Tuesday, August 4, 2015

WSO2 at 10

Today August 4th 2015 is WSO2's unofficial official birthday - we complete 10 years of existence.

I guess its been a while.

Its unofficial because not a whole lot happened on the 4th of August 2005 itself. Starting a global set up like WSO2 had many steps - registering a company in Sri Lanka (in early July 2005 IIRC), registering a company in the US, getting money to the US company, "selling" the LK company to the US company etc. etc.. We officially "launched" the company at OSCON 2005 in Portland, Oregon the first week of August.

However, I gave a talk there on the 4th on Open Source and Developing Countries. The talk abstract refers to the opportunity that open source gives to "fundamentally change the dynamics of the global software industry".

That's what we've been up to for 10 years - taking on the enterprise middleware part of the software industry with open source and Sri Lanka as the major competitive weapons. We can't claim victory yet but we're making progress. Getting into nearly 20 Gartner Magic Quadrants and Forrester Waves as a Visionary is not a bad track record from zero.

This is of course only possible because of the people we have and the way we do things (our culture) that allows people to do what they do best and do it well. To me, as the person at the helm, its been an incredible ride to work with such awesome people and to have such an awesome work environment that births and nurtures cool stuff just as effectively as how well it chews and spits out stupid stuff and BS.

We're now somewhat sizable ... just about crossing 500 full time employees globally on August 1 this year. I am still (and will be for the next 10 years) the last interview for every employee .. no matter what level and no matter what country they're in (yeah that means Skype sometimes). I don't check for ability to do the job - its all about what the person's about, what they want to achieve in their life and how well I think will fit into our culture and approach and value system. I have veto'ed many hires if my gut feeling is that the person is not the right fit for us.

Here's a graph of how the team has grown:


(The X axis is the number of months since August 1, 2005.)

A key to our ability to continue to challenge the world by taking on audacious tasks is the "so what if we fail" mindset that's integral to our culture. Another part is being young and stupid in terms of not knowing how hard some things apparently are. When I started WSO2 I was 38 .. not that young but definitely stupid in my understanding of how hard it is/was to take on the world of IBM/Oracle owned enterprise middleware market and ultimately stupid about the technical complexities of the problems we needed to solve. BUT what has worked for us so far is the "so what if we fail part" being used by young people who are regularly put in the deep end to get stuff done. I am still utterly stupid about how hard certain things are supposed to be - and I love that. Most of us in WSO2 are very stupid that way - but we're not afraid to try nor are we afraid to fail. Shit happens, life goes on (oh yeah and then we all die anyway at some point .. so why not give it a shot). I have little or no respect to the "way things are done" or the "way things work" - we've challenged and re-envisioned almost every part of our business from the way a normal software company works and I'm very proud of my team for having done that over and over and over again. And I'm of course grateful that they still talk to me for all the grief I give them daily on various little to big aspects of every side of the company - from colors to cleanliness to marketing to architecture to pricing to paying taxes.

The amazing thing is after 10 years we've managed to become slightly younger as a company over time! How is that possible? This is the average age of employees of WSO2 over time (same X axis as above):


We apparently had some old farts (like me) hired at the beginning and then again a few more around 3 years in .. but since then the average age has hovered between 30 and 32! Not bad for a 10 year old company where very few people leave ...

To me the actual physical age is not the issue - after all I'm now 48 years old but I don't hesitate to think and act like a 25 year old either mentally or physically (come and play basketball with me and lets see who hurts more at the end). Its all about how you think and act and accept "experience". I view experience and assumption as things to question and assume as false until proven true in our context. That frustrates a lot of senior people but that is exactly what has allowed WSO2 to keep growing and keep challenging the world of middleware and getting to its front. I view any assumption (e.g. "this is the way others do it") as a likely point of failure until proven otherwise. My challenge is to keep WSO2 "young" - in thinking and in age as much as possible (without age discrimination of course). I love this Jeff Bezos quote:
If your customer base is aging with you, then eventually you are going to become obsolete or irrelevant. You need to be constantly figuring out who are your new customers and what are you doing to stay forever young.
Technology will never stop - it maybe SOA, ESB, REST, CEP, Mashups. Cloud, APIs, IoT, Microservices, Docker,  Clojure, NodeJS, whatever ... and more will come. We need to keep on top of every new thing that comes along, be the ones to create a bunch of these and still deliver real stuff that works.

If we as a team continue to challenge every assumption, continue to treat each other with respect but not fear, continue to fight for doing the right long term thing instead of hype-chasing then we will never lose.

