Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bill Gates: The skills you need to succeed

I agree 100% with everything Bill has written here.

Yes I'm a FOSS fanatic but I admire Bill Gates more than pretty much any other technology or business person. MSFT certainly pulled a few unfair business practices along the way, but his passion for winning and passion for finding a better way have had more impact on the world than most other things.

Plus the dude's running around giving away like $30B for really good causes like injections without needles.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Reclaiming the ESB

Paul Fremantle has written an article on Reclaiming the ESB .. this is somewhat in response to Steve Vinoski's original writeup against the ESB concept. Gotta read it if you are into this stuff :-).

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sri Lankan part of Nobel Peace prize team!

The Vice Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, is a Sri Lankan! AFAIK this is the first Nobel Peace prize Sri Lankan has been part of.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Axis2 now supports CORBA services

Axis2 has a new module that makes it possible to take an existing CORBA object and automatically expose it as a Web service. Developed by Eranga Jayasundara, it includes an IDL parser which is used to automate the mapping from the incoming XML message to IIOP and back. We use Apache Yoko underneath.

This used to be the territory of expensive products (such as Iona Artix) but its now completely free. In fact the mapping appears to be more complete than that peformed by the proprietary products- and the performance better too.

Eranga (who did this as his MSc project at the Univ. of Moratuwa and is currently working at the ICT Agency in Sri Lanka) has written an article on WSO2's OxygenTank explaining how the module works and how you can use it.

We're not quite done with this yet- we're also working to integrate this code under the Axis2 client API- once done that means you'll be able to talk to either a WS-* Web service, an HTTP service, a Java object or a CORBA object using the same API. In fact, once we're done any Apache WSIF style binding will be supported directly under the Axis2 client API.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

REST vs. WS-*: Facts, Myths and Lies

I recently gave a talk on REST vs. WS-* at both QCon San Francisco and ApacheCon US. The slides can be found on WSO2 Oxygen Tank. I suggest reading the ApacheCon slides as those are slightly updated from the other one.

At ApacheCon Roy Fielding spoke right before me on REST. It was great to listen to Roy present his vision and to hear about REST from the horse's mouth so-to-speak. It was an honor to have him introduce me and then to have him right there to provide additional anecdotes and corrections to my points :).

Comments welcome, especially from those who feel I got it wrong (on either side).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hillary Clinton on terrorism in Sri Lanka

I saw this a while back but never got around to blogging about it.

Ms. Clinton seems to think that some types of terrorism is acceptable. In particular, I'm annoyed because she seems to think that what the LTTE has been doing in Sri Lanka is acceptable.

WTF?? Has she been on drugs in the last 20 years? LTTE has killed villages full of people from the 80s and the world said "nahh, they're fighting for their rights." They bombed civilian sites, religious sites and economic sites (including our central bank in an attack which was comparable proportionately to the infamous 9-11 attacks).

Until 9-11 the US, Europe and many countries ignored the LTTE and effectively supported them. India supported them, trained them back in the 80s .. until they came back and killed 1500+ Indian troops in Sri Lanka in the late 80s and then killed Rajiv Gandhi. Does she not know that the LTTE leader is convicted of having killed Mr. Gandhi?

Ms. Clinton must be proud that the LTTE site has a reference to it as a way of justifying themselves. Maybe she doesn't know that the US State Department just froze the assets of the TRO an NGO which is funneling funds to the LTTE.

I cannot stand the right wing mania that is driving the Republican party in the US, but getting someone in the Oval Office who thinks that some types of terrorism is ok is far worse for the world and will do more damage than the wonderful Mr. Dubyah has done.

Tamil people in Sri Lanka do have absolutely legitimate reasons to be unhappy with the status quo. I'm a firm believer in some type of decentralized federal political structure for Sri Lanka - all people in Sri Lanka need it! However, LTTE's approach is not the way to get there.

