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Amazon 1 – Microsoft 0 January 16, 2012

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.
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The cloud is redefining the IT industry as we’ve known it. Amazon’s recent announcement to provide free Windows micro-instances on EC2 is another event that underscores this revolution occurring from the move to the cloud and how even a giant like Microsoft has probably been forced in such a move.

However, I see several roadblocks to truly leveraging “free” on EC2 with the Windows platform. Let’s explore this further… For as long as IaaS providers have existed, using a Windows machine has always been more expensive than using a Linux machine. As an illustration, you can see below the current prices for Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, two leading IaaS providers.

Rackspace Pricing
Amazon EC2 pricing

Using Microsoft Windows is about 33% to 40% more expensive than running Linux in the cloud (from just a per-hour pricing). Note that at that price point, in both cases you are not going to get support from any vendor (you would have to either get support from Microsoft for Windows or pay for a Linux subscription from Red Hat or another provider). This leads to several observations.

First, this demonstrates that current software licensed-based business models are ill-suited for the cloud. In order to be competitive, cloud providers are looking for ways to scale their business at the lowest possible cost, which, most of the time, means they’ll always prefer relying on Open Source software if it is feature-competitive with its proprietary counterparts. At the infrastructure layer, this is almost always true: virtualization, routing, firewall, load-balancing, storage, DNS, SSL, etc. are king in Open Source land. This makes it very hard for vendors like Microsoft and even VMware to remain competitive when up against cloud-providers’ offerings aimed at commoditizing the market. Consequently, in the new cloud era, especially at the infrastructure layer, either you are able to provide a full-fledge SERVICE offering (that is the “S” in “XaaS”) that can be packaged in a way that makes sense to your market, or times will be hard, very hard.

While this post focuses on Microsoft, it doesn’t mean that things will necessarily be rosier for Open Source vendors down the road. Let’s open a quick parenthesis on this aspect. Once a cloud provider has decided to move with Open Source software, the next question is whether they need to rely on a third-party company to get support for that open source components they are using? While they might need help initially, providers will typically have grown the required expertise in-house as they expand, with no need for a high-friction process involving a third-party vendor. Furthermore, since their infrastructure is very homogeneous (hundreds of thousands of identical servers!), they can support their open source software at a much lower price point than any generic subscription provider ever could: they do not have to run gazillions of tests on gazillions of different motherboards, chipset, LAN cards, controllers, disks, CPU, etc. Their domain problem isn’t a problem – as their infrastructure is hyper-focused. This point is illustrated by the recent launch of Amazon’s own Linux distribution, based on RHEL/CentOS: Amazon Linux. Not only is support for that version of Linux provided as part of the default IaaS support cost (and as we know, FREE is a tough price point to beat), but it probably saves costs to Amazon since those customers are using a stack that Amazon understands extremely well, hence reducing the probability of hard-to-diagnose support tickets.

The bottom line is that any infrastructure subscription/license business, open source or proprietary, is a hard business in the cloud era.

But let’s go back to our point with regard to Microsoft Windows. So, Windows is not only up to 40% more expensive to run in the cloud, but the tools available to build a Windows AMI (vs. a Linux AMI), customize it, provision it, build a JEOS (Just Enough OS) are much weaker on Windows than on Linux. Anybody who has tried to properly automate the usage of Windows and Linux in the cloud will tell you that none of this is trivial, and that Windows is particularly hard. Second roadblock to Windows’ adoption in the cloud: Windows’ cloud DNA is weak, very weak.

Let’s pursue on the on-ramping of new cloud users. About a year ago, Amazon launched their “free usage tier” offering. The idea was to provide free compute capacity to new subscribers so they could experience and learn the cloud at no cost. Yet, because this was a free offering, it was only made available for Linux-based AMIs. This meant that for about a year, tens of thousands of developers, DevOps, sys admins, etc. have learned how to use the cloud on Linux, not on Windows. Third roadblock: Windows is not a good candidate for on-ramping new users to the cloud, both for technical and pricing reasons.

