Friday, February 27, 2009

Virtualization Big Dog: VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, or Red Hat?

I was catching up on industry news today when I saw the following eWeek post: Red Hat Is Getting Ready to Take on VMware

It has been a while since I've written a "Big Dog" article, but this topic is worthy; so here goes.

Who is the virtualization big dog?

VMware is the incumbent big dog, of course. They have a compelling portfolio of offerings that are proven, feature-rich, and getting better all the time. Moreover, while I was at Princeton Softech, I was an avid and happy user of VMware's products.

Virtualization is big business these days and will only get bigger since it plays a fundamental and foundational role in cloud computing. VMware is faced with competitors interested in chipping away at their market dominance:
Just for fun, I've compared/contrasted the players in the Virtualization market with the players in the Enterprise Middleware market back in 2003/2004:
  • VMware and BEA: Early/dominant market leaders driving innovative technology
  • Microsoft and IBM: Huge players who think/execute over the long term
  • Citrix and Sun: Xen ignited these market dynamics; Java made the middleware market
  • Red Hat and JBoss/Tomcat: The power of bottom-up market groundswell
The middleware market leader was BEA Systems. IBM was the much bigger player applying top-down market pressure and working its usual long-term plan to gain market dominance. Sun was the vendor responsible for the technology that made the market but never became the market leader. And JBoss and Tomcat were generating significant and unyielding bottom-up market groundswell.

How did it play out? BEA became so focused on fighting IBM at the high end that they ignored/denied the bottom-up groundswell: BEA Chief Downplays Open-Source Alternatives. Alfred Chuang never gave credence to the JBoss or Tomcat threat and ultimately BEA got swept up by Oracle.

Bob Pasker (founder of Weblogic) had an interesting post after BEA got acquired by Oracle: JBoss (and possibly Tomcat) should never have happened. "JBoss launched an innovators dilemma attack against BEA, not with a revolutionary product, but with a revolutionary business model, one that BEA couldn’t hope to copy without cannibalizing its existing revenue stream. BEA fell right into the trap."

That Was Then But This Is Now
While there are some interesting similarities between the middleware and virtualization markets, the market dynamics today are clearly different. The open source model has clearly made its mark across many software markets. Neither Microsoft nor VMware are denying the power of open source or the threat that companies such as Red Hat pose to their business.

Add in the fact that VMware has Paul Maritz (ex-Microsoft executive) as their CEO and that changes things as well. While I don't like the article's title, I do agree with much of Chris Mellor's points in: VMware's one-trick pony: Destined to be a platform?. Chris highlights Maritz as an inspirational leader who has a great feel for where the market is heading.

So with all of that said, my answer to the question:

Who is the virtualization big dog?


Bottom-line: As long as VMware stays focused on creating great solutions to customer problems and honestly assesses the threats posed by the other market players, they should be able to retain their market leadership status for many years to come.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Programming Language Popularity

My 13 year old son has been programming in Lua, TI Basic and Assembler, ActionScript, JavaScript, and he's into C++/Dark GDK these days. While I've mostly focused on Java for the past few years, I've programmed in a wide range of statically typed and dynamically typed languages.

Since my son is just starting his programming journey, I naturally wondered:

What are the most popular programming languages these days?

I used and to answer this question. Both sites provide programming language popularity statistics and rankings, and I was happy to see that Java, C, and C++ rank in the top three on both sites.

What I like about both of these sites is that they gather information across a wide range of search engines and websites in order to generate a popularity score. Neither site is focused on declaring the "best" programming language or the language in which the most lines of code have been written. They simply provide information that, as TIOBE states, "can be used to check whether your programming skills are still up to date or to make a strategic decision about what programming language should be adopted when starting to build a new software system."

TIOBE Programming Index for Feb 2009
TIOBE gathers information from Google, MSN, Yahoo!, and YouTube to calculate the ratings, and they have a great web page that defines how the TIOBE index is assembled. Below is a summary of the top 20 programming languages for February 2009. I especially like how they compare against last year's ranking so we can gauge how the language is doing year over year.

Below you will see that Java has been #1 the past two years. C++ and C# are on the rise. Visual Basic, PHP and Perl have declined however. I also find it interesting that while Ruby and Python generate a lot of buzz, neither has risen in rank over the past year.

LangPop Normalized Comparison on Feb 2, 2009
Below is LangPop's Normalized Comparison Chart that combines the data gathered across Yahoo, Craigslist, Amazon, Freshmeat, Google Code, and Delicious for 29 different programming languages. Click on the chart to see it more clearly.

Java is #2 behind C. Visual Basic is much lower in ranking than in TIOBE's ranking. Python, Perl, and Ruby are slightly higher than in TIOBE's results.

Since I work at SpringSource and focus on enterprise Java (a la Spring) and dynamic languages that run on Java (a la Groovy/Grails), I'm pretty happy to see that Java not only maintains its relevance but continues to dominate as a top programming language.

With that said, the interest in dynamic languages such as PHP, Python, Ruby, and Groovy clearly tells me that developers crave more productivity and less complexity. Another reason I'm happy to be at SpringSource, since simplifying enterprise Java is our area of focus and passion.

Credits: I'd like to thank TIOBE and LangPop for maintaining and sharing the information on their website. They provide a valuable service and I will continue to visit their sites to stay abreast of how the programming language landscape evolves over the coming months and years.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tim Yeaton Snares Black Duck

I agree with the sentiment behind Dana Blankenhorn's post asserting that it is "Happy days for Black Duck". As Dana states:
Having had the pleasure of working closely with Tim Yeaton before, during, and after Red Hat's acquisition of JBoss, I'm happy to see him join Black Duck as CEO. I'm quite familiar with some of Black Duck's offerings from prior due diligence efforts that used Black Duck to scan source code for the open source licenses contained within the code. Definitely useful for understanding any potential legal exposure you may have when acquiring medium to large code bases.

Anyhow, as Dana Blankenhorn points out, Tim Yeaton drove Red Hat's acquisition of JBoss in June 2006. Tim truly understood the value and strategic importance of expanding Red Hat's footprint to include middleware. And while the integration of the two companies was challenging (as are most integration efforts), Red Hat clearly benefited from the move.

Tim Yeaton did a great job of making all of the JBoss team feel comfortable and welcome at Red Hat. And when I left Red Hat in March 2008 for some "Purposeful Risk-Taking", I publicly thanked Tim and others at Red Hat / JBoss for making the experience a great one.

With Tim at the helm, I do indeed hope that there are "happy days" ahead for Black Duck.