WSO2 is nowhere near the goal I set out to do for us - take over the world (of middleware!). But 10 years later, we're now on a solid foundation to build WSO2 into a much stronger position in the next 10 years. Thank you for all the wonderful people who are still in WSO2 and to those that have moved on but did their part, for helping us get there. Its been my honor and privilege to lead this incredible bunch of crazies.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

North Korea, The Interview and Movie Ethics

Its been quite a while since I blogged .. I'm going to try to write a bit more consistently from now (try being the key!). I thought I'll start with a light topic!

So I watched the now infamous The Interview two nights ago. I'm no movie critic, but I thought it was a cheap, crass stupid movie with no depth whatsoever. More of a dumbass slapstick movie than anything else.

Again, I'm no movie critic so I don't recommend you listen to me; watch it and make up your own mind :-). I have made up mine!

HOWEVER, I do think the Internet literati's reaction to this movie is grossly wrong, unfair and arrogant.

Has there ever been any other Hollywood movie where the SITTING president of a country is made to look like a jackass and assassinated in the most stupid way? I can't think of any movies like that. In fact, I don't think Bollywood or any other movie system has produced such a movie.

When Hollywood movies have US presidents in them they're always made out to be the hero (e.g. White House Down) and they pretty much never die. If they do die, then they die a hero (e.g. 2012) in true patriotic form.

I don't recall seeing a single movie where David Cameron or Angela Merkel or Narendra Modi or any other sitting president was made to look like a fool and gets killed as the main point of the movie (or in any other fashion).

I believe the US Secret Service takes ANY threats against the US president very seriously. According to Wikipedia, a threat against the US president is a class D felony (presumably a bad thing). I've heard of students who send anonymous (joking) email threats get tracked down and get a nice visit.

So, suppose Sony Pictures decided to make a movie which shows President Obama being a jackass and then being killed? How far would that go before the US Secret Service shuts it down?

In my view the fact that this movie was conceived, funded and made just goes to show how little respect the US system has for people that are not lined up in the US way. Its fine for the US government, and even the US people, to have no respect for some country, its president or whatever, but I have to agree with North Korea when they say that this movie is a violation of the UN charter:

With no rhetoric can the U.S. justify the screening and distribution of the movie. This is because "The Interview" is an illegal, dishonest and reactionary movie quite contrary to the UN Charter, which regards respect for sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs and protection of human rights as a legal keynote, and international laws.
– NORTH KOREA NATIONAL DEFENCE COMMISSION SPOKESMAN
    (From: http://www.itv.com/news/story/2014-12-27/north-korea-insults-obama-and-blames-us-for-internet-outages/.)

    Would all the Internet literati who hailed the release of the movie act the same way if Bollywood produced a movie mocking Obama and killing him off? If not, why the double standard??

    Its disappointing that thinking people also get caught up in the rhetoric and ignore basic decency. Just to be clear- I'm not saying North Korea is a great place. I have no idea what things are really like there. What I do know is that I don't trust the managed news rhetoric that is delivered as fact by CNN, Fox, BBC, Al Jazeera or anyone any more about any topic. This is after observing how Sri Lanka was represented in various of these channels during the war and after being here to observe some side of it myself. After Iraq (where are those WMDs now?) you'd think that smart people wouldn't just believe any old crap that's put out .. I distinctly remember watching the news conference (broadcast on BBC) immediately after Colin Powell made his speech with pictures to the UN Security Council where the then Iraqi Foreign Minister (can't remember his name - fun looking dude) went thru each picture and gave an entirely different explanation. We now know who was telling the truth. I try hard not to get caught up in any of the rhetoric as a result now.

    There's an entirely different topic of whether the North Koreans attacked Sony Pictures' network and whether the US government hackers shut down their Internet. It seems that the general trend (as of today) is that it wasn't the North Koreans, despite what the FBI said: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/27/tech/north-korea-expert-doubts-about-hack/index.html.

    So I'm with the North Koreans on this one: This movie should not have been conceived, funded and produced. I don't condone the hackers' approach for trying to stop it; instead Sony Pictures should've had more ethics and not done it at all. So, IMO: Shame on you Sony Pictures Entertainment!

    Saturday, June 7, 2014

    WSO2Con Barcelona 2014 in just one more week!


    Time flies when you're having fun .. the conference is now just a week away and the advance team is flying in today. If you've ever been to one of our conferences you know what an awesome event it is - Barcelona is going to notch it up again with a really cool Internet of Things platform for attendees (built with our own products of course - plus soldering irons and acid baths).

    Hope to see you there!



