Red Hat Invests in EnterpriseDB

In a move that could boost its fortunes in the open-source database space, EnterpriseDB this week said it received a third round of financing valued at $19 million led by Red Hat.

EnterpriseDB is the key sponsor of the PostgreSQL open source database. The company offers a standard and advanced edition with tools to migrate from Oracle databases and more recently from MySQL. While the companies are not saying how much of a share Red Hat will hold in the company, IBM, NTT and Sony Online Entertainment are also strategic investors in the company.

IBM and Red Hat in particular have a vested interest in the success of EnterpriseDB, whose database platform is suited for Java developers. "Red Hat has a very strong position with Java and corporate developers through their JBoss product suite and we think that's an important market segment for PostgreSQL," said president and CEO Ed Boyajian, in an interview. "In the arena of new application development, PostgreSQL is growing to be the de-facto standard for open-source databases for Java developers.

Because EnterpriseDB's core business is targeted at drawing from Oracle database shops, IBM and Red Hat also stand to benefit from the company's success. Meanwhile since Oracle has announced its $7.4 billion bid to acquire Sun Microsystems, which owns the MySQL database, Boyajian said interest has increased in PostgreSQL as a potential alternative.

"We definitely see a growing interest from MySQL users who are concerned about going to Oracle," Boyajian said, noting that he has seen a steady rise in downloads for its MySQL to PostgreSQL migration tools.

Boyajian was not specific as to how the funds would be used other than the company will look to expand its presence and extend its channel program in the coming year. He declined to say what new technology may arise from the investment.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 28, 20090 comments

Monty Tells EU Oracle Shouldn’t Have MySQL

MySQL founder Michael 'Monty' Widenius is trying to convince the European Union that Oracle's planned acquisition of Sun Microsystems should come with a caveat: that Oracle must sell off the MySQL business.

In a statement issued on his blog Monday, Widenius said: "MySQL needs a different home than Oracle, a home where there will be no conflicts of interest concerning how, or if, MySQL should be developed further."

In the posting, which was positioned as a press release, it was pointed out that Widenius  works closely Florian Mueller, a MySQL and European Union affairs expert and advisor to Widenius new company, Monty Program Ab.

"Every day that passes without Oracle excluding MySQL from the deal is further evidence that Oracle just wants to get rid of its open source challenger and that the EU's investigation is needed to safeguard innovation and customer choice," Mueller said in the posting. "This is highly critical because the entire knowledge-based economy is built on databases."

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is adamant that he does not want to marginalize or spinoff MySQL (see Why Larry Ellison Doesn't Want To Spin Off MySQL). Analysts are siding with Oracle on this, saying the EU's actions are doing a disservice.

"We believe Oracle will make MySQL an even a better database and also offer a migration path to Oracle databases for those dealing with larger database," said Forrester Research analyst Noel Nuhanna in an email. "The delay in acquisition does not help the industry."

Burton Group analyst Anne Thomas Mannes disagrees with Widenius' and Mueller's statements. In an email she gave four reasons:

  • I don’t think MySQL is a critical product in the DBMS market. If MySQL disappeared tomorrow, it wouldn’t fundamentally alter the market. Certainly MySQL is a very popular FOSS DBMS, but it isn’t the only one. Other popular ones include PostgreSQL, Derby, and SQLite.
  • The open source business model is no longer as disruptive as it once was. It’s a proven money-maker, and Oracle has said that it views the Sun acquisition as a way to jump into the fun. As long as Oracle is willing to maintain the MySQL FOSS license, it maintains the “innovation and customer choice” that Mueller says he’s trying to protect.
  • I don’t think Oracle wants to kill MySQL., Oracle doesn’t really view MySQL as competition to the Oracle DBMS. MySQL only competes with Oracle DBMS at the low end of the market. It primarily competes with SQL Server and other FOSS DBMS options. It’s in Oracle’s best interest to maintain the product.
  • Even if Oracle wanted to, it couldn’t kill MySQL. The source is out there. As they said in “Serenity,” “You can’t stop the signal.” 

