EE certification helps ensure compatibility and interoperability, it doesn't necessarily make an app server enterprise ready. Here is the official list of certified app servers. Please share your thoughts as to how you think this OSS app server battle will play out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Is this really it for Firefox?

I hope not!

It would be very sad if the only window on the WWW was IE courtesy of M$FT; wouldn't it? I read this InternetWeek article yesterday that provides some fresh statistics. It shows that Firefox is not growing; it is in fact loosing ground to competition dropping from 8.27% the month before to 7.55%. Internet Explorer is pretty much steady at a solid 86%. I couldn't believe the numbers were still this high for IE when everyone I know including my parents use Firefox. The truth is I live in Silicon Valley and all my friends are computer savvy. I guess it is not a representative sample of the world's internet surfers. Late last month, Opera announced its decision to strip out ads from its free browser, but it's a bit too late. It seems that there is a group of people who wanted something else than IE, they all jumped on Firefox by now. The result is that Opera couldn’t grab more than 0.5% of the market.

Last week HP announced it was going to preinstall Netscape on all HP and Compaq machines starting early 2006. This is good news. For those who don't know yet, Netscape 8 is based on Firefox, but it lets users switch between both the Firefox and IE engines. Many Web sites have been built to work with IE, so supporting both the Firefox and IE engines gives Netscape users additional compatibility. Today Netscape's share of the market is still under a poor 2.5%. Let's see if HP's decision to distribute Netscape will drive this number up and by how much. It would be interesting to find out how many Netscape users stick with the Firefox engine and how many switch to the IE engine.

Also interesting to note that the battle between Microsoft and open source shows completely different results on the web server side. I looked at the latest statistics on Netcraft this month; Apache servers dominate the market with 70% market share and growing while Microsoft is stuck at 20%.

It's also sad to see hackers attack Firefox's marketing website ( which is being rewritten from scratch as we speak to increase security. How stupid do you need to be to take that site down? I will buy a Firefox T-shirt as soon as I post this entry to support the Firefox crew! They are only $14 and they look cool.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Oracle buys Innobase

This morning Oracle announced the acquisition of open source software company Innobase. As we expand our commitment to open source software beyond Linux, this is a good/strategic move for Oracle. Innobase has long been an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for MySQL. InnoDB was distributed under a GPL license as part of MySQL Pro.

Essentially InnoDB is a table type in MySQL which offers several key advantages such as:

  • InnoDB tables are transactional: they provide rollback and commit capabilities.
  • InnoDB is the only table type in MySQL which supports foreign key constraints.
  • InnoDB tables are fast, even faster than
  • InnoDB tables have row level locking: they allow higher concurrency
  • InnoDB tables provide an Oracle-style consistent read, also known as multiversioned concurrency control.
  • There is a hot backup tool available for InnoDB, which allows users to make backups of a running database
  • Multiversioning also allows you to dump tables from your database with SELECT INTO OUTFILE without setting locks on the tables
  • InnoDB tables have automatic crash recovery

Charles Rozwat, Oracle's Executive Vice President in charge of Database and Middleware Technology asserted that Oracle intends to continue developing the InnoDB technology and expand its commitment to open source software. It'll be interesting to see how this affects MySQL. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sun and Google vs. M$FT?

I can't wait to hear what Google and Sun are going to announce at this news conference. Sun's President Jonathan Schwartz posted in his blog a bunch of hints. For example he said: "If I were a betting man, I'd bet the world was about to change." And he talked about what had just happened in Massachusetts. He also said that in his last keynote he asked the audience if they'd rather give up their browser or their desktop and they "Unanimously, they'd all give up the latter without a blink."

In this article, Tim Bray says that OpenDocument will turn everything inside out.

So if I were a betting man, I'd say that Sun and Google are going to try to hurt their common enemy (Microsoft) by innovating around accessing Office-like functionality from the browser using open standards. This would probably leverage Open Office suite/expertise and Google's expertise in delivering rich-client/sophisticated/AJAX apps on thin clients at an acceptable and sometimes amazing performance.

