James Governor's Monkchips

Open Source As A Personal Trainer

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I like to think of open source as a personal trainer for the proprietary. That is, open source equivalents of proprietary technologies force the commercial ISV to innovate, to get its lazy ass out of bed and go for a run, and get fitter. Otherwise it will just sit around the house eating your cookies and getting fat. Think of Internet Explorer. Until Firefox came along.

Firefox is IE’s personal trainer.

Sun Solaris has recently burst forward; just take a look at DTrace. Of course Sun also has to compete with AIX, HP-UX, and zOS. But it wasn’t pressure from IBM and HP’s Unix flavours that forced Sun to really get its act together and readdress the community and be more open. No-it was Linux.

Eclipse is there with its fist on the floor under MS Visual Studio.NET’s chin. “Come on we want proper form in those press ups”. Actually VS.NET was already pretty fit, but Eclipse is going to give it a solid workout. Rational will benefit from Eclipse’s workout too. Check out Genuitec’s packaged Eclipse bundle for $29.95. Eclipse is an open source trainer for Microsoft’s Integrated Innovation story, but also for any Java IDE.

MySQL is pretty damn busy; it has DB2 and Oracle on the treadmill, and it got Ingres to do some serious cardio work too.

JBoss doesn’t let WebLogic or WebSphere sit around munching Krispy Kremes.

The list goes on and on- what are your personal favorites?

These personal trainers don’t need to be as functional as their commercial software “clients” (which is not to say they aren’t). They just need to be good enough to give the ISV a push to get fit, improve the product, lower the entry price and be more open to customer negotiations and needs.

To that end, and the reason i finally got this idea down, is that my favourite employee of the Hartford, James McGovern, says he hears rumours Gartner and Burton are both joining my open source analysis party. Let the games begin. We don’t need to be able to offer every service Gartner can, but with the right intellectual property models and measurement methods we can all work to make the company fitter and more responsive to customers. After all Gartner isn’t really the competion, its an environment in which we compete.

Mr McGovern is very kind.

Started to think about their [RedMonk’s] value proposition and realize they are on the leading edge of what could become either the destruction of traditional analyst firms or the start of analyst firms truly serving their customers (both corporations and vendors) and the epoch of something we have always been asking for but never have seen in the past..

I guess RedMonk is a personal trainer too. Open Source Analysis should help enterprises and vendors to have a better, more informed dialogue, with greater transparency, and more effective advice given. Otherwise we might be in for a coronary.


  1. Personal favorites… Open Source projects spawn imitators too. When Sun bought some developer product companies like Forte, NetBeans, and NetDynamics (through the Netscape deal with AOL that led to iPlanet) they tried to figure out how to make money with tools… Paul Butterworth of Forte and a few others told Sun that you can’t make money with tools… at least not a lot of money. But you MUST have tools. So, the Netbeans.org project started.
    It gained significant mindshare until IBM countered the same idea but more funding and marketing muscle… Eclipse (pun likely intended).

    So, the idea of open source to drive developers has been a driving marketing strategy for many years… Unix, TCP/IP, NFS, Mosaic, Java, perl, PHP, Python, yada, yada all fit into this model.
    Programmer’s like freely available and freely useable technologies… It costs down on costs in
    every phase opf a project and it encourages the technology to be extended, maintained and supported. In IT, these are essential qualities of
    an feasibility study for a “big wad of software”.

    We all need tools…

  2. Mono training Java, perhaps?

  3. I read your blogpiece with amusement and interest. It made me smile.

    The problem I foresee is that some of these enthusiastic personal trainers implement a pretty rigourous exercise regime that has their unfortunate clients heaving for breath. And once you’ve acquired such a relentless personal trainer, there’s no easy way to get
    off the treadmill. A coronary is indeed a possible result, even for those unwitting slouches that were once as fit as a fiddle. Sadly, we can expect to see many of these once fine athletes collapsing under the strain.

    I envisage wards full of these unfortunate casualties hooked up to life-support systems – with debates raging as to whether we should bear
    the cost of such expensive medicine or simply disconnect.

    If you like, I’ll join you in writing their obituaries, when the situation arises.

  4. James, I completely agree. Sun, for all the great things they have done, got lazy near the end of the dot com boom. It’s easy to see why: they were making money hand over fist and their systems were in very high demand. This reduced their incentive to innovate as much. Linux has changed that and for the better. I see many more interesting new things coming out of them these days and I think Linux has given them the kick up the backside they needed. Free markets only work with vigorous competition and this example could apply to several other vendors too (look at IBM in the past couple of years). There always needs to be somebody keeping the buggers honest…

  5. not sure why i didn’t comment back before. dolt.

    sogrady- ya think?

    AJS – thanks! good analysis of proprietary solaris.

    robin bloor- or just buy the personal trainer, as Oracle did…

    McD – “Programmer’s like freely available and freely useable technologies… It costs down on costs in
    every phase opf a project and it encourages the technology to be extended, maintained and supported. In IT, these are essential qualities of
    an feasibility study for a “big wad of software”. – sounds like a redmonk comment 😉

  6. It’s an often — but not always — true premise.

    As one example I’d put the GIMP up against Photoshop. I would say that GIMP is serving in this capacity against PS or other image manipulation software.


  7. Sorry … meant to say “NOT serving in this capacity” in the previous post.

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