Monday, December 1, 2008

Open Source: The Model Is Broken .. NOT!

Stu Cohen, CEO of the Collaborative Software Initiative has written an article in a BusinessWeek special on open source. I wrote the following comment there but thought I'll blog it too as I totally disagree with Stu.

Stu, I couldn't disagree more. If the open source vendor offers nothing other than bug fixes, then yes its hard to sustain itself.

However, a true technology provider is a partner of the customer in helping them navigate technology to solve business problems. If you achieve that then you don't need to hold some proprietary IP and use open source effectively as a trojan horse to get your software in.

That's what we're doing at WSO2 and doing very well with it. ALL of our IP is open source and we don't hold anything back - we have lots of big and small customers who pay us because we deliver real value to them. The fact that we are not holding something back as a way to force them to pay for it has not been a problem at all.

Let me also point out another flaw in your argument: if collaboration is really happening, then how do you prevent the community from re-inventing your precious, closed-source value-add? So you're clearly not interested in doing truly open collaboration in that case!

Thailand airport attacks

This is beyond belief: take over the country's two main airports illegally and then ask the police to protect you?! That's like the Mumbai bombers calling the police saying they're being attacked by anti-terrorist commandos!

Its an utter shame that a military general leads this type of unlawful behavior.

Its an even bigger shame that a country with such a strong military ignores this. Clearly the government has lost its head up its own rear end and can't deal with the situation - allowing a tourism dependent country to shut down air traffic for nearly a week is proof that they've lost the will and ability to act. Imagine how much cleanup would be required at the Swarnabhoomi airport? If you've been there, you know the size (and beauty) of that airport .. a tragedy. (If you want an analogy imagine taking over O'Hare forcefully and occupying it with thousands of people for a week.)

Just blow (with water, tear gas, rubber bullets or worse if that's what it takes) those damned people up and get on with it. This is not civil unrest any more - these people are terrorists holding the entire country hostage!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Open source alterternative for RogueWave HydraExpress: WSO2 WSF/C

If you're a RogueWave HydraExpress customer looking for an open source alternative check out this article by Damitha Kumarage comparing it with WSO2 WSF/C, our Web services framework in C.

Damitha does work for WSO2 and has been contributing to the Axis2/C family (which is what WSF/C is) for a long time .. so he is likely somewhat biased! We'd welcome an alternative comparison from the RogueWave side too :). Also, anyone want to do a performance comparison too; I'd love to see how much extra the customers are getting for the money they're paying!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Small WSO2 re-org

Its my pleasure to announce a small re-org of WSO2 to help us better execute on the business side:
  • Jonathan Marsh, previously Director of Mashup Technologies, has been promoted to Vice President of Business Development. Jonathan will of course continue to provide vision to our mashup work (its his baby after all!) but he will focus more on helping us improve business execution.
  • Devaka Randeniya, previously Manager of Business Development, has been promoted to Director of Business Development. With this promotion Devaka takes more ownership of business development and sales activities and will of course be working with Jonathan.
Recently I announced some adjustments we've made to respond to the challenging times we live in. The roles changes for Jonathan and Devaka are designed to help us improve overall business execution and to make sure we do better than double our revenue next year and become a profitable business! I have known Jonathan for nearly 10 years and Devaka for more than 7 years and I have complete trust that we have the right people to take WSO2's business development forward!

The official announcement of these changes is here.

Congratulations Jonathan & Devaka!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sri Lanka += Maldives ???

I saw this article in a tweet by Mark Nottingham.

Give citizenship to 300k people in return for making Maldives part of Sri Lanka? That's a damned good deal!!

I hope our country's leadership step up to the plate and negotiate something with the Maldives. Failing that we can always take them over too ... after the LTTE war is over we're going to have a HUGE military (much larger than UK's for example) without much to do! Time to take over our neighbors ... watch out India!

Friday, November 14, 2008

WSO2 adjusting to the times

As you have probably seen in various blog posts, every VC is advising their companies to cut back, tighten belts and overall get ready for a rough ride in the immediate future. Smart companies do this pro-actively and decisively, not when its too late.

Paul and I started WSO2 more than 3 years ago. We've seen amazing growth - more than doubling revenue each year, seeing amazing technology adoption, seeing us becoming more and more influential in the industry and growing the company from the original small team to nearly 70 people globally. The net result has been the rock solid revenue growth and the quality and quantity of our customers, ranging from Fortune 100s to SMBs in far flung places in the world.

Despite all the positives, we want to be conservative and ensure that we are around for the long run. While we fully expect to be able to at least double revenue next year too, we can't accurately predict how customer spending may decrease. So we want to be cautious to ensure that no matter what happens we're here for the long run.

In fact, I fully expect that the downturn will be a positive thing for us as customers look for greater value in whatever they're paying for. Is it justifiable to pay $25-50k for an ESB license when you can download ours free and maybe pay us $8k for commercial support, better software and greater productivity?? We're seeing more and more customers come to us with that mindset and commit really fast.

So how are we cutting costs? First thing we've done is reduced all the stuff that we really didn't need to do and were doing because "that's the way things are done." No more of that nonsense. Secondly, we've had to let go of a few people in order to bring the costs down to the level that is right for us.

After having built the company up and after having personally selected every single member of our family, its very difficult to make cuts that involve people. I know we would not be here today if not for the totally incredible team we have built. Despite the tough decision, I know we're doing the right thing looking at the larger picture.

To the people who are leaving us: my personal gratitude for your contribution is unblemished and will never be forgotten.

After the overall operational cost reductions and the few headcount reductions, we feel we're in a rock solid financial position. Overall, WSO2 is incredibly well poised to dominate the markets we play in with our strong team and global structure further favoring our ability to weather the storm.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Eclipse kills open-source SOA projects

The Register has an article about some SOA projects being killed in Eclipse.

This is exactly why IMO the Eclipse Foundation model of open source is broken. Basically, you can buy yourself a board seat in the Eclipse Foundation by putting up cash - on the order of $250k/year I believe .. so not for us little guys for sure. But then, does money guarantee that a project will attract developers and users?? Of course not!

I'm of course biased, but I think the Apache Software Foundation principle of "community over code" is critical to making successful open source projects.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Non-Sinhala President for Sri Lanka??

I wonder how long it'll be before Sri Lanka is ready to elect a non-Sinhalese president? Well let's start with a non-Buddhist president!

I don't think it'll happen in the next 10 years, but I think it could in my lifetime ... it won't be easy given that we're currently in a big war but if the war stops soon, and economic development & integration accelerates then we have a chance to look beyond religion and race in selecting national leaders.

We of course had an incredible opportunity to have a Tamil person as prime minister (when Lakshman Kadirgamar was still alive) but that was lost apparently due to Sinhala right wing hawks who didn't want even that brilliant person to be the first non-Sinhala person in such a position.

Of course in the case of the US one cannot forget that Barack Obama is actually an inter-racial person. I'd settle for that for a start in Sri Lanka too - a person with Sinhala and Tamil parents, but with the person's dominant identity coming from the Tamil side (as with Mr. Obama) .. or Muslim side or whatever non-Sinhala Buddhist standard the country appears to insist on.

No no I'm not saying that we should elect a Tamil or Muslim or Christian or whatever person as president. Rather, when will it be when that aspect will be irrelevant and we will elect the person for their merits, policies and promise? Right now a non-Sinhala Buddhist simply has NO chance of getting to that position.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama-mania .. in Sri Lanka!

This morning when I opened the local newspapers we buy at home - the Daily Mirror and the Daily News, I was shocked to see advertisements to wish Barack Obama good luck! Yep, the Daily Mirror had one FULL PAGE advert and another quarter page and the Daily News had a quarter pager.

Absolutely incredible.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ApacheCon US keynote speaker ..

My wife Shahani will be one of the keynote speakers at ApacheCon US in New Orleans in a few weeks. She was until recently CTO of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka, basically the government's IT place. Prior to that she was Head of Engineering at Virtusa, the largest software company in Sri Lanka. Before we came back to Sri Lanka (in 2001) she worked for a while in a startup called Prescient Markets (which interestingly was building software for trading corporate paper .. one of the fishy instruments causing problems now ;-) .. but they didn't survive the .com crash; so maybe they're not to blame!) and before that part time at IBM Research while finishing her Ph.D. in CS at Purdue as well.

