Tony Nicklinson is a rugby fan, a husband, and a father. He also has locked-in syndrome, which has left him fully paralyzed. His only method of communicating is through a specially designed computer system triggered by small eye and head movements.
Modern IT is very focused on economics. We talk endlessly about cost. We debate capital costs vs. operational costs--CAPEX vs. OPEX, in the lingo. We look at Total Cost of Operations (TCO) and we try to calculate our projects' Return On Investment (ROI). But even with all of these economic metrics, we miss an enormous source of costs: Our long-term entanglement with the products, technologies, and approaches we choose.Long ago, we had a bright idea. "We could represent the year portion of dates with just two digits--that would save space!" We happily did that for a few … Read more
As a longtime Mac user, I can tell you that nothing works as well as an iPhone-Mac-iLife-iTunes connection. If you play completely within Apple's playground, it's nonstop fun with no bumps and bruises. Microsoft, which has long billed itself as a soup-to-nuts solution, doesn't even come close, despite diligent efforts.The problem, of course, is that most of us can't afford to live exclusively within Apple's (or Microsoft's) ecosystem. Work often gets in the way of personal preferences, whatever they may be. We're also more and more inclined to experiment with new devices, … Read more
At Microsoft's Public Sector CIO Summit this week, Microsoft is promising governments "choice," a theme normally reserved for the freedom-loving open-source set.
But Microsoft's "choice" campaign is all about giving governments the option to step into the Google-blessed cloud realm without leaving the comfort of their Windows/Office/etc. environments. For some, and perhaps many, this may be just the sort of safe choice they're seeking.
It's not as if the Google alternative is ipso facto better.
After all, while Google and other cloud application providers talk about unshackling governments and enterprises … Read more
Enterprises and other users deploy open-source software because it works. For those of us in the open-source vendor community, however, too often we waste time talking about issues that have relatively little resonance for the vast majority of users.
We miss the mark on open-source marketing. In fact, it's often the case that the very standards we seek to set for the software world--interoperability, transparency, etc.--are better observed and delivered by open standards than by open source.
As a case in point, Red Hat and other open-source companies (including Alfresco, my employer) routinely advertise "no lock-in" … Read more
This week's Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco surprised me: I thought the content was, on balance, the best it's ever offered.
In part this stems from a new pragmatism that has settled on the commercial open-source world, where we're increasingly striving to solve customers' business problems, not vendors' business-model problems. It shows up in some of the event's discussions--a few of which are captured in Matt Aslett's excellent OSBC synopsis and in Dries Buytaert's OSBC wrap-up.
North Bridge Venture Partners' Michael Skok came up with one of my favorite lines from the … Read more
I admit that I nearly got caught up in my former colleague James Urquhart's excellent analysis of Canonical's Ubuntu 9.10 release, code-named Karmic Koala. I saw the word "open" laced heavily through the post, and given Canonical's commitment to fully open-source Ubuntu experience, I played along.
But something doesn't quite fit in Canonical's story.
It's called Amazon.com. Yes, Ubuntu 9.10 will give users an option to build its own Elastic Compute Cloud-style service, using open-source Eucalyptus (or another cloud provider), but the intent certainly seems to seamlessly plug users … Read more
TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid asks, "Since when did my data become a bartering tool?"
Answer? Ever since we started ceding control of our code and our data to the cloud.
One response is easy: demand that the underlying source code behind Web services be open source. No, 99.999 percent of the population won't be able to do anything with it. But .001 percent will, and that's the percentage required to ensure that your data remains your data. The interim response is, of course, competition simply based on data retention policies.
Kincaid's complaint stems from … Read more
Larry Dignan at ZDNet calls out a significant customer concern with SaaS: data lock-in, particularly if a SaaS vendor goes out of business. How can a SaaS customer get its data out of a failed SaaS system without undergoing the burden of escrow agreements?
The answer is simple, but perhaps not palatable to SaaS vendors: open source a version of their software.
SugarCRM does this, letting its customers run SugarCRM "in the cloud" but giving them the code via an open-source license so that they can support their own deployment if necessary. Why couldn't a Salesforce.com … Read more
Cloud computing promises to liberate its adherents from the bother of messy implementations of software, while also freeing them from the constraints of hardware capacity. At the same time, however, cloud computing has the potential to deliver the ultimate in vendor lock-in.
My colleague, James Urquhart, has put together a proposed "cloud computing bill of rights" to help guide would-be cloud customers to those clouds best able to guarantee their freedom. Just as some are now clamoring for open-data commitments, James' suggestions are intended to deliver the value of the cloud without the lock-in:
No vendor shall, in … Read more