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Showing posts from 2010

Bickel Business Review of 2010

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As reported last year, I am trying to do a Business and a Running Year in Review at the end of each year. It is a good way for me to kind of think thru what has happened and where I am going. It also leaves a trail (I have personal Christmas Card write-ups that go back to 1995 that are personally interesting to read).
2010 has been a big year with very major changes in CloudBees, eXo, Metaverse and RunSignUp.com. Maybe a bit too busy at times, but very cool to be working with so many smart people and figuring out ways I can take credit for their brilliant ideas.
Marlise noticed the Microsoft Cloud commercial the other day and asked if that had anything to do with what I work on. I said pretty much every one of the companies (besides the store) I work with is focused on the Cloud. This along with mobile/tablet devices will be the #1 topic the next several years in the world of technology... I thought for sure my middleware experience would be totally useless by now, but the indust…

CloudBees and Stax - Why?

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There are going to be many companies in the Platform as a Service space. In spite of (now two in the past two months) acquisitions, it will take us a long time to get bigger than VMWare, Salesforce and Red Hat. But what we can do is be the innovation leader in PaaS.

There are two ways we will become the innovation leader:
1. Really smart people.
2. Get stuff done.

Spike and Garrett are the leads that join us from Stax. They saw the vision of PaaS back in 2007, and have been building a great, rock solid platform the past three years. Their deep background in middleware and data service layers enabled them to see the opportunity and pitfalls and challenges. And while they have a few arrows in their backs from the early leadership they have shown, they are even smarter from the experience. They join a "rock star" team that includes KK, Michael, Vivek, Ryan, Adrian, Caleb, Fabian and others who are all just very bright.

So we probably have the highest concentration of top talen…

Salesforce moves downstream

The typical logic is for companies to move up the stack. Salesforce this week took a pretty substantial set of steps toward becoming an infrastructure company for the new era of the Cloud. To be honest, I am blown away (and happy that I am a Salesforce stockholder).
Certainly Salesforce made it's mark as a CRM application that was deployed on their Cloud so it took away any need for software and IT. Salesforce drastically lowering costs and let businesses run at their own pace rather than the lethargy of many IT-heavy apps like Siebel and Oracle CRM. For the past several years it has really built out a community and platform with AppExchange. I have also heard interesting stories about companies like the Japanese postal service deploying a major application on the platform. But deals like these were kind of hidden and not a central part of the business.
This week, Salesforce announced three significant endeavors: Database.com - Just like Amazon opened up their servers with AWS,…

CloudBees Series A Funding

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The Boston Globe broke the news this morning. CloudBees has taken a round of financing led by Matrix Partners. While not quite the reunion of the Beatles, Sacha has brought together some of the characters from the JBoss experience – David Skok, Marc Fleury. I kind of feel like Ringo – not quite as cool as John, Paul and George…

We had a number of discussions with different VC’s, and in the end decided that David had done so much to help JBoss be successful that it was the best way to go. He has a somewhat unique depth of experience from being an entrepreneur himself 5 times over. And of course his success as a VC is widely well regarded.
One of the interesting things about this investment team that matches up well with the technology team we have in place is being prepared to run a marathon. We are building for the long run.

Here's the official press release.

Oracle Doesn't Get Open Source

Kohsuke Kawaguchi, the creator of the Hudson Open Source project woke up Monday morning and discovered he was no longer able to access the Source Code Repository to make commits. Oracle had decided to shut it down, as they are shutting down many projects in java.net to try to move it to their own infrastructure. Not only that, but the mailing lists were shut down as well. They said not to worry, they will have it up in a week.

No notice, no transition plan, no respect for the open source community or the project creator.

Fortunately KK knows open source better than Oracle. And KK knows how to run an open source infrastructure better.

He and others in the community moved the mailing list archive and list to Google Groups and Nabble - http://hudson-labs.org/content/mailing-lists so there is better functionality and search capability than before. He moved the source code to Git - https://github.com/hudson/hudson.