She's a great speaker .. I'm sure it'll be a great talk (about how open source code has helped build amazing government solutions I think)! Unfortunately I won't be there as I'll be at home with the kids ;-).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book on RESTful PHP Web services

Aha! Another RESTful Web services book .. this time by WSO2's own Samisa Abeysinghe, father of Axis2/C and now our Director of Engineering. Gotta love it!

You RESTafarians out there have to check this out .. given Samisa's WS-* credentials I'm sure there'll be some people who try to dismiss it outright. Give it a read and see .. I'm sure Samisa would be happy to get feedback and respond to it appropriately!

This is now the 3rd book by a WSO2 person: Samisa's, Deepal's one on Programming Axis2 and the one I wrote (prior to WSO2) on Web services. The WSO2 people authored bookshelf is growing! AWESOME!!

Glen has reminded me that he, Paul and others wrote the Building Web Services in Java book too! So, that makes 4 (and counting)!

Monday, October 20, 2008

India: Don't give into terrorism!

Sri Lanka is currently under major pressure by the Indian government to stop the ongoing war against the LTTE. Why? The Indian state of Tamil Nadu is a key supporter of the coalition central government in India. Tamil Nadu's residents are Tamil, the same race the Tamil people in Sri Lanka belong to .. and with whom we have a 2000+ year old history of interaction in various forms. So there are bunch of politicians in Tamil Nadu who actively supported LTTE and still do. There are also many who are genuinely concerned about the well being of innocent Tamil people in the war torn areas in Sri Lanka's north. To cut a long story short, Tamil Nadu can bring down the Indian government .. and they're threatening to do so now unless India intervenes in Sri Lanka's war.

Why? Because they apparently believe that innocent Tamil people are being killed and that the war is an attempt to destroy the Tamil populace of the north. That is nothing short of ludicrous - after more than 25 years of fighting our military has learnt bitter lessons of how to win a war in this environment and killing normal people simply isn't part of the formula. The president of Sri Lanka has invited the Indian foreign secretary to come to Sri Lanka to find out for himself what's being done to prevent civilian casualties and to see the real situation here. But, I doubt the offer will be taken up.

The LTTE is being squashed these days. That's because of a well-thought out military strategy being executed very carefully without a rush. The LTTE is so desperate that they're preventing innocent people from leaving to government controlled areas where they can be taken care of.

Don't get me wrong- I've said before in my blog and will say it again: there is no military solution to a 2000+ year old racial conflict. We need a political solution involving true devolution of power to the different regions of Sri Lanka and all the military can do is create an environment where the government can indeed execute such a change. Does our government have the political strength to pull it off now? I honestly don't know .. but we have to give them a chance to do it by winning the military part. If they don't do it, I will be the first to vote against them at the next election.

Why is that important? Tell me, which country would tolerate an armed group having their own naval bases, their own air force, their own territory, their own police, courts, taxes and more? Would the US "sit and talk" to such a group if they were to do that within the US? Would India? Would Russia? Would UK? No of course not.

What cannot be tolerated is the existence of a separate area which is under LTTE control and where indeed many Tamil people live but they live under intense difficulties. For example, every Tamil family is forced to give one member of their family to the LTTE.

Is that what India's Tamil people want for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka? Of course not. This is a political game that is being played well by LTTE and Tamil Nadu politicians and the one that's standing to lose is Sri Lanka.

This is absolutely a war to liberate the Tamil people from the evil clutches of the LTTE - not an attempt to annihilate them!

We've had 25+ years of a terrible war. It has taken many many lives on both sides- and almost all of them young lives. Now we have an entire generation that has known nothing but war. We need to get past this in order to prevent our country from going more down the tubes.

We have real problems to solve which cannot be solved militarily. At the same time, we cannot solve them when there's one armed group that has appointed themselves the sole representatives of the Tamil people (because they kill off any other Tamil leaders who don't agree with their approach and solution). We need to solve it with a dialogue with all Tamil political parties, Muslim parties, Sinhalese parties and the MANY political parties that transcend race. LTTE will not allow that to happen - we've had enough failed attempts at talking to them. Now its time to destroy that beast once and for all and enter into a political solution to ensure that we will NEVER have another LTTE showing up again.

If you live in the US or EU or somewhere else you may think "ain't my problem". However, you'd be wrong. Read up a bit on the LTTE and you'll see that they're part of your problems too - terrorism is an international curse & disease and cannot be put down until everyone stops supporting it.

I hope the Indian central government will not budge and invade or threaten to invade Sri Lanka again like what they did in 1987 (with Operation Poomalai). Have you forgotten how those criminals whom you air dropped supplies for killed 1255 of your troops in Sri Lanka and then went on to kill your own ex-prime minister Rajiv Gandhi?

India, please, leave us alone.

Monday, October 6, 2008

HTTP content negotiation in Axis2

Keith Chapman has written a nice blog explaining how to set up and configure content negotiation support in Axis2.

I thought I will take the opportunity to explain some of Axis2's design so you understand how all of this works.

The way this works in Axis2 is with a pluggable message formatter concept. Basically, when a message hits the wire in Axis2, two key decisions need to be made: (a) what transport protocol to use (HTTP, SMTP, FTP, File, UDP, etc. etc. [yeah, I know .. calling HTTP a transport protocol is heresy]) and (b) how to format the message to bits on the wire.

The decision on how to format the message can be influenced via content negotiation. So if you send a message saying "hey I prefer JSON" (by sending an Accept: header with a JSON media type) then the runtime can look for a JSON formatter and if its available, then the response will be sent in JSON. If you say I want it in plain text, then again if such a formatter is available that's used. What parts of the internal message model is serialized into the wire is up to the message formatter to decide. If no preferred content information is available then the system figures out what it thinks is the right media type (typically based on the incoming media type) and uses the corresponding message formatter to write the bits.

Message reading happens in the exact opposite way in Axis2- you write a MessageBuilder which can "unformat" a media type and register that with the runtime. Then when a message comes its incoming media type is used to figure out who can read the message and create a canonical message in Axis2 represented in Axiom (as a SOAP Infoset).

The use of a the SOAP Infoset (aka an Axiom tree with s:Envelope as the outer element) as the internal message model has bothered some people. Two key things to remember: (1) this does not mean that every message is actually converted to an XML Infoset and (2) it does not mean the application or the wire message ever have to be SOAP aware or at all related to SOAP. Every runtime like Axis2 needs a canonical message representation and we've chosen the SOAP Infoset as the canonical message representation. No more, no less.

We avoid converting every message to even an XML Infoset by using Axiom's ability to provide an XML facade to any bit of data without actually making that facade real. Thus a message can come into Axis2 via Smooks say and can go out via another EDI message without ever being converted AT ALL into any XML representation. The bits can literally stay in the socket buffer and be streamed right out. That's key to achieving high performance. Apache Synapse (and WSO2 ESB, the open source ESBs built on Axis2, live on that capability to deliver incredible performance.

The beauty of this approach is that the message format decision and the transport protocol selection are totally orthogonal. What that means is that if you add say XMPP support, then instantly we can send/receive SOAP, JSON, plain text etc. etc. over XMPP with absolutely zero cost. Oh BTW Axis2 does have XMPP support already.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Paul on EDA based system integration

Paul has (as usual) written a great blog on applying EDA in a complex system integration scenario we've been dealing with recently. Read the comments too .. lots of good feedback.

FreeMind mind mapping tool

I've recently started using FreeMind and I have to say I absolutely love it. Its a great tool and it seems to have the good enough feature set .. so far no complaints!

I've long struggled with using PowerPoint (actually OpenOffice Impress .. but PPT is more a category statement!) to organize even presentations because of the strictly linear nature of the beast. I'm a big whiteboard fan because of the 2D environment it gives me to think with .. and still use a paper notebook for the same purpose when not in front of the whiteboard or when I need to get the results portable. I think FreeMind may be a good alternative to all of that - we'll see.

You may also want to check out this FreeMind demo video.

Monday, September 22, 2008

WSO2 Web site gets a refresh

Take a look .. we've re-done our site to better explain our now comprehensive SOA product platform.

When we started WSO2 more than 3 years ago, we started with a vision of building a series of products that enable SOA and we're nearly there .. now we have the core platform to cover all aspects of SOA. Still a few missing pieces and certainly lots of improvements left of course, but we are now ready to take on the likes of IBM, Oracle/BEA and more on being your SOA platform vendor! And none of these guys even support SOA in things other than Java .. but we do.