Microsoft has probably tried to ignore this for while but this wasn’t sustainable: Amazon announced today that Windows is now also eligible on these free tier instances. For this to happen, MSFT probably had to provide free pass-through licenses to Amazon for that very purpose and maybe even more as this is really a way for Microsoft to tap into AWS’s on-ramping funnel. As we all well know, whenever we read “Microsoft Windows” and “free” in the same sentence, we know that something big had to force that situation.One last roadblock? Well, now you can try to do something meaningful on Windows with 613MB of RAM, which is what AWS’ free micro instances provide…

The cloud is redefining the IT industry as we’ve known it and re-shuffling power among vendors. This is an opportunity for new entrants such as CloudBees to make a difference as well as for dominant positions to shift base. My humble opinion? Amazon will become the new Microsoft and today’s news might be one of the first symbolic events that signal that shift. It will be very hard for Microsoft to turn their ship in a new direction.

Oh, and remember, you can test whatever the cloud revolution means to you, as a Java Developer, on the CloudBees PaaS. Just try us for free! 😉




CloudBees Wins a Perfect Trifecta! January 10, 2012

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.
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I always start the New Year with plenty of well-intended resolutions. Never mind, most of them don’t last: as soon as I start hitting the post-break reality, resolutions seems harder to satisfy, exceptions to whatever I have committed to seem to stack up and, oh well…maybe next year.

For now, the same logic doesn’t seem to apply at CloudBees. Here’s why.

In 2010, we committed to ourselves that in 2011 we would offer the first end-to-end, development-to-production Java PaaS in GA. Last year, in January 2011, we announced the first end-to-end, development-to-production, Java PaaS in GA. That was a great way to start the year — without breaking an important New Years resolution.

In 2011, we committed to aggressively communicating to the industry who CloudBees is and what we offer. We did just that. As if it was a mirror image of January 2011, this January–in just a few days—also saw that resolution come to be! In just a few days, CloudBees received three awards!

The first one was NetworkWorld, who recognized CloudBees as one of “9 hot technology startups to watch in 2012.” Wow – not bad for a one-year old company!

The next day, Dr. Dobbs announced the JOLT Awards. CloudBees received an Honorable Mention and, according to Executive Editor Andrew Binstock, “…CloudBees was included for special distinction because we strongly feel it indicates an important new direction in coding.”

Finally, last but not least, today we received an “InfoWorld 2012 Technology of the Year Award,” placing us in good company with products such as … Amazon Web Services, the iPad, Apple Siri, MacBook Air, etc. You can also read the press release we issued today.

With such a great start, I have a very good feeling about CloudBees in 2012…and, I can’t wait to see what NEXT January may also bring! After all, good things happen in threes…



CloudBees Running for a JCP Executive Committee Seat! October 20, 2011

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.
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At CloudBees, we are convinced that the cloud is the new platform; the platform where most of the workloads will end up running. This is a big fundamental shift in IT, one of those shifts that you only see once every two decades or so.

To navigate successfully through that transition, languages, frameworks, vendors, etc. have to adapt to that new paradigm. To quote General Erik Shineski (I tend not to quote Generals much, so please bear with me): “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.

For that reason, here at CloudBees, we have decided to step up and run for a JCP EC seat. We think Java needs to go through some important changes, including:

read more here…

ORCL and the Cloud: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly October 7, 2011

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.
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In what was probably Larry’s second hardest thing to go through (after losing against Alinghi during the finals of the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup), ORCL finally joined the cloud reality.

Let’s go through the good, the bad and the ugly in what ORCL announced…

The Good

Larry has long been in denial about the cloud: this stance was not sustainable anymore. As a matter of fact, ORCL was the last major IT company to still resist the obvious: the cloud is here to stay – and it is thriving. If ORCL hadn’t changed course, they were truly facing a risk that their application, middleware and infrastructure businesses would be ripped apart by fast growing and much more agile SaaS, PaaS and IaaS vendors – and this in probably less than half a decade.

But Larry is a wise businessman and he certainly has no intent to lead his venerable company to the “elephants’ graveyard.” Consequently, ORCL made it clear today that they intend to play a significant role in the cloud at all levels: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.

HP, Microsoft and to a (much) lesser extent, IBM had already laid out a cloud strategy and had started executing on it. ORCL was the last fortress to resist and their stance had probably been cited by a number of CIOs as an argument to justify their own resistance to the cloud. Those days are now over and all of the largest enterprise IT vendors have clearly sent the message that the cloud is the new platform. ORCL joining the fray is a greatly symbolic step forward for the cloud.

The Bad

The problem is that if you take a closer look at ORCL’s current cloud offering you’ll quickly realize that ORCL is not really moving into the cloud, it is more…moving the cloud into ORCL.