"I’m disappointed that the EU doesn’t understand this," Manes noted. "It sounds to me like Monty has been whispering into Mueller’s ear and has convinced him that Oracle has to let go of MySQL. My question is who would buy MySQL if Sun/Oracle agreed to sell? If the buyer is Monty Program, I’d have a real problem with that. That just smacks of collusion. "

Widenius said in his blog that he is not looking to be the buyer. "One thing I want to make clear though, that Monty Program Ab certainly cannot afford to buy MySQL, whatever the value turns out to be," he wrote. "It is just too funny every time I see the media speculating on that."

He also argues he knows of companies that are interested in MySQL. "I prefer not to name them to keep their options open for the future and I also have to keep MySQL Board information private," he wrote.

As for what it's worth? "It's of course up to the market to put up a fair price of the MySQL asset," he said. "It's worth what someone is willing to pay for it."

So what's your take? Should the EU force Oracle to sell off MySQL or will it in fact become a useful platform in offering the company an alternative to Microsoft's SQL Server and other FOSS database offerings? Please feel free to comment below and/or drop me a line at [email protected].


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 20, 20093 comments

Will Oracle Be Good For Java?

Of course that's a question critics have been asking since Sun Microsystems agreed to be acquired by Oracle earlier this year for $7.4 billion. Sun founder and chairman Scott McNealy looked to reassure his faith that Oracle will be good for Java. Speaking in a keynote address at this week's Oracle OpenWorld 2009 conference in San Francisco, McNealy gave his blessing and then called on VP and Sun Fellow James Gosling, known as the "father of Java" to give his take.

"You look at Oracle's product mix, they're committed," Gosling told attendees. "Their fastest growing products are all big bags of Java code, and over the years Oracle has been great contributors to the whole process. Most people use Java each and every day, and behind a lot of these Java apps are big bags of Oracle code and it's been pretty wonderful."

As I wrote back in August, developers are still concerned about the fate of the Java Community Process. The European Commission's inquiry of the Oracle centers around what Oracle will do with MySQL, which the company said at Open World it intends to invest in, following remarks by CEO Larry Ellison to that effect last month.

As for Java, the McNealy-Gosling love fest aside at Open World, what's your take? Feel free to comment below or drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 13, 20091 comments

Do IT Architects Need Better Certification?

The Industry Association of Software Architects conference is set to take place later this month in New York.

As I reported last month, this month's IASA IT Architect Regional Conference is being billed as the largest gathering of IT architects because such luminaries as Grady Booch, Len Bass, John Zachman, Eric Evans, Rob High and Angela Yochem are slated to speak.

According to IASA CEO Paul Preiss, many of these architects have never met each other. But also at the conference, IASA is kicking off a new certification program for IT and software architects.

The new professional CITA program involves intensive training, according to Preiss. "It is a full board examination by a set of peers that actually tests an architect on their ability to deliver against the IASA skills taxonomy," he said. "So it basically says that IASA claims that this person is not only an architect but a good architect."

The report begged the question by Peter Kent, a program manager at G&B Solutions in Reston, VA. "How will the IASA certification be different from FEAC enterprise architecture certification?" he asked.

I ran the question by Preiss, and here's his answer.

  • CITA is a multi-level, multi-specialization certification. We have entry level and full professional levels.
  • CITA is not related to a particular framework such as TOGAF, FEAF, or DODAF.
  • CITA is skill based and therefore focused on delivery underlying all frameworks and implementations.
  • CITA is run and delivered by the profession. For a distinction think about the difference (make believe) between the current board certifications for doctors and one run by Pfizer.
  • Last but not least, CITA is based on a common distinguishing value proposition for all architects. With both FEAC and ITAC it is difficult to determine what they suggest architecture is, much less why employers should hire them.

It will be interesting to see how many take advantage of  the newCITA program, especially in these tight economic times. Many who are either independent or work for organizations that have slashed their training budgets may have to flip the bill themselves, presuming they feel it will enhance their career prospects.

