Saturday Apr 26, 2008

Open Source from a Company Perspective

As OpenSolaris gains in popularity, we are finding ourselves back in the spotlight. That's fine. This stuff comes and goes. For a long while we were pretty much ignored, but I have a feeling that things will be hot for a while with the upcoming release of the OpenSolaris distro. That's ok, too. It's all part of building a business and a new development community -- and figuring out how the two mix since they both grow from the same sponsor. And that's the key. Sun is the company and Sun is opening Solaris, and Sun is also the primary builder of the OpenSolaris community in these early stages. Matt Asay brings this up -- The difficulty of building community around commercial: The OpenSolaris example -- based on some posts he links to from Ted T'so' What Sun was trying to do with Open Solaris. I commented on both blogs and also tried to start a conversation on advocacy-discuss -- Corporate Open Source -- so we can discuss some of these bits here in our community. I also think we need to address some of these issues in the Advocacy discussion at the OpenSolaris Summit next week -- not the specifics of any given blog, obviously, but the larger issues of how we grow and how we get our story out there so it's considered along with everyone else's. I don't particularly care about spin and noise in this particular context, but rather, I'm interested in specific programs we can initiate in the Advocacy CG to actually help build a global community that thrives across language, cultural, and geographic barriers and one that is empowered to contribute back. Once we do that, much of the story will take care of itself. In other words, the work has to come first so the story resonates as true.

Thursday Apr 17, 2008

A Communications Lesson on Slashdot

Marten Mickos, former CEO of MySQL AB and current senior vice president at Sun, is engaging in a conversation on Slashdot under the headline "Sun to Begin Close Sourcing MySQL." The headline is wrong, and Marten explains the issue in two lengthy posts here and here. I find the business model discussion interesting, but I'm most impressed to see such direct involvement from a Sun SVP on Slashdot.

Friday Apr 11, 2008

Linux Growing, OpenSolaris a Challenge

Linux showing signs of solid growth: "IDC study shows workloads running on Linux servers are shifting to become more business oriented, including databases and line-of-business apps" ... [but] ... "The white paper points out that Linux could face challenges from OpenSolaris if that alternative open source operating system begins to find favor on x86 platforms. In addition, the market dominating position of Windows also presents a challenge to long-term Linux success, especially as Microsoft competes to win Unix migrations." -- InfoWorld

Should be an interesting year, eh? Windows. Linux. OpenSolaris. Competition is good, no question about it (to a point, and if it's fair). We're the new guys on this block, though, since technically we haven't even launched yet (depending on what you think OpenSolaris is, and that is a tad confusing at the moment so I don't know exactly how the analysts are measuring us). It's nice to be considered in the conversation, though. But one thing I've noticed about these competitive market issues -- when the vendors go at it, the developers don't get all worked up about it. For the most part, anyway. Why is that? Guess they are heads down working ... 

Tuesday Apr 08, 2008

The Ubuntu Brand

Interesting branding story shaping up in the Linux community -- Is Ubuntu becoming the generic Linux distro? Could the market be deciding that Ubuntu is Linux? I'm an Ubuntu user, and I surely don't see Ubuntu as the only Linux, but it's surely the only Linux I'd use.

Friday Apr 04, 2008

Downloads and Attacks

Patrick clarifies. Great post.

Thursday Mar 27, 2008

We Don't Have Any Committees

"We don't have any committees." That's a quote from Warren Buffett talking to Charlie Rose a while back. There are many fine bits in this interview, but that gem Buffett blurts out toward the end of the conversation -- right after he talks about how he has no human resources department or investor relations department or public relations department. Pretty remarkable, don't you think? Probably even more remarkable is that there are only 19 people at corporate headquarters at Berkshire Hathaway, which has 73 businesses and a U.S. federal tax return running more than 10,000 pages on top of all the state returns and foreign returns. But the "no committees" comment got my attention because he so casually dismissed committees as things that degenerate into "make work" with people acting as "liaisons" between committees reporting to each other and around you go wasting time and money.