So don't miss the new conference!

[Update] It turns out the deal seems to cover more aspects than I had anticipated. Sun also plans to
distribute the Google Toolbar with Java and Google will buy lots more Sun servers. For more on this story/partnership check out this page.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fleury on his surprising pact with the...

As a follow up to my entry on the JBoss / Microsoft partnership, you may want to check out this interview by Martin LaMonica. In it Martin asks some questions we would have liked to ask Marc, unfortunately Marc is not as outspoken as we know him, his answers are on the safe side… Here are some elements that caught my attention:

- Marc confirms that the world is not monolithic; he said that 50% of JBoss users deploy it on Windows. Frankly I thought it would be less than that and more in favor of Linux.

- One of the main intents in this deal (from a JBoss perspective) is to gain credibility

- Both companies are going to commit resources, as an example Fleury said that his portal team is looking into integrating JBoss with integrating Active Directory and single sign-on

- He considers BEA (less now) and IBM as his main competition today but he did mention Oracle (currently the fastest growing app server on the market), Sun, and RedHat.

- I disagree with Fleury on the fact that software licenses are not the profitable part of the business for software companies. Revenue from licensing typically scales much better than services. Companies like Microsoft and Oracle are good examples of profitable software companies. This said, even if margins on services (just like hardware) are less interesting than charging for downloads, many companies are doing great with the services part of their business and IBM is a good example (little less than $50B last year in services only).

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Is Apple Going to Recall the Nanos and Reinstate the Minis?

It always starts with a presentation by Steve Jobs. If you haven't seen him selling his products yet, I highly recommend this video. This guy can sell ice to Eskimos. He is one of the best CEOs/Evangelists alive. Of course it helps when what you are selling are some of the coolest and most amazingly designed products on the planet.

Not so long ago (9/7/05), Apple announced the iPod Nano. Jobs called it impossibly small and magic. And that’s true, I ran to the nearest Apple store and held one in my hands and sure enough it’s magic. I love gadgets and even though I already own two iPods, I almost bought this one (I am not the only one). Well, I am glad I didn't. Here is why.

- First of all the impossibly small device is also impossibly delicate/fragile. There are so many reports out there of people cracking their Nano screens or scratching them. Just Google it or go to and read the reviews. People are mad! Here is an example: "I have only carried it in my small pocket in my shorts and nothing is in there to scratch it. I still can't figure how the screen looks like it has been rubbed with sandpaper. My screen has scratched up so badly that all the images are starting to become distorted."

- What made the iPod Nano so famous is actually my main problem with it: SIZE (62% smaller than the now-discontinued iPod mini). For me it's way too small/thin. If I put it in my back pocket (and I can because it fits everywhere) and I sit on it, it's gone! Okay, the fact that I weigh 200 lbs doesn't help. If I don't sit on it I can forget it in my jeans and stick it in the washing machine. So its size makes it easier to brake but also easier to lose or misplace (I know that women reported having difficulties finding it in their purse). I truly believe the iPod Mini's size is the ideal size for me, I don’t recall complaining about its size or hearing anybody saying they needed an iPod smaller than the already compact Mini.

A couple of suggestions for Apple:

- Reinstate the iPod Mini and let people who can afford to buy the Nano every time they break it, lose it, or scratch it so bad they can’t even read the screen; have at it!

- Put all the great Nano enhancements in the truly sturdy and proven iPod Mini (Apple sold more Minis than any other iPods). Some of the features I like about the Nano are the color/bright display and the flash memory which, unlike the miniature hard drives used by the Mini, have no moving parts and this makes the device less fragile and more reliable. I am not so much into pictures on my MP3 player (or my phone for that matter) for the same reason I don't need a toaster imbedded in my DVD player, I use both but not at the same time. Who can enjoy pictures on a 1.5-inch screen anyway?

