It's Friday at 4, and I cannot come to terms with initiating a new project at this moment, and I am waiting to speak with my manager so there is no way to bolt out of here, so here we go with a topic that I have been waiting to talk about for about seven years, about the time that I learned what an application server was. Right after the acquisitions of WebLogic and NetDynamics and a year before joining the Sun-Netscape Alliance. The momentous occassion is described here:http://news.com.com/Sun+tries+sharing+Java+again+still+not+open+source/2100-7344_3-5754765.html
And is hosted Here:https://glassfish.dev.java.net/
And I am usually pro-Marc, but this time he has it very, very wrong. He cannot continue to perpetuate the myth that Sun does not have a viable app. server, sooner or later, customers will read that for fear. His Blog response to Glass Fish is revealing:http://jboss.org/jbossBlog/blog/mfleury/2005/06/06/SUN_open_sources_XYZ_who_cares.txt
He has it right that IBM has declared WebSphere irrelevant and is now turning their hopes to Geronimo, I can feel him on that. WebSphere has been technically dead for - - well, for always. But they have not put it to rest from a product standpoint until today. Now for all customers investing in WebSphere solutions it is clear that the investment is lost, unless there is a miracle port to Geronimo. But Marc is not correct in his analysis of the java.net site, and he is not correct to discredit Sun's Glass Fish efforts. That is a perfectly sustainable move for the Solaris house.
For sure, it will take time to integrate the efforts of java.net developers in to productized format, who knows if Sun will ever take that plunge, but the time has come to recognize that the current measurements for app server leadership do not truly represent who is the market leader. JBoss is #1, Geronimo is #2, and Glass Fish is #3. That is not to mean that you have to be open source to be the leader, but that is how it is working out currently. I would give BEA the #2 position if they are acquired by Oracle, and then it would be a dog fight between Geronimo and Glass Fish for relevance. That is what the market wants to see, an actual hand-hand warfare between Sun and IBM on something. They talk about warfare, but they don't compete on any product line. Competing on the app server level would be the battle that everyone has been waiting for. It should come as no surprise that I give the edge to Sun, but only if they take the following steps, which mitigate the natural advantage IBM has with Linux:
1) Build Clustra capabilities in to N1
2) Integrate AS, EE w/ a new Portal
3) Integrate AS, EE in to Solaris
Until those steps are taken, IBM has too much of an advantage with WebSphere installed base, Global Services penetration, and DB2 and Eclipse. I like their odds, as soon as Jonathan answers my blog. I think he has done a more than adequate first step with Glass Fish, but now is the time to take on IBM, not waiting until Geronimo is technically built up to a JBoss level with Portals, and Mapping, and Eclipse integration, and all that comes with it. Buy Plumtree, release Clustra with nodes for the network, and integrate EE in with Solaris. Then you have a viable selling platform. And a competitive advantage over IBM. Currently there is no advantage while getting killed by Dell, and treading water at the high-end. Go after the margins of high-end apps., and take the plunge with EE. Nothing would make Sun stronger and more viable than to directly compete with the WebSphere/Global Services installed base soon to be running Geronimo. The time is now. By Java One 2006, everything should be well under way. Otherwise the buffer that is the market downturn will be gone, and Sun's dream of a productized Java will be someone else's...
I talked with my good friend on Friday who is in charge of the true center of Java Developer land (not J.s.c or Dev2Dev):http://java.net/
He invited me to learn more about Blogs and Wikis via his site and I am happy to have this resource as I look in to this growing on-line world. We also discussed Tiger's weekend potential (how close he came). The two of us invented J2EE in June 2000, if only the rest of the world would have paid attention to what we were doing, we wouldn't be apart. Alas, that is how the world works, and I am happy because of it. Those were good times.
Here's to the back deck, Phil Lesh, and cigarettes, CC...