What's your take? Drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 1, 20095 comments

Why Larry Ellison Doesn't Want To Spin Off MySQL

The fate of MySQL has been top of mind since Oracle agreed to acquire Sun Microsystems earlier this year for $7.4 billion. Will Oracle spin it off, treat it as a strategic asset or let it die a slow death?

Well, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison this week finally shed some light on that question during an interview by none other than Ed Zander, who was once president and COO of Sun. Ellison made his remarks during the interview, at The Churchill Club, a non-profit Silicon Valley forum.

"We're not going to spin it off," Ellison told Zander (video courtesy of TechPulse360).  "The U.S. government cleared this, we think the Europeans are aware we are not going to spin it off." As reported earlier this month, the European Commission said it is investigating the deal based on concerns about the impact it will have on MySQL. The move came just weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice approved the deal.

"MySQL and Oracle don't compete," Ellison said. Rather Oracle competes with IBM's DB2, Microsoft's SQL Server and databases from Sybase and Teradata, among others.

Forrester analyst Noel Yuhanna  believes MySQL could become a strategic asset to Oracle. "MySQL has become a major force and a threat to Oracle and Microsoft," Yuhanna said in an email. He points out that companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Skype, Safeway, Comcast, and others that are already a major users of MySQL.

"And many others are considering looking at making it part of their database strategy, including some large Fortune 100 companies," Yuhanna noted. That said, MySQL fills an important gap in Oracle’s market, which is in the small to medium sized applications, where Microsoft SQL Server has dominated for years, he added.

"We believe MySQL will be positioned against SQL Server and also offering a migration path to Oracle databases, so this acquisition, especially MySQL, is critical for Oracle and I am sure Microsoft is watching is very closely."

And perhaps in this case Microsoft is in the ironic position of routing for the European Commission?

What's your take? Drop me a line at [email protected] or post a comment below.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 25, 20091 comments

What Are Microsoft's Intentions with CodePlex Foundation?

When Microsoft announced that it is seeding the new CodePlex Foundation, as reported last week, many critics began questioning the real intentions in Redmond.

Two key questions: why did Microsoft need to go out and establish yet another foundation in the open source world, when there are numerous ones such as Open Source Initiative, Free Software Foundation, SourceForge or even the Apache Foundation, among others?

"There are already existing entities, why does Microsoft have to create one of their own?" asked independent developer and Microsoft MVP Roy Osherove, chiming in on a podcast hosted by Microsoft principle program manager Scott Hanselman over the weekend (if you want to know more about Microsoft's point of view on the CodePlex Foundation, listen to the entire podcast here).

The other question focuses on the fact that Microsoft is losing Sam Ramji, its director of platform strategy who oversees the company’s open source and Linux initiatives. Will it find an open source champion who can fill his shoes and have clout with Ballmer and company?

"Behind the scenes he's always been fighting the good fight," said Miguel de Icaza, founder of the Mono Project and a Novell VP, in an interview. Ramjii, who is serving as interim president of the CodePlex Foundation, recruited de Icaza, among many others in the open source community, to be on the foundation's board of directors.

"He did a lot of back and forth for many years helping us navigate Microsoft and tried to understand what was going on and help us change Microsoft's position, and getting them to put things under the Community Promise."

Among others in the open source community who signed on are Monty Widenius, founder of MySQL. Widenius described the CodePlex Foundation as "an unusual opportunity," in a blog posting this week. Here's a synopsis of his reason for supporting the effort:

"CodePlex allows Microsoft developers to more easily participate in Open Source projects, without a lot of red tape. There are many developers at Microsoft that are very pro Open Source, and would like to participate more than they are able to at present. Note that since CodePlex supports all relevant Open Source licenses, there is nothing hindering contributions to CodePlex to find its way into projects elsewhere in the FOSS ecosystem from there.

Why should Microsoft be trusted to have good intentions with the CodePlex Foundation? Simply, I believe that it's in Microsoft's direct interest that the CodePlex Foundation [to] become a success. Of course, we all know that Microsoft will primarily ensure that the Open Source projects in which they participate will run better on Windows and with Microsoft products. But this doesn't change the fact that this is a still a great thing for Open Source software.