One last complaint and then I'm done; I promise. If you haven’t noticed it yet, one important reason Apple wants you to own an iPod is the sell iTunes. This is great, a bit like the Gillette model, cheap razors as long as you buy the blades. Or the HP model, cheap printers, expensive ink cartridges… Except that iPods are everything but cheap. I am a little disappointed with the fact the Apple makes it very difficult for us to move our MP3 music in and out of our iTunes/iPod. My analogy still holds, HP cartridges cannot be used in Cannon printers, etc. The reality is that encoding schemes such as AAC and Apple Lossless don't have the wide support that the MP3 format has. So Apple limits you in terms of what you can do with your music outside of iTunes and the iPod. Every iPod can play MP3 and AAC files, but Apple Lossless works only on iPods with a dock connector. If you use a non-Apple MP3 player, you're even more limited: they don’t support AAC or Apple Lossless. Likewise, many newer car/home stereo systems can play CDs containing MP3 files, making this a great way to store long music mixes for a road trip or a party. But if you burn a playlist as an MP3 CD, iTunes skips over AAC and Apple Lossless tracks.

I hope Apple takes some of these interoperability issues into account for their next products/releases otherwise I may switch to a competitor even if it will never offer me the same design quality and user experience I get with Apple products.

[Update] Check out this hilarious video posted on the NY Times.

Can You Believe This?!

Who would have thought that Microsoft and JBoss (yes you read it right an OPEN SOURCE application server company) would ever be anywhere together but in a battlefield or a court of law? Well, they just announced earlier today a tight partnership whereby the two companies are going to collaborate in several areas. One of them is that JBoss' persistence layer (using Hibernate or EJB3.0) is going to support Microsoft SQL Server; another area of collaboration would be JBoss deployment/management using Microsoft Operations Manager or JBoss supporting Microsoft's Active Directory for single sign-on… This deal does not seem to involve money but the companies have committed to dedicate development resources.

Who's loving it?

- I can hear OSS purists say how in the world can Marc Fleury touch Microsoft a with a 10-foot poll after everything he said about them? It's called business! In my opinion Marc Fleury pulled off a sweet deal, it adds to JBoss' credibility as a company and a product. Believe me I used to run an infrastructure software startup and credibility is a huge deal!

- Microsoft hates endorsing Java or open source but they had to recognize that the world out there is all but monolithic and most CIOs say that both .Net and Java cohabit in their systems. In other words, Microsoft chose JBoss as its interoperability play/partner. Finally is always happy when it can punch IBM in the face, and this is clearly pointing the gun at IBM who's investing in Geronimo (via the Gluecode acquisition) to eliminate JBoss from the map. Anything that helps JBoss disserves IBM's middleware story. BTW, I don't buy IBM's message when they say that open-source application servers have a place in the market for smaller installations and departmental applications, to that end, we bought Gluecode whose product is based on Apache's Geronimo application server. In other words it's a migration play from Geronimo to WebSphere. I think it’s a play to destroy JBoss. Time will tell but I have a feeling today's announcement will do everything but weaken JBoss.

Who's feeling the pain?

- IBM for the reasons mentioned above. Anything that serves JBoss (small enemy) and Microsoft (the real enemy) doesn’t sit well with big blue.

- This announcement's timing is horrible for BEA. Today is the first day of BEA's main event BEAWorld. As if the once-sexy-middleware-company wasn’t hurting enough with OSS commoditizing their #1 source of revenue (WebLogic) much faster than BEA could come up with adjacent areas of growth.

- Microsoft is sending a message to Sun. We know you have Glassfish (also an open source application server) and we told the world that we are the greatest friends now and that we were going to cooperate a lot more moving forward. Ooops Sorry, your app server isn't good enough. We'll have to find new friends: JBoss.

