Monday Jun 02, 2008

Community Statistics for Netbeans Database Usage

"The database support in NetBeans allows users to connect to a database and view and modify the database structure and data. These graphs show which database servers users connect to most often."

Of particular note, besides the large usage of MySQL and Oracle, is the large usage of Java DB (Derby), and the significant PostgreSQL usage.

Thursday May 22, 2008

Sun OpenSolaris on Amazon Web Services

Simone Brunozzi writes about availability of OpenSolaris on Amazon Web Services.

Wednesday May 07, 2008

The Self-Ordering Chaos of Communities

 In the chaos of their buzz and movement, bees build amazingly ordered nests for their young. 

So do many communities of practice.

Monday Apr 28, 2008

Java DB 10.4.1

The 10.4.1 version of Java DB, the world's most advanced Java database, has some really cool features -- asynchronous replication, table functions and JMX capabilities.

Sun engineers worked within the Apache/Derby community to develop these features: A great team. A great product. A great community

If you're a serious user of Java DB (and/or of Apache Derby) and plan to use this product in your business, you should consider the multi-platform, software support services for Java DB -- Sun's distribution of Apache Derby -- available at some amazing bargain prices at various service plan levels.

Sun provides support service plans for Java DB, which is, for all practical purposes, identical to Apache Derby.

Tuesday Apr 15, 2008

It Runs Your Company

Monty's T-Shirt says it all.


Tuesday Apr 08, 2008

Open Source Databases on the Rise

Christopher Lawton of The Wall Street Journal reports on the rise of the open source databases:

The potential benefits in cost and flexibility have not been lost on customers. The market for open-source databases is expected to grow 35% to $270 million this year from $200 million in 2007, according to Gartner Inc. Among the earliest adopters are midsized companies, which don't always need the high-end features of conventional databases, says Carl Olofson, analyst with IDC, a market-research firm.

For example, Sun Microsystems Inc. provides supported offerings of MySQL, PostgreSQL and Java DB (Apache / Derby) to its customers.

If you're interested in discussion and community around open source database technologies for Solaris, see here.

Tuesday Apr 01, 2008

The Conference Around the Corner

83B5F103-3175-435E-AE95-5793F0F00C23.jpgFor those living in the Silicon Valley and working on software for the Web, one of the best technology conferences of the year will arrive literally around the corner: MySQL Conference & Expo, April 14 to 17, 2008, here in Santa Clara California

Wednesday Mar 26, 2008

A Suggestion for Skype

Although there are scripts that can be used to have Skype call a particular number at a particular time—acting as some kind of an alarm—it would be great if Skype adds a time and alarm feature with time zone capabilities. I've personally used Skype to join global teleconferences from the U.S., India, Norway and Germany, and this feature would be very useful to me. (Perhaps, such a component already exists. If so, please leave a comment and let me know.)

Wednesday Mar 19, 2008

OSDB Events

The best way to learn about major open source databases (e.g. MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.) is to attend developer and user conferences. Sun Microsystems sponsors many of these conferences and events. (This April, you can catch Sun folks attending the MySQL conference in Santa Clara, and in May, you can catch them at PGCon in Ottawa.) Finally, if you're interested in Sun technologies and databases, you should become a member of the OpenSolaris Databases Community and start contributing.

Sunday Feb 24, 2008

Microsoft and Open Source Software

As the news of Microsoft's moves last week unfolds, strategists might find it useful to review "Dynamic Mixed Duopoly: A Model Motivated by Linux vs. Windows," by Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Pankaj Ghemawat of Harvard Business School.

Working Knowledge carries an interview with the authors.

Monday Feb 11, 2008

"Asset Specificity" and Open-Source Software

Despite some excellent coverage of issues related to transaction cost economics of Open Source Software in The Success of Open Source (Harvard University Press, p. 193, "Business Models and Law"), Steven Weber may have misapplied Oliver Williamson's concept of "asset specificity" as an attribute of transactions .