Yes, I attended the largest interior design show annually, and it was my first such experience. Although, as my ORD friend pointed out, not many people from outside of Western MI know about the event, those in the industry, including A&D reps., were out in full force. It was rumored that this was the largest gathering in 4 years. I felt slightly overwhelmed, but all in all, it was manageable. I feel like I have matured a year in contract furniture age just by being immersed in the planning (just a little), set-up, and representation for Steelcase.
The word about NeoCon was environmentalism, vertical markets, Design (with a capital D), and leadership. I say the last term because this is an opportunity to showcase who has the best and brightest, and sometimes the biggest ideas. The leaders in this industry are SCS, HON, Herman Miller, and Haworth with a large smattering of smaller firms that all try and surpass each other in producing the best office furniture. But there is only one firm that truly tries to go beyond the product design, and create an office environment, based on research and best practices, and that is SCS. Sometimes this emphasis shines through in the products as was discussed by a desinger's blog:http://www.core77.com/corehome/2005/06/steelcase-won-neocon-news.html
But most of the time it is more below the surface, and that is why it is important for those that follow the industry to take note, that the means to leadership is changing. From a design perspective based on aesthetics, to an innovation perspective based on knowledge, the leaders of the new office environments industry will increasingly be imparters of valued information that can transform a workplace. That workplace can be any number of settings, and this is the key for moving in to vertical markets, which is the fact that banking is different from public health, and so on. SCS offers a new initiative to target the Biosciences market that is in part based on the new offering of the Lab Bench product, but it is at least equally about the extensive research that has gone in to understanding the Biosciences market. SCS is alone in this offering. If you want to learn about how the office environments market is growing and where it is heading, look for the leadership trends that emphasize the knowledge and the innovation expertise of the major companies. Here, not just in product design, will you find the true leaders of this coming shift in customer expectations toward holistic development. It just so happens that the biggest may prove to be the winners in this highly evolving market.
I had a note in my inbox from the effervescent Ashlee Vance yesterday, after I had forwarded my blog over. Ashlee is the editor at El Reg that knows Sun the best, and contributes the most to the theory that they are not dead, but rather just going through a long winterish period. He would have you believe (I have to admit, I wasn't being British enough and thought he was a she, though Ashlee reports from Chicago...confused) that Sun's problems are perception and I would agree for the most part though we both see that execution could be tighter. I was very pleased to find that my efforts have not been in vain, for he will certainly take the message of Sun's rise (albeit the Sharing campaign, which is (again) an effort to boost Solaris in order to stave off the splintering of Java into a thousand pieces - - valuable pieces, but no longer a whole) to his writing. As I said to him, I am a big fan and would like to see more analysis of Sun's efforts at SOA as it is just an acronym/moniker to describe what everyone wants to do with integration. You don't have to understand UDDI, EDI, and Security on the back-end, you just have to track what Sun is doing. Really. All the others are trying to create new paradigms when Java remains the constant. BEA's announcement is comical (though I like Bill Roth - - "get a haircut"):http://www.theregister.com/2005/06/09/bea_launches_aqualogic/
They are running pretty hard away from JSR 208, a.k.a. JBI. Who believes their 'non-Java' story when the products have to have been written in Java? What are they hiring the only .Net Framework developers? As an aside, JBoss, don't get tempted. Leave the interoperability to Sun. BTW, what a painful plug for JBoss in the BEA article. And ATM unleashed on BEA here:http://news.com.com/BEA+dives+into+application+assembly/2100-1012_3-5737947.html?tag=nefd.top
We knew this day would come. We made it happen on October 28, 2002:http://www.sun.com/2002-1028/feature/
Without a white knight (or maybe they were thinking they would be Sun's white knight), they must increasingly look to be purchased by Oracle, for they no longer bring value, inlcuding innovation, as an independent company. It's been a little less than three years, but I would give them until the end of 2005 to sell-out. It's for the best. I have been predicting Oracle-BEA acquisition since 2000, and the time has come. Oracle can't run with a second rate OSS platform for an app. server, and BEA can't support a first-rate Java infrastructure on their own. The time has come, take the $2B if you can, settle for $1.5B and be done with it.