You want to pay as you go? You want elasticity? You want on-demand? Fine. ORCL’s current cloud offering is essentially a repackaged vertical stack of the good-old ORCL you’ve always known; they’ve simply made it possible to consume it in a cloudish way. We are still far away from the generic cloud infrastructure offering of an Amazon AWS, a true cloud platform à la CloudBees or a multi-tenant application offering à la Salesforce.com. Welcome [b|h]ack to the ASP model by the hour, welcome to 1996.

My gut tells me that ORCL’s customers won’t be satisfied with such a vertically-closed view of the cloud. ORCL will have to do better much better. But it takes more than a snap of the fingers to move such a large ship towards a new paradigm, so let’s give ORCL some time, the benefit of the doubt and let’s see how they execute.

The Ugly

The reality is that despite ORCL’s efforts to enter the space, and independently of their technical offering, it will be very hard for ORCL to incentivize their sales force to drive any meaningful cloud sales.

In order to be successful, their cloud solution would have to be better, faster and cheaper than their current offerings.

ORCL’s offering, as we have seen, is currently no way better or faster: being a mere hosting offering of their current products, it doesn’t provide any meaningful value-add and it is unlikely to generate a gold rush-like stampede to ORCL’s cloud platform.

As for the cheaper part, I doubt ORCL will convert their very-high, per-CPU prices into marketplace give-aways just because the cloud is cool.

ORCL’s prices will either have to be compatible with their current pricing scheme and level – which means absolutely non-competitive with the cloud offerings out there – or aggressively priced, hence in complete competition with their own sales force.

The fundamental question for many entrenched software vendors trying to enter the cloud is how can they incent their sales force to move away from highly priced, multi-year upfront licenses deals, in favor of pay-as-you-go, pay-what-you-need, self-service offerings, in complete disruption of their current account-level or territory-based sales model. This will be hard to swallow and a tough selling transition to make.


As the last major IT vendor to commit to the cloud, ORCL closed the introductory chapter of its cloud story this week.

Ten years ago, it was less and less sustainable for companies not to have a clear open source strategy in order to i) protect their IP, and ii) increase their productivity. The exact same thing is true today with the cloud: now is the time to embrace the future.

Welcome to the cloud era, Oracle!



Steve Harris join CloudBees as SVP of Products September 27, 2011

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.

One of CloudBees’ top priorities for 2011 was to build a seasoned executive team. This led to Jim McLoughlin (from Appirio) joining as VP of Sales, André Pino (from Forrester) joining as VP of Marketing and John Vigeant (from Citrix) joining as VP of Business Development.

One of the critical hires we still had to execute on was to recruit a strong product leader. We were looking for somebody with a strong understanding of the middleware market, of Java and of what developers’ and enterprises’ aspirations are.

Today I am proud to announce that Steve Harris is joining the team as CloudBees’ SVP of Products. Steve was seen by many as “Mr. Java” at ORCL and a truly respected individual for his hard work, management style and leadership. Everybody I’ve talked to only had great things to say about Steve: engineers, peers, partners and competitors. Steve went through the Oracle AS era, the BEA acquisition and then the SUN acquisition, with both the Weblogic and Glassfish teams under his leadership.

Steve starts at a great time to ramp up at neutrinos speed: he will attend the Jenkins User Conference this coming Sunday, be present at the CloudBees booth at JavaOne next week and drive our Technical advisory Board (TAB) in Menlo Park next Tuesday.

Welcome Steve, onward,


P.S.: you can see a recent presentation from Steve here.

Recent Google App Engine News: Think Beyond Pricing… September 6, 2011

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.
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Shortly after going GA with Google App Engine (GAE), Google announced a new pricing scheme a few days back.

This new scheme has generated lots of heat and anger, with some GAE customers estimating their monthly cost will grow from US $8,800 to an estimated US $20,000.

To me, this turn of events leads to several observations:

Read more here…

CloudBees raises Series-B from LightSpeed Venture Partners July 25, 2011

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.

Sometimes, you can’t be sure why, everything seems to go wrong. Wrong timing, wrong sequence, wrong ideas, wrong team. Just all wrong.

And sometimes, things seem to unfold perfectly: the team is great, the chemistry happens, the ideas are good, the timing is right. Not that hard work is not required or that you don’t mistakes, but even those seem to have a purpose.

