Disruption


There is always a lot of talk about disruption. If you look at a few of the online dictionaries, the definition of "disruptive" or "disruption" is sometimes scary... here is a good example...

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

Disruption \\Dis\*rup"tion\\, n. [L. disruptio, diruptio.]
The act or rending asunder, or the state of being rent
   asunder or broken in pieces; breach; rent; dilaceration;
   rupture; as, the disruption of rocks in an earthquake;
   disruption of a state.


Not exactly how "disruptive" is usually used in the context of technology.

Here is a better example...

Source: yourdictionary.com

Disrupt: to disturb or interrupt the orderly course of ...something

This is more like it. It is not often a person or company is disruptive. I had an experience two days ago where I was, indeed, disruptive.

It is Spring and the lawn/yard needed fertilizing and seeded. My lawn or yard, whichever you choose to call it... I like "yard" better, so, I will use it for the rest of the story. Anyway, my yard will not win any neighborhood beauty awards, but it is not all that bad either. Where I live in North Carolina, the standard grass most people have in their yard is Fescue. It looks nice if you work at it...which I do not like to do. And you do have to work at it... fertilize, aerate it every year, re-seed regularly, etc. Fescue grass must be re-seeded every so often since it doesn't spread. So, you can't just plant it and let it go. It will only grow where it is seeded and nowhere else. I suppose that is a good thing, but it takes constant care to make it look nice.

I used to live in Memphis, where the standard grass is Bermuda. I personally like Bermuda better than Fescue because it is drought resistant and it spreads on it's own. You can plant it and it will grow and spread without a lot of effort.

Walking behind the aerator it occurred to me that I, in fact, was being disruptive. I was "disturbing or interrupting the orderly course of"... my yard ecosystem. The aerator takes little plugs of dirt out of the yard to reduce the compaction of the soil and to, as the term "aerate" hints, lets oxygen in. Now, this is disruptive to the yard ecosystem. Is this good? Well, maybe. Disruption, in and of itself is not necessarily beneficial. Just disrupting the soil may give some minor benefit, but it also provides an opportunity for bad things to happen... like weeds... weeds love disruption. But just disrupting my yard was not my goal... my end plan was to take advantage of the disruption. I was going to apply fertilizer, which is more effective since it will not be washed off, it will fall into the little holes the aerator left behind. Also, I sowed a lot of Bermuda grass seed. I wanted to let it choke out the Fescue over time. Since Bermuda spreads on it's own, I didn't really have to dig up my entire yard and re-seed with Bermuda, I could do it in a progressive/incremental way. So, disruption was not really my end goal... my end goal was to take advantage of the disruption..planting new seed that was less labor intensive and would spread on it's own.

That got me thinking about one of the products I manage, the Sun GlassFish Portfolio. It was designed to be somewhat disruptive, but what it is, in fact, is taking advantage of the disruption that has already occurred. The GlassFish Portfolio is a really cool way to buy enterprise-grade open source software and support. It can be purchased in small increments for a small price charged by "per server". This allows customers to start small if they need to and grow it out over time. GlassFish Portfolio can also be purchased in "unlimited"...where the customer can use all they want without counting things or having to go ask for more money from the budget police when they need to expand a service to their existing customers or create new services to attract new customers. The "Unlimited" pricing model makes budget time a breeze. The cost is predictable for the life of the subscription contract.

The components that are in GlassFish Portfolio are open source favorites, GlassFish, Apache, LigHTTPd, , Sun Web Server, Web Space Server(based on LifeRay Portal) and GlassFish ESB. You can read more about the details of GlassFish Portfolio here... www.sun.com/glassfish.

I could argue that GlassFish Portfolio is a market disrupting offering... low price, killer components... but, I think what it really is doing is taking advantage of the disruption that has already occurred. There has always been pressure for companies to do more with less. With the economy the way it is today, the pressure to do more with less is overwhelming. Walking behind the aerator, it occurred to me that the standard software that enterprises use to do their business is a lot like the Fescue grass I had in my yard. It looked nice, but was very high maintenance, it took a lot of work to keep it going... and if I wanted it to spread, I needed buy new seed every year....proprietary and expensive. The Bermuda, on the other hand, was a lot less labor-intensive and spread on it's own. Which is a major plus in my use case. This is a lot like GlassFish Portfolio and it's open source-based components, it can replace a lot of the expensive and proprietary software that enterprises currently use. But, that is not the only scenario. A more common scenario is similar to my approach to replacing the Fescue grass with Bermuda grass. I didn't rip up all of the Fescue grass and completely replace it with Bermuda. Instead, I planted the Bermuda alongside the Fescue to take up all of the spots that the Fescue wasn't growing in...and over time the Bermuda grass could replace the Fescue by spreading to all parts of my yard.

What is disruptive about GlassFish Portfolio is that Sun is providing open source software with enterprise-grade support and QA. Now, when customers are looking to move some of their older applications to open source software...or begin deploying new applications on open source, instead of the expensive and proprietary software they would normally use, there is the option of using open source software...and if they use the open source from Sun, they are not sacrificing quality of service or support. Sun has done something special with open source..., the open source software that we offer has been through all of the QA and testing that the other Sun software is required to go through. So, the end result is a higher quality product...which equates to less headaches at the customer's site.


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