IBM Lock In Approach Modified and Given New Life

September 20, 2018

I read “Alphabet Backs GitLab’s Quest to Surpass Microsoft’s GitHub.” The write up explains that Microsoft bought GitHub. Google invests in GitLab. Plus:

It’s the latest major deal in the so-called DevOps market. Broadcom Inc. agreed to buy CA Technologies for $19 billion earlier this year; Atlassian Corp. bought OpsGenie Inc. for $295 million; and Salesforce Inc. spent $6.5 billion to purchase MuleSoft Inc.

From my point of view, these are open source oriented deals.

These deals are part of a revitalization of the old school IBM type of vendor lock in. The way that once worked was:

Buy our big iron

Use our software

Use our preferred partners

Or

Good luck getting those mainframe puppies to behave.

Now the trajectory is to embrace open source, support anyone who codes something semi useful, add proprietary bits, and lock in the platform users.

In short, the lock in play is undergoing a renascence.

How about that open source credo? But where’s Amazon? If you want our take on Amazon’s tactics, contact benkent2020 at yahoo dot com and ask about our for fee briefing on this subject.

Stephen E Arnold, September 20, 2018

Changing How Electronics Are Done

July 18, 2018

I read “DARPA Plans a Major Remake of US Electronics.” The write up reports that the US government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding activities to “radically alter how electronics are made.” The idea is to make an engineer skilled in the anticipated art to become more productive. If the funding generates innovation and applied research deliverables, “the effect could be to make small groups of engineers capable of feats that take 100 engineers to achieve today.”

There are some interesting observations presented in the write up. These are attributed to Bill Chappell, who is the DARPA directors for this initiative. The write up is important because the stated objectives are one that will allow some technical and process roadblocks to be removed; for example, acceleration of innovation, increasing productivity, and stepping up activity for open source hardware.

However, there are several ideas percolating in the statements in my opinion.

First, the US is not producing what we call in Harrod’s Creek “home grown electronics engineers.” In part, the initiative is to increase US activity. China and Russia, two cite two nation states, are creating more technical professionals. Now the US has to do more with less.

Second, big picture problems are not what some US projects accomplish. The way innovation works is to make incremental advances within often quite specific scopes of interest. This new initiative is more big picture and less improving the efficiency of an advertising server’s predictive matching in silicon or some equally narrow focus.

Third, the program suggests to me that some insightful US government professionals are concerned about the US electronics industry. The idea that technology from another nation state could create an unknown vulnerability is sufficiently troubling to warrant this big picture program.

In short, the failures of the US electronics sector have become a concern. One hopes that this project will address, in part, this significant issue. In my DarkCyber video news program to be released on July 24, 2018, I comment about the forthcoming Chinese made blockchain phone. I ask one question, “Does this device have the capability to phone home to the manufacturer? Could the device be monitored by an entity in the country of origin?”

Stephen E Arnold, July 18, 2018

Munich Migrates To Windows 10

March 28, 2018

Despite the superiority of other operating systems, Microsoft Windows still tops the list as a popular office enterprise tool.  Windows PCs have easy user interfaces, applications for easy management, and are understood at a near universal level.  It does not come as a surprise when Munich, Germany decided to implement a change to Windows 10, says Silicon: “Munich Approves 49.3 million Euro Windows 10 Migration Plan.”

Munich’s city council decided to spend over 50 million euros to migrate their computer system to Microsoft Windows 10.  This is the first major overhaul the city council has had since 2004 when they implemented a Linux desktop program.  Linux is the open source software of choice and the city council decided to use it to reduce their dependency on Microsoft.

The “LiMux” programme saw a customised version of Ubuntu Linux rolled out to about 14,800 of the city’s 29,000 users and LibreOffice used by more than 15,000, in a bid to reduce the government’s dependence upon Microsoft.  In 2012 then-mayor Christian Ude said LiMux had saved Munich more than €4m in licensing costs.  The rollout was completed in 2013, nearly 10 years after it began, but a political shift the following year saw leadership turn in favour of a return to Windows.

The transition back to Microsoft comes with a change in the city council’s leadership.  Dieter Reiter pushed fo have Microsoft license and he won.  The Microsoft Windows transition cost of over 49 million euros is only part of the 89 million euro IT overhaul that is in progress.  The IT overhaul also includes retraining and testing staff.

The Munich city council will not be migrating to Microsoft Office, which would incur an even higher price tag.  Munich will instead continue to use LibreOffice, because of the staff’s familiarity and the custom templates.  The city council also hopes to implement cloud application usage.

As with anything related to politics, opposing parties are critical of the return to Microsoft and say it wastes money.  Nothing new on that end and it only points to more organizational problems than a simple OS.