    Learn more about industry trends, being a Connected Business, the WSO2 story, and much more through our esteemed panel of keynote speakers at WSO2Con EU 2014.
    AlanAlan Clark
    Director of Industry Initiatives, Emerging Standards and Open Source
    SUSE
    Chairman of the Board
    OpenStack®
    Serves as the chairman of the board at OpenStack. Alan has developed a reputation in fostering the creation, growth, awareness, and adoption of open source and open standards across the technology sector. He will explore the evolution of open source cloud platforms in enabling the Connected Business.
    JamesJames Governor
    Principal Analyst and Co-Founder
    RedMonk
    Leads coverage in the enterprise applications space, assisting with application development, integration middleware, and systems management issues. He also has served as an industry expert for television and radio segments with media such as the BBC. James will examine how open source middleware contributes to the Connected Business.
    LucaLuca Martini
    Distinguished Engineer
    Cisco
    Leads the Cisco virtualization strategy in two major areas: mobility and home broadband access. He has been involved in the Internet engineering task force (IETF) for the past 15 years, contributing to many IETF standards. Luca will discuss the role of intelligent orchestration and how it is more than simply a Web services engine.
    PaulPaul Fremantle
    Co-Founder & CTO
    WSO2
    Paul co-founded WSO2 in 2005 in order to reinvent the way enterprise middleware is developed, sold, delivered, and supported through an open source model. In his current role as CTO, he spearheads WSO2's overall product strategy.
    SanjivaSanjiva Weerawarana Ph. D
    Founder, Chairman & CEO
    WSO2
    Sanjiva has been involved with open source for many years and is an active member of the Apache Software Foundation. He was the original creator of Apache SOAP and has been part of Apache Axis, Apache Axis2 and most Apache Web services projects. He founded WSO2 after having spent nearly 8 years in IBM Research, where he was one of the founders of the Web services platform. During that time, he co-authored many Web services specifications including WSDL, BPEL4WS, WS-Addressing, WS-RF and WS-Eventing.
    Learn how WSO2 can help you build a Connected Business
     Contact Us

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    WSO2 moving to a new building in Sri Lanka

    After many many months of painful work, we are finally starting work at our new location in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Here's a picture taken from my cell phone yesterday afternoon:



    The most awesome thing is that we will all be in one building again in Sri Lanka! That's after more than 3 years when we started adding new offices .. we had three here until yesterday; today we have one!

    We still have quite a bit of work to do to finish everything .. including a nice surprise coming in the front at the street level :-). The cage you see on the roof is our enclosed rooftop basketball court! The rest of the roof is taken up by the gym and the creche - will take another month to be fully ready. I'm waiting for the punching bag.

    Today's not our official opening day - that's next Wednesday with Paul Fremantle also present. We are moving in today however and will have a small ceremony (lighting the lamp and kiribath table).

    Its taken just over 8 years of incredible hard work by a super team of passionate people to get us here. Thank you to everyone who made it possible - including our customers, investors and of course the killer (past and present) team! 

    This is only a small step along the way however ..

    Sunday, June 23, 2013

    Congratulations Dr. Dasarath Weeratunge!

    It gives me great pleasure to post extremely belated (he completed in December last year!) congratulations to Dr. Dasarath Weeratunge on his completing his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana (where I got my Ph.D. too). Dasarath's Ph.D. was in compiler optimization (don't have the exact topic) and was co-advised by Suresh Jagannathan and Xiangyu Zhang. Dasarath is now working in Intel Labs.

    I advised Dasarath's final year project when he was an undergrad at Univ. of Moratuwa - he worked on what became Apache Kandula, a WS-Atomic Transactions implementation for Apache Axis. Later he also contributed to Apache Axis2 and worked on making Kandula work with Axis2. He joined Purdue in August 2005 IIRC.

    Congratulations Dr. Malinda Kaushalye Kapuruge!


    It gives me great pleasure to post extremely belated (he completed in October last year!) congratulations to Dr. Malinda Kaushalye Kapuruge on his completing his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Swinburne University in Australia. Kau's thesis topic was "Orchestration as Organization: Using an organisational paradim to achieve adaptable business process modelling and enactment in service compositions" and was supervised by Prof. Jun Han and Dr. Alan Colman. Kau's going to stay on in Swinburne as a Research Scientist for some time.

    Kaushalye worked in WSO2 for 2 years from 2006 to 2008 before going to grad school to pursue his Ph.D. work. Congratulations and good luck!

    (I'm going to post a few catch up congratulations so I can be up to date :-).)