It's Tuesday - So Must Write That McGovern Response

James McGovern has asked me to respond a couple of times to his follow-up to an earlier thread.

Let's look at one of mark's quotes:" Let's take a step back here. Sun did not open-source LDAP :). They have an open-source project that wrote from scratch an open-source ,storage-based LDAP server in Java." which says that Sun appreciates that open source is not just about dumping dead products on the market, but understands that participating in a larger community has immense value.ust because a product is open-source does not mean there is community or participation in that community. Or that having a community has "immense value".

First let's clarify something "open-source DOES NOT EQUAL community". It only means you can see the source of the software you are running. I mean I can see the engine components to my Chevrolet Cavalier but there is not any community around Cavaliers.

And just because a product is not open-source doesn't mean there isn't community. Oracle has a large community around all of our segments - some of which is open-source though most is not. 

I would state that no other enterprise-software company has done more to build & leverage its community more. This ranges from Oracle Mix and Oracle Wiki all they way to the new Oracle "My Support" system which integrates Metalink, forums and related features to help get problems solved more quickly. And of course the old standards OTN Forums and Oracle blogs.

Thus while you may not always be able to see our code - I would disagree with the assessment that just because we don't have everything open-source we're not involved in community. 


Sun showed leadership in allowing the community to make the choice of how the product will evolve without the overhead of sales folks filtering out ideas before they reach product managers.

A good product manager spends a great deal of time listening to their customer-base. This includes talking directly to customers in pre-sales, during implementation as well as reviewing support items. Sales people do play a valuable role here because they can help provide a way to speak to trends.

Additionally this is why internally we encourage all of our PMs as much as possible to participate in things like blogs, forums and new things like Oracle Mix to get feedback.

But trust me -  I don't think most PMs suffer from lack of feedback from customers.

The biggest detriment is that we're not always able to publicly discuss roadmap and timelines. This is because as a public company there are very strict revenue recognition rules. Even open-source can't save you from that boogeyman.

And finally I would also point out sometimes to innovate - you have to NOT listen. As Henry Ford once said when asked if any customers had told him to make cars - his reply "If I had asked anyone they would have told me to make faster horses".

Now, let's compare this line of thinking to Mark's comment: At the moment we are still able to grow the adoption of OVD (and OID), are able to improve upon the core product via customer feedback and have a plug-in API that allows for customers (whether themselves, partners or Oracle consulting) to extend the product to meet their needs - so I don't sense a valid reason to open-source OVD.. Does anyone see a difference in openness?

If the question is only "can I see the source" then this argument is valid. However, if the question is one of "can I get my problems solved quickly and have a way to communicate with development to help guide direction of the product" then I would suggest there is very little substantial difference.

Here is another quote from Mark: Microsoft has produced open specifications, a few examples and started the Information Card Foundation (which we are a member of) to help drive adoption of Information Cards. I would argue we are on the same path on IGF via Open Liberty. Of course, he conveniently misses talking about the fact that Microsoft also funded implementations of information cards for platforms such as PHP and Java, languages obviously non-Microsoft. So, can we expect Oracle to fund IGF libraries for non-Oracle languages such as Smalltalk, Ruby on Rails and .NET?

I didn't miss anything.

First - IGF (unlike Information Cards) is an open-standard driven by Project Liberty. While Phil Hunt is the primary contributor and an Oracle employee - it has been developed within the framework of Liberty. Since IGF was largely influenced by both OVD and Project Higgens - both of which are Java based - the initial implementation were done in Java. However, when I wrote the initial spec for what has becomes ArisID Beans - I consciously wrote the API so that it would be as language neutral as possible (I was heavily influenced by the only counter example out there which is XML DOM API).

Second - Unlike Information Cards there is not as much of a pressing need for non-Java API at the moment. In particular since most of the world is moving on to things like REST and SOAP - IGF is going to have to adapt to those constructs. And until that is worked-out, doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to do other implementations. Not to mention if there is a REST/SOAP interface - the need for "native" implementations is greatly reduced.

Third -  Microsoft had a stronger need to demonstrate its openness on this after the disaster that was Passport/Hailstorm. I think IGF has the luxury of being able to take more time.

(also - really Smalltalk?  Why not COBOL? or Logo? :))

Mark also previously blogged on How Oracle can help you write more secure code. I wonder if he is familar with the Open Web Application Security Project? Notice that Microsoft and IBM are sponsors? Notice that Oracle is not...

I would like to hear why Oracle should join (as a caveat I really have no idea what Oracle plans are in this area but assuming there is no immediate plan to join, I can help influence). In particular I would like to hear from people besides James tell me why (either leave a comment or send me a link to your blog if it's not on Planet Identity feed).


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This is the blog for Oracle Consulting Security North America team. Edited by Mark Wilcox - Chief Technology Officer for Oracle Consulting Security - North America.


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