Whitney Grace, March 28, 2018

Open Source Panda Simplifies Data Analysis

March 20, 2018

An article at Quartz draws our attention to a potential alternative to Excel—the open source Pandas—in, “Meet the Man Behind the Most Important Tool in Data Science.” Writer Dan Kopf profiles Panda’s developer, Wes McKinny, who launched the Python tool in 2009. In 2012, Pandas’ popularity took off. Now, Kopf tells us:

Millions of people around the world use Pandas. In October 2017 alone, Stack Overflow, a website for programmers, recorded 5 million visits to questions about Pandas from more than 1 million unique visitors. Data scientists at Google, Facebook, JP Morgan, and virtually other major company that analyze data uses Pandas. Most people haven’t heard of it, but for many people who do heavy data analysis—a rapidly growing group these days—life wouldn’t be the same without it. (Pandas is open source, so it’s free to use.) So what does Pandas do that is so valuable? I asked McKinney how he explains it to non-programmer friends. ‘I tell them that it enables people to analyze and work with data who are not expert computer scientists,’ he says. ‘You still have to write code, but it’s making the code intuitive and accessible. It helps people move beyond just using Excel for data analysis.’

McKinney is inspired to improve data science tools because he likes to “empower people to solve problems.” In fact, Pandas sprung from his frustration at the limitations of available tools when he first came to embrace Python. See the article to follow the developer from his time as a high school athlete to his current, full-time work on Pandas and other open source projects, as well as more on Pandas itself.

Cynthia Murrell, March 20, 2018

Quote to Note: Facebook and Open Source As a Wooden Club

February 24, 2018

I read “Serverless & GraphQL.” Here’s the passage which caught my attention because I did not know about this use of open source as a wooden club:

And I don’t know how many of you know about some of the Facebook technologies and the patents and licensing issues that are around those- they had an interesting clause, if you sue Facebook, you lose the right to use any of their stuff in any of their products and some people were really scared about it.

That’s one way to earn a “like.”

Stephen E Arnold, February 25, 2018

The Companies Leading Open Source

November 6, 2017

Open-source enthusiasts will want to check out this roster from Datamation, “35 Top Open Source Companies.” We’re reminded that the open-source community has moved well beyond a collection of individual hobbyists to include many corporate initiatives. The article notes:

While independent developers are still an important part of the open source community, today much of the work on open source projects is being done by corporate developers. In a recent appearance at the Open Source Summit, Linux founder Linus Torvalds acknowledged this corporate influence and welcomed it. ‘It’s very important to have companies in open source,’ he said. ‘It’s one thing I have been very happy about.’ The list below highlights some of the leading for-profit companies that are using, sponsoring and contributing to open source projects. It includes a mix of large enterprises, small startups and everything in between. Some of the companies exclusively offer products based on open source software, while others sell a mix of proprietary and open source solutions. But all of these companies play a significant role in the open source community.

The write-up emphasizes the list is alphabetical, not a ranking of any sort. Red Hat is there, of course; they are behind Apache and OpenStack, after all, and boast the most popular Linux iteration for large organizations. We also see Cloudera and Hortonworks, homes popular supported Hadoop versions, and the vast  open-source repository, GitHub. As for search, Elastic makes the roll with its Elasticsearch project, and MongoDB is recognized for its popular NoSQL database. Some of the biggest companies we see include Adobe, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, and Samsung. See the write-up for the complete list.

Cynthia Murrell, November 6, 2017

Internet Archive: The Bono Books

October 16, 2017

I read “Books from 1923 to 1941 Now Liberated!” The collection is based on books which libraries can scan. The write up explains the provision of the US copyright law which makes these books eligible for inclusion in the Internet Archive. Hopefully libraries will find the resources to contribute books. I did some spot checks. One gap is history books. There are others. This is an excellent effort. The interface to the Bono books retains the Internet Archive’s unique approach to interfaces; for example, clicking on a book displays the scanned pages. Clicking on a page turns the page. The outside edge of the scanned image allows one to “jump” to a particular page. Getting back to a book’s table of contents takes a bit of effort, however. Those looking for anthologies can find a collection of 20th century poetry by hunting. The search system is just good enough. Worth checking out. Libraries, scan those history books. Who doesn’t love Theodor Mommsen’s early work?

Stephen E Arnold, October 16, 2017

Enterprise Search: Still Floundering after All These Years

October 11, 2017

Enterprise search conferences once had pride of place. Enterprise search or “search” was the Big Data, artificial intelligence, and cyber intelligence solution from 1998 to 2007.

But by 2007, the fanciful claims of enterprise search vendors were perceived as “big hat, no cattle” posturing. Unable to generate sustainable revenues, the high profile enterprise search systems began looking for a buyer. Those who failed disappeared. Do you know where Convera, Delphes, Entopia, and Siderean are today? What’s the impact of Exalead on Dassault? Autonomy on Hewlett Packard Enterprise? Vivisimo on IBM?

Easy questions to ignore. Time marches on. Proprietary search cost a bundle to keep working. The “fix” to the development, enhancement, and bug fix problems was open source.

A solution emerged. Lucene. That brings us to the title of this blog post: “Enterprise Search: Still Floundering after All These Years.”

