After five days of traveling across the country, I am back home
again in Indiana.
It has been a trip full of juxtapositions, as I sort of knew it
would be. You can't plan on going to a community show and then an
enterprise show and expect a lot of similarities. That said,
despite all of the differences, I found quite a few more things in
common than I expected.
Before I get into that, though, I feel it necessary to clear up
a small misunderstanding about one of the keynotes at the Open
Source Business Conference. That would be the one conducted by
Peter Graf, executive vice president of marketing at SAP. There
have been a number of reports that have misattributed him as saying
open source is too immature to survive the coming wave of
consolidation in the IT industry.
Actually, what he said was that open source companies that
specifically compete against SAP would be unprepared for such a
consolidation wave--companies like SugarCRM, OpenMFG, and Compiere.
SAP was just using the conference as a bully pulpit to take a whack
at its competition, not defame open source in general.
Still, I think their argument is flawed. I am not familiar with
the team at OpenMFG, but I do know the crews and leadership at
SugarCRM and Compiere, and I suspect SAP is going to be very
surprised at how badly they are going to get their butts handed to
them by their open source competitors. But that's just a personal
opinion on my part. How about something more objective?
I'm glad you asked.
What a lot of the other media stories did not focus on, having
decided that the "open source is immature" angle was too good to
pass up, was that Graf used this whole consolidation wave scenario
as a set up for something SAP wants to implement: an IT business
process known as open modeling. This is part of their vision for
the NetWeaver program, which they want to shift from a composition
platform to a true business process platform. In English, SAP's
NetWeaver program will work with businesses to develop end-to-end
"open" IT business process models and then oh-so-kindly jump in and
provide the technology and human resources to help said customer
Isn't that nice of them?
But here's the problem as I see it: SAP claims that only those
on the cutting edge will survive an industry consolidation. Well,
underneath all of the fancy dressing and buzzwords, NetVision
sounds like just another way for an major outside consultancy to
work their way into IT. From my experiences as an IT manager, I
know from experience that once you let one of these big firms
inside your business, they are very hard to get rid of. Which for
SAP means, once they're in, their revenue stream is assured for a
good long while. NetVision sounds like an old IT game--not very
cutting edge at all.
Therefore, objectively, it appears SAP is going to try to use
tried and true business practices to maintain their existence.
Well, good luck with that, guys. Not adapting to a changing
environment (such as oh, say, a consolidation wave?) is a sure way
to maintain longevity.
Sarcasm aside, it wasn't all bad at OSBC. Most of the
participants were not taking public potshots at each other. There
was a lot going for the show, including some commonalities with
SCALE, which I mentioned earlier.
Differences that you just knew would pop up:
Dress code. Jeans and t-shirts at SCALE, polo
shirts and blazers at OSBC. Though Jonathan Schwartz showed up for
his keynote in jeans, thus proving that when you get enough money,
you can wear any darned thing you want.
Vendors. Smaller, development oriented vendors
at SCALE, enterprise players at OSBC. But, interestingly, actual
booths at SCALE and a LUG-only area that was very reminiscent of
the .Org Pavilions at LinuxWorld. Go figure.
Attendees. End users, sysadmins, and developers
at SCALE, open source vendors and some end users at OSBC. No big
surprise there, though the numbers were different: about 950 at
SCALE, and 625 at OSBC.
So what, if anything, were the common factors? Quite a bit,
actually. You wouldn't think so, but there was a huge common thread
I noted at both shows. And no, it wasn't the general concept of
open source. It was more specific than that.
What I noted at the show was this overwhelming sense that it is
time to just get on with it.
Open source, even among its advocates, has had some pragmatic
reasons for "not being ready" in the past. Not ready for the
enterprise. Not ready for the desktop. Not ready to make
margaritas. Some of these reasons, you can certainly argue, are
FUD. But some were genuine concerns that seemed to create a note of
caution about deploying open source.
No longer. At both shows, the mood was: enough already, we want
to implement this stuff now. The need to deploy Linux and open
source to obtain cost savings, ease of use, and security were the
driving concerns at both these events. Linux and open source has
proven itself, and customers and vendors alike were chomping at the
bit to get things started.
Over the coming days, I'm going to be detailing the stories of
some of the people and companies that are poised on the starting
line, ready to burst out with really cool and exciting stuff.
Get ready for a great new year coming up, ladies and gentlemen.
In the enterprise, in the small/medium business space, on the
desktop... Linux has arrived.
Monday is Presidents' Day here in the US, so LT will be on an
extended weekend feed schedule until Tuesday, February 21.
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