Terrorism is a disease. Eradicating it has to be a global fight and not a fight where one country helps someone else's terrorists. That's what everyone did in the 80s and the 90s .. destroying countries like Sri Lanka in the process. It took 9-11 to change that retarded mindset. I cannot believe that a US presidential candidate really thinks like this about terrorism in 2007 .. maybe in fact she is soft on terrorism as the right wing says.

I hope she loses.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

REST is complex

James Snell: REST is complex.

For the last few years the REST community has been hammering the WS-* world saying that its so complex in the ugly WS-* world and so simple in the REST world. It looks like reality is finally setting in: Its all complex.

I was a bit unfair in picking up only a bit of what James wrote. He did say its all complex ... still, that's quite a change for a REST guy :-).

Running into Jonathan Schwartz

I was at QCon San Francisco the last few days and gave a talk on REST vs. WS-* in the track organized by Stefan Tilkov. That was a great track .. they'll be putting up the talks soon (and if its getting late I'll put the slides up; but given the slightly controversial nature of my comments I'd rather have the whole talk rather than just quiet slides).

After all the talks a bunch of us went out for dinner to a nice restaurant at the nearby Four Seasons Hotel. Seated at the table next to us was none other than Mr. Sun himself - Jonathan Schwartz. He was having some power pow-wow with more serious looking older guys.

After he left, we realized that we missed a golden opportunity to go and ask him "WTF were you thinking in changing SUNW to JAVA?"! Dan Diephouse said he'd have given $1000 for anyone who'd have asked that .. I said I'd have done it for $100 without a blink. Then Pete Lacey and Stefan Tilkov and all of us starting low-balling the figure .. finally it came down to we'd have all done it in unison for free!

Oh well; too bad .. but at least next time I run into Jonathan I know what the pick up line is going to be!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Flying Virgin America

I had to book a flight from San Francisco to New York and Orbitz found a ticket on Virgin America for $179. Pretty cheap really. This will be my virgin flight on Virgin America .. so I ended up registering for their frequent flyer program too (which has nice features like no blackout dates- if there's a seat and you have the points then you can have it; wow what a concept!).

In the place where they ask you to enter a question to be asked in case you forget your password, one of the choice was "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?". Made me chuckle ..

I'm looking forward to this flight .. just look at their Web site and you'll be understand why! Damn, I should've probably taken a shuttle down to LAX and then gone LAX -> IAD and then flown up to NYC .. just to be on this flight!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bringing relational data to the Web

Everyone has data locked away in relational databases and other data sources. There have been several approaches for getting at this data- EJB entity beans being the worst of all the possible approaches probably! All the mess with object-relational mapping and the tens of ORM tools out there have been part of the strategies people have used to bring relational data to the Web.

WSO2's Web Services Application Server, WSAS, now has a feature that allows one to easily map relational data to the Web and back. Basically, what you do is write a parametrized query (or stored procedure call), decide how to get the values for those parameters from the incoming request (from the URI and the body) and then describe how to map the resulting table to XML. There's no bringing the relational data to objects at all- its directly relational to/from XML/URIs. Its actually quite a bit more general than that- we can also go to JSON or other serializations and on the other side, we can handle not only relational data but also Microsoft Excel files, CSV files, JDNI data sources and more. Kyle Gabhart has written a nice article on this technology for and has a figure I really like:

The details of the data services language we came up with can be found here. We've also sorted out how to make these data services into properly RESTful data resources (details in that document) and will have that working soon as well. (If any REST fan wants to review that bit of the spec and help improve it and/or help implement it please do!)

This is somewhat similar to what Microsoft Project Astoria is doing, but that's a lot grander and grandiose than our approach. Ours is a bottom up, pragmatic approach that targets folks with databases and specific query patterns they'd like to make available on the Web. The result is that someone can now write a mashup that directly touches your relational database and all you had to do was fill in a few forms and write down the query to execute. Basically, if you know a query you want to execute against a database you have, in 10 minutes you'll be view your database contents using the Web browser. Don't believe it? We have customers who've done that with mainframe databases! Try it and see.

