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OSBC: First Half-day


At the moment, I’m in the Eben Moglen keynote, the closer for the first day. I got in town about half-way through the day, meaning I caught two panel slots after a luxurious lunch and hanging out with several people such as whurley, Dawn, and Travis Van (MuleSource).

“Colliding Worlds, Perspectives on the Converging of Open Source and Propriety Software”

The first panel I squeezed into was “Colliding Worlds, Perspectives on the Converging of Open Source and Propriety Software,” a panel moderated by Andrew Aitken with Niel E. Armstrong (ActiVision), Tim Golden (BoA), Jason Maynard (Credit Suisse), Mike Olson (Oracle neé sleepycat), and Raven Zachary. There was plenty of excitement here, if in a locker-room, towel-snapping way. E.g.:

Andrew: what’s your view of large companies going down-stream into the SMB market?

Jason: a grave-yard.

The answer was more nuanced, of course (it’s not in their culture or their code to do so), but you could hear that wet towel ripping through the air none-the-less.

Jason wasn’t the only one wielding the towel, Andrew seemed to have some fun pointing out that Olson drank the kool-aid, expressing shock in his intro at how much Olson seemed to have drank it.

Desktops in The Priority List

One of the more interesting discussions was around the question of open source in the desktop world. The answer, from Tim Golden, was calmly rapid: desktop isn’t really where things are happening. It’s all about infrastructure. In big companies, you’ve got all these existing systems like ActiveDirectory that you can’t just rip-and-replace. So you end up using Exchange and Outlook or whatever is just working. And that desktop stuff is hard to get right. Infrastructure on the other hand: there you go, it works well there.

In light of all this, open source on the desktop (read: replacing Windows with Linux, or at least something non-Windows for desktops) is low on the priority list.

Now, that’s all a rough transcription: we’ll have to play back the tape for the exact words. Nonetheless, I thought it was a choice discussion and comment.


Discussion of the SMB space took up a fantastically interesting amount of time. The locker room antics above were just the cheery on-top. The nugget of the discussion came from Raven’s answer to the question: is the SMB space working out for open source companies.

Once again, from memory, the response went something like this: two things have worked out well for [making money with…?] open source: infrastructure (“back-end”) and SaaS. We can’t say that simply the general concept of “the SMB market” has been a boon for OSS, unless the company is targeting a specific SMB pain-point, then “the SMB market” isn’t a silver bullet.

On the way to “The CIO Hot-seat” via “The Future of Open Source”

I stepped into The Future of Open Source panel for a bit, but decided to go check out the CIO Hot-seat panel after a few rounds of Q&A. There was actually something pretty snazy in The Future of Open Source panel: they were using mozes to do American Idol style polls. Nifty!

The room was packed, and as I left over-heard someone else saying “I guess everyone wants to get funding,” cracking wise about the fact that the panel was moderated by a VC.

“The CIO Hot-seat”

I wasn’t sure what the format of this panel would be, but it turned out to be quite interesting. Three open source vendors gave 15 minutes pitches with Q&A to 3 CIO-ish folks. We had S. Christopher Gladwin of Cleversafe, Ilan Kinreich of RadView Software, and Dave Rosenberg of MuleSource.

I missed most of the Cleversafe presentation, but it seemed to boil down to questions about GRC. Will it help or hurt?

Dave was entertaining, playing the sort of aw-shucks, hey it’s an ESB that works role that he does quite well, opening up with “I hate this stuff…” and, right before showing the current winner for best middle-ware slogan, “Don’t be a dumb-ass. Get Mule” saying “has anyone used foul language yet? Nope, I’m the first? Great.”

The reaction to RadView’s presentation was interesting as well. Here’s how I described it to Eugene Ciurana in #esb:

I’ve been briefed by them before so I know their tool, and it’s actually a good (pardon the phrase) “value proposition.” They have an up-hill battle to convince dev folks that OSS testing tools are worth paying money (in the form of support) for. That seems to be one of those markets (testing tools) where people would rather spend time than money. Thus, paying for support (getting help using debugging free software) doesn’t occur to people.

That seems the nut to me: make your customers aware of the point of value, then monetize those under-pants.

The Rest of the Evening

Tragically, in typing up this post I’ve gotten the partial attention view of Eben’s keynote. It sounded like a rallying cry for GNU/Linux and the FSF in general. Fair enough.

Later tonight, there’s the 451 shin-dig which, as I said earlier, is “what happens at the shin-dig stays at the shin-dig” status.

Earlier I met and got to talk with two Port 25 fellows, Jamie Cannon and Bryan Kirschner, which was fun. I didn’t really needle them about the topic du jour, but I gave a lengthy summary of my last post on the topic. More importantly, we talked a lot about them and what they’re up to.

Finally, as at JavaOne, it’s been thrilling to meet-up with people who I’ve gotten to know online over the past few years (esp. since being at RedMonk).

Here are my notes for those who enjoy them:


Disclaimer: MuleSource and parts of Microsoft are clients. I was racing against my battery dying to post this, so pardon the lack of links and any hastily made typos or errors.

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Categories: Conferences, Open Source.

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One Response

  1. Test – did this get posted?