Weber seems to be saying that Open Source Software, by virtue of its openness, will reduce asset specificity for those (including enterprises) who consume or use software, releasing them from lock-in. While the effect might be true, the reasoning diverges from the original meaning of the concept of "asset specificity," as coined by Williamson.

In The Mechanisms of Governance (Oxford University Press, pp. 59-60), Williamson states that his concept of asset specificity refers to "the degree to which an asset can be redeployed to alternative uses and by alternative users without sacrifice of productive value."

To clarify matters further, Williamson notes that there are varieties of asset specificities, e.g. (1) site specificity, (2) physical asset specificity, (3) human asset specificity ("that arises in learning by doing fashion"), (4) dedicated assets, (5) brand-name capital, and (6) temporal specificity. 

Let me elucidate the concept by giving some examples.

If I use some assets, say my Prius, to drive to the local supermarket to buy oranges, I have not used any assets specific to the transaction of buying those oranges. The transaction is a fully market-driven transaction. I could buy the oranges from a large number of groceries that do business near where I live.

Now, assume I'm an orange broker in Florida. I may station my operations site near the largest orange groves or near the largest auction market for oranges. I may buy some forensic equipment specific to orange analysis, and pay for membership dues in the orange auction market, etc. I may spend money to brand my brokerage service, calling it "Honest Oranges." Now, I've invested in assets that have a higher degree of specificity (in site, in physical nature, in brand capital, etc.) in order to carry on with the transactions I conduct as an orange broker in Florida.

Now, let's turn from oranges to software.

When it comes to software, we can have some in-dept discussion of each of the specificity types mentioned by Williamson and see if there are others. For example, the Internet, the digitalization of storage, content and distribution, has almost done away with "site specificity." You can consume software made in city A even if you live 12 time zones away in city B. On the other hand, some software must still be installed in a particular way and on particular hardware, generating a "physical asset specificity" effect.

The most important kind of specificity when it comes to software, however, is "human asset specificity."

When an enterprise uses open-source software, they still have this aspect of specificity to deal with. For open-source software, as for any software, human specificity arises in learning by doing fashion. In fact, human asset specificity governs the software transactions world much more deeply than many other product types.

Unless there is a backing from a supplier that has reduced the need for investments with high degree of "human asset specificity," the user of the open-source software will have to make such investments on its own.

This is exactly the reason why we see great consulting, services and integration businesses thrive around open-source software products.

Wednesday Jan 30, 2008

Buying PostgreSQL support got easier

Buying support for PostgreSQL on Solaris has become much easier.

Just click "Buy Now" on the PostgreSQL support page and you'll be on your way.

Data History

Meeting in Menlo Park (2006)

I took this picture in 2006 near the Sun MPK Cafeteria.

I find it historically interesting!

Friday Jan 18, 2008

James Gosling, Monty Widenius, David Axmark, and Brian Aker on Sun's Acquisition of MySQL

Tuesday Jan 15, 2008

Sun To Acquire MySQL

Sun has announced an agreement to acquire MySQL. (Reports can also be found at WSJ and Reuters.) 

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's CEO, discusses the acquisition on his blog. Kaj Arno, VP of community for MySQL, has also discussed the acquisition form MySQL perspective.

Friday Dec 07, 2007


I hear is hosting a favorites' vote.

It takes a moment to vote for your favorite software products of the year!

Friday Aug 03, 2007

Cooler than this?

MPK (Menlo Park) ... First Friday of August ... What can be cooler than taking a walk around the internal block of the Solaris building? I never knew where offices of all the people I was meeting in meetings were ... I still don't but did meet some as I walked "around the block" ... Friday ... buzzing with buzz of machines, conversation, plans and celebrations! ... What can be cooler in a hot August day?

Thursday Aug 02, 2007

Underground Notes and Voices from OSCon and Ubuntu Live

Some say Sun is as cool as OSCon (if not cooler) because, among most companies that support OSCon, only Sun can produce truly underground notes on OSCon.

David Van Couvering reviews Mike Olson's comments about his keynote at OSCon and pontificates about whether the value of Open Source could be limited to the collaboration it fosters. David aptly notes that

Open source and an open community gives you the assurance that the technology you are depending on is not going to be discontinued or put into "maintenance mode," it won't be acquired by someone who you would rather not do business with, and it won't be used as leverage against you to extract money or modify your behavior.