The money from license fees is insufficient to make enterprise search work in a good enough way. Open source search, which seems to be largely free of license fees, allows vendors to offer search and highly profitable services to the organizations who want or need an “enterprise search system.”

This means that a vendor who makes more money offering search services can be perceived as a problem to an venture funded company built on promises and tens of millions in venture capital.

The truth of this observation was revealed in an article written by or for Search Technologies, a unit of a Fancy Dan consulting firm. If I understand the Search Technologies’ write up, Lucidworks (né Lucid Words) told Search Technologies that it was not welcome at a conference designed to promote Solr.

Here’s what Search Technologies said in “Why Wasn’t Search Technologies at Lucene/Solr Revolution 2017?”

Lucene/Solr Revolution’s organizer, Lucidworks, informed us that we were no longer welcome to exhibit or speak at the event. Lucidworks considered us a company that:

  • Competes with their professional services group (maybe)
  • Is not likely to resell Lucidworks’ platform exclusively (we are vendor-agnostic, after all), and,
  • Has technology assets that compete with their Fusion platform (partially true)

I don’t care too much about venture funded outfits running conferences to make their “one true way” evident to the attendees. I don’t worry about a blue chip consulting firm’s ability to generate sales leads.

No.

I find that some of enterprise search’s most problematic weaknesses have not been solved after 50 years of flailing. Examples include:

  • The cost of moving beyond “good enough” information access
  • Revealing that enterprise search systems are expensive to tune and shape to the needs of an organization
  • Developing solutions which keep indexes current and searches responsive
  • Seamless handling different types of content, including video, engineering drawings, and data tucked inside legacy systems
  • Keeping the majority of the users happy so bootleg search systems are not installed to meet departmental or operating unit needs.

The “search” problem is an illustration of innovation running out of gas. I have zero stake in Lucidworks, Search Technologies, or enterprise search. I am content to be an observer who points out that search vendors, their marketing, the consultants, and the conference organizers are their own worst enemy.

That’s why enterprise search imploded about a decade ago. Search today is pretty much “good enough.” Antidot, Lucene, Solr, dtSearch, X1, Fabasoft, Funnelback, et al. Each does “good enough” search in my opinion.

To make any system better takes consulting and engineering services. These deliver high margins. Users? Well, users want enterprise search to answer questions and work like Google. After 50 years of effort, no company has been able to meet the users’ needs.

That says more than two consulting firms trading digital jabs. What’s at stake is consulting revenue and proprietary fixes. Users? Yes, what about the users?

Stephen E Arnold, October 10, 2017

Microsoft and Open Source Software: Cost Cutting Tactic or a RedHat Type Play

September 1, 2017

Short honk: We were delighted to read “Windows 10: New Feature Sees Microsoft Blur the Line between Windows and Linux.” The write up explains that Windows allows a person to move outputs to a Linux distribution.

Few have covered Microsoft’s dalliance with Solr and the increased interest in using open source software to reduce development costs at Microsoft.

I suppose that’s understandable. The new president is not giving talks about following in the footsteps of IBM which has based dear old Watson on Lucene, home brew code, and technology from acquisitions.

Open source is an easy way to reduce development costs, keep pace with the innovations from the “community,” and free up time for marketing and sales.

Microsoft is becoming a close cousin to IBM, complete with major league strike outs like the Windows phone adventure.

A more significant misperception appears in the write up. I noted this passage:

The Free Software Foundation Europe, has previously said Microsoft’s gradual acceptance of Linux is a compliment, and a net gain for the Free Software movement.

Microsoft’s enthusiasm for some open source technology may be a precursor of Microsoft’s getting in the open source software business, emulating or duplicating the business models of RedHat and Elastic (the Elasticsearch folks).

Worth watching.

Stephen E Arnold, September 1, 2017

Support for Open Source AI from Financial Firms

August 31, 2017

Financial tech reporter Ian Allison at the International Business Times finds it interesting that financial services firms are joining tech companies like Google and Microsoft in supporting open source AI solutions. In his piece, “Finance and Artificial Intelligence Are Going ‘Fintech’ and Open Source,” Allison points to one corporate software engineer as instrumental to the trend:

QR Capital Management was probably patient zero when it came to opening up their code around data storage – and this move, shepherded by software engineer Wes McKinney, kickstarted the popular Pandas libraries project. Now he has returned to open source work at Two Sigma. We have also seen open source data storage offerings coming out of Man AHL in the form of Arctic. Taking part in a panel on open source infrastructure, McKinney said investment in an open source project yields dividends later: data storage underlies other verticals, and when other people use the software and build libraries on top of it, that makes in-house systems more compatible.

See this link for more about the panda’s library. In the same panel Allison cites above, participants were asked how best to sustain the open source community. McKinney gave this advice:

I feel a compulsion not to let open source projects die. But without sponsorship it can become hard to sustain. So when commercials ask me how they can help, I say sponsor an individual – to triage issues, do patches; that goes a long way.

So, what industry will be next to throw its weight behind open source projects?

Cynthia Murrell, August 31, 2017

 

Next Page »

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta