I have an extra piece in The Register this month. I was asked to frame the history of software product theory between the Cluetrain, Andrew Clay Shafer’s agile infrastructure talk, DevOps, and the “we’re a software company now” trope.
The 20th century was a graveyard for old, tested, and, yes, diverse belief systems and moral traditions that worked fairly well in steering lives for a long time despite their fatal flaws.
I cut the below montage-y overview of the history of enterprise open source from a Register piece I’m working on. Here it is!
For me, the dawn of enterprise open source was somewhere around 2001 when IBM committed billions of dollars to shoring up Linux. Around this same time, the Eclipse Foundation (also launched by IBM) started it’s IDE market re-rigging, and the Apache Web Server was climbing the hill to market dominance piloting the way for the rest of the Apache Software Foundation.
Java’s history is representative of open source’s involvement with most infrastructure software. Java started as closed source, holding onto that model like a waterlogged man hugging floating detritus. Despite this, in the 2000s Java’s course was changed by the influence of open source with the likes of Fleury’s JBoss crew (how I miss their pirate-like antics!), Apache Tomcat, and the Spring Framework. These and so many other open source projects acted as forcing functions for innovation in Java and still do. Eventually, Sun open sourced Java, both JBoss and Spring were gobbled up by larger companies, and open source became the norm in the Java world.
To top this all off, Microsoft open sourced .Net in 2014 and now supports a wide array of open source software in its Azure cloud. Open source is the de facto standard when it comes to new infrastructure software.
For the Sun: WTF? files:
Gerstner questioned whether three or four years from now any proprietary version of Unix, such as Sun’s Solaris, will have a leading market position.
One of the more popular theories for the decline of Sun is that they accepted Linux way, way too late. As a counter-example, there’s IBM saying that somewhere around 2006 you’d see the steep decline of the Unix market, including Solaris, of course.
If I ever get around to writing that book on Sun, a chart showing server OS market-share from 2000 to 2016 would pair well with that quote.
If you’ve read Stephen’s fine book, The New Kingmakers, you may recall this relevant passage:
In 2001, IBM publicly committed to spending $1 billion on Linux. To put this in context, that figure represented 1.2% of the company’s revenue that year and a fifth of its entire 2001 R&D spend. Between porting its own applications to Linux and porting Linux to its hardware platforms, IBM, one of the largest commercial technology vendors on the planet, was pouring a billion dollars into the ecosystem around an operating system originally written by a Finnish graduate student that no single entity — not even IBM — could ever own. By the time IBM invested in the technology, Linux was already the product of years of contributions from individual developers and businesses all over the world.
How did this investment pan out? A year later, Bill Zeitler, head of IBM’s server group, claimed that they’d made almost all of that money back. “We’ve recouped most of it in the first year in sales of software and systems. We think it was money well spent. Almost all of it, we got back.”
It’s been a name-your-own-price market for canny buyers of IBM and compatible mainframes for some time now, but according to the Wall Street Journal, Amdahl Corp is making it easy for even the meekest DP manager to turn into a hard bargainer: it is giving big computer buyers an Amdahl coffee mug and telling them it’s worth $1m if they just leave it on their desk when their IBM salesman comes to call.
Today, ARM Holdings is a $1.5 billion company with +15% year-to-year growth, nice financials (such as 96.7% gross margin), and a 46.7% operating margin….
15 billion ARM-based chips for $1.5 billion revenue means that, on average, ARM gets a licensing revenue of 10 cents per chip, and spends a little less than of half of that, 4.7 cents, to generate such revenue. It sure beats today’s Windows PC business and its measly 5% to 7% operating margins in the best of cases.
One former Mercury man’s write-up of what went wrong with the high-flying tech company once it was acquired:
In the case of HP and Mercury, the slow-down was particularly unfortunate because the acquisition came just as enterprise application development was moving from proprietary protocols and GUIs to web applications talking HTTP. Mercury’s powerful and extremely customisable products were arguably overkill for simple web applications, and a new generation of tools was beginning to emerge that was dedicated for that purpose. Given its singular focus on testing, and based on what I know of the company culture pre-acquisition, I am quite certain that an independent Mercury would have addressed the challenge head on and remade itself for that new world. After all, Mercury was fully aware of web applications, offering services that would simulate user access from locations around the world to have a continuous view on sites’ performance as experienced around the world.
Continue reading Mercury’s decline in HPE
40 years at IBM, straight out of college. He built up the software group, then ended up managing hardware was well: the article says he was running $40bn of business for IBM. Also, he was an awesome interlocutor at analyst events: a fun character on the drama of the IT industry!
Source: IBM’s Steve Mills retires