Stay tuned- you'll start seeing much more competive positioning from us in the coming months and beyond. Who can say no to better technology at a fraction of the cost??

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blog on describing REST with WSDL 2.0

Check out Keith's blog on how to describe this REST scenario (posted by none other than Stefan) using WSDL 2.0. He does an existential proof of it showing not only how to describe it with WSDL 2.0 but how to implement it using the WSO2 Mashup Server.

Stefan, are you still not convinced that WSDL 2.0 can describe any REST scenario properly? If not please post another challenge.

I'd also like to challenge REST fans to show how the implementation Keith did is materially different from say a Java implementation that uses JAX-RS (Java API for RESTful Web Services - JSR 311) annotations (or any other Java programming model that you want).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

War watching .. Web 2.0 style!

If you're interesting in keeping tabs on what's going on in Sri Lanka's war against terrorism, check out this interactive map ..

Thursday, September 4, 2008

REST-* begins to take shape

See: AtomPub Multipart Media Resource Creation! Basically how to do SwA or MTOM type stuff with Atom.

Ah Tim, better start printing these out so that you can count the pages when REST-* is all said and done.

Sigh. Its really too bad that we are now going to re-invent it all around Atom.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Its over the hump Tim .. give it a rest

Sigh. Tim Bray didn't get the memo: REST is now beyond the peak of the hype curve and is sliding down. Waay down.

Just because I can't resist: so Tim, REST does need tools now?? Funny how the world turns, eh? I thought you and the rest of the REST fanatics have argued violently saying how REST doesn't require tools, doesn't require WSDL or equivalent etc. etc.. I guess we will end up with REST-* before its all said and done with.

The other topic Tim touches on is how the world is now not all about Java. On that we agree .. except:
"Up until two years ago, if you were a serious programmer you wrote code in either Java or .Net,"
Er, dude, which planet have you been on? Two years?? PHP has been kicking Java's butt for 5+ years!!!

The multi-language boat sailed a LONG time ago and Sun (as usual, I should add) kept sticking its head in the sand waiting for it to blow over. Of course it didn't and it will not. Now that Sun has finally started recognizing that not everyone will love Java, I guess its time for the mouthpieces to speak up and try to spin it positively saying they did it at the right time. Sorry, you guys missed the boat. Badly.

In any case, Sun still doesn't get it. Neither does IBM. The JVM will not be the only runtime to run languages - while its cool to implement PHP like syntaxes on the JVM etc., you are going to have to learn to live in a world where not everything runs on the JVM and all of those crappy JSRs that have been done in the last 10+ years have absolutely no meaning. (In fact, most of the JSRs only apply to Java the language .. making them even more irrelevant).

Of course there are (and will be) some great languages on the JVM: Groovy, JRuby and more. However, even if JRuby performs better on the JVM than Ruby native (which is of course because the Ruby impl ain't great) that doesn't mean that that strategy will work for all. Seriously, try doing JErlang in that case.

The world is inherently heterogeneous, even in languages and language runtimes. There are 3 core platforms in existence today: C, JVM and .Net CLR. Every language runs on top of one of those. Sticking your head in the sand in only one of those will automatically limit the market you can address.

(Plug for Axis2 & WSO2.) This is exactly why when we started the Axis2 project back in August 2004, we intentionally stayed away from burning Java JSRs into the core of it. That's also why we explicitly made design decisions that could be realized in both Java and C. I actually always wanted to do a .Net version of Axis2 too, but never quite got around to it. The idea was to cover all the bases.

This is also why when we started WSO2 in August 2005 that we decided to invest heavily in building Axis2/C in addition to Axis2/Java. We now have coverage for Java, Javascript, Jython, Groovy, Grails, Spring, C, C++, PHP, Perl, Ruby. Python is coming and Erlang too hopefully soon.

Oh yeah we support both WS-* and RESTful services. However, they won't meet the RESTafarian fanatics like Tim Bray's coolaid drunkenness level of REST .. but if you want to do pragmatic work with services and support either or both of WS-* and REST then take a look at Apache Axis2 (Java & C), WSO2 WSAS, WSO2 Mashup Server, WSO2 WSF/{C,C++,PHP,Perl} etc...

How to handle SOA vendor consolidation

Paul Krill over at InfoWorld has written a great story on SOA vendor consolidation. He notes how even the mighty IBM has to deal with WSO2 because of open standards based interoperability that is inherent in SOA scenarios.

Later he lists the major SOA vendors .. and its great to see WSO2 listed there - and the only open source one to boot.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Response to "Microsoft at OSCON"

Zack Urlocker has written a blog on his OpenSource blog at InfoWorld about Microsoft's participation at OSCON. Please read that first.

I started writing this as a comment on his blog but it was getting a bit too long .. so I thought I'll blog it directly:

Zack, conventional wisdom seems to be that Microsoft must do open source by releasing the source code for one of their cash cows. If you're a shareholder of MSFT, does that make sense at all?? They're making $60B an year and we expect them to open source any of that? No way.

Take IBM. We all give IBM a lot of credit for being a "good" open source player right?? Hmmmm. Really? Which product of theirs is open source? Compare with MSFT: Windows == mainframe (totally proprietary). Office == WebSphere family (totally proprietary) etc. etc.. Not a single major product of IBM's is open source. (I don't consider WebSphere Community Edition aka Apache Geronimo a serious play.) Should IBM open source DB2 or WebSphere or any of their other market successful products?? Hell no. Why should they; certainly their share holders aren't calling for it!

The way Microsoft can and should do open source is by (a) interoperating with open source stuff and enabling open source to run well on/with their products, and (b) by using open source to expand the markets they play in.

We (WSO2) are working with them closely on (a). For example, right now we have a joint booth with them at OSCON demonstrating WS-* interop between .Net, Java, PHP, Ruby, Perl and Spring. (Please do drop by and take a look!) In May we were part of a keynote speech by Bob Muglia (MSFT SVP Server & Tools) at TechEd ITPro where we showed an earlier version of that demo. That's the first time an open source company was part of a major MSFT keynote.

I'm not here to defend MSFT. Yes, they have DEFINITELY done all kinds of things to try to destroy the open source movement. IBM, on the other hand, has indeed helped in NUMEROUS ways with helping open source (esp. in market/technology segments where they were not players .. they're VERY smart). However, I think the conventional wisdom that MSFT can do more with/for open source only by "showing me the code" is wrong.

That's where (b) comes into play. The way I see MSFT entering open source is by buying one or more open source companies and entering into market segments they do not play in now. When? Who knows. Who? Who knows. Obvious candidates go from Redhat to Novell to Spring to a bunch of others. Why should they enter spaces they are not in right now? Because the enterprise space is inherently and permanently heterogeneous and if you want to eat bigger and bigger chunks of that market, the only way to do that is to play in multiple segments of that market. You will not succeed by trying to get Java developers to convert to .Net. Nor PHP ones. Nor mainframe ones.

There certainly could be a (c): open source one or more of their products. However, as anyone who has tried to open source a closed source products knows, it is REALLY difficult to make such an open source project succeed. First of all, getting legal clearance and scrubbing the code takes a long time (for example, someone told me that Sun decided to open source Solaris 5 years before they were finally able to do it .. no idea whether its true). Second, open source code is naturally modularized and better documented because there are geographically and temporally separated contributors from day 1 who communicate to each other thru such module boundaries. What that means is that it is VERY difficult to form a community around a complex piece of software because no one can easily "carve out a corner for themselves". Even building such complex software is hard and may require resources that a typical developer notebook can't deliver.

So even if the MSFT business were to decide that (c) made sense (and I really don't see why yet), the practical reality of getting the code out and making it work as a true community effort is going to be so hard that in the end they'd be holding a lemon of an open source project.

Thus, to me, the current MSFT strategy of doing (a) makes perfect sense. (b) will come when the time is right. Whoever will get bought out first will be making history.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Microsoft didn't invent SOAP!

Wow! Here I've been thinking for nearly the last 10 years that Microsoft invented SOAP. Duh.

Not only that, SOAP, it turns out, was not invented in 1999. It was actually first invented in 1953. (I'm of course not talking about soap, in which case the invention date is a few years prior to that ;-).)

