Ok, things have changed quickly since I wrote about the Celtix open source EAI project from ObjectWeb. Now Sun is getting into the business with their $387 million acquisition of SeeBeyond.
This is a good acquisition for Sun since it gives them another piece of the puzzle in terms of having a more complete software stack compared with IBM and Microsoft. For SeeBeyond customers, who may have grown concerned with SeeBeyond's lackluster performance in recent years, it's a move to higher ground. Assuming that the acquisition proceeds smoothly and that Sun continues to invest in this area, it's a good thing.
Since Sun continues to make much of its software available in Open Source, the question is when will Sun step up to the plate and make SeeBeyond open source. I wouldn't expect this to happen anytime soon, but perhaps elements of SeeBeyond will make their way into the open source stack.
Dave Duffield, founder and former CEO of PeopleSoft, is keeping a low profile since selling out to Oracle in a hostile takeover. However, he has put some information and hints on his web site Dave's Next Move which describes how he and several long-time PeopleSoft confederates are taking another run at the enterprise software market. In his vision statement, Duffield says they are taking a new approach to developing enterprise applications that includes open source, object-orientation, XML and web services. Right on, Dave!
Not that Dave needs outside funding, but this would be fully buzzword compliant for any VCs looking to invest in the next big thing.
A while back, MySQL, Red Hat, One & One and a few other companies launched a campaign against software patents in Europe. While software patents may sound like they help protect "the lone inventor" in reality they are used by large companies to stifle innovation. And increasingly we are seeing so-called "patent trolls" trying to extract license fees for ridiculously simple ideas or algorithms. Today someone announced a lawsuit against Apple's iTunes for music playing software they demo'd in 1995. What's next, enforcement of the infamous one click patent?
Software patents are about as meaningful as the idea of patenting novels. What would have happened if someone had patented the classic "boy meets girl" story line. The same is true if early software had been patented. Would there even be a database industry if IBM had patented System R in the 1970s? Or what if WordStar, Visical or CCMail had been patented? Would there be any software startups today?
Florian Mueller, the director of nosoftwarepatents.com has come back swinging in the latest chance to ensure sanity to the patent process in Europe. There is indeed a role for patents, but its not in software. Software is better protected by copyright. There's a full list of resources on the site covering the basics, the dangers, the "untruths" and the politics.
Richard Stallman (known by geeks as RMS) has written a great op-ed piece in the Guardian describing some of the problems with software patents and how patents are different from copyright.
"The way to prevent software patents from bollixing software development is simple: don't authorise them. In the first reading, in 2003, the European parliament adopted the necessary amendments to exclude software patents, but the council of ministers reversed the decision."
Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) has been one of the most complex areas of Enterprise software. Basically it involves integrating anything to anything, whether it's packaged ERP and CRM systems (e.g. SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, Siebel, etc.), custom applications, web systems, mainframes, order entry systems, you name it, in real time. It's the type of projects that cost companies millions and take years to do with custom coding and, to be honest, they aren't a lot faster or cheaper when you use some of the commercial offerings from the likes of IBM, webMethods, SeeBeyond, Tibco etc. (Full disclosure: I ran marketing at webMethods a few years back.)
Although its not "mass market" like the database industry or web development tools, there is a strong potential for open source to help lower the threshold in EAI. A few projects, such as OpenAdapter were born from the frustration and mounting costs among financial companies doing custom EAI work.
Now comes word that Celtix, a project from ObjectWeb, based on code from IONA's Artix server, will lead the charge. This is one of several open source integration projects in the waiting.
There's a recent article in Forbes called "Open Source Smack-Down" which profiles Marc Fleury, CEO of JBoss. Daniel Lyons does a good job capturing Fleury's disdain for IBM and their recent acquisition of GlueCode. But what Lyons missed out on is that the revenue growth for companies like JBoss, MySQL and other private open source companies will continue to grow rapidly, well ahead of their cost structure. Here's a different view from /dev/null.
There’s a good interview of Anders Hejslberg, Microsoft’s C# chief architect, on InfoWorld. Anders claim to fame is he’s written several of the dominant development tools of the last three decades including Turbo Pascal, Delphi and C#. I worked together with Anders for nearly ten years when we were at Borland together. He remains one of the all-time smartest developers I’ve worked with. He not only understands how to build an elegant programming language and system, but one that is useful. Interesting to get Anders’ take on Java, Eclipse and Mono.