Of course, people will continue to worry about Microsoft's intents and maybe that is understandable. In my experience, Microsoft as a big company seems to be a "company divided," with some segments appearing to understand and embrace Open Source, and others acting against these understandings. (In fact, this is another thing I can relate to from my personal history.) But now we have an opportunity to see Microsoft at their best as regards Open Source and Free Software, and even help them out in the effort. This is, indeed, an unusual opportunity."

Aaron Fulkerson, founder and CEO of Mindtouch, a provider of open source enterprise collaboration software also joined the board of advisors. In a blog posting, explained his reasons for joining:

"The motivation is simple. The more developers building on .NET and Microsoft technologies the better it is for Microsoft. .NET technologies are behind Java and PHP in adoption. The gap will continue to widen. Why? You need look no further than the wealth of open source Java and PHP libraries and components available to developers.

The cost of maintaining .NET as a viable development platform will only continue to increase for Microsoft as open source development platforms continue to attract the majority of college students and businesses due to the inherent lower costs of taking products to market. Moreover, for those of us who develop on .NET, e.g. - MindTouch, it will become increasingly challenging to be competitive should there not be an ecosystem of similar open source libraries and tools available."

However, just days before launching the CodePlex Foundation, the Open Invention Network said it had acquired 22 Linux-based patents from Allied Security Trust, which had acquired them from Microsoft. The goal was to ensure the patents did not fall into the hands of patent trolls.

In a blog posting last week, Red Hat Software questioned Microsoft's intentions. Rob Tiller, Red Hat's VP and general counsel, said in an interview that the move should be looked at with caution. "We're very concerned that Microsoft has adopted what seems to us a new strategy of seeking out, patent trolls and offering at auction its patents while pointing the way toward open source software and providers of open source software as targets for litigation," he said. The concern, he explained, is that Microsoft will use the patents to force parties into secretive negotiations under fear of litigation.

So is Red Hat not buying Microsoft's moves to embrace the open source community? Not exactly, Tiller said. "It's consistent with the zig zag pattern we've seen," he said. "On the one hand, they're speaking friendly words and taking seemingly accommodating actions towards open source and at the same time on another track behaving in an anything but a friendly manor."

Do you think is playing both sides of the fence or is it really trying to be a good open source citizen? Drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 15, 20090 comments

DOJ Clears Oracle-Sun Deal but Questions Remain

The United States Department of Justice has given the green light for Oracle to proceed with its $7.4 billion deal to acquire Sun Microsystems, Oracle announced Thursday. The European Commission is expected to make its ruling by September 3.

Apparently DOJ brushed aside concerns over the fate of the Java Community Process (JCP), despite inquiring about it last month. That inquiry was not expected to be a deal breaker, noted Burton Group analyst Ann Thomas Mannes at the time.

Perhaps we will see more clarity on the fate of the JCP, JavaFX, MySQL and the company's plans to assimilate the rest of Sun during Oracle's Open World conference, which begins October 11?

Meanwhile, don't expect the open source world to sit still. Could VMWare's pending acquisition of SpringSource (which this week launched Cloud Foundry) become a haven for Java developers? Will the Open Database Alliance bring forth viable alternatives to MySQL? EnterpriseDB and Ingres are already taking advantage of the uncertainty. You can be sure that Adobe and Microsoft won't let JavaFX rain on their parades either. And expect to hear more from Red Hat about how it will look to advance JBoss as a middleware alternative at JBoss World in Chicago Sept. 1. To be sure, those are just a few examples. Drop me a line with your concerns and observations at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on August 21, 20091 comments

Inside IBM's Push Into Real Time Predictive Analytics

I attended an event for analysts and media on Tuesday at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, N.Y., where the company launched its Smart Analytics System.

However the news of its new offering and future roadmap was drowned out when IBM announced that it has agreed to acquire SPSS, a leading provider of real time predictive analytics software, for $1.2 billion (see original story here). Pending shareholder and regulatory approval, the deal is slated to close by year's end.