I was searching for lists of programming languages to give to my programming languages class students to do papers on and I found that the IBM 650 assembly language was called Symbolic Optimal Assembly Program ... or SOAP!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Connectivity technology confluence: GSM, 3G, Wifi, IP

Sometime ago I bought a Blackberry Curve 8320 from T-Mobile in the US. I needed to have a US phone number with me but at the same time I hate to pay the $3-4/minute roaming rates that T-Mobile (and everyone else) charges when I'm out of the US. In addition the Wifi support, this particular model has a feature called UMA - Unlicensed Mobile Access - basically it allows the cellular call to be routed via the Wifi connection over the Internet. That basically means that I can have a US number at home and in my office in Sri Lanka and pay nothing extra for the call. (In fact the call is actually free - its part of a flat rate service you buy from T-Mobile.)

Anyway, right now I'm in a location where there's no 3G. However, my wife has a 3G connection from Mobitel using a Huawei E220 HSDPA USB modem that's connected to her laptop. I also have a pocket router (a D-Link DWL-G730AP) I always carry around with me. She also runs Ubuntu on her machine - so I set up her machine to do IP forwarding between the 3G connection (which is a USB device) and the wired ethernet connection to the router. So we have our own little wifi hotspot .. my laptop (from which I'm writing this blog) is connected via the wifi router thru her machine via 3G to the Internet.

Ok that bit is easy. The cool thing is my cell phone also is now connected thru that .. that means right now if someone calls my US cell phone number, its going thru that person's network (cellular or otherwise), to T-Mobile and then over the Internet via Mobitel's IP network via 3G to my wife's laptop then over wired ethernet to my router and then wirelessly to my cell phone. In the process the packets would've survived 2 levels of NATing (once by my router, once by the laptop).

Not bad, eh?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

21st anniversary of LTTE's suicide bombings

Interestingly Sunday July 6th marked the 21st anniversary of LTTE's suicide bombings. They've of course mastered and executed them to perfection since then (including first using a female suicide bomber to kill ex Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and also using a pregnant woman once) and its now a part of their normal repertoire of terror techniques.

Interesting article on Wikipedia on the topic too (of course).

BTW if you're interesting in keeping an eye on what's going on in Sri Lanka on the war front, seems to give a good even-handed view of things. If you want the different sides check out (note the proper English spelling of defence ;-)) and

Monday, July 7, 2008


I finally signed up to Twitter .. better late then never eh?

If you're interested in my tweets then see


Yeah, no other word to describe it really .. that was just an utter thrashing. Yes I'm of course talking about Sri Lanka winning the Cricket Asia Cup in Karachi last nite!

Sorry India (and all my Indian friends ;-)); I wish I could say better luck next time but its unfortunately not going to be the case .. now that we've just found Murali 2.0 in Ajantha Mendis (esp. when you count the two wickets he wasn't given .. including an incredible hat trick, which too wasn't given!) and also gotten Sanath some Lasik so he can see the ball again.

Look out Australia; shoving balls in your gloves won't be enough to save you in 2011!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Katie Poplin joins WSO2 as Director of Marketing

Its my pleasure to announce that Katie Poplin joined us recently as Director of Marketing. Katie comes to WSO2 most recently from XAware and prior to that she spent nearly four and a half years at JBoss and then RedHat.

Being an early JBoss person she gained a tremendous amount of experience in building a marketing machine that rocketted JBoss to the top. Now she's going to help WSO2 do the same .. and beat JBoss/Redhat, of course ;-).

We've been quietly building an incredible leadership team in WSO2. Combined with our incredible engineering team and of course our superb globally distributed operational model, we're building a company that's here for the long term and can be the winner of the marathon. We're now 75+ strong and growing .. slowly and steadily.

Katie's the key driver of probably the most important component for us at this stage: marketing. Yeah, we've gone for nearly 3 years now with no marketing!

Needless to say we're thrilled to have Katie on board and are looking forward to the exhilarating ride ahead!

Org chart with Open Office?

Does anyone know of a good way to do an org chart using Open Office? Impress really sucks compared to PowerPoint :(.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Great intro to OpenID

Oshani Seneviratne, an ex-WSO2 intern, currently a Ph.D. student at MIT working with Tim Berners-Lee, has pointed to Prabath's great intro to OpenID.

Very cool talk indeed; if you want to learn what OpenID is this is a great set of slides to walk through.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Trying Ubuntu for Windows users

One of the really cool features of the latest Ubuntu release (8.04 .. Hardy Heron .. the one that came out in April) is that if you're a Windows user, you can stick the CD into a booted Windows machine and they say "install". When you do that, it ends up installing Ubuntu as a "program" under add/remove programs and it gets added to the Windows boot manager. When the system boots up you can default boot to Windows or boot into the installed Ubuntu image. If you don't like it then you can go to Windows Add/Remove programs and just "uninstall ubuntu".

That's an absolutely incredible way to try Ubuntu and give it a whirl without nearly ANY effort. No longer do you need to let grub take over and have Windows be secondary to Linux - you can be a Windows user but just have Ubuntu almost as an "application" in Windows.

There's of course the choice of using VMWare or something like that to run Ubuntu but this is a much nicer way.

You're a Windows user and haven't tried Ubuntu yet? No excuse for not trying it any more! Doesn't mean you need to switch .. just try it and see what you like and don't like about it. Who knows there may be apps there that you like to use. If you've got kids you may love the plethora of educational games that are available freely for Ubuntu. If you don't find it useful simply go to Add/Remove Programs and yank it!

Going beyond passwords ....

Jonathan has written an interesting blog about going beyond passwords. I should note that WSO2 recently joined both the OpenID Foundation and the recently formed Information Card Foundation.

We of course have (the only 100% open source?) complete offering (relying party code, issuers and everything) that supports both OpenID and Cardspace: the WSO2 Identity Solution.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yawn. Um. Oh yeah .. Progress bought Iona

Iona had revenue of nearly $78m last year. Yesterday they were sold for $106m net cash. Wow. WOW. If that's not a fire sale I don't know what is! I guess SoftwareAG publicly dissing Iona really hurt.

Iona has of course been dabbling with open source for a while - starting with Celtix which they took to ObjectWeb and then Apache CXF (marrying (the by then failed) Celtix with XFire) and of course then went on to buy the assets of LogicBlaze. They also bought C24 somewhere along the line and ended up with four ESBs. Customer choice eh?

Now Progress has got what Sonic claims is the mother of all ESBs (SonicESB) and all of Iona's ESBs and of course have two JMS engines too - SonicMQ and ActiveMQ. [To be fair, ActiveMQ is an Apache project, so they don't "own" it in any way .. they just have the lead contributors to that project as their employees.]

Damn, customer choice again .. except just more. Much more :-).

Market consolidation is a good thing .. so hopefully this'll mean that they'll get their act together and have a more cohesive story for their SOA platform and achieve technology consolidation too; I'm sure their customers would really appreciate that. In the mean time, I can recommend the WSO2 products to people looking for clean and simple SOA technology. Yeah, I'm kinda biased ;-).

What will this do the open source projects that Iona used to contribute heavily to in Apache (Apache CXF, Apache ServiceMix, Apache ActiveMQ etc.)? Well, even if Progress decides to defy progress and not go open source (which is my expectation), that's where the beauty of Apache comes in - the maniacal focus on community diversity will mean that even if Progress decides to cut of their own participation in these projects, the projects will live on. Plus, the actual individuals who contribute to Apache projects build their own personal brand around those projects - that will not go away because their employer changes their mind (we have a bunch of people who've left WSO2 to go to grad school and they all continue to contribute to the projects). Plus such great people always have other places they can work at. Hint hint.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Learn about WSO2 ESB 1.7

We recently released version 1.7 of our ultra-high performance enterprise service bus: WSO2 ESB. If you'd like to learn a bit more about it you might want to consider attending one of the upcoming webinars on it.

MuleSource giving up on open source?

(I posted this a minute ago by editing a draft I started in April but never finished and Blogger posted it with an April date! Wow that's a bug. So re-posting.)

In April MuleSource announced that they were splitting the Mule ESB into a community edition and an enterprise edition.

Apparently the enterprise edition also has features that are available only in that version, plus the only version customers can buy support for is the enterprise edition. It also appears that the license requires you to uninstall the enterprise edition if you ever stop paying for it .. and rumor has it that the software will actually stop working if you don't continue to pay for it. Wow. WOW.

I guess what this is saying is that MuleSource is having trouble monetizing the more than million downloads they claim.