A lesson for all projects. Do you really need that committee? Or can you simply do your job and trust others to do theirs? The very best project managers I know all feel the same way about committees. And they'd agree with Buffett.

Wednesday Mar 26, 2008

News in the Swamp?

"If you say something provocatively, in a new way, or with an unexpected spin, you will succeed online. If you play it safe, you will not." -- Michael Scherer, The Internet Effect on News

I think this is true online, but I think it's just as true in print and not only in the news business. I think it's true of all forms of communication, but it doesn't necessarily have to be considered pejorative -- as it's implied in this article. The "unexpected" can bring huge value and have nothing to do with spin. Communication has to grab and hold attention. How could it be any other way?

Logos and Mascots

Glynn Foster is leading a conversation on advocacy-discuss about logos. Samples here. I haven't commented since I don't know jack about branding and logos and have absolutely nothing useful to add (so I'm practicing keeping my mouth shut when I have nothing of value to say and have no competency in an area). But if you know about such things, you may want to check this out. That's what the Advocacy Community Group is for. Anyway, I'm sure we'll have a fine logo for the OpenSolaris distribution. Also, toward the end of that thread you will see the issue of a mascot for OpenSolaris cropping up. We've had mascot conversations dating back to the early pilot program. Hopefully, a cool community mascot will emerge for OpenSolaris as well.

Monday Mar 24, 2008

Closed or Open?

Here's an interesting article about Apple's strategy -- How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong. The "everything wrong" bit refers to the trend toward transparency in high tech, whereas Apple is anything but transparent. Yet the company is extremely successful. Imagine that. There has been some good commentary in blogs about the piece, and there are a lot of comments on the article itself. To me the issue is not that complex. Sometimes closed works, sometimes open works. Different companies, different communities, different products, different development strategies, different business models. Not a big deal. Good article, though.

Thursday Mar 20, 2008

Toyota: Don't Measure Against Rivals

Toyota finds success is a bitter-sweet pill: "From the moment he took the helm in 2005, [Toyota Motor Corp President Katsuaki] Watanabe has made it his mission to discourage employees from measuring Toyota against rivals but rather against a lofty goal: developing a dream car that 'cleans the air, doesn't cause accidents, makes drivers healthier and can go around the world on one tank of fuel. We have a long way to go,' he said." -- Reuters

Agree 100%. You can't win in the long run by playing defense and getting distracted by reacting to a competitor.

Saturday Feb 23, 2008

Open Communications

Chattin' with OpenSUSE's Zonker. Barton George talks with OpenSUSE's new Community Manager, Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier. I like some of the things Joe says about community development -- the importance of communications so you can get the word out, competition vs cooperation so you understand how to balance interests and expand the community for all, and getting the necessary tools in place so your community can grow. And OpenSolaris gets a nice plug for how we launched the project three years ago (the engineering blog launch, I mean). Nice talk.

Rapid Response Counterattack

McCain turns tables on Times. An interesting read about how the McCain forces jumped all over the Times the other day. This is standard procedure, of course, but it really depends on how well you execute (and that execution always makes interesting reading) and if your enemy responds in kind. Politicians know that in terms of public perception you can absolutely influence by going negative, hitting hard, using overwhelming force, and yelling with extreme language. The purpose is to intimidate. If the other side counters, well, then you have a brawl. If they hesitate, though, you've got them. That's the critical part that comes through in this article. The Times found itself responding to its own article and responding late. Now, this is politics so truth is not really that important, and I have no opinion about the substance of the article or the counter attack (nor do I particularly care about either). What I find fascinating, though, is the dynamic of influence and how large organizations of people can be rapidly moved to action. What are the techniques? What foundational work is necessary beforehand so a message resonates? Anyway, the LA Times talks about some of this, too: McCain story proves incendiary among journalists, conservatives