I guess this is my parting shot, but it is based in reality. All the BEA people can figure out how to climb the Oracle ladder, maybe even create a whole new Java organization for setting standards, as that is what some of the people do best. But the end is near, and for those who don't want to wait to find out their PSFT-like fate, the time to jump ship is now. AquaLogic does not stop the bleeding, and after AS 8.1, EE, Sun is no longer an option. Even with all of the attempts to build a natural cohesion (kill Creator, create an integrated JES), BEA's glory days are numbered, and their real strength as a division of Oracle is at hand.
I have enjoyed my time with you all, please e-mail me with any comments, as I will be looking to build new material for this blog. It is time to turn away from enterprise computing, at least until some reality movements are completed. I may sign-in periodically to cover J1 or something like that, but my last three posts should tell you all you need to know about the world of Java web services. Out.
As is becoming increasingly evident to those in IT, you don't bet on OS', you bet on app. servers: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jun2005/tc2005067_2133_tc024.htm
And this whole $50 million campaign is to keep the OS alive in time to prove the app. server:http://www.sun.com/emrkt/share/
But the real news, which predictably flew below my radar is this, in particular project Nexus:http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jun2005/tc2005068_5622_tc024.htm?campaign_id=topStories_ssi_5
Since 1999, we have been singing the tune of how to do enterprise software, and people like i2 and Ariba insisted on pushing into irrelevance by doing monolithic suites. Now the King of Monolithicity has gone the component route. That is more than what salesforce.com can say (kicking out Sueltz is not good PR for a CEO with too much to say, and do already - - enough with the yoga poses, no one cares). We did whitepapers, magazine inserts, conference speeches, and press releases:http://www.sun.com/smi/Press/sunflash/2000-09/sunflash.20000926.i1.html
But no one wanted to listen. We signed up partners:http://java.sun.com/features/2001/03/ejb.html
But no one wanted to follow. And now when all is lost, when BEA has lost its way (they should have been doing more not less component apps.), when IBM has abandoned its history (as mentioned before, where have you gone San Francisco?), when Oracle buys another monolithic suite and calls it Fusion (nice one, RS), and Microsoft has bailed out on Hailstorm, I will once again sing the familiar tune that apparently only Siebel (?!) has caught on to. Do modular, it is the only thing that works. JBoss is doing some infrastructure modularity, and I would love to see them to do some apps. along with it, and maybe that is what they mean by the "Framework" discussion. What the hell is a framework anyway, just make pre-built components.
I am going to have to take a little break soon from this blog, as I work on material for the next phase of it, and I thought it somewhat fitting to end the enterprise computing discussion on something near to me. I believe in Solaris' functionality, but not its pre-eminence. I believe in Sun's future, but not necessarily its leadership. I find Microsoft palatable for the first time since the Mac II, but still believe JAX is the one to beat. I hope you have found my insights useful or at least comprehendable. Everything I have said is verifiable through public materials, so let me know if you want to continue the discussion. Until then, continue to look to Ashlee for your information at El Reg. The only thing I won't be able to answer for you is whatever happened to Mr. Herring:http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/10/28/sun_aims_low_with_new/
Sometime down the road, all of these issues will become more clear...