He did this all in a few hours. All completely open. Oracle is still…

Why a PaaS? - The Hudson Use Case

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It is no secret that CloudBees is building a Java Platform as a Service offering for release in 2011. But a lot of people who develop Java apps don’t really understand what that buys them, or how it is really any different than traditional middleware like JBoss or Spring. I thought our own running of Hudson as a Service on top of our pre-PaaS might be a good way to explain the differences.
We will look at three levels – 1. Plain vanilla Hudson, 2. Nectar, the version of Hudson for larger on premise sites, and 3. CloudBees DEV@Cloud offering which includes Hudson as a Service built on our underlying PaaS. Then we will dig down to see what is happening underneath and what role the PaaS is playing in this (sorry in advance for the length of this blog).

1. Plain vanilla Hudson – on Premise. Hudson is the leading Continuous Integration server, created by our very own Kohsuke Kawaguchi (KK), and is used in over 25,000 organizations. It uses a Master-Agent architecture that makes it simp…

The Hudson Open Source Community

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Several of my old friends have asked me about the CloudBees strategy with bringing KK, the creator and primary contributor to the Hudson open source community, on board. I figured I would write it down, since this is important stuff…
It will be a similar strategy to what we did at JBoss. There are two key parts:
Respect for the community, respect for the project leader. We want the community to thrive and grow. We actually coined the term “Professional Open Source” in recognition of the significance of the people who had the foresight to create a successful open source project and build it from nothing.Provide a business strategy that would drive the economics to keep investing in the project. We wanted to find a way to invest more in the project. We look for virtuous cycles.
While at JBoss, Sacha, Marc and I worked closely to bring the leaders of a number of open source projects on board. The list includes Bela Ban of JGroups, Gavin King of Hibernate, Mark Little of Arjuna (whose…

Notes from the Goldman Cloud Conference

I spent 6 hours yesterday at the Goldman Cloud conference. I figured I would write up the highlights...

It was a full room of investors and a few industry insiders. The panelists were all mid-cap to large-cap firms.

What was interesting is some of the missing companies. No IBM or HP, which I don't mind since they take such a portfolio view of the world and seem to not be on the cutting edge. But the big missing company was Amazon. It was funny to hear companies like Rackspace diss them as a niche vendor.

The one data point I heard was Cloud Computing will grow to $44B (10% of IT spending) in 2013, up from $17B (5%) today. SaaS is big driver. CIOs accept it.

One of the banks that was there talked about how they are doing private and public cloud now and saving about 20%.

Brian Byun of VMWare was on two panels. I found him to be the brightest start int he room. Very direct and clear on their vision and obviously executing well. He had a numebr of statements in his first panel I …

Hudson - the perfect on ramp to the Cloud

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CloudBees announced today that it has joined forces with InfraDNA and Kohsuke Kawaguchi (KK). I've been trying to convince KK to join CloudBees since last spring. So I am happy.

There are two reasons why I'm happy. First, KK is a great guy. Smart, driven in an easy going way, and someone who can create something out of nothing. The second reason is that CloudBees believes Hudson and Continuous Integration are the core of making the development - QA - build - release cycle more agile. Witness the rapid adoption of Hudson across Java, Ruby, PHP and .Net shops. Also witness the number of plug-ins (over 350) of the open source Hudson community.

We felt we wanted to help make this community successful, and to provide innovation that allows this community to move toward the Cloud - offering them the opportunity of even further agility and cost savings.

CloudBees is now offering a new product - Nectar. Nectar is a subscription offering for Hudson users. It provides:Support fo…

Salesforce Chatter - a Road-map for Modern Apps

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A lot of people scoffed at Salesforce Chatter when it came out. Of course with the vision we had back at Ringside that all apps should become social, and now my involvement with eXo, I have been a big believer in this for a long time.

I was recently reminded of this when we were doing a sales review at eXo last week, and I heard how Chatter was actually being used by our sales and marketing teams. It turns out it was a natural adoption for them. And it results in more and better information being shared within the team.
For example, when a sales rep updates info on a customer, others can see the update in their activity stream. The cross pollination of what is working and not is great. But also others can lend a hand if they happen to have better knowledge on something. The sales team says it is helping them and our prospects and customers.
Then I happened to get an email from Salesforce that highlighted what customers were getting out of it:
Collaborate privately and securelyImprov…

eXo Emerges as Alternative to Liferay + Alfresco

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For the past 5 years Liferay and Alfresco have had great growth and emerged as the leaders in the US for Open Source Portal and Content Management. Over the past year I have seen eXo grow from leading the French market in this same space to be the emerging, modern alternative to Liferay + Alfresco. The diagram at the right (from the Real Story Group) shows how eXo has taken a lead over Liferay in both the evolution of the vendor and the product development.