Thursday Feb 14, 2008

Pink Dots and Green Cash

Can Sun turn downloads into dollars?: "Even if you can't say that each pink dot equals $372, I think the things Sun has been doing with open source and OpenSolaris and Java and so forth have translated into improved relevancy and an improved perception of Sun, and at some level, logic suggests that this played a role in their improved financial picture." -- Gordon Haff, Illuminata

Wednesday Feb 13, 2008

Trademarks Update

The OGB published Sun's position on the trademark issue -- [ogb-discuss] Sun's Responses to the OpenSolaris Trademark Questions. The Trademark Usage and Branding Guidelines Wiki was also updated. Subscribe to trademark-policy-dev to participate in the conversation. The trademark list and project are sponsored by the Advocacy CG

Tuesday Feb 12, 2008

Open Source at Ten

State of Open Source Message: A New Decade For Open Source: "In building our Open Source campaign, we were standing on the shoulders of a giant. Starting in the early 1980's, Richard Stallman blazed the trail with his philosophy of Free Software  and the creation of the GNU System,  which, most notably when it was combined with the Linux kernel, changed the way software works forever." -- Bruce Perens, commenting on the first decade of Open Source.

Monday Feb 11, 2008

Everyone Marketing

Forget the A-List After All: "Evangelism is not about sucking up to only people who are famous and self-important. To wit, few Fortune 500 CIOs helped make Macintosh successful. It was unknown artists, designers, hobbyists, and user-group members who made Macintosh successful, and we could have not identified them in advance." -- Guy Kawasaki, commenting on Clive Thompson's in FastCompany article, "Is the Tipping Point Toast?"

That FastCompany article is great. If you are at all interested in marketing or communications or community building I highly recommend it. The article outlines research from Duncan Watts that basically says we all have influence, not just the special people, and some much of what happens is random. Thompson says, "Influentials don't govern person-to-person communication. We all do." A little democracy in marketing? Cool.

Monday Jan 28, 2008

The Disruptive Nature of Open Source

Gartner on Sun's Acquisition of MySQL: "Sun has long recognized the disruptive nature of open source and is now leveraging that power as part of their overall strategy. Obviously, that's not new news. Sun has been doing this for several years with OpenSolaris, GlassFish, NetBeans, open sourcing Java, etc." -- Zack Urlocker

Thursday Dec 27, 2007

A Cooperative Competitive Environment

Sun's Game: Friends Close, Microsoft Closer: "Sun Microsystems has been making great headway in the OSS community lately: nearly every piece of software it distributes is open source, everything is free, and OpenSolaris is really building a large community."  -- Charlie Schluting, Enterprise Networking Planet

The piece then goes on to explore why Sun and Microsoft cut their deal earlier this year. To me, it's simple: good business. Charlie then ends with this: "Sun is increasingly moving toward a more cooperative competitive environment." I agree. 

Wednesday Dec 26, 2007

Globalizing Tokyo

Japan set for radical reform of markets: "There is a lot that is good in there," said a representative for a foreign bank. "It's not the end of the story. They need to keep doing more to globalise Tokyo as a financial centre." -- Financial Times

Encouraging more industries in Tokyo to think and act globally is a good idea for Japan. Many of Japan`s companies are global, sure, but the pervading attitude around the place is most certainly not global. I find China far more open to the west from a business perspective (and it ain`t even close). And many people agree. That`s why this set of reforms has been released by the government. Of course, they could call the guys at Toyota and Honda for a little advice. I`m serious.

Don`t Gloat

Toyota sees bright future as world number one -- "Toyota has been careful not to gloat about its success in the United States, fearing a protectionist backlash of the type seen when Japanese automakers first seriously penetrated the market in the 1980s." -- AFP

I think this is a good marketing strategy, but with Toyota it`s more than that. The company is more focused on being profitable, building great cars, and carefully expanding into emerging global markets (China, Brazil, Russia) then they are on beating the competition. They know what comes first.

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