The current battle among platforms is not at the OS level but at the web services level with JOnAS being the most recent adopter of J2EE 1.4 capabilities. As long as this is the case, and it is until an acquisition of Red Hat, Sun is in the prime position of controlling the SOA model. There is nothing that BEA can do any longer to affect their own fate, they are attempting to run as fast as they can, but setting the pace does not even mean anything, even if they were setting the pace. They are stuck between being behind in J2EE adoption via JBoss, and being behind Sun in SOA leadership. They made their last gasp three years ago with Workshop and have not recovered since. Either sell out to Oracle, or open source everything, they no longer have the clout to dictate their own destiny. Sun's play with Storage Tek is 100% about the app. server. Who would buy a company for their revenue or profits? Jonathan suggests that is what Sun has done:http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/jonathan/
But logic insists that the Sun board would not allow this to happen with 50% of available cash, their lifeblood. Even considering the long running dance they are doing with McNealy, it is not wise to bet the company, which they are the custodians of, for an unrecognizable boost in revenue. (2.2B is child's play in enterprise computing) Even Jonathan's suggestion that part of the deal is done for "heterogeniety" is false. This is 100% a Solaris move, and he does partially sugest this in the blog with his reference to OpenSolaris. But the reason to buy this set of customers is to move them on to the Solaris platform at zero cost and maintain some relevance for the OS. For as long as there is a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th OS (Windows, Solaris, Linux, Mac), there is the need for Java. And the only thing that Java represents today of business value is J2EE. And the only company capable of capitalizing on the OS battle with Java is Sun. Until IBM buys Red Hat, or Red Hat buys JBoss (won't happen), there is nothing that competes with the Sun application server for SOA - OSS platform of choice (as Yafim would say).
I give Sun a lot of credit for the move. They had no choice but to look outside of software for a strategic move. Critics (i.e. all industry and financial analysts outside of Ashlee) will remark on the opportunity to buy Sybase (already have Clustra), or to buy BEA (already have AS8.1 EE and JAX, although Plumtree would be nice), but the reality is that the only thing that truly stands in the way of Sun software revenue is integration. What is taking so long to integrate everything? Even after two years, the core assets are not integrated together:http://weblog.infoworld.com/article/05/05/02/18PPmain_1.html?APPLICATION%20SERVERS
As this was a JS initiative, someone in the analysts ranks should be asking this question. I am. Get a Portal, integrate it with AS 8.1 EE, build Clustra instances via N1, and add JBI later. What kind of resources does it take? We are talking about the most adept software integration engineering team in the industry (witness Solaris with Directory Server), and the symantics of an OSS platform is beyond the reach when it would mean direct payoff to the Sun sales force and the bottom line? I am no longer a shareholder, but I would be calling on the Board to answer this question this summer, who would in turn pass along to SM who would have to ask JS where it stands. It stands behind schedule. It is red. Someone needs to be held accountable for it. I don't think it's Bauhaus though he has some to answer for it, I think it comes from the top. Get it done sooner rather than later. Convert all STK customers to Solaris, build in AS 8, PE functionality to Solaris, and integrate the OSS with JAX/JBI. Until then Sun employees have to hear about JBoss, and listen to BEA posturing, and read about WebSphere's ascendance, when the game is Sun's to lose. At present they are losing for simple, correctable reasons. As an independent analyst, I want to know when it will be done. Jonathan, I am waiting for a blog response...
The movement of environmentalists becoming business-savvy is well under way, but continues to fly below the radar of most media outlets. Ironically, it is in the heart of manufacturing territory - - MI - - where most of the impact is being felt. Some may say this is due to the guilty feelings built up from polluting practices, but this is a naive point of view, for it has long been the way of manufacturers to claim a competitive advantage for providing ever increasing environmental practices. However, it is only recently that the proof has been evident that environmental practices are good solid business, with the impact being felt on the bottom-line. No longer is it correct to de-value environmental practices as luxuries reserved for the flamboyant tree-huggers, now is the era when it is clear that environmentalism can have far reaching benefits toward achieving certain business goals. The first among them being customer adoption. Customers are driving the efforts to become more eco-friendly by checking to see whether producers are adhering to their claims of being environmentall y sound. More customers should check for real proof that there is more than just words behind the claims. The main customers that are seeking to find an environmentalism within their purchasing are corporate customers that have the financial clout to make the producers live up to their claims. It is no longer valid for a producer to make statements of 99% recyclability without demonstrating that it is truly possible to recycle 99% of the content of a product.
