IBM and Open Source

Glyn Moody reminds us of IBM’s importance to open source, and suggests that Big Blue become more visible with respect to such software.

If you wanted to pin down the day on which GNU/Linux became a respectable option for business, you’d be hard put to find a better candidate than 10 January, 2000. For it was on that date that IBM announced it intended “to make all of its server platforms Linux-friendly”…

But here’s the curious thing. Despite this deep-seated commitment to open source, IBM is remarkably invisible in that world today. I rarely come across any initiatives from the company, or even much commentary outside a few bloggers, albeit interesting and informed ones.


Why thank you, Glyn. By the way, have you tried Wordle? There’s some IBM-owned code in there that I’d like to see open-sourced. That might well get IBM coverage from more bloggers than just us select few (as well as having the usual advantages of open-sourcing).

The best way to explain Wordle is to show some output. Click on the image to see the full-size version and title; the title tells you what I used as input.

Enterprise 2.0: Some Thoughts on Vendors

This post follows from the previous, which discussed strategic and ad-hoc adoption of E2. It will map vendors on to that discussion, in a couple of ways.

First, I want to map four specific vendors on the continuum of E2 adoption, anchored at one end by a purely strategic, top-down approach and at the other by a purely ad-hoc, bottom-up approach. I found myself writing down beside that continuum the following four vendors. I’ll list them in descending order of fit with the strategic approach, and hence in ascending order to fit with the ad-hoc approach.

  1. IBM. I still think of IBM as the enterprise IT vendor that gets in well with top management. That thought may of course be a sign of my age, or of IBM’s.
  2. Acquia. Drupal is ready to go… built-in functionality, combined with… add-on modules, will enable features such as content management, blogs, wiki collaborative authoring, tagging, picture galleries… Already, “Drupal powers sites including the homepages of Warner Brothers Records, The New York Observer, Fast Company, Popular Science, and Amnesty International and project sites by SonyBMG, Forbes, Harvard University…”
  3. Six Apart. 6A provides the best illustration of something that’s true for all vendors: a vendor isn’t a single point in the continuum. Movable Type is further toward the strategic end then TypePad.
  4. Automattic. WordPress requires three easy steps below to start blogging in minutes. Automattic’s projects emphasize the same ease of use and speed.

In case it’s not already obvious, I should point out that the above is a simplification and a starting point. Since first jotting it down, I’ve had conversations (with myself and others) about how to capture the richness of what various vendors offer without obscuring the basic continuum too much. But, having shared the starting point with you, I have another way to look from the strategic/ad-hoc perspective toward vendors.

The starting point for this second half of the post is the claim that some large organizations are in an ad-hoc E2 stage, and are embarking on strategic E2. Such organizations may well decide that their strategy should be based on the lessons and successes of existing ad-hoc E2 efforts. Yes, I am implying that grand strategy is not necessarily better than ad-hocery and tactics, and may often have much to learn from them.

An important challenge, then, is that of managing the diversity of E2 approaches and heterogeneity of tools already present in the organization. One aspect of this is realizing that the organization already has web-based social networks, and deriving from them the social graph.

Did someone say social graph? Brad Fitzpatrick and David Recordon did, and their
Thoughts on the Social Graph aroused much discussion. Their thoughts are couched more in consumer than in enterprise terms.

However, social graph for the enterprise looks like a fascinating arena. The most obvious contender is this arena is, duh, Google, which already has a Social Graph API, on which Brad is currently working.

UK-based Trampoline Systems may also turn out to be a contender. If I were doing E2 strategy for a corporation, and realized that there was a lot of E2 already in that corporation, I’d definitely want to take a look at SONAR Flightdeck, at the server that powers it, and at the API for said server.

I’ve mentioned only half a dozen of the many E2 vendors. That’s fine, by me at least. This post is meant to sketch out ideas, and illustrate them with vendors, rather than to provide detailed comparisons of many vendors. It’s also meant to start discussion…

OpenID: BigCos on Board

This morning the OpenID Foundation announced that Google, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign, and Yahoo! have joined the board. This is good news, since OpenID is good.

However, there are limits to the goodness of the news. As Michael Arrington points out:

OpenID looks like it’s going to be a winner, so big companies making their user accounts OpenID compatible is a good hedge. Everyone, of course, wants to be an ID issuer, since they get to “own” the user. Less attractive is allowing users from other sites to log into your services, so don’t expect that functionality to come for some time.

IBM Concedes Sippy Award to Sony

Sony just collected a Silly Intellectual Property Award (Sippy) when IBM withdrew its entry. Here’s a quote from the Big Blue concession speech (via Glyn).

IBM has put into the public domain and withdrawn its application for patent number US2007/0162321 – Outsourcing of Services. This patent application covers analyzing work flows, skills, economic costs, etc.

Sony’s concluded its comic horror show in style, winning its suit against Jammie Thomas. The jury awarded $222,000 in damages. Star of the final scene was Richard Gabriel of the RIAA, with his grim warning “that both downloading and distributing music is no joke” proving that he’s not just a straight man to the wackier Jennifer Parsier.

Having collected the Sippy, which IBM was wise to concede, will Sony try to collect the $222,000? Will it try to win the song-Sippy with “It’s fun to sue with the RIAA”?