However, I'm surprised, no, shocked. Larry Augustin (who happens to be an advisor to MuleSource and also WSO2) gave a very interesting talk at the last OSBC about how to make it less difficult for customers to pay. One of his main points was about avoiding a rip-n-replace approach when getting customers to pay.

Today if you want to try Mule then you go and download their free community edition. But then if you want to buy support for it, then you have to get new bits and switch over! And of course if you ever decide to stop paying, then you have to drop back to the community edition, which has some missing features. Vendor lock-in for sure.

This is the opposite of "make it easy to pay" that Larry was advocating at OSBC.

Forcing people to pay by legal means is the hallmark of proprietary software. Open source vendors need to find a way to deliver sufficient value to customers to make them want to pay .. apparently MuleSource has failed at that and is going back to the license to force people to pay. In other words, giving up on open source.

Summary: If you want a really open source ESB then don't look at Mule any more! Ah yes, we've got one .. and BTW its the fastest around :-).

(Oh yeah, we ran into Mule's non-open source nature head-on when doing the performance analysis .. it turns out that the enterprise edition license does not allow us to publish performance numbers against it! We're familiar with that with BEA AquaLogic etc., but never expected that from Mule. Oh BTW that's a field of use restriction, which violates the Open Source Definition (item #6) .. so really, Mule is effectively no longer available under an OSI approved license and hence not at all open source.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

WSO2's Mountain View office neighbors

TechCrunch had this story of how CrunchBase now shows you the locations of companies on a map and who else is nearby etc.. Check out our neighbors in Mountain View!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Governance models for countries

Not sure how I came to thinking about this this topic morning (its early Saturday morning here in Sri Lanka) but I think the governance model that Norway has is quite interesting as a way to execute democracy.

Several years ago, on a flight back from London, I met Vidar Helegesen, the then Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway. He was then working towards establishing a peace deal between Sri Lanka and the LTTE, the terrorist group operating in Sri Lanka. Yes, he did manage to get a cease fire agreement in place but unfortunately no permanent deal was sorted out and of course we're back at war. But that's not the point of this blog entry!

Vidar was a very impressive guy. Upon chatting with him I was surprised to hear that he was not elected but rather appointed. The amazing thing was that not only the deputy ministers but also the minsters were actually professionals who were appointed to do the job! He himself was a lawyer who had done various international things before that and then became appointed as deputy foreign minister. Most people who take up these positions do not do it for ever- they take the job, finish it and go do other things later.

I think the Norwegian governance model may be the only really good way to execute democracy.

In the Norwegian govenance model, the people (basically, the shareholders of the country) elect a parliament (basically, a board). Getting elected to parliament doesn't mean you know how to execute foreign policy, build better roads or run the health system - it means you are responsible to the people to set policies that they want. So the parliament (board) goes out and hires a set of set of hired guns to do the actual execution (basically, a management team).

So in effect these professionals are the management team of the company called the "government" which is overseen by the board called the "parliament". If the execs don't do their job, the board can fire the CEO or whoever and appoint a new team.

Why do I like this model? First of all, the management team has continual accountability. In the normal democratic model where a politician takes over execution, they often screw it up because while they may be able to orate their way into getting elected, those skills don't get them through setting up and running large scale organizations. So what happens is that they can run amok for some number of years until its time for another election. Then they dust off their oratory skills and talk their way back into power. As a result, the only thing the politicians care about is doing just enough to win the next election and not things that are designed for true long term growth. Sri Lanka has had this nonsensical system for 60+ years and, frankly, that's what has got us the mess that we're in today. (Local optimization decisions which isolated the Tamil minority to the point of giving birth to a strong terrorist movement.)

Of course publicly traded companies have a similar illness in the maniacal focus the market places on quarterly results. The problem of course is that focusing on quarterly results is like local optimization - and any person who's done a bit of numerical analysis can tell you that that's not the way to get to the globally optimal solution. What is the globally optimal solution for a country? A strategy which moves the country forward on a national scale on a long term basis. With the traditional democractic model (as practiced in many countries) the politicians who become the executive team of the country simply have no incentive to work towards global optimization.

Of course I'm generalizing and there are some really great politicians who've been far thinking and done the right thing. And I also agree that politicans get a bum rap - most defects in a country can be traced to failure by the professionals in the country to stand up and challenge political nonsense. Most certainly in Sri Lanka I blame the administrative service of the country too. On the other hand, they too are not incentivized properly because they are not compensated based on performance. They are basically tenured employees who have no motivation to do better - just hang around. Only those who have personal passion to excel do so - any given any large group of people only a few have such passion .. other need to be motivated and managed.

The US system is a somewhat interesting mix of the Norwegian system and say what's practiced in Sri Lanka or UK. When the president wins an election he or she appoints essentially the entire management team for the country. However, given the way the US government has managed to destroy its global position due to short term neo-conservative objectives (and stupidity), its clear that their system isn't optimizing globally nor humming along like a well-tuned engine either.

The problem in the US system IMO is that the president is elected and hence heavily partisan. As such the management team he brings in is brought in with the objective to help the president win another election or his party win another election. Um, who watches out for the best long term interests of the country? Not these guys!

I think the ideal governance model has a professional management team who are properly incentivized to deliver long term results .. which can only be done by giving them "options" in the stock of the country and then holding them accountable to deliver results. Their performance is reviewed regularly by the board and of course the policies they must execute to are decided upon by the board. If they don't perform, the board can fire the whole team or whoever they want and reset.

I'm no expert in governance models or the Norwegian system or the US system. However, I do happen to think the democratic system we have here in Sri Lanka has failed the country and its shareholders (the people) miserably and in fact that democracy in that form is fundamentally broken.

Plus this is my blog and I can write whatever stupid idea that comes to my head early morning :).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

WSO2 interoperability demo with Microsoft at TechEd 2008

Earlier today WSO2's Jonathan Marsh, Director of Mashup Technologies, was on stage with Microsoft's Greg Leek, Director of Connected Systems Division during Bob Muglia's keynote at TechEd IT 2008, to demonstrate how interoperability is real between some of WSO2's open source technologies (WSF/PHP and WSO2 WSAS) and Microsoft's WCF. This was done by demonstrating plug-n-play between different implementations of pieces of the Stock Trader interop application, originally defined by IBM.

You can watch the keynote here.

For us in WSO2, interoperability is everything. The main value of XML, the Web and Web services comes from being able to interoperate seamlessly between different systems. Web services is in fact the first ever platform that ALL vendors have agreed to as a single common platform for interoperability. Yes of course there are lots of minor and (some) major quibbles, but for the first time Web services have achieved what no other integration technology (CORBA, J2EE, DCE etc.) was able to achieve: get the entire computing industry to agree to a single set of integration protocols.

While the standards process for Web services is now nearly over, the real problem of ensuring that everyone's bits work with everyone else's bits is still not done. What happened with this demonstration was that WSO2, the leading open source SOA vendor and the brains and brauns behind many of Apache's Web services projects, and Microsoft, the leader in defining the Web services platform, got together to show that this stuff really does work :-).

Are we done? Far from it. It took many many years of hard work before every TCP implementation interoperated with every other implementation. There's no doubt that it will take more time and effort to get every single implementation to interoperate seamlessly. However, this is a great start as the leader in open source Web services and the originator of Web services demonstrate that things really do work.

If you'd like to download the actual bits and give it a whirl, visit WSO2 Oxygen Tank and MSDN.

WSO2 on SD Times 100 list!

Not only are we a cool company with a hot CTO, we're now on the SD Times 100 list!

Congratulations to the entire WSO2 team!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Happy user of WSO2 WSAS Data Services: "It just works"

Tobias Mueller writes:
In a current project I'm working with a commercial highend ESB. In the project I have to connect the ESB to a simple database. It turned out, that the JDBC Adapter is not included in the ESB (No comment on this). First I wanted to write a little Java program and throw it on a tomcat. But then I remembered an article about WSO2 WSAS on developerworks. I decided to give it a try and this just works. If you ever have to publish data from a RDBMS, CSV or Excelsheet as a Webservice I can highly recommend WSO2 WSAS
(Bold facing is mine.)

Ahh .. yet another satisfied user :). Thanks Tobias for the positive mention!

Want to try it out? Go download WSO2 WSAS and check out data services!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Paul is a Top 25 CTO!