SUNW made an interesting announcement below the radar, not related to environmentalism, around their Blade Servers. They have exited the business, and its not because of market demand issues, for the Blader Server market continues to double year-year. Whatever there reasoning it is bound to have far-reaching implications for the next fiscal year, as it destroys the value proposition on two of the most important software assets: N1 and AS8.1 EE. Both N1 and the Clustra functionality of the app. server are tailor made for instances on blade servers, and both have been trumpeted in marketing and implementations, such as references architectures. I would hope that Sun has a better reasoning than hardware advancement to knock down two of the potentially competitive disrupters in the Sun software portfolio. In fact, is not the blade server, with or without Opteron, the core value proposition of a Sun end-end story. Sun-Rays are for end-users, Blades are for the Datacenter. As with Solaris x86, maybe Sun could re-consider. Otherwise they risk losing out on a part of the market that they definitely need to compete in. Opteron is great and all, but it is tactical. N1 and AS 8.1 EE are strategic.
As for the business I am in today, I have great optimism for the impact that Biotech is going to have on the business model of many types of organizations, not least among them the manufacturing base of MI. It is not too far out of sight to see manufacturing prowess and technical expertise being utilized in the creation of medical device industries. But even more relevant could be the oppportunity to sell in to these Biotech customers that seem to be multiplying with the growing opportunities around drug development. Only time will tell who the real winners are, but it seems that those who can pick the winners in the Biotech world will have a great advantage over their competitors regardless of the industry in which they compete.
Before getting in to the topic, I just have to write about the Business Week coverage of Sun-StorageTek. Unless you think that the CEO should be replaced, would you not believe that he/she has some good rational to make the largest move in the company's history from a financial standpoint. (Although nothing was bigger than iPlanet). Maybe if you're a BW columnist, you do think he should be replaced. As for real issues, I have not given my background on why I am writing about some of the topics in here (and because it's Friday, this blog needs a little personality, and my small readership has requested it - - though they can't respond until they become bloggers themselves). I worked at Sun under the iPlanet initiative before it became the Java web services organization, and have a pretty good understanding of the ins-and-outs of how things are done around the center of the Valley (acquisitions do not make a company). I will identify more in my profile sometime soon. Currently, I am working on Biotech issues today for a multi-national manufacturer, and did appreciate the effort put in by Business Week on their coverage of Biotech:http://businessweek.com/magazine/toc/05_24/B3937magazine.htm
It's a rah-rah piece, but its worth talking about, because it lays out the case that Biotech is maturing and has reached a point where it is beginning to deliver on its promises. Now it is time to think about the new mantra of Biotech, and that is personalized medicine. One of the key developments in the world of Biosciences is the decrease of the Pharmaceutical R&D pipeline, in no small measure because of its reliance on the next big thing. In other words, all of the efforts to create Blockbuster drugs has led to a myopic focus on volume as opposed to targeted impact. This has opened the door for Biotechs to deliver the targeted discoveries that will meet the specific needs of users. The economics of this are staggering considering the cost of a new drug, and the potential cost of using this drug. BW noted a potential $20,000/month tag for some cancer treatments - - who pays for this? Is insurance capable of obsorbing these costs?
The take-away for me is that there are endless options for Biotech, particularly when considering the economics and the edge smaller firms have on larger firms when it comes to R&D intensity and results. This makes for a highly valuable investment market and lucrative returns for those that can pick the leaders. This requires a deep understanding of a multitude of factors, including scientific reasoning with drug potential. This is not easy, and it is going to require better information to be disseminated by the public companies. If you listen to an earnings call today, it is nearly impossible to get any idea of the potential of pipeline R&D unless you have an enormous amount of background information. There should be academic degrees given to understanding the business of Biotech, or as probably done today, MBA programs are sending their grads to Biotech (the new software). I would suggest that those MBAers lay-out the ground work for the next stage of development of personalized medicine and make it known to the general Internet reading community via all kinds of mediums (say, a blog for the Biotechs would be good insight). Only as we all understand how to prepare for the advancements in Biotechnology will advancements make sense and be affordable.
