5.23.2011

Leaking the 2011 SD Times 100: The Mono Project

The Mono Project has been named to the 2011 SD Times 100 as an influencer. We recognize companies, organizations and projects in the SD Times 100 for their leadership and innovation in the previous calendar year, that is, 2010.

What Novell and the Mono team did last year was incredible, and they thoroughly deserve the SD Times 100 recognition. However, I am dismayed by what has happened to Mono in 2011 under its Novell’s new owners, Attachmate.

The full list of the 2011 SD Times 100 will be tweeted out on Wednesday, June 1. It'll come from our account @SDTimes, or you can watch for hashtag #sdtimes100. However, based on what’s been going on with Mono, I wanted to talk about it today. Thus, the leak.

Capsule summary: The Mono project created an open-source runtime compatible with Microsoft’s .NET Common Language Runtime, as well as a clean-room implementation of .NET languages like C# and Visual Basic. Mono isn’t new: it was announced shortly after .NET itself a decade ago, and the version 1.0 runtime was released in 2004.

Over the past few years, Mono has picked up steam. There’s a lot of interest in the use of Mono for mobile development, such as in MonoTouch for the iPhone/iPad, and MonoDroid for Android. However, there are viable implementations of Mono for other non-Microsoft platforms as well.

The bulk of the work on Mono, under the leadership of Miguel de Icaza, has been done by Novell employees. Shortly after Attachmate completed its acquisition of Novell, those employees were all laid off.

A key enabler of Attachmate’s purchase was Microsoft. We can safely assume that Microsoft doesn’t like the idea of .NET applications running on anything except Windows.

So: Open-source project goes after Microsoft’s crown jewels. Novell drives that project forward. Attachmate (a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner) buys Novell. Microsoft gives gobs of money to Attachmate. Attachmate whacks the Mono team.

As my teenage son would say, “Duh.”

Frankly, I was caught off guard by this sudden move. At the end of April, in “Novell is gone, and yes, it matters. Here’s why,” I wrote that “My prediction: Under Attachmate, SUSE will flourish, and Mono will wither. I expect Mono to suffer intentional neglect, rather than a bold stroke, until it weakens, loses relevance and fades away.”

How very, very disappointing.

De Icaza is going to make a stab at keeping Mono alive and flourishing, with his new startup, Xamarin. This does require, however, significant rework to avoid Novell’s intellectual property. Let's see what the state of Xamarin — and Mono — look like a year from now, and see if either earn a spot in the 2012 SD Times 100.

5.09.2011

Novell is (was) super-stodgy; Microsoft, not so much

Microsoft is stodgy, but not very stodgy. But the company formerly known as Novell is super-stodgy. Salesforce.com is straddling the line. And Google is the last stodgy of them all.

That’s the result of a highly nonscientific survey, conducted over the past couple of months, by yours truly. As you may recall from my February 7 column, “Stodgy old Microsoft,” a financial analyst referred to the folks in Redmond that way during a story about their quarterly returns.

It’s time to share the complete results. Several hundred people filled out the survey, which was linked in my column, tweeted out and put on Facebook. Although there was no statistical rigor, the rankings are revealing.

Some folks commented, by the way, that I didn’t define what “stodgy” meant. That’s right, the question was simply, “Stodgy or not stodgy?” That was intentional, as I was wondering what you thought, without using my own definition, or a definition that I might find somewhere on the Internet. You can have fun Googling/Binging the word yourself.

Now, as to the rankings. There were 32 companies listed in the survey. Let’s do a Gartner-inspired quadrant system here. The eight most stodgy organizations, who we’ll call super-stodgy, were:

Organization % who said stodgy
Novell 95%
Symantec 94%
Hewlett-Packard 92%
SAP 91%
CA Technologies 90%
Oracle 90%
Accenture 84%
IBM 82%

Ouch for Novell, Symantec and HP – they were even worse than “big iron” companies like SAP, CA Technologies, Oracle, Accenture and IBM. But frankly, nobody should be proud to be in this category.

Let’s move on to the second group of eight, the “very stodgy” organizations; this still isn’t a happy place to be, unless what you’re selling is reliability instead of innovation.

Organization % who said stodgy
Attachmate 80%
Sony 80%
Research in Motion 77%
Dell 77%
Nokia 76%
Intel 71%
Motorola 70%
Yahoo 70%

The third quadrant are the eight companies that were fairly stodgy, but not overwhelming so. Let’s call them the “sort-of-stodgy.” The companies here are known for being innovative (how about those flip cameras, Cisco?), but aren’t living on the leading edge:

Organization % who said stodgy
Cisco 68%
Red Hat 60%
Microsoft 59%
Adobe 57%
Canonical 54%
Linux Foundation 51%
Salesforce.com 50%
VMware 44%

And finally, the eight most non-stodgy organizations – the “super-non-stodgy,” let’s say. Frankly, this quadrant surprised me. The four least stodgy, in Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google, make perfect sense. But I honestly didn’t expect to find the four open-source organization clustered here:

Organization % who said stodgy
Free Software Foundation 43%
Eclipse Foundation 36%
Mozilla Foundation 29%
Apache Foundation 26%
Apple 24%
Facebook 21%
Amazon 20%
Google 18%

5.01.2011

Remembering Adam Kolawa from Parasoft

Last week, my friend Adam Kolawa, founder of Parasoft, passed away suddenly. Adam, whom I’ve known for over a decade, was a young man, only 53 years old.

In a brief statement, Parasoft described Adam’s legacy as

In 1983, Kolawa came to the United States from Poland to obtain a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the California Institute of Technology. While at Caltech, he worked with Geoffrey Fox and helped design and implement the Intel hypercube parallel computer. In 1987, he founded Parasoft with four friends from Caltech. Initially, the company focused on parallel processing technologies. Kolawa transitioned the company from a parallel processing system producer, to a software development tool producer, to a provider of software solutions and services that help organizations deliver better software faster.

In my work at SD Times, I’ve had many occasions to visit with Adam. Sometimes we'd hang out in the Bay Area, sometimes down at Parasoft’s offices in Pasadena, Calif., sometimes at conferences – we invited him to keynote our Software Test & Performance Conference in 2005.

Over the years, our relationship was occasionally… how to put it delicately… turbulent. Adam was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met – brilliant. Passionate about software development, about software quality, and about his company, Parasoft. Whenever we wrote something in SD Times that he felt maligned his company (or worse, ignored it), I could expect an email from someone saying that Adam was on the warpath again.

However, because I am equally passionate about SD Times’ editorial integrity — which he respected — a brief phone chat would always set things right again. I was sincerely honored when he invited me to write the foreward and front-cover blurb for his book, “Bulletproofing Web Applications” (M&T Books, 2002).

Adam’s passion was unrelenting, and his feelings strong. But he was also warm and incredibly funny. It became a tradition to swing through Pasadena on my way home from SoCal, just to say “Hello.”

Adam Kolawa was a brilliant man, a bright light in our industry, a kind soul, and a good friend. May his memory be a blessing to all who knew him.

About Me

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Co-founder and editorial director of BZ Media, which publishes SD Times, the leading magazine for the software development industry. Founder of SPTechCon: The SharePoint Technology Conference, AnDevCon: The Android Developer Conference, and Big Data TechCon. Also president and principal analyst of Camden Associates, an IT consulting and analyst firm.