First WSO2 gets called "cool" by Gartner .. and now our co-founder and CTO Paul Fremantle has been named as one of InfoWorld's Top 25 CTOs of 2008!

This is superb recognition of Paul's brilliance and vision. It is undoubtedly well deserved and I'm personally honored to be associated with Paul!

Congratulations Paul!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Paul on open source and open standards

Paul has recently written two very interesting blogs about open source and open standards: Why open standards and interoperability are subtly different and Open Source versus Open Standards.

A related thing is the "Open Source Requirement for Open Source", which I was part of pushing to finalize when I was on the OSI Board. Unfortunately that never got finished and I haven't had the time & energy to try to get convergence and finalize it. However, I still strongly believe those requirements and push for them in whatever standards activities I'm involved in. Interestingly, I believe this fits nicely with Paul's thoughts.

Monday, May 12, 2008

GSoC: Univ. of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on top of the world!

Wow; this is amazing: Apparently University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka had the most number of Google Summer of Code applicants and accepted proposals this year!

That's awesome! I'm proud to be associated with Univ. of Moratuwa (I teach part time in the Computer Science and Engineering department) and a large percentage of our superb WSO2 engineering team are from there.

Congratulations to everyone at University of Moratuwa, especially to Ms. Vishaka Nanayakkara, Head of Computer Science and Engineering, for her tireless efforts to get students to participate in GSoC and other similar activities and to her incredible passion towards developing the program and the students. Not all applicants are from CSE of course but I believe a large percentage are.

Mashing up tweets live using WSO2 Mashup Server

Tyrell Perera, one of the WSO2 mashuppers, felt challenged upon seeing to see how long it'd take for him to create a similar thing using the WSO2 Mashup Server, the only 100% open source mashup server in town.

Apparently after 5-6 hours he ended up with this! WOW. Not bad at all :).

Want to learn how to do stuff like that? Attend Jonathan's upcoming webinar on the mashup server. Of course you can just download the mashup server, take the code for Tyrell's mashup and go to town without waiting too!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sri Lankan CS PhD graduate: Tharaka Devaditya

Ever since I returned home to Sri Lanka in 2001 I've been actively trying to get top local students to go out for grad school (primarily in the US as I'm convinced its the best place for CS graduate work). Many brilliant local graduates end up as programmers (working on off-shored 2nd classs work to moot) and never get the opportunity to have greater impact in the world.

To me, going to grad school and getting that extra nudge is crucial to really get ahead and be able to better compete in an amazingly competitive world. That was my formula .. so I'm trying hard to get others to have the same advantage and opportunity I had. Its incredible to me how people are not aware of the process of going to grad school in the US .. especially the idea that it is possible to get funding and hence to be able to go to grad school without "being rich."

The first person I helped get to grad school, Tharaka Devaditya, recently completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Indiana University. Here's what he worked on:

Title: A Graph Based Cache System for Efficient Querying in Distributed Triplestores
Predefining structures for data preclude the ability to describe certain details effectively, as data is dynamically structured by nature and can be highly diverse and multifaceted. Conventional datastores, such as relational databases, do not conveniently accommodate dynamically varying structures, as frequently modifying database schemas is not feasible. Although, XML databases have been proposed as suitable for such dynamic structured data, these databases suffer from update anomalies. RDF triplestores offer a flexible solution for handling such data, where any property about an entity can be described by a triple consisting of a subject, a predicate, and an object. Data is inherently distributed due to origination points, ownership, and many other reasons.
In this dissertation, we develop a distributed triplestore while investigating different approaches for improving the efficiency of query processing. We implement several index structures at a Mediator where each index structure helps to minimize unproductive communications. We show how the addition of each index structure reduces the query response time. We make use of graph-based caches at the Mediator and at individual triplestores to store triples that correspond to the most frequent set of queries. The Mediator cache enables the Mediator to respond to certain queries, while the triplestore caches avoid the need to perform joins between partial results from different triplestores. Sub-graph isomorphism is used to determine whether a cache has sufficient triples to answer a given query. We show how these caches significantly improve querying efficiency.
Dr. Devaditya is going to be working for Microsoft in Redmond, WA in the Live Search group. CONGRATULTIONS and good luck to you in your career!


By August this year there will be nearly 20 other Sri Lankan grad students in the pipeline working on PhDs in the US. (This is only people I know of who've gone from here .. there are a lot more overall Sri Lankan students doing CS PhDs for sure.) As people graduate and go on to bigger and better things in life I'll try to keep track of them in my blog, at least past their first job :).

The only request I have of them is to never forget their home country and to always do what you can to help. It is no longer necessary to be physically in Sri Lanka to do anything (really) .. so its not even necessary to "return home" to become a key contributor to Sri Lanka's future. If your plans land you back here, awesome, but that's not an excuse for forgetting your roots and not figuring out ways to help! :-)

Friday, May 2, 2008

WSO2 - awards and coolness increasing!

WSO2 WSAS, our productized enterprise-ready version of Apache Axis2, recently won a Gold award from for its data services functionality!

As if that wasn't enough, Gartner is now reporting that we're officially cool! Yep, their report "Cool Vendors in Web Technologies, 2008" (pay/subscription) lists us as one of the cool 5. Their preferred product: WSO2 Mashup Server .. for its positioning of server-side JavaScript.

Very cool indeed!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Azeez's blog .. WSAS and EC2 and more

Akham Azeez, the architect and product manager of WSO2 WSAS (our productized version of Apache Axis2), is blogging about various WSAS, Axis2 and other things. The most interesting thing will likely be his on-going work into making WSAS scale automatically on Amazon EC2. If you're interested in that type of stuff subscribe to Azeez's blog!

Jonathan's interview @ Mashup Camp

Jonathan was at the Mashup Camp a bit ago and was interviewed by TechWeb TV. Take a look; great way to understand how we think about the WSO2 Mashup Server!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Shell scripts as Web services??

OK this is going to seem a bit weird, but yes, there's now a deployer that makes it possible to take a bash script and make it into a Web service. Sumedha Rubasinghe, Mr. Data Services in WSO2, has been having fun making this work in WSO2 WSAS. His blog says that the Windows port isn't still working but its possible (and may be on the way). This is all early code- if you find it useful and interesting, let Sumedha know and help get it right!

Very cool .. goes to show how easy it is to embed and extend Apache Axis2.

Upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04

Over the weekend I upgraded my laptop (Dell D820) to the Ubuntu release that came out a few days ago, Ubuntu 8.04. Rather than doing a dist upgrade or using Synaptic, I decided to reinstall without eating my /opt and /home partitions.

I had some initial trouble with the CD - it seems that burning the image at "auto" speed (which presumably defaults to as fast as it can) doesn't work. The installation gets just over a third of the way through and then it dies with an IO error. It does however suggest trying to burn the CD at a lower speed- so I burnt another CD (on another machine; mine was no longer booting as part of /boot and / were gone) at 4x and it worked like a charm.

Most of the stuff works out of the box - the microphone which didn't work with the older version (I stayed at last April's Fiesty Fawn release and didn't upgrade in October) is working now. However, sound controls, which worked with the LiveCD boot are not working with the installation. So there are some issues yet, but boy, I have to say this OS is getting more and more slick.

I think I could give this to my parents now and they'd be ok using it and even installing it without help. Some stuff is still not quite there (I haven't tried yet but I'm not expecting video conf stuff to work well yet for example), Thunderbird doesn't deal with Exchange invites properly yet etc. etc., but things are getting better for sure.

Update (April 28th): I tested the new version of Skype and audio and video worked without a hitch as well! Awesome .. I stand corrected :).

When I put the Ubuntu CD on a Windows Vista box at home it gave an option to install within Windows .. and basically instead of Grub it uses the Windows boot loader and installed Ubuntu in a directory in Windows without having to partition the machine. That is seriously cool.

Now Edubuntu (the Ubuntu distro which is targeted to the k-12 education community) comes as an add-on for Ubuntu. We haven't got that working on the Vista set up yet but hopefully later today.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

MuleSource giving up on open source?

In April MuleSource announced that they were splitting the Mule ESB into a community edition and an enterprise edition.

Apparently the enterprise edition also has features that are available only in that version, plus the only version customers can buy support for is the enterprise edition. It also appears that the license requires you to uninstall the enterprise edition if you ever stop paying for it .. and rumor has it that the software will actually stop working if you don't continue to pay for it. Wow. WOW.

