About InfoWorld : Advertise : Subscribe : Contact Us : Awards : Events : Store
InfoWorld HomeNewsTest CenterOpinionsProduct GuideTechIndex
 COLUMN ARCHIVE  FORUMS
 

COLUMN

 
Ahead of the Curve
Steve Gillmor

Follow the money

BLOGTROLLING CONTINUES to reward. Hopefully, one day RSS (Really Slick Syndication) tools will automate information gathering, but for now we have to rely on trusted sources for the daily scoop.

   ADVERTISEMENT
  

Free IT resource

TechNet: More ways to know it, share it, and keep it running.

Sponsored by Microsoft

Free IT resource

Attend the SOA Executive Forum: Breaking SOA Bottlenecks SOAExecForum.com/may2007

Sponsored by InfoWorld

RELATED LINKS
»  IT trainer offers master's degree for hackers
»  MSNBC buys participatory news site Newsvine
»  Merchants: eBay ad programs drive buyers away
»  Web services RSS feed 

IDG ENTERPRISE NETWORK
Web Services Caution Abounds  (CIO)

TOP NEWS 


IT SOLUTION SEARCH
In the aggregate, Weblogs provide the best of both worlds -- news and commentary -- but it's a hit-and-miss proposition. Beggars can't be choosers. Weblogs are too often labors of love, born of passion and fueled by persistence of vision.

I say "too often" because those drivers, in and of themselves, can fade with time and wear. Even the other common motivator -- peer recognition -- can dissipate without a coherent foundation of resources. To quote the philosopher Frank Zappa and his Mothers of Invention, "We're only in it for the money."

Actually, InfoWorld lead analyst Jon Udell and Google steered me to Peter Drayton's Weblog. Drayton's reworking of Groove's edge services into the Groove Web Services (GWS) architecture is a marvel of economical system design. Now Drayton is cashing in with what he calls his dream job -- program manager in Microsoft's Common Language Runtime (CLR) team. Apparently, he didn't think he had the credentials for the job back in July when Microsoft's Jim Miller posted a job description in the .dotnet-sscli mailing list. "Apart from making me wish I had a Ph.D. in computer science and 'high visibility in the external computer science research community', " Drayton wistfully wrote, "this is an interesting indicator of how Microsoft is thinking about transferring technology from research (in Rotor) into production (in the CLR)." Rotor is the shared-source implementation of elements of the .Net Framework and the CLR.

But Miller's job description actually read "or" instead of "and," as in "a Ph.D. in computer science or ... a minimum of eight years industry experience at the cutting edge of software technology, interacting with the research community." Drayton's success in transferring Groove's technology from a locked box to an open treasure chest certainly qualifies as the cutting edge.

Blogtrolling uncovered Mitch Kapor's open-source, peer-to-peer PIM (personal information manager) project, though it has been an open secret in the community for at least a year. But Kapor, Lotus founder and Lotus 1-2-3 designer, launched a Weblog to go public with his Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF) and its Chandler project.

Chandler is named after the great detective novelist, but it might as well have been called Colombo in honor of its style, as in "Oh, I just had one more feature ..." The feature list runs the gamut from the usual e-mail and calendaring suspects to the science fiction at the edge of the network -- remote querying and peer-to-peer browsing of others' data, publish/subscribe auto-updating , integrated IM, and presence.

Kapor has invested $5 million in this open-source project, to build on top of a carefully chosen suite of technologies: the cross-platform wxWindows layer, Python's interpreted object-oriented programming language, the ZODB (Zope Object Database) persistent store, Jabber's XML IM platform, and Mozilla's cross-platform browser project.

And Kapor has other significant investors, most notably Mac UI pioneer Andy Hertzfeld, who's volunteered his time to build the first prototype. Initially, Kapor's target was not Microsoft Exchange but market leader Outlook. "While feature-rich, [Outlook] is very complex, which renders most of its functionality moot," Kapor says on his Weblog (http://blogs.osafoundation.org/mitch).

"Its information-sharing features require use of Microsoft Exchange, a server-based product, which is both expensive and complex to administer," Kapor writes, suggesting that Exchange is overkill for small-to-medium organizations, "which we think creates on opportunity we intend to pursue (as well as, of course, serving individual users)."