There are several key reasons for that shift:
Partnership with Red Hat. Clearly Red Hat taking our product to market on a worldwide basis, having the resources to meet the needs of the largest customers is a big win.
Benjamin Mestrallet, the founder and CEO, moved to the US and opened an office in San Francisco. This has helped spur new relationships (some announced and many in the works) as well as visibility in the world market.
Funding to allow us to expand and meet the additional worldwide demands and build out our new technol…

IBM Launches Dev & Test Service for the Cloud

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Last week we got another hint that CloudBees is moving in the right direction when IBM announced their Cloud offering for Development and Testing.

I was raised in an IBM family, read Buck Rogers book when I was younger, my Father feared for me when I did not go to work for IBM, and heard the “You never get fired for going with IBM” line more than a few times. While some make fun of IBM, I do have an inbred healthy respect for them. They have superlative marketing and well-thought-out positioning. They have a huge installed base that mirrors the market, although perhaps a bit on the laggard side so their customers feel “safe”.

This announcement reflects all of that. It has compelling benefits for the customer:
“Traditional development and testing environments pose several challenges: high labor and capital costs, long development cycles and greater risk for configuration errors. Developers are now finding ways to meet these challenges using cloud computing.”

It includes a clear high le…

Spring Introduces Code2Cloud

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It looks like the big guys are following the lead that CloudBees took back in August to bring Cloud Services to developers and QA groups.

Spring announced its upcoming (Q1, 2011) Code2Cloud offering this week - http://www.springsource.com/code2cloud. It is a nice announcement that reconfirms the direction that CloudBees – www.CloudBees.com is taking.

The Cloud can definitely bring Development and QA processes great improvements in costs and agility. Spring seems to be focusing its early Cloud efforts on trying to tie it easily to Eclipse and several other projects like Mylyn, Git, Hudson and Bugzilla. The basic idea is that a developer sitting in Eclipse can run services that reside in the Cloud. Since it is several months away for Beta, it is difficult to tell how open or scalable it will be. For example, there was no mention of Maven, SVN, Ant, scalability for Hudson, or long term positioning of a Java PaaS.

CloudBees has taken a different approach for our first version of DEV@Clo…

CloudBees Launches Hudson as a Service

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In my 2009 year end blog I hinted at the new start-up being created by my friend Sacha Labourey, the former CTO of JBoss. I am happy to say the past 9 months have flown by and Sacha and the team have created something truly exciting.

The vision of CloudBees is to offer a Java Platform as a Service. This is cool, but the market will take time to evolve. The interesting twist that CloudBees has come up with is to offer real services to the Java community as a Cloud based service (kind of like how SalesForce is useful to sales teams, CloudBees will initially be very useful to development teams).

I call the core of the offering “Hudson as a Service” (HaaS). In case you do not know, Hudson is an open source Continuous Integration project. It allows development teams to set it up to watch for any code changes in places like svn and git, automagically do a build with things like Ant and Maven, do tests and then take actions like rolling back or rolling forward! It has reached similar re…

JBoss Enterprise Portal Platform - Site Publisher

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I was up at JBoss World this week for the big announcement of JBoss EPP and EPP Site Publisher. I got to meet with a number of customers, sales, marketing and core developers. Great to reconnect with so many old friends. And especially great to see the excitement behind this new announcement. A couple of observations:

- Customers are very interested in either adding these capabilities to their existing JBoss apps, or in upgrading to a more modern architecture and features from their old (read outdated) portals like Vignette, Oracle and IBM.

- Red Hat/JBoss sales likes the fact they are no longer behind in terms of features. EPP5 takes them ahead of every other alternative in the market. And JBoss customers no longer have to go to three vendors to get what they want! They expect EPP-SP to make a significant dent in their quotas this year.

- Everyone likes the idea of being able to get Portal and Web Content Management from one vendor with the size and credibility of JBoss.

- A lot …

eXo - Putting all the Announcements in Perspective

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It has been a very busy and exciting month for eXo. Our goal is quite simple - help Java shops modernize their existing enterprise transactional/RDB oriented applications. We are doing this with open source technology solutions and a growing set of partners.

