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!