Chicago based SPSS is regarded as the leading provider of real-time predictive analytics software. With 1,200 employees, its technology is widely used by enterprises worldwide. During the event, I sat down with Forrester analyst James Kobielus, who said this is a significant move by IBM. "The SPSS acquisition is strategic for IBM," Kobielus said.

While IBM last year gained a leading business intelligence and analytics portfolio via its $4.9 billion acquisition of Cognos, the key component IBM lacked in its Information on Demand (IOD) offering was a best of breed data minding offering. "This fills out the portfolio," Kobielus said. In a blog posting, he described the deal as a "bold move has already sent shockwaves throughout the analytics market." You can read his entire reaction to the SPSS deal here.

SPSS is the second largest provider of predictive analytics data mining statistical analytics tools, he noted. The largest is SAS Institute. He pointed to few overlaps with SPSS such as IBM's DB2 Intelligent Miner within the InfoSphere portfolio, though he predicts that will be phased out as IBM builds out the SPSS brand within its IOD portfolio.

"Fundamentally their technology is componentized so we can embed it anywhere," said Amuj Goyal, general manager of IBM Software’s information management software organization.

It remains to be seen whether IBM will continue SPSS integration with other data warehouse providers including Oracle, Microsoft, Sybase, and Teradata. "I doubt IBM will rock the boat," Kobielus told me, saying its in its interest to keep SPSS offerings heterogeneous.

Meanwhile, the news that got drowned out by the deal was the launch of the IBM Smart Analytics System (IAS).

The system consists of an IBM pSeries server based running AIX, that includes storage, networking, various other services and a suite of IBM’s data mining tools including its DB2 database, Cognos BI and InfoSphere Warehouse. It will be available in September with a starting configuration of 4 terabytes and up to 200 Tbytes. Pricing was not disclosed.

Kobielus said IAS extends IBM's existing portfolio of data warehousing appliances. "What it adds is pre-integrated business content geared to particular vertical and horizontal markets. So it includes DB2, the data warehouse appliance, IBM Information Server, data integration and design tools plus the application specific or vertical specific dashboards and workflows and meta data and cleansing tools."

What does IAS mean if you're a developer? "IBM is very much turning its data warehouse portfolio into an application server in that they are pre bundling all of these solution components and providing application development interfaces to allow ISVs to build targeted applications on top of IAS," Kobielus said. "It's really a development platform, and ties into a services oriented architecture. IBM hasn't really called out that theme but it's undoubtedly part of their road map."

IBM said it will release by year's end technology it calls an Analytics Optimizer, which combines hardware and software to perform even faster analytic queries. "We are doing in-memory exploitation, we are exploiting vector processing inside this predictive optimizer, we are evaluating predicates in parallel using new scanning technologies," Goyal explained.

The goal, said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive for IBM Software Group, is much faster queries with the target of real time business automation "One hour queries for many people don’t cut it," Mills said. "Five second queries all of a sudden start to open up the aperture to more creative thinking."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on July 30, 20090 comments

DOJ Probe Of Oracle-Sun Deal Gives OSS Proponents A Voice

When Oracle late last month said the Department of Justice wanted more information on how Java is licensed before signing off on its agreement to acquire Sun Microsystems, it mainly went under the radar.

Oracle indicated in its disclosure that it doesn't see the inquiry as a barrier to closing the deal later this summer. Burton Group analyst Ann Thomas Manes agrees. "It just means they are not on the fast path, it will just delay things -- that's all," she said.

But it also underscores discontent over how Sun currently oversees the Java Community Process (JCP), said Ovum analyst Tony Baer. "No one was overjoyed about Sun's leadership of the JCP and it's not like Oracle engenders a warm and fuzzy feeling either," Baer said.

In the latest twist, MySQL founder Monty Widenius has stepped into the picture. Widenius, who jumped ship from Sun Microsystems and recently formed the Open Database Alliance, is urging those that fear Oracle might abandon the open source framework of MySQL to weight in with the DOJ.