Five million dollars doesn't go far these days, so enterprise customers will have to wait until commercial developers build on top of Chandler's code base. Kapor says he worries "about migration paths from existing products, synchronization with PDAs, and a whole host of details beyond core functionality ... required to make a truly first-rate product."

Doesn't an open-source Outlook clone such as Ximian's Evolution already fill the bill? "[It's] an approach which benefits users by being familiar, but doesn't take design risks which could have big payoffs for users in power and simplicity," Kapor writes. "We're building the product using up-to-date architectural components (peer-to-peer networking, integrated instant messaging, an RDF-compatible semantic database), and are not saddled with legacy code."

Ironically, OSAF's nonprofit model both intersects and competes with Groove, a company Kapor invested in both privately and as partner in a venture capitalist firm. He talks of Chandler plans for "perhaps half a dozen killer features elsewhere unavailable," one of which would leverage "the general and powerful information-sharing technology (built on top of Jabber) we are embedding."

It's shared vs. open source, investment vs. intellectual capital -- two models for financing innovation. "If I were Microsoft I'd be worried about open source in general, not about losing Outlook/Exchange market share," Kapor blogs. "With or without OSAF, I believe all the applications in Office will be commoditized with equivalent free versions."

And then there's the Redmond approach: "A successful candidate will have high visibility in the external computer science research community, interpersonal skills to deal with both that community and the Microsoft product development community, and a deep passion around the transfer of experimental technology into product."

Place your bets.


Steve Gillmor is director of the InfoWorld Test Center. Contact him at steve_gillmor@infoworld.com.




RELATED SUBJECTS

Web Technologies

Click here for all of Steve Gillmor's past columns.


SPONSORED WHITE PAPERS
EMC - Lower costs and improve reliability-Get the EMC CLARiiON white paper!
Ciphertrust - Are you ready for Sobig.G? Learn how to protect your email systems.
CDW - Personal attention. CDW. The Right Technology. Right Away.
EMC - Explore key performance features and capabilities of EMC ControlCenter 5.1.1.
Intel - Free Intel white paper shows you how to deploy a secure wireless LAN
Cisco - FREE WHITE PAPER: BLUEPRINT to design and implement secure VPNs
Verity, Inc. - "Mass Consolidation Hits the Web-Search Market"
McDATA - Download a FREE storage consolidation white paper from McDATA(R).
Lucent Technologies - Overcoming Common Firewall Limitations
Lucent Technologies - Leverage Your Mobile High Speed Data Access. Download Free White Paper!
Nokia - Get the scoop! Mobilizing business white papers & case studies.
BMC Software - Maximize the Potential of Enterprise Data: Free white paper!
Network Associates - Free white paper - Strategies for Optimizing Network Costs and Benefits
Entrust - Manage identities across applications. Improve productivity.
Stalker Software - CommuniGate Pro - Transform your Email and Calendaring
Remedy - A NEW Gartner Research Note:Producing Quality IT Services

Search the IDG White Paper Library:


SPONSORED LINKS

INFOWORLD MARKETPLACE


» EMC delivers high-speed image capture, storage
Learn how you can quickly capture, organize, and deliver information with EMC ApplicationXtender.
» Agentless SOA Management
SOA operational visibility in less than a day, without installing message agents - free download.
» Apply BPM and ITIL at your IT Help Desk
ServiceWise brings BPM to complete IT service while eliminating integration cost. Learn more here.
» Find IT Consultant
Post Your Project for Free. Get Bids from Thousands of Pre-Screened Consultants. Register Now!
» Metadata Management Software
MetaCenter: Plug & play metadata management software for enterprise systems. Features: data ...




 HOME  NEWS  TEST CENTER  OPINIONS  PRODUCT GUIDE  TECHINDEX   About : Advertise : Subscribe : Contact Us : Awards : Events 

Copyright © 2008, Reprints, Permissions, Licensing, IDG Network, Privacy Policy

All Rights reserved. InfoWorld is a leading publisher of technology information and product reviews on topics including viruses, phishing, worms, firewalls, security, servers, storage, networking, wireless, databases, and web services.

Computerworld :: Network World :: CIO :: PC World :: Darwin :: CMO :: CSO
IT Careers :: JavaWorld :: Macworld :: Mac Central :: Playlist :: GamePro :: GameStar :: Gamerhelp
ITWorld Canada :: Computerwoche :: Techworld UK :: tecChannel :: IDG.se :: IDG.no