Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oracle y Open Source

Oracle acaba de comprar Sleepycat, más conocido por su motor de base de datos para MySql - BerkeleyDB. Hace unos pocos meses adquirió Innobase, una pequeña compañia de Helsinky fabricante de Innobase - el motor de MySql más conocido, más utilizado y en definitiva mejor. InnoDB proporciona a MySql bloqueo a nivel de fila y BerkelyDB a nivel de página. Ambos son los dos motores de MySql que han convertido a esa base de datos en una alternativa viable a Oracle o SqlServer. Ahora ambos son Oracle. Oracle ha hecho público que mantendrá estos dos motores como Open Source, sin embargo es una situación que no puede sino preocuparnos, ¿hasta cuando Open Source?. No parece que Oracle vaya a ganar nada a nivel de tecnologia con esas compras, quizás si a nivel de mercado y sobre todo en lo que respecta a control sobre el mercado. Esta Oracle convirtiendo su oferta en una oferta mixta Open Source + Tradicional o nos encontramos simplemente con una operación de Marketing + Competencia Estrategica?¿?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Open Source : A Complex Reality

Only a few years ago Open Source was a synonym for hackers, free software development and in a way a certain culture and a certain type of understanding software or product development rooted in the hacker tradition. Let’s face it, these days are gone! Open Source now is a complex reality where you can find everything from trying to gain a competitive advantage in marketing to just governments trying to gain the favour of specific publics or true believers (coders still exist in this community!). But before falling in the temptation of portraying Open Source nowadays as instrumentalized and misused, let’s go first a little bit beyond and take a look to the new business models being created by this extraordinary tool that is called “markets”. Documentum is one of the biggest and best well known Content Management System in the market. John Newton who founded the company in the 90’s is now in AlFresco, a startup where around 20 people are busy building an Open Source CMS that tries to compete with Documentum. On the other end, we all are familiar with experiences like Mambo, another CMS, or RedHat. Both after having very successful products established in the market are trying to earn a life in consulting or customizing their products for big clients. The underlying reality is dual. On one side some software products have become a commodity where mainstream customers don’t want to pay big sums of money for them and early adopters are too busy with Web 2.0 type of products. On the other side the only way to create a success and gain momentum seems to be following the adoption path of open source software. So more and more companies just stopped focusing on controlling the product and adopted the open source model that provides a better diffusion, creates more awareness and benefits of a large community of innovators. On the same time building a community around the product is more crucial than ever, established leaders are just too big, with too many resources and with products too feature rich for trying to compete with them. Again Open Source provides a way to build this community. On that context, few things are left of hacker ethics and many come from the raising of a different business model that is establishing itself as a viable alternative to the traditional product cantered ones. But what about big companies? What about the main players? We are increasingly surrounded by news coming from all sources of big companies adopting the Open Source model. How can that be? How can be those companies that based their whole existence on selling products can now give them for free? But reality is that Oracle, Microsoft, etc… are embracing open source philosophy in many segments of their product lines. Maybe the reason is again this dual proposition of building a community of practice at the same time that you engage in a movement that can benefit your product keeping it on track with the latest thing. After all, didn’t Microsoft benefited tremendously of these communities with Visual Basic or with all the utilities in the early times of MS-DOS? The Open Source concept is being increasingly assimilated by big companies and not only as a marketing concept but in many ways as a fundamental shift in the value chain for their products. The product conceived as a collective creation is beginning to claim a place as a viable conception for development and a community of users and producers is substituting the old duality. All these concepts that we see so clearly in software are here to stay, they are going to impregnate other fields as soon as their products could have some of the characteristics of software development and their production becomes more and more a commodity. And in between – as we are – everything that could happen … will happen and this is what precisely makes economy and markets so interesting and so atractive!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Gesture based UI

This is a gesture based User Interface developed at NYU by Jefferson Y. Han . The video shows how many other interfaces are possible beyond the current mouse and/or pencil. Also the possibilities offered by multiple gesture interfaces are clearly portraits. Probably this is the future or at least part of it.

Rumors say that Apple is thinking about using this new type of interface in a new tablet Mac :-)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Gmail's new campaing !!

Gmail is offering its service branded to small business, schools, universities and non-profits.
Colleges can get that way an e-mail system with its own domain name and without the hassle of having to maintain all the infrastructure.
In Google's words:
"Gmail for your domain is hosted by Google, so there's no hardware or software for you to install or maintain."
For sure this campaign is going a be a great success and will make, even more, e-mail a commodity. It's curious to see how the old marketing tricks work wonderful in the new virtual world!!


El Wall Street Journal publica hoy un muy interesante artículo firmado por Rebeca Buckman sobre los blobbers y FON. FON se ha apoyado desde su inicio en bloggers y hackers tanto para difundir su idea como para crear su negocio. Si veíamos como las empresas de primera generación en Internet se apoyaban en la publicidad convencional y en el desarrollo convencional para dar a conocer y levantar su negocio, vemos como las empresas de segunda generación se apoyan ya en mecanismos propios de la red: bloggers y hackers para estas funciones. En este sentido FON está siendo sin duda una de las empresas más innovadoras del mundo, tanto en su manera de crear negocio como en su manera de difundirlo. Sin embargo, ambas actuaciones suponen un conflicto de intereses para sus participantes. Para los hackers que al final algunos de ellos van a formar parte de una empresa y ver como su labor será remunerada en contraste con el resto de la comunidad. Y para los bloggers - como ya está sucediendo- ya que algunos de ellos forman parte de su consejo de administración o simplemente asesoran a la compañia, mientras a través de su blog difunden la idea - o puesto en otros términos hacen un proselitismo claramente interesado y nada neutral. Sin embargo, estos son conflictos de intereses ineludibles y no imputables a FON, sinó al propio mecanismo. Siempre ha habido y siempre habrá conflictos de intereses - al menos estos son públicos!!