Here are the highlights:
1. Rolled out all of our Open Source implementations of our Solutions, including:
GateIn Portal
eXo Social Services
eXo Web Content ManagementeXo Collaboration ServiceseXo Knowledge Services2. Rolled out a whole new website. The cool thing about this is the eXo Resource Center for developers - the best one I have seen for developers and architects. And wait another few months and you will see the content here more than triple.

3. JBoss announced the JBoss Enterprise Portal Platform (EPP), based on our joint open source project, GateIn. JBoss further expanded this with the availability of EPP Site Publisher, which is a total web solution with the bundling of the eXo Web Content Management solution.

All of the…

eXo Social Project Released

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We rolled out our Social open source project yesterday. To me there are two interesting things that Java shops will now be able to do very easily:

1. Activity Streams. Rich Friedman calls this the new Home Page. In Facebook land this translates to other messages posted by friends. In the Enterprise world, this means events that happen in the organization. The critical events in an organization are typically tracked by enterprise Java Apps - things like new sales, new leads, escalation of problems, thresholds being hit, inventory levels rising or dropping too fast. With eXo Social, we make it easy to let users have access to these events via their own Activity Stream.

2. The Real Organization. Companies are not always run by the formal organization, but the informal network that is created when individuals work collaboratively to solve problems and move the company forward. Social networking has a bad image of employees wasting time with Farmville, but when implemented within the…

New version of RunSignUp Coming

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There is an exciting new release of www.RunSignUp.com coming next week! We would like to invite all of our race directors to be a part of our testing process. All you need to do is go to http://test.RunSignUp.com. You should be able to login with your usual username and password (there is a convenient button if you forgot your password that will set up a new one for you). We have your registered users for your race as of a few days ago. The best thing to do is go in and try to add some of the new features, like store items or a donation or a coupon code and see how your race page looks. Go ahead and add runners to your event. The credit card processing is NOT hooked up – so there will be no charges if you test that out. And we will not be saving any of this data or any of the changes you make to your test race. Let us know any feedback or suggestions. Thanks!Here is a look at the major new features:Easy Family Sign Up. Allows a person to sign up multiple people at the same …

VMForce.com Thoughts

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Great announcement. The only problem with it is that it is not available today. But today will come soon enough...

For SalesForce, this is a huge step in saying they want to be a major Cloud deployment platform. They want all Java apps to run on their infrastructure - it is no longer about just hosting their own programming model. This also jumps up a level from what Amazon and Google and Rackspace are offering in terms of ease of use and deployment for Java apps. And of course their trump card is access to their database and apps and users - the thing that has proved a virtuous cycle of bringing 3rd party apps and more customers to SalesForce.

For VMWare and Spring, it is a major proof point of their platform and applicability for the Cloud. It gives them a solid use-case to focus their development efforts on to adapt Spring to the new era of Cloud-enabling middleware (not a trivial task), and provides a clear higher level use case for moving to the Cloud. Of course VMWare and S…

Looking for a Developer & Runner

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We have started the search for another developer and runner at www.RunSignUp.com. We are doing things in PHP and MySQL and Linux. Looking for someone who likes to learn (we have some plans for iPhone and Android as well as more Facebook and Twitter work) and has interest in building Internet start-ups. Also someone who runs and would understand the running community that we serve. Location is not important, as we work from our homes. Part-time is OK as well. If you know someone, send them my way...

eXo Industry Trends Part 6

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Salesforce Chatter and VMWare Zimbra

One of the biggest signals of a shift in the market comes when innovative companies make major moves. The two announcements above are a very clear move toward higher level services deployed in a Cloud - the type of architecture that eXo enables.

Salesforce Chatter is
a new layer on the Force.com development platform (sound familiar to the eXo platform running on top of the Java development platform?). This is a major release that offers direct capabilities to Salesforce users. However, the real power is making this a platform for others to extend their own Force.com applications.

Here is how Salesforce describes it: "With the new Chatter platform, collaboration features and capabilities will be available for any application built and run on the platform. Your custom apps will generate real-time feed updates, incorporate user profiles, and encourage dynamic interactions between people and groups." (Geez, this again sounds familiar with eXo…

eXo Industry Trends Part 5

Relational Databases - No Longer the Key to the Castle

It has been 40 years since Codd published his "A relational model of data for large shared data banks" - ushering in the era of relational databases. Since then, the industry has built applications around relational data at the core. RDB's have become the core asset of many companies.

