Saturday, March 29, 2008

Next-Gen Project Management?

After my last blog on Projity's OpenProj and Project-ON-Demand, I surfed around for recent articles covering the latest in Project Management software.

There was eWeek's "Next-Gen Project Management" which covered offerings from LiquidPlanner and Lunarr. I read this article a couple of times in order to figure out what exactly makes these two particular offerings "Next-Gen". To be honest, I was completely underwhelmed.

Project Management software has been around for a when I see an article touting "Next-Gen", I want to see something that offers more than subsets of the standard "table stakes". I want to see something designed to change the game!

This is why I wrote about Projity. They appear to have all of the important "table stakes" project management features, and they have mixed in both open source and SaaS as game changers. This is a great start, but in an industry that has arguably rehashed a lot of the same-old, same-old stuff for the past 20 years....I'd like to see Projity kick it up a notch further.

What do I consider "Next-Gen" project management? An open source offering, available in standalone or SaaS models, that kicks it up a notch with social features that really add value and help projects come in on time, under budget, and with the minimal resources required.

So, that means, I'd like to see Projity leverage its strong open source and SaaS foundation and mix in social networking features that enable people to capture their thoughts, comments, ratings, pictures, videos, whatever for a given task (or set of tasks)...and gain leverage from the power of social interactions and socially-generated information.

Providing an easy way for people involved in the project to discuss and annotate the tasks with timely, context-appropriate information (text, audio/visual, etc.) that can help the collective group make better decisions...well that's valuable....and that would truly start moving the project management market to the "Next-Gen".

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Projity: Open Source Project Management that is SaaS-y!

I spent 12 years (1988 - 2000) creating Project Management software at Primavera Systems , and since I'm an open source guy, I always figured it was a matter of time before an open source alternative emerged that was good enough to disrupt Microsoft Project.

Well, that time has come. I recently downloaded Projity's OpenProj, and for those who still think that "open source" means less feature/function....well think again.

OpenProj offers all of the typical project management bells and whistles found in products like Microsoft Project...only in a more approachable, open source offering. After installing OpenProj, I started off by opening some of my old Microsoft project files and poof...they opened up right away and looked great.

I still need to play with it more deeply, but the product feels nicely polished. This, of course, made me curious as to who is behind the company. A look at the management team yields expertise from Scitor (which always boasted nice graphics) and WebProject (one of the early hosted, web-based solutions).

I have not yet tried out Projity's Project-ON-Demand, which is their hosted SaaS (software-as-a-service) offering, but at first blush, it appears to offer much of the feature richness of OpenProj directly in the browser.

So for those who don't want to install software, you can use Project-ON-Demand. For those who prefer a desktop app, OpenProj is a great choice.

IBM's Interest in EnterpriseDB

Like a few others, I found IBM's choice to make an investment in EnterpriseDB kinda interesting. Matthew Aslett (the 451 group) got the following quote from IBM in explanation:
"IBM has become a minority shareholder of EnterpriseDB. This affords us an opportunity to continue to participate in, and gain further insight into, the open source community. This complements other experiences such as with the Linux, Apache and Eclipse communities and previous investments we’ve made in Red Hat and Novell. IBM has been a long-time supporter of Open Source communities, and we continue to see interest among our clients for Linux and other Open Sources solutions. This investment supports our overall strategy to support Open Source solutions in the marketplace to further enable our customers to implement business-critical solutions"

If I'm in EnterpriseDB's shoes, I'm digging this quote since being thought of in the same breath as Linux, Apache, and Eclipse sounds like strategic company to me. After all, in my opinion, a large part of Red Hat's success can be attributed to the early investments and marketing done by IBM (as well as HP, Oracle,and others) on its behalf.

The quote above also tries to minimize the importance, of course, but why would IBM invest if it just wanted an arm's length relationship?

To me, this move is a typical IBM long-term strategy play. They are always looking 5-10 years down the road (which equates to 1-2 Big Blue Dog Years). And while EnterpriseDB is not going to immediately displace Oracle for the high-end database needs, they still have an interesting market opportunity.

Savio Rodrigues (IBM WebSphere dude) posted on this topic and asked the question:
"What do you think, does EnterpriseDB have a brighter future by targeting Oracle users that want "Oracle like features for MySQL prices" or by targeting MySQL users who have "hit the wall"?"

Since EnterpriseDB is built on Postgres (which has been around a long time and is quite stable) and since they provide an Oracle compatibility layer, my answer would be "Yes" and "Yes". I think they compete for general database business with both Oracle and MySQL.

Bottom-line: This investment by IBM gives them a potential future play that neither their DB2 nor their Cloudscape/Apache Derby investments address directly. Now we just need to wait 1-2 Big Blue Dog Years to see how it all plays out.

UPDATED: The EnterpriseDB One-Two Punch
Savio replied to my blog with "I agree in principal that EnterpriseDB will continue to go after Oracle & MySQL. But in practice, they need to pick one segment to be their primary focus, or else they risk less than optimal results in both."