This seemingly happy marriage needs to be taken with a grain of salt for the following reasons:

- I want to see what these two companies will actually develop and if it makes sense. In a way SOA already bridges the .Net and J2EE worlds and it will do so even better as time goes by and as software a service (SaaS) becomes the ruling architecture for building software. Oracle already offers a variety of ways to tie .Net services to J2EE applications using Web services and the BPEL Process Manager.

- Let's see how JBoss' biggest supporters (OSS advocates) and strongest partners (such as MySQL) react to this rather surprising news. MySQL cannot be happy about this alliance which makes JBoss look friendly to SQL Server. These are the people (OSS community + partners) who made JBoss who they are today and pissing them off could be costly. They may consider switching horses and transfer their support onto Geronimo, Jonas/RedHat, Tomcat, etc.

- Last, history shows us that getting too close to Microsoft is very rarely a good thing especially when they hate what you stand for Java and open source. I can still hear Steve Ballmer calling open source "cancer" or saying "We compete with products. We don't compete with movements." Microsoft is like a female praying mantis. The female mantis often kills and eats the male immediately after or even during mating. So my advice to JBoss is to enjoy the love while it lasts.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Microsoft vs. Mass - Episode II

As a follow up to my previous blog entry I thought I would share with you another episode of the Microsoft vs. OpenDocument fight. After the state of Massachusetts' final decision to kick Microsoft out of roughly 50,000 desktop PCs, Alan Yates General Manager with Microsoft wrote a letter to Eric Kriss (Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance) and Peter Quinn CIO of the state (and copied the state governor) to ask them to reconsider their choice claiming that they needed to do more research and that StarOffice, and KOffice were all one code base therefore not giving them as much choice as they thought they would get and questioning the validity of OpenDocument as a "standard". He also mentioned all the efforts being made by Microsoft to inject XML (read: a proprietary flavor of XML that cannot be exchanged with any non-Microsoft product except maybe some partners like SAP via Mendocino), etc.

The KOffice team replied on the popular Slashdot. I recommend reading Alan Yates' letter as well as the KOffice team response. But this clearly shows that even if Mass is far from being Microsoft's only Windows/Office customer they don't want to see this happen all over the planet as more government bodies in the US and elsewhere are showing serious interest in OpenDocument and industry standards as a way to increase their choice and maintain their
sovereignty. They rightfully feel that proprietary technologies are at odds with sovereignty.

My opinion is very much the same as what Massachusetts state officials explained, they have no problem with companies maintaining their intellectual property and selling software products like Microsoft Office, the real problem is the output (documents produced) by that software need to allow for easy exchange/interoperability and there is no better way to accomplish that than sticking with industry standards. Mass officials were pretty clear with what they meant by standards:

  • It must have no or absolutely minimal legal restrictions attached to it
  • It must be published and subject to peer review
  • It must be subject to joint stewardship

First Microsoft needs to drop its patents on the file formats, publish more openly the standard so it's publicly available for peer review, and make current and future versions subject to joint stewardship, after all this is done Mass officials promised they would reconsider Microsoft as a potential solution provider. That sounds perfectly fair to me!

As a result of this Mass vs. Microsoft healthy debate, Microsoft apparently stepped on its pride by making the license to the Office file formats perpetual and royalty-free. The state of Mass announced that the licensing decision by Microsoft is great but there are other sticking points such as future costs such as upgrading costs. The next version of Office will most likely not run on Windows 2K and they'll have to upgrade a ton of operating systems to XP (the state has ~ 80K employees)… This might be the beginning of the end of the unquestioned dominance of the Win/Office pair, may competition begin! Mass is saying there’s got to be a better way.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Will OpenDocument Affect the Desktop Landscape?

We are used to news about Microsoft loosing accounts to open source but the winner is usually Linux and it's typically on the server and I have quite a few blog entries about Linux displacing Windows especially in governments and more often than not in Europe and emerging countries. So why am I interested in this news? Simply because so many of us are frustrated with the lack of competition and innovation on the desktop, therefore it is refreshing to hear news like the one we heard this week. The state of Massachusetts has decided to kick Microsoft out of their provisioning system which will affect about 50,000 desktop PCs that will have to be migrated to products that comply with the OpenDocument standard. Such products include, StarOffice, KOffice, and IBM Workplace. Oracle Collaboration suite will probably join this list of OpenDocument supporters soon.