By way of further review, David contrasts MySQL as an Open Source project to PostgreSQL as an Open Source project.

In a separate underground note from OSCon, Barton George has posted his interview with Free Software Foundation lawyer Eben Moglen.

Barton has also produced a series of interviews with some six dignitaries during Ubuntu Live: Mark Shuttleworth. Tim Gardner, Jane Silber, Daniel Holbach, Stephen O'Grady, Jono Bacon.

Tuesday May 15, 2007

Transaction Cost Economics and Open Source Software

It is good to see someone who has a relatively good understanding of Transaction Cost Economics write about the topic of open source software or software in general:

There was a time when a single determined individual could write the core of a single operating system for a primitive computer. But given the demands of computer applications and the capabilities of hardware technology at present, that is no longer conceivable. The task needs to be divided somehow. This immediately raises a ... core political economy question, about coordination of a division of labor within a centralized, hierarchical structure--that is, a firm. Within the firm an authority can make decisions about the division of labor and set up systems that transfer needed information back and forth between the individuals or teams that are working on particular chunks of the project. The boundaries of the firm are determined by make-or-buy decisions that follow from the logic of transaction cost economics. The system manages complexity through formal organization and explicit authority to make decisions within the firm as well as price coordination within markets between firms.

That's from Steven Weber's The Success of Open Source.

Tuesday May 01, 2007

The Business of Software

After the usual foreword, Michael Cusumano opens his book, The Business of Software, by outlining the main chracteristics of that business:

In how many businesses does making one copy or one million copies of your product cost about the same? How many businesses have up to 99 percent gross profit margins for their product sales? In how many businesses do many products companies eventually become services or hybrid companies (that is, providing some customization of product features and technical services such as system integration and maintenance), whether they like it or not? In how many businesses is there frequently a ten- or twentyfold difference in productivity between your best employee and your worst one? How many businesses tolerate some 75 to 80 percent of their product-development projects routinely being late and over budget, with "best practice" considered to be 20 percent on time? How about a company where people who build products often consider themselves artists rather than scientists or engineers and have the mercurial temperament to go with it? In how many businesses are customers "locked in" to a particular vendor because of product decisions someone made a decade or two ago that can't easily be reversed?

…[G]et the strategy and the management side right, and the software business can be like having a license to print money…But get the business model wrong, and—to borrow a metapor from Frederick Brooks's The Mythical Man-Month—software companies can resemble dinosaurs futilely trying to escape the death grip of an ancient tar pit. The more you struggle—that is, the more time, money, and people you pour into product development, sales, and marketing in the hope of a turnaround—the deeper you sink and the quicker you die. In the software business, this is not only because the more people you add to a late software project, the later the project can become—a rule of thumb now described as "Brook's law" (and not always true). But the broader downward spiral can accelerate for a whole company and become self-fulfilling as present and potential customers flee from software producers unlikely to survive long enough to deliver, support, and upgrade their products.

Cusumano's summary strikes all the important chords when it comes to describing the characteristics of commercially produced software. It misses some important characteristics of open-source software communities and economic networks dependent on them.

In an open-source, community project, which (company or private) participant is the producer? Who is paying the production cost? Who is reaping the benefits?

However, when it comes to a business built on bundling of open-source software or on applying such software to solve specific problems through various kinds of software extensions and customizations, we return to the general laws described by Cusumano.

Then, there are a whole set of companies that may appear to some as software companies, say Google, but they are in fact not software companies at all even if they may produce a great deal of software.

This class of companies are indeed more like modern-day AT&Ts or Sprints. Modern day equivalents are web service (e.g. Google Search) or content (e.g. YouTube, Orkut, etc.) or Internet communications (e.g. Skype) concerns. Cusumano's description does not really apply to these companies either. These companies are not in the business of selling software but rather in the business of selling service for a fee (subscription or advertisement). They do software to the extent it helps them to render their services useful and appealing.




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