While I agree with Savio that focus is usually a good thing, my experience at JBoss, for example, also taught me that sometimes you've gotta lead with a one-two punch. At JBoss, we had momentum from new application development projects AND momentum from BEA migrations. Both were valid and lucrative focus areas. We actually had solid WebSphere migration business too, but we treated those more opportunistically than strategically since battling IBM is always more complex. point is that if EnterpriseDB's Oracle compatibility is any good, then over the longer-term, they can drive solid business. Ex. think through the Oracle upgrade cycle (when faced with moving from an older version to a newer version....should I consider EnterpriseDB??). The combat with MySQL clearly will heat up over time...but I still think they need to milk the Oracle opportunity.

I'm just a Philly guy who loves a nice one-two punch. :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

OFF TOPIC: McCain Just Lost My Vote?

This post is a bit of an inside joke for my fellow Bluestone crew.

I stumbled across the following article: McCain Embraces Tech Executives For White House Push - TechCrunch Interviews Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina was HP's CEO when HP acquired Bluestone in 2001. Bluestone pretty much got lost in the shuffle after HP acquired Compaq...or as I like to describe it...when the giant anaconda swallowed the wildebeest. Yes was physically possible for HP to swallow Compaq...but it looked ugly going down.

Anyhow, I always got the impression Carly was positioning herself for politics, so the above news is not a shocker. It's just that my Carly-nerve...twitch still sensitive after all these years.

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my CEOs to have a vision and drive a company to success. Looking at the performance of HP CEOs over the past decade...I must say that I'm impressed with Mark Hurd's performance.

My momma taught me that if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Purposeful Risk-Taking

In Matt Asay's article "Executive moves: Shaun Connolly leaves Red Hat", he covers the fact that I have chosen to leave Red Hat and take a little time off before finding my next challenge

In a prior blog, I asked "When Was Your Last Giant Leap?". In it, I stated that, in my opinion, the best changes, the sweetest changes, the most impactful changes are those where you make a conscious and informed decision to "go for it".

So, I have decided to go for it. In answer to a couple of Matt's points: No, I don't plan on staying out of the game for too long....and Yes, I am hoping to reinvest my experience in other open-source companies.

But first, I do have some family plans in March and April...starting off by literally smelling the flowers with my wife at this week's Philadelphia Flower Show, then hosting an exchange student from Switzerland in March. I will continue to help my son hone his programming skills on ROBLOX. And since my daughter is a high school Junior, it is time for a College Road Trip of our own. I'm not THAT overprotective, am I? ;-)

I feel privileged to be in the position to be able to take some time off between challenges, and I have the JBoss / Red Hat team to thank for this. Thanks to Marc Fleury, Bob Bickel, and Joe McGonnell for recruiting me to JBoss. Thanks to Rob Bearden, Brad Murdoch, Tom Leonard, Ben Sabrin, Rich Friedman, Francois Dechery, Michel Goosens, Steve Raby, Matt Quinlan, Katie Poplin, Martin Musierowicz, and Sacha Labourey for the pleasure of working with a strong and motivated JBoss management team.

Thanks to the talented JBoss Core Developers (Bill, Scott, Adrian, Bela, Gavin, Mark, Mark, Tom, Dimitris, Max, Thomas, Ivelin, etc., etc.), the platform productization team (Andy, Patrick, Ryan, Alex, Fernando, etc.), and the support team (Francois, Luc, Stan, etc.) for creating and supporting technologies and products that continue to delight the community and customers.

Thank you to the JBoss Community, Customers, and Partners for your continued passion, interest, and help in making JBoss a success.

Thanks to Tim Yeaton, Todd Barr, Aaron Darcy, Iain Gray, Ed Boyajian and team, Mark Entzweiler and team, Charlie Peters, Deb Kane, and Deb Delegge for making Red Hat home for the JBoss team.

And finally, thanks to Craig Muzilla, Jon Atkins, Aaron Darcy, Rebecca Goldstein, Rob Morrison, Pierre Fricke, Burr Sutter, Rob Cardwell, Ken Johnson, Rayme Jernigan, Keith Burres, Kevin Barfield, and too many others to name for continuing to lead the charge...and while I'm at it, well done at JBoss World Orlando!

OK...OK...I see that I've exceeded my time limit on thank you's!
So, I will simply close with a few choice quotes:
  • "Do or do not... there is no try." - Yoda
  • “The most difficult thing for people to say in 25 words or less is good-bye.” - Anonymous
  • “Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.” - Dr. Seuss
  • "Smile well and often, it makes people wonder what you've been up to." - Anonymous
  • "Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life." - Anonymous
  • "I'm on my way, I don't know where I'm going, I'm on my way, I'm taking my time, But I don't know where..." - Simon and Garfunkel
  • “You and I will meet again, When we're least expecting it, One day in some far off place, I will recognize your face, I won't say goodbye my friend, For you and I will meet again.” - Tom Petty

And last but not least: "Onward!" - Sacha Labourey