If I had known the first thing about storage, I would have written about how after rummaging around Hitachi's web-site, I thought: "wouldn't it be good for Sun to find a way to pick up in-house Storage assets that would Finally allow an end-end solution?" I apologize to my future investor readership that I did not write down my thoughts and given a little bump in the direction of today's announcement with Storage Tek. Sure, I've heard of them, but even after reading the slides, I have no clue what they bring to Sun. I have liked the software assets being developed and acquired mainly because one of my lost friends on the research side was on it before declaring "Java is dead" and running off to do a start-up. I imagine he was kidding. But what this acquisition has me thinking is that data storage and physical storage have some connection, and this would only be clear in the world of office environments. For a long time, as long as there have been computers and wiring, the office environments companies have been looking for ways to integrate technology in to the products, and for as long as technology has been in business, there have been ways devised to manage the bulk of data. Surely there must be some intersection. For as most office workers would agree, there lives at work are made or broke by their management of data, logically, virtually, and physically.
The office environments companies, of which Steelcase is the leader, do a good deal of research on the types of needs that users have with data storage and physical storage - - this is one of the key areas of functional planning when it comes to individual workspaces. It is the office environments companies that are interested in making this solution as integrated as possible, and this brings in the technology solutions to solve one aspect of the data storage issue. The research has shown that office workers can be either a piler or a filer, with the implications on technology storage being robust need for technological solutions.
I have thought there was some connection between technology and office environments for some time, and think that the move of Sun to a more core endeavor such as the lifecycle of data management, could help a company like Steelcase move beyond physical storage issues, and more in to data storage planning solutions. Ultimately data comes in both forms, on paper and in database format on the screen. By working together or by looking at the same types of problems, Sun and Steelcase could move in to the areas most effecting users of the products they offer. This may open up new avenues of growth and cohesion.
I am new to this latest of web innovations, in fact if I am doing it, there must be something that the kids are already doing that replaces web logs. But if business week writes about it, and the National Association of Manufacturers purports to do it, it must be main stream enough to discuss what are its next steps of progression - - especially as it relates to business. I am currently attempting to figure out how to make blogging a business advantage, by finding the middle ground between advertising and dissemination of proprietary information, basically a blog is a form of marketing. All marketing companies should have the skills to market via blogging. The next question is whether all companies that market should also blog. Marketing is a core exercise in the business of organizations, and innovations abound in the practices of it. Blogs and RSS feeds (though have never used one) are the replacement for spams and "targeted" e-mail. I have used such e-mail for "blasts," but find the most effective form when a user asks to be e-mailed to, and even that is a dying practice. Unless there is content, and not just information, it becomes difficult to imagine why the end-user would continue to want random information. This is what the Internet is, a bunch of mainly untargeted information. Blogs can do so much more for targeting by giving a voice to a previously unalive web-site. This can come from anyone with something to say that brings a point of view of value to the user of a web-site. There are not that many companies doing this type of work, but it seems inevitable that as marketing is called to do more than just product marketing and advertising, that blogs will be a natural extension of the overall medium for the value propostion of the company.
What is Blog protocol? Blogs should be light and to the point, and if a writer cannot meld these two requirements, they will face an unresponsive audience. It is not always necessary to receive feedback after a blog has been posted, for some of the best posters of blogs do not come under the duress of "flamers." If you would like to read about a corporate policy for blogging, I will direct you to Sun Microsystems' version, maintained by Tim Bray:http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2004/05/02/Policy
Essentially, you should create your own voice that represents your business in an effective manner, and list out the topics that mean the most to your audience(s), and then begin a blog. Blogging is just as natural as writing e-mails - - e-mails with the same kind of readership as a Reply All may have, so be astute at what you think means something to someone. It is ultimately your name that lives on in Internet blogging databases, and your company's reputation that will be impacted by your efforts. Don't be shy, and don't be overly cautious, be positive, and learn from other bloggers. Link to other bloggers, and feel free to sing the praises of your business. In short order, blogging may be more prevalent within organizations as it is with individuals. Only a select few, however, will gain the readership to be relevant. Now is the time to make a run at it.