For now, CloudBees seems to fit in that second category. We launched the company 16 months ago, have raised 4m USD last year from Matrix Partners and the incomparable David Skok, joined forces with two great companies (InfraDNA and Stax Networks) and released the only Java PaaS that covers the complete application lifecycle, from development to production, in GA, with full support for SaaS partners as part of the platform. In the meantime, the team has grown from 5 to 27 and we will be opening our first office in Boston this week, which will primarily be serving as the mothership for our sales and marketing team – our engineering team being mostly located somewhere else on Earth.

While it is typically pretty hard to have any kind of certainty in this type of context, I have two: i) the PaaS market is going to be incredibly big and strategic and ii) it is unclear at what point it will fully trigger. And the timing won’t just depend on CloudBees delivering on a great platform and great customer service, it will also depend on a large number of external factors: confidence in public cloud infrastructure, viral effects around cloud-based deployment, messaging and investment of the leading software vendors towards the cloud, adoption of SaaS solutions, type of new applications being deployed, growth of the mobile applications market, (reduced-)IT spending, world’s economy, etc.

Consequently, the right thing we can do at CloudBees is to keep innovating, flawlessly deliver on quality releases and top service and aim for the long term. More of the same essentially.

To that end, we had in mind to raise a second round of funding later this year. That was the plan at least. It was without counting on a high-energy and talented investor, John Vrionis from Lightspeed Venture Partners who pinged me some time ago: he told me he had essentially done a lot of research, carefully studied this market, and he wanted to be part of the CloudBees adventure. He liked the market, the team, the approach and thought we needed to be equipped to do what is right for the company, resource-wise and time-wise.

As we got to know each other better, we obviously performed our due-diligence and checked on John’s references. My dream is that if 10 years from now I get reference checked, I would like to get 10% of the positive feedback that John got. We were looking for a West Coast VC that would not merely sit on the board but would be part of the team, dedicate time, energy, frustration, joy and neurons to CloudBees and obviously understand what’s happening in the cloud.

As a result of this a deal was sealed and Lightspeed Venture Partners agreed to invest 10.5m USD in CloudBees, along with Matrix Partners.

Welcome John. Onward,


P.S.: original post is on CloudBees’ blog.

What is a PaaS after all? March 30, 2011

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, IT.
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I’ve just written a blog on what I think is a major differentiators between two families of PaaS out there: the infrastructure-centric PaaS vs. the application-centric PaaS.

Summary: you really want to use one in the second category.


CloudBees becomes the PaaS innovation leader December 14, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.
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Just a few weeks after announcing the acquisition of InfraDNA, the Hudson CI leader, and raising 4m USD from Matrix Partners and private investors, we are very proud to announce today the acquisition of Stax Networks.

Read more on CloudBees’ blog

CloudBees raises 4m USD from Matrix Partners November 29, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English.

Yet another great day at CloudBees: today, we are announcing that we have just raised 4m USD in a Series A round.

Investors include:

  • David Skok & Matrix Partners: I am very proud to have David as part of the team, he has done a terrific job at JBoss and he is not the kind of investor who only talks to you on quarterly board meetings, he is a  * doer* and truly proactively helps companies he invests in. You can read David’s remarkable blog posts on For Entrepreneurs.com.
  • Marc Fleury: I am also very proud to have my friend “marcf” onboard as an investor, especially since I know he is getting very active with his own venture: OpenRemote. (Funnily enough, both OpenRemote’s and CloudBees’ CEOs are located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland 😉 )
  • Bob Bickel: Bob has been part of the CloudBees adventure since Day-One as a close advisor, so I am happy to see him invest in CloudBees – he wasn’t just being nice to me 😉
  • Michel Goossens: I met Michel back in the JBoss days when he joined the EMEA team to drive sales and marketing. Since then we have remained in close touch. Michel currently works at the fast growing Magento.

David and Bob will sit on CloudBees’ board. I’d also like to thank John Pearce for his help during that process.

Team, thank you for all of the work you’ve been doing to date, it has been a crazy pace – you are all amazing! Starting this week, new bees are joining our ranks, Lisa and Harpreet are going to help us on the marketing and product management fronts (happy kick-off in SFO!). And there is more coming, so stay tuned….




CloudBees further accelerating! November 9, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.
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Today, InfraDNA and CloudBees are announcing that they are joining forces. As part of this, InfraDNA founder and Hudson creator Kohsuke Kawaguchi joins CloudBees.

This is really a great milestone for CloudBees. You can read more about it:



IBM joining OpenJDK – repeat after me “pragmatic”, “pragmatic”, “pragmatic” October 12, 2010

Posted by Sacha in English, IT.
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Things have started to move quickly in Java-land. Yesterday, IBM announced they would partner with ORCL on Java and participate in the OpenJDK project. They also said that in doing so they would shift their Apache Harmony resources towards OpenJDK.