Microsoft which dominates the desktop/office market has said it is expanding the use of XML in its desktop products but does not intend to support the OpenDocument format. The OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) is a standardized XML-based file format specification for office applications. It defines requirements needed by text documents as well as spreadsheets, or graphical documents. For more information about OpenDocument read this FAQ. IBM said this week that more governments are seriously considering OpenDocument products to replace Microsoft Office including some Norway, Denmark and Japan, as well as other U.S. state governments.

Microsoft's answer to this news is simple; it's using impressive numbers to make this event irrelevant: Along with Windows, the Office suite is one of two cash cows for the software maker. The vast majority of the company's profits come from those two products. MS Office, which is upgraded about every three years and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, brought in more than $11 billion last year, or about 28 percent of Microsoft's total revenue.

For Microsoft, the need for innovation and compelling new releases becomes critical. Earlier this month, Microsoft offered developers a preview at the its plans for the next version of Office, code-named Office 12 slated for release in the second half of next year (something tells me we won't see it before mid/late 2007). Office 12 is supposed to increase workers' productivity by better making sense of ever-growing amounts of data. Office 12 will offer with Excel the ability to create dashboards and scorecards that offer a quick way to visually keep track of how a business is doing. In PowerPoint, Office 12 will help automate more of the graphics features from within the presentation program so users can create better looking documents without much design effort. Finally, Office 12 is supposed to introduce much closer ties between office products (such as Word and Excel) and Microsoft's server software which is pretty scary. This will make documents less interoperable with other products, less portable and even more proprietary.

In conclusion, I can't repeat this enough; I am as far from communism as can be. I am all for commercial software and rewarding innovation in fact, my paycheck comes from a company that does a great job at building and selling software. However my employer is a huge supporter of open standards and increasingly involved with the open source community.

What decisions like the one made by the state of Massachusetts (especially if we see more of them in the coming months) are certainly going to push Microsoft to innovate and consider interoperability more seriously by adopting standards like OpenDocument. My opinion is simple, if Microsoft has the best office suite, they should have no problem supporting open standards for document exchange and compete in an open environment. Even if it is tempting to keep an absolute monopoly on the desktop market, the last thing Microsoft wants to do is turn a blind eye to threats like open source or industry standards.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sorry, Oracle IS OPEN

After attending Oracle Open World earlier this week and listening to Charles' keynote and a series of sessions, I was happy to hear the word open (standards) so many times. I wanted to do my part and set the record straight about something Oracle is unfairly labeled as: the idea that unlike its competitors, Oracle is not a supporter of industry standards and produces proprietary software to lock customers in and trap them forever.

Here are some of the reasons why I think this is non-sense and that Oracle is much more OPEN than many people out there think.

1- Oracle is a major supporter of industry standards. Every component of Oracle Fusion Middleware as well as JDeveloper is 100% compliant with standards. The Faces support is JSR 127 compliant; the EJB support is JSR 220 compliant in fact Oracle's implementation is the base for the EJB3.0 reference implementation (RI). Oracle Fusion Middleware and tools also support J2EE 1.4, Java 5.0 as well as BPEL, JBI, JAX*, WS-I, WS-Security and more.

2- Oracle has also announced the "Hot-Pluggable Architecture" which allows IT organization to leverage their existing infrastructure investment by mixing and matching Oracle technologies with technologies from other vendors. What this means concretely is as long as other vendors comply with standards, Oracle products will seamlessly support and work with them. A good example would be Oracle BPEL Process Manager, Toplink or Oracle Portal (JSR 168 compliant) all run today on BEA Weblogic, IBM WebSphere or JBoss.