I guess what this is saying is that MuleSource is having trouble monetizing the more than million downloads they claim.

However, I'm surprised, no, shocked. Larry Augustin (who happens to be an advisor to MuleSource and also WSO2) gave a very interesting talk at the last OSBC about how to make it less difficult for customers to pay. One of his main points was about avoiding a rip-n-replace approach when getting customers to pay.

Today if you want to try Mule then you go and download their free community edition. But then if you want to buy support for it, then you have to get new bits and switch over! And of course if you ever decide to stop paying, then you have to drop back to the community edition, which has some missing features. Vendor lock-in for sure.

This is the opposite of "make it easy to pay" that Larry was advocating at OSBC.

Forcing people to pay by legal means is the hallmark of proprietary software. Open source vendors need to find a way to deliver sufficient value to customers to make them want to pay .. apparently MuleSource has failed at that and is going back to the license to force people to pay. In other words, giving up on open source.

Summary: If you want a really open source ESB then don't look at Mule any more! Ah yes, we've got one .. and BTW its the fastest around :-).

(Oh yeah, we ran into Mule's non-open source nature head-on when doing the performance analysis .. it turns out that the enterprise edition license does not allow us to publish performance numbers against it! We're familiar with that with BEA AquaLogic etc., but never expected that from Mule. Oh BTW that's a field of use restriction, which violates the Open Source Definition (item #6) .. so really, Mule is effectively no longer available under an OSI approved license and hence not at all open source.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Daniel Brum blogging

If you want to learn about the challenges of doing technical sales in a true open source company (and about other stuff that interests Daniel) subscribe to Daniel's blog:

WSO2 as a company aims to not only deliver superb software, but also innovate in how we offer support, how we respond to support requests, how we deal with leads and customers, how we do internal processes and more. Part of that is going to be that people doing this stuff will blog about their experiences and challenges. So if you want to hear more about the trenches of an open source company better keep an eye on these blogs.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Paul becomes CTO of WSO2

Paul Fremantle, co-founder of WSO2, recently took over as our Chief Technical Officer, CTO. That's a role that he and I jointly played (virtually) since inception - but now with Daniel joining us for technical sales and with us beefing up our business team (more on that soon), Paul will make CTO his full-time role.

Paul's a great technical visionary and I'm thrilled to have him be our technical spokesperson as well as provide the guidance to the entire company on technology strategy and direction. I've worked with Paul now for nearly 10 years (since 1998 when he started writing an IBM Redbook about XML and XSLT and I had worked on integrating XSLT to JSP pages via BSF) and I have complete trust in his vision and judgement!

If you're not subscribed to Paul's blog then its a good time to start as he'll be doing a lot more blogging soon!

Daniel Brum (ex-MuleSource) joins WSO2

Its my pleasure to announce that Daniel Brum, most recently of MuleSource and of JBoss ESB team prior to that, has joined us as Director of Technical Sales.

Daniel brings a ton of really relevant experience (needless to say :-)) and will be helping us hone our technical sales messaging and help close customers. We're of course much bigger than an ESB company and Daniel will be helping with technical sales of our entire product platform.

We're thrilled to have him on board!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Google's evilness increasing

Argh!! Don't hijack my 404 pages!

Now Google "remembers" all of your searches too if you happened to have told the browser to remember your Google login for GMail or Blogger or any of their other services.

Nice and useful? Yes, but remember who else has access to your search history ..

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Terrorism: At its worst in Sri Lanka

February 4th 2008 marked 60 years of independence from Britain. The government of Sri Lanka organized the usual military parades under very tight security as it was expected that LTTE would try to do something really bad.

Well, they marked the independence day too - with a series of bombings all over the country. The worst was a suicide bombing at the Colombo Fort railway station (the central station in Colombo). A female suicide bomber blew herself up killing 14 people and injuring more than 100 others. Amongst the dead: 7 school children from D. S. Senanayake M.V., a major boys school in Colombo. (My mother used to teach there many years ago.) The boys were all members of the school baseball team - they were returning home from a game in Kandy. Half the team had come back the day before- but these boys had stayed back to visit some of the historical sites in Kandy. Little did they know what was waiting for them in Colombo. Also dead is an old-boy of the school, one of the coaches of the team. Oh BTW, amongst the dead, an 18 year old Tamil boy. Yes, a member of the community that the bastard LTTE terrorists claim they're fighting for. TV in Sri Lanka had shown the 7 caskets lying in the school auditorium - I cannot imagine what that must have been like (I'm traveling right now and so wasn't there to see it). In addition to these 7 school boys, two more 12 year old school girls were also brutally murdered by that female suicide bomber.

As part of the independence day celebrations LTTE also blew up a bus at the Dambulla bus depot - a bus full of buddhist pilgrims going to a ceremony in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka's nearly 2000-year old first capital city.

They went on to attack another bus with a claymore mine in Weli-Oya.

Rumour is ripe in Sri Lanka that LTTE has committed to making a "1000 mothers weep" .. killing children of 1000 mothers. The government has closed all schools in the Colombo area for this entire week as a precaution - the threat is real. Why only Colombo schools? LTTE is doing this to get attention and to try to provoke the population .. best way to do that is in Colombo.

So this is what terrorism is about. I hope this helps all those people who think that the LTTE are "freedom fighters" understand what these maniacs are like. There's no place on this earth for LTTE's leadership; they belong six feet under it.

Would any other country allow a group of terrorists to hold territory, have a navy and have an airforce? Yes, LTTE has all that. However, Sri Lanka has always been dinged by various countries when we try to destroy the terrorist movement in Sri Lanka.

Example: The US invaded two countries to destroy terrorists that attacked them, but when we fight back and say "enough is enough; no more ceasefire bullshit- you are now dead" what do we get? They cut off aid to Sri Lanka. Yes, we were taken off the Millennium Challenge opportunity - of $11m. THANK YOU Senator Leahy. Rather, up yours, Senator Leahy. (And maybe I should ask- how much money did LTTE lobbyists give your PAC?) You want to talk about human rights? Come to Sri Lanka and talk to that Tamil mother who's son was killed by that suicidal maniac.

Ever heard the statement "those in glass houses should not throw stones" Mr. Leahy? Your country circumvented the Geneva Convention and you want to tell us about protecting human rights?

Tell me Mr. Lahey, how far would your country go if there was a group of maniacal terrorists holding a part of your country, having their own navy, their suicide squads, their own airforce and their own gun running ships? You think you guys would be showing "human rights" to them??

That's ok. You can keep your $11m and spend it in Iraq, where you really need about another $11000B to cleanse it of all "enemy combatants." We'll survive. We have elephants in Sri Lanka - and there's another saying you should keep in mind: "elephants never forget."

Oh yeah, its not only the US who's doing this- Japan is threatening us with cutting aid too if we don't stop fighting these maniacs and start talking to them. Japan- the very country that one of our leaders spoke loudly in support of at the San Francisco Conference in 1945 to help them get back on their feet. Come on Mr. Akashi, drink some saki and think again about what you're doing.

The last time we almost eliminated the LTTE was in 1987. Then Indian Air Force planes came and air dropped supplies to the LTTE (which they nurtured with financial and military support in the 80s) and basically threatened Sri Lanka with invasion if we didn't stop. Then the Indians came to Sri Lanka as peace keepers and after a while left licking their wounds - LTTE killed more than 1500 Indian troops in Sri Lanka. India is now a true friend - they now help us and, probably most importantly, are not getting in the way.

The Sri Lankan government has said unequivocally that the time for talking with the LTTE is over. We can start talking again after its maniacal leader Prabhakaran is dead. Its really sad that LTTE foot soldiers are being killed regularly in the process - they are really Sri Lankan citizens who have been mislead by this bastard. Unfortunately we haven't yet been lucky to get Prabhakaran - but sleep lightly bastard, your days are numbered. Maybe you should start counting in hours.

As I blogged earlier, killing off the LTTE does not solve the underlying problems in Sri Lanka which lead to terrorism raising its ugly head in Sri Lanka. However, we CANNOT solve those as long as there's one group that has appointed themselves the "sole representative of the Tamil people" and kills off all non-compliant Tamil leaders. Sorry; you guys just need to go away from the face of this earth- then let's talk and figure out a way forward.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Microsoft buys open source company

Microsoft has just bought their first true open source business! No, not WSO2 :-).