However, this is changing because of the web. A case could be made that the most valuable database in the world is Google's index of the web - certainly not a relational database. The web's core is built around documents and document linking. Content and new architectures for databases like Big Table and Hadoop are now replacing RDB's as the core of applications.

This has some implications for the Java community and the traditional focus on building RDB-driven applications. The focus of Java middleware has been on EJB's and JDBC and Hibernate and create applications on top of these API's. This has led many Java s…

eXo Industry Trends Part 4

Cloud Computing Characteristics

There are so many views and definitions of "Cloud Computing" in the market. Some view it as snake oil like Ken Olsen of Digital dismissed Unix in the 1980's. Some view it as some pure architecture and want to define it by a set of standards or implementations.

I think the more important thing is to see some of the basic concepts and implementations in the market and understand how that could influence building and deploying applications less expensively.

At eXo, we think the Cloud has several key characteristics we are trying to build into our product and allow customers the ability to deploy into various forms of Cloud computing. The five key characteristics we think about are:
ElasticMulti-tenancy
AgileOn DemandCost EffectiveWe'll start from the bottom and work up. Our open source implementation fits well with the promise of cost effectiveness. Customers can use our software for free. And our subscription offerings are very competit…

eXo Industry Trends Part 3

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SOA and the Web

I had the fortune of spending time with Yefim Natis of Gartner on Friday. I've known Yefim for years as a very skeptical guy with some usually very good insights. He gave a presentation on Gartner's perspective on the cloud, which really crystallized a couple of things for me. One of his graphics is amazingly simple, as most good things are:

Of course when presented it was in build mode. As discussed in Part 2 of this series on the industry trends behind eXo, Java applications are traditionally just the bottom two images - with a transactional, relational database driven back end application and typically some fairly un-interactive web screens.

Yefim maintains that this is the picture the world is heading to over the next 5 years. Richer interfaces for users, and a mix of traditional enterprise apps and new cloud-based services combined at the user experience level. All driven thru a Services Oriented Architecture.

SOA has been so long associated with traditi…

eXo Industry Trends Part 2

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Java, .Net, and PHP Websites

Generally speaking the list above are the three major languages today for building dynamic websites with huge ecosystems.

Java websites are typically built from a transactional and heavy Relational Database driven set of needs. Large enterprises and governments used Java Application Servers to build scalable, secure and transactional websites.

.Net and PHP have typically been associated with other types of websites where the design is more about the interactions with the users. Facebook would be a posterchild for this generalization as it is built on PHP and has very high interactivity as the big design goal.

The .Net and PHP worlds have further benefited from enhanced platforms to make building websites even faster with Sharepoint and Drupal. These platforms include features to help build websites, have a focus on content in addition to relational data, allow collaboration, and provide a robust set of templates and applications that can be simply added. …

eXo Market Positioning

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Before I start the eXo Industry Trends Series, I may as well give our current perception of how eXo fits into the market landscape and how we can help certain organizations.

Java middleware like JBoss, Spring and WebSphere have become the standard for web applications built by enterprises. However it has been totally focused on scalability and efficiency of controlled, self-hosted relational database applications. Meanwhile, Cloud Services and the consumer web has driven much richer user environments with very fast development and deployment. These services provide not just better interactivity but a combination of features like mixing content and data, enabling collaboration and social features, and offering much more personal control and empowerment. The .Net and PHP communities have the Sharepoint and Drupal frameworks to bring this new rich web environment to those communities.

The eXo Platform is focused on making Java relevant again by building on the solid existing Java middl…

eXo Industry Trends Series Part 1

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In September Sacha Labourey, the former CTO of JBoss, introduced me to Benjamin Mestrallet, the founder and CEO of eXo. Since then we have been working on an enhanced plan to take eXo forward.

There are a lot of shifts happening in the market that are probably bigger than the impact of Open Source was in the first half of the last decade. I am hoping to write a series of blogs this week to give my perspective on these shifts and how eXo can have an impact on organizations looking to capitalize on these shifts.

So hopefully a week from now I will have pontificated on things like Cloud, SOA for the web, the state of Java, the future of data and databases, and the rise of consumer web technologies and their impact on enterprises.