3- Oracle Fusion Middleware works well with non-Oracle databases including IBM DB2, Sybase or Microsoft SQL Server.

4- Oracle announced this week that Oracle's packaged applications will run natively (without modification) on the majority of IBM WebSphere middleware and its MQ messaging software, including its application server and portal, plus their recently announced Process Server. In other words, Oracle is opening its apps (#1 in the market - even in CRM with the addition of Siebel) layer natively to non-Oracle middleware.

5- Oracle Fusion Middleware also interoperates nicely with Microsoft .Net services. For example, Oracle BPEL PM seamlessly consumes .Net services. This can also be done from JDeveloper which support .Net services discovery and binding.

6- Oracle is a big believer in composite applications we already have many customers using Oracle tools and middleware to develop and deploy SOA-based applications. Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) simply cannot work without interoperability and industry standards across the board. You cannot be 100% behind SOA like Oracle is and ignore standards. It doesn’t make sense.

7- Last but not least, (this is my favorite as you can imagine) Oracle is actively increasing its involvement in the open source community (beyond Linux) in a number of ways:

a. First of all I am here to help build a vibrant open source community around our tools and middleware projects.

b. Oracle is leading 3 of Eclipse projects (under WTP and ETP) and we have been joined by numerous vendors (such as IBM, BEA and JBoss) to collaborate on enhancing the design time experience more specifically in the areas of JSF, EJB3.0 and BPEL.

c. Oracle is currently working with Apache to contribute a rich set of JSF-compliant user interface components. These components are expected to join the Apache MyFaces project. Expect this contribution to make a big impact on modern web application development (aka rich clients – AJAX style). I can see some of you drooling!

d. Oracle middleware and tools are certified to work with a number of very popular open source projects such as Ant, CVS, JUnit, Log4J, Struts, Spring, XDoclet, Axis, MyFaces and more.

e. Oracle has been a tremendous supporter of Linux for many years. In fact, Oracle was the first commercial database available on Linux. Oracle's Unbreakable Linux support offering includes Linux operating system support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Novell SUSE, and Asianux. For more on this visit Oracle's Linux FAQ or Also check out what Oracle’s support of PHP.

In summary, I talked about how Oracle's middleware and tools are 100% behind standards, how they interoperate with non-Oracle products from competing vendors or open source and finally I mentioned briefly Oracle's involvement with the open source community (expect much more blogging on this). If some of you still think that Oracle is not willing to compete in an open environment (where the door is wide open to "Hot-swappable" non-Oracle products), using industry standards and supporting open source where appropriate; I am happy to hear from them and kick off a healthy debate.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Moving on... Back to Oracle

As most of you have probably heard by now, I left Orbeon a few weeks ago. I'm off to see if I can make an impact at Oracle, a company which has benefitted hugely from Free and open source software. Oracle is definitely ready to commit to open source by dedicating resources and contributing IP. I'm quite sad to leave my great friends at Orbeon where I got used to working with extremely talented people. Change is always hard but change is good.

I'm very excited to re-join Oracle! I met some people at Eclipse World (where I gave a keynote last week) and they couldn't believe somebody was hired at Oracle as the Chief Open Source Evangelist. One attendee told me "Oracle and open source just don't go together". Let's face it; Oracle is known as an active contributor to the JCP. Oracle has also been known as a big supporter of OSS on the consuming side. But the reality is that when it comes to development tools and middleware, Oracle is behind on the giving back side. Well, we are working on that and I am here to change this perception. We have already started with a few Eclipse and Apache projects where we have taken the lead and have been joined by vendors like IBM, BEA, JBoss and Exadel. This is just the beginning. Soon Oracle will be the largest software vendor actively involved with the open source community. I am sure there will be challenges for me at Oracle but I couldn't be more enthusiastic about my role in the company as well as in the OSS community.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Out for 4 weeks

My blogging activities are going to be very limited for the next 4 weeks. Thanks for your loyalty and come back late August / early September for more stories/opinions/rants on Open for Business!