Assuming the Yahoo! deal goes through, MSFT will be the proud owner of Zimbra .. a company which gives its software away for free under an OSI approved license and makes (a lot of) money by offering a service. It also happens to be a serious Exchange alternative. So now it doesn't matter whether you stay with Exchange or not .. you'll still be paying Microsoft!

I don't see them changing Zimbra's business model at all- while the revenue may be trivially small by MSFT standards, they reportedly had tremendous revenue growth. Plus combined with the fact that whatever revenue they get from that is revenue they are probably losing from Exchange, its a sweet deal.

Interesting times .. but makes perfect sense to me. Open source is here to stay- I suspect this'll be the first of many open source purchases for MSFT .. and maybe not indirectly the next time around.

SAP is now the only major software vendor without an open source play of some sort. Who will it be?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Open Enterprise 2.0 Mashup Summit - in NY on Feb 1st!

Duh. We're also participating at the Open Enterprise 2.0 Mashup Summit in New York City today (Friday, Feb 1st)! Should've blogged about it earlier ..

Keith Chapman, the lead architect of our mashup server, will be giving a talk about it. I'm really sorry to miss this event- looks like all the cool mashup players will be there!

Web Services on Wall Street 2008 Conference

We're sponsoring this year's Web Services on Wall Street conference on Monday, February 11th. Jonathan will be in the opening panel talking about enterprise mashups .. which is of course very timely for us as we've just released our mashup server product!

We will also be launching our WSO2 Registry product that day!

If you want to attend and need a pass drop me a note - as gold sponsors we get to invite a bunch of people. You can get my email address from here.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Another product from WSO2: WSF/Spring

We've just released a beta of another new product: WSF/Spring. This is a way to make Spring beans into Web services .. but in a 100% Spring-only way! That is, no more axis2.xml, services.xml etc. files - only Spring configurations. Its supports both code-first Web services and also contract-first services.

Paul has written a long blog explaining what we did and why we did it. Read it and see!

New WSO2 releases: ESB & WSAS

Last week was a busy release week for us .. we released version 1.6 of the WSO2 Enteprise Service Bus and 2.2 of the WSO2 Web Services Application Server.

New features of ESB 1.6 include:
  • Ability to pin a proxy or a task to server instances
  • Improved error handling in JMS transport
  • New Mail transport that supports POP3/IMAP/SMTP
  • Clustering support for the Cache/Throttle mediators
  • Maintainance mode support for the HTTP transport
  • JMX statistics monitoring and management support
  • New mediator - Callout
  • Improved REST/POX support
  • Annotations support for POJOCommand mediator
  • Ability to edit UI-less mediators in raw XML
Why should you download the WSO2 ESB? Because its the fastest, easiest-to-use, highest performing ESB out there - better than everyone else :). Don't believe me? Try it out and tell us why its not!

New features of WSAS 2.2 include:
  • Improved Data Services support including New & improved UI, and database connection pooling
  • WS-Security 1.1 support
  • Improved clustering support
  • Improved JSR-181 & JAXWS support
  • JMX based monitoring
  • Graceful shutdown & restart of the server
    Serve all pending requests before shutting down or restarting the server
  • Improvements to the Management Console
  • Various bug fixes to Apache Axis2, Apache Rampart & WSAS
Why should you download WSO2 WSAS? First of all, its a really, really, really easy to use version of Axis2 (plus Rampart and more fully integrated). So if you're struggling with configuring Axis2 or playing with security etc., WSAS is the way to go. Same license. Same price.

But probably the killer reason for many is data services: our unique feature for taking data out of a database or spreadsheet or other data source and making it into a service. Zero code. 10 minutes in front of your database and your data is Web accessible- that's right, via the HTTP binding we generate you can browse it directly from your browser. Try it and see; there's nothing else like this out there- it goes across any database and doesn't require any code at all. Compare with expensive proprietary alternatives like BEA Data Services Solution and Oracle TopLink. Our stuff is easier to use, solves the problem directly and simply and costs nothing!

WSO2 Mashup Server released!

I'm proud to announce that we released our mashup server product earlier this week! This is a "first" in many aspects of what "mashup server" means:
  • the only open source mashup server in town
  • the only one which has a straight, simple Javascript programming model
  • the only one that scales from a personal mashup server (mash the Web up to meet my own needs) to a scalable enterprise solution or in fact an Internet scale solution
  • the only one with lots of Web 2.0 style community features
  • the only one with a mashup sharing community site ... oh yeah, that's just the mashup server too!
Intrigued? You can try it online at .. that's running our mashup server and is the mashup sharing site we're offering to the mashup community. If you download our mashup server it can trivially upload and download mashups to/from the Mooshup site.

Jonathan, Keith, Tyrell, Channa and Yumani are the core team behind the mashup server. Thilina, now at Indiana University, was a key part of it too until he abandoned us to go to grad school :-).

Jonathan's blog has some more info about the release. Also, keep an eye on the Mooshup Blog, where we hope to keep everyone updated on mooshups, er, I mean mashups. Moo!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blog about PHP Web services

Samisa, Nandika and the rest of the gang working on PHP Web services have a new blog - If you want to keep an eye on PHP Web services (both WS-* style and RESTful stuff .. more to come on the latter) then subscribe!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sri Lanka - terrorism and cease fire

Recently the FBI had a story on the terrorist group operating in Sri Lanka - LTTE. If you don't know what these guys are like then you should take a look at that story; it'll shock you how much of a global terrorist player they are. And maybe it'll help you avoid supporting them .. unwittingly.

There has been much hullabaloo over the Sri Lankan government deciding to abrogate the "cease fire" that has been in place since 2002. We did have a somewhat real cease fire for a short time- but for the last 3 or so years that's really just been a joke. During this "ceasefire" the LTTE has killed the most well respected Tamil leader in Sri Lanka (former foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar) and a bunch of other politicians, killed several military leaders, and killed hundreds of civilians. The worst single attack was this one, which killed 64 innocent people.

So there really hasn't been a cease fire here at all for at least the last 2-3 years. All we had was a piece of paper which was a joke. What the government did is to recognize reality. The crocodile tears shed by the world is such a damned joke its not even funny.

LTTE is currently running a de facto state in a part of Sri Lanka. That is not a viable basis to solve the real underlying problems which are the root cause of terrorism in Sri Lanka. While there is no military solution to those problems, there has to be a military solution to stopping a terrorist group from having bases, having a navy, having an air force, and running a virtual state within a state.

So it looks like 2008 is going to be a tough year for Sri Lanka - the government has decided to deal with the terrorist threat head-on and of course LTTE will do its best to respond. In the last week they've responded by having a small roving group attack and kill civilians in the south (another claymore mine attack against a bus and then an attack on a village) .. all an attempt to reduce focus on the north where the military is clearly gaining an advantage over them. I certainly do believe it is possible to "kick them out" of being a de facto state.

However, that's akin to the US kicking the Taliban out of Afghanistan. The key is what happens next - kicking them out is the relatively easy part.

The hard part is going to be coming up with a political solution to the underlying discriminatory root causes that have been set up and exploited by every political party since independence (nearly 60 years ago .. on Feb 4th). The current government does not have parliamentary strength to do this on its own- it needs to bring the opposition parties along to a reasonable moderate solution (undoubtedly involving devolution of power). If they fail to do that and do it fast, we'll have in Sri Lanka what the US finds in Iraq and Afghanistan - do the easy part and fail at the hard part of solving the underlying issues.

Successive central governments in Sri Lanka have miserably failed at improving the lot of rural folks. Apparently a staggering 60% or so of ALL development funds since independence have been spent on the Western province - one of 9 provinces and the one in which Colombo sits. So not only should Tamil people be revolting against central government but Sinhalese and Muslims and all others outside of the Western provide should too! We absolutely need a decentralized form of government where the local region decides what they want to do it and does it - the central form has failed us miserably. Many Sinhalese are against a federal solution to the demands of Tamil people, but if you look at how badly Sinhalese people in the south, north and everywhere except the Western provide have been treated, they should be demanding a federal system more than Tamil people!

Will our military be able to reduce LTTE to a real terrorist group (and not one that's running a de facto state)? I'm certain it can. Do our Colombo-based politicians have the will and desire to take power away from themselves and enable the 9 provinces to really develop themselves? Unfortunately I'm not convinced ..

If we don't solve the underlying issues then we may be able to live "in peace" for a few years - but the revolt will not go away .. it'll come back once again in time to come.