And our stuff is ready to use right now and we'll support it for real use.

More information about data services is available in the following articles and blogs witten by Sumedha Rubasinghe, the lead on that work:

You can download WSO2 WSAS v2.1 from here. The source for all of this is available too - everything under Apache License. See the open source project home for WSAS on WSO2 Oxygen Tank.

serial entrepreneurs and silicon valley

Marc Andreesen has written a great blog about what makes serial entrepreneurs tick!

Friday, October 26, 2007

open source business love fest .. not!

Looks like InfoWorld bloggers Dave Rosenberg and Savio Rodrigues and CNet blogger Matt Asay all think that open source companies shouldn't compete with each other but only with the proprietary companies. Dave Rosenberg started this line of thought .. soon after we published some performance data showing how the WSO2 ESB was faster than both Mule and ServiceMix. Just for the record, we did publish results prior to that showing that our ESB was faster than the leading proprietary one too (from the company which is in the news lately) but their license explicitly states "you will not publish performance results of our stuff" .. so we couldn't name them.

So, should open source companies compete against each other? In an ideal world, no. In the real world, they jolly well do. They compete for community, they compete for mindshare, they compete for press coverage and of course they compete for customers. Thinking that they do not, and should not, is totally naiive.

There was a time when there were lots of evil proprietary ones and exactly one open source alternative. Today, everyone's doing open source and its no longer that simple. Can you seriously say that Apache Synapse and Apache ServiceMix are not competing with each other? Or that Apache Axis2 and Apache CXF are not competing with each other? If nothing else, they're competing for the precious community; in both those cases the products are even in the same open source community. What about the big guys' open source products? Should JBossAS not compete with IBM WebSphere CE? Open source is everywhere and is simply an alternative business model for many- to say two open source products shouldn't compete with each other simplifies reality too much.

Dave, Matt & Savio all seem to think that customers only compare the evil proprietary products against one of our products. Hello? Are we on the same planet? Any customer worth their muscle will compare against all available options and take the one that best suits their needs. Why in the world would they restrict themselves to only one open source alternative? That makes no sense whatsoever.

Even if they are restricting to one, let's be real, we all want to be the one don't we? Otherwise how do I become the one to take money away from BEA instead of Dave? While it is indeed great if the fraternity of the open source brotherhood wins against the proprietary ones, its much better (for me) if in fact I win with my product instead of Dave with his. And if Dave doesn't feel that way I'm sure his investors will remind him that that's his job :). I don't think my investors would be happy if in a few years WSO2 has to go under because "open source won, but not us". They don't give a hoot about who wins against you- if you lose you lose. It doesn't matter if its an open source competitor or a proprietary competitor; its simply a competitor.

Now, when we do run into a customer that's only comparing us against a bunch of proprietary alternatives then that's a great situation and we love it. To do that, we need to win the mindshare battle against other open source projects to the point that the customer looks at us as the de facto open source winner in that space. Apache HTTP is in that mode. MySQL is in that mode. JBossAS is in that mode. Mule is in that space to a great extent for the ESB now.

So what is an upstart like us who has an ESB supposed to do? Give up and go home because a project that was the first and only open source ESB for many years has mindshare? Or go out and prove to the world that we have a better product? We have chosen to do the latter.

(I'm not picking on the ESB .. at WSO2 we compete in a bunch of areas, not just in the ESB space .. but ESB is an easy one to use because there are simply so many of them around.)

Does that make me a bad open source citizen? Hogwash. Competition is good for you. If its not us it'll be someone else. If your product can't be the best and if you can't deliver better value around the product (services, documentation, stability, comfort and all that stuff) then you will lose. And you deserve to lose.

Bottom line today is that if you are an open source company competing in a crowded space, then you have to compete with other open source products as well as proprietary ones. Certainly, don't focus on the open source ones only (as Dave and Matt and others are certainly correct that you are then competing for crumbs instead of the sandwich) but don't give in saying "ah you're using someone else's open source product? No problem then, we'll go away."