Widenius has some clout. DOJ officials interviewed him last week for the second time, in particular how the deal might impact open source software, notably MySQL and Java. In a blog posting last week, Widenius said he has been approached in recent months from MySQL customers concerned about its future.

"From this it's clear that most MySQL users are very interested to know what Oracle is up to, but those that have tried to inquire Oracle about this, myself included, have been met with complete silence," he wrote in the blog posting, where he gave the following advice:

"For those that are worried about the future of OSS software as part of the Oracle / Sun deal, and the affect (both good and bad) it may have on their business, the U.S..Department of Justice is encouraging companies that are dependent on MySQL / Java to contact them and tell them how the deal may affect their business," he noted. "The more information the department gets, the better equipped they will be in deciding what their recommendation for the deal will be."

Manes pointed out that if Oracle decides it is not going to give away the run time for free, or if it were to bring back the source code and no longer make it available, or in a worst-case scenario the company decided to dismantle the JCP, it has that right. "That's because Sun retains all governance rights to Java," she said. "Now I seriously doubt Oracle would do something quite so stupid, because it's certainly in their business interest to facilitate the Java market. When I talk to various government organizations regarding the acquisition, I have made that quite clear."

As a Java developer, what's your take on this? Do you think the DOJ should put restrictions on the deal? Drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on July 13, 20090 comments

Can Google's Chrome OS Outshine Windows?

When a reporter accosted Bill Gates last week at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Idaho to solicit his reaction to the Google's announcement that it will launch an operating system targeted at netbooks, he said "no comment."

At that moment, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who was just a few feet away from Gates, said, "it would be better if you didn't make that comment."  While that widely reported sidebar described the two as laughing following the awkward encounter, the main story has generated some serious questions and debate.

Reaction is decidedly mixed. In its initial form though, it's hard to make direct comparisons between Chrome OS and Windows 7.  "I don't think that it's a direct frontal assault on Windows, it's more a flanking maneuver, in the sense that it's a use case of cloud computing from netbooks," said Gartner analyst Ray Valdes in an interview last week. "I think eventually it will have an impact on enterprises but not at least within the next three years."

The concept of a Web centric browser has not totally been lost on Microsoft either. Helen Wang, a senior researcher in Microsoft Research's Systems and Networking Group, will be presenting a paper next month on the Gazelle Web Browser, a project that seeks to evolve the browser into an operating system, according to a blog posting June 29.

Still Valdes warns not to read too much into Gazelle. "It's got minimal resources," he said. "I don't think Gazell itself will ever become a product but it's tough to believe that some of the concepts regarding it won't show up in Microsoft products."

As for Chrome OS, Valdes wrote in a blog posting "if Google delivers on its plan, it seems that Chrome OS will be the first cloud-oriented OS to ship."

Jay Lyman, an analyst at The 451 Group, agreed. "This is the most significant 'cloud' OS to date and it further demonstrates how in many ways and increasingly, the Internet is serving as the operating system for many devices and users," Lyman said in an e-mail.

While Lyman does see Google's move as an assault on Microsoft's Windows dominance, "the greater competitive threat may be to current Linux OS providers in the desktop and netbook space, such as Canonical and Xandros. Users who are already considering or using an alternative OS will likely be the biggest audience for Chrome OS."

Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady agrees. "The various Linux distributions are less highly differentiated from Chrome OS than is Windows," O'Grady wrote in a blog posting.  "Customers purchasing Windows are typically doing for specific reasons; they rely on Windows compatible applications, they're used to it, and so on. The competing Linux distributions enjoy no such visibility yet."

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin sees it differently. In a blog posting last week, Zemlin declared Google's announcement as a victory for Linux. "The more companies and manufacturers base their products on Linux, the stronger Linux becomes," he wrote.

Because Chrome OS will be Linux based and open source, it could have implications for development, Lyman noted, given Google's size and influence. "It will be interesting to see what type of licensing and community path Google lays out for the new OS," Lyman noted.

Whether you are a developer or an architect, what's your take on how Chrome OS may some day impact the way you develop applications? Drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on July 12, 20093 comments