Note: I can insure you that the “pragmatic” word is going to be used and abused in the next few weeks when talking about Java…


From a market standpoint, ORCL played hard-balls and won.

One of the only possibilities for a Java fork to be successful was for IBM to co-lead it. With this announcement, the “pragmatic” view wins. I imagine IBM was able to negotiate and obtain from ORCL a proprietary license on the OpenJDK codebase. I also hope they were able to negotiate substantial *and specific* changes in how the JCP will work in the future.

For IBM, no drama, no legal fees, no long lawsuit, just business as usual. For ORCL, a first victory in how they intend to treat the Java community. Oh, and for the other players (VMW, RHT, SAP, HP, etc.) it probably means they will have to shut-up and follow IBM “leadership” (with one possible caveat explained below).


This is really a blast against the Java community. The JSPA dictates that companies leading a JSR have to provide a license to anybody requesting it. That is the very foundation of the JCP: to create a market place where all competitors are on an equal-playing-field. Yet, in that case, SUN refused to grant such a license, providing an interpretation of the JSPA that would make laugh a 5 years old kid. Everybody else thought this interpretation was vastly nuts. Fast-forward a few months and this becomes ORCL’s interpretation.

This probably also means the Apache Harmony project just died (Yes, resources allocation and life and death of a project are indeed topics that should be discussed on a DEV mailing-list… don’t hide behind your finger.)

How can the Java community trust a leader which doesn’t stand by its own constitution?

Anything good?

So, “pragmatically”, this news announces the end of a long-standing deadlock in the Java community: we can all hope the JCP will be rejuvenated on top of the JSPA and Harmony dead bodies, that new SE JSRs will be initiated, that ORCL will start investing more resources in new JSRs, etc. That’s the best case scenario.

Yet, I have a hard time seeing how a new “JCP” can work if any JSR lead can, at any point in time, refuse to grant a license on that JSR to a competitor… What if ORCL was to refuse to grant RHT of VMW a Java EE license?

What’s next?

The only free electron that could change the situation is GOOG – and that electron is pretty excited given their lawsuit with ORCL.

Until now, nobody really leveraged that JSPA issue aggressively. Yet, GOOG could decide to sue ORCL for refusing to give the ASF an appropriate Java SE license (or help the ASF sue ORCL). I see this as the only remaining open item that could change the game. And if this doesn’t happen, ORCL will have won by KO.

Oh and obviously, it will be interesting to see what the JCP EC members will vote on the new JSRs for Java SE 7 and 8 (be ready to count the number of times the “pragmatic” word will be used in the comments section). My bet is that unless GOOG sues ORCL, the JCP EC will just “pragmatically” accept those new JSRs and send some flowers to the Apache Harmony project.


Unless GOOG initiates a lawsuit against ORCL over the JSPA, I think this is game-over. ORCL essentially tells the Java ecosystem that the good old JCP is dead, that they are willing to rejuvenate it but not at the expense of loosing control on the only FOSS JVM out there, that is the price to pay. While that might seem fair, the problem is that this is a unilateral decision done at the expense of a legal agreement signed by many.

Next time you shake Larry’s hand and he tells you “we have a deal”, don’t get too excited…

CloudBees is hiring! Product Management & Marketing position October 8, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English.
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CloudBees is hiring for a Product Management & Marketing position, you will find the detailed description in this document.

For you to be a fit, you are probably a rising star, much brighter than me, with high energy, extroverted and with a great personality. You are also a self-starter, you don’t need to be micro-managed, you are very comfortable with blogging and social media (your online activity will impress us). Oh, and obviously, you are familiar with the Java infrastructure world and you are convinced that the cloud is a massive paradigm shift.

If you didn’t run away, why don’t you send me an e-mail?

This is going to be a fun ride – don’t miss it!




Are you ready to put your source code “in the cloud”? October 4, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.
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One question that comes up frequently when I introduce CloudBees is whether companies are actually OK to host their code “in the cloud” (or at least build/test it over there).

==> complete article available on blog.cloudbees.com

Time to Fork Java? si vis pacem, para bellum October 4, 2010

Posted by Sacha in English, IT.

Here are my 2 cents on Greg Luck’s post about whether the time has come to fork Java (in what he proposed could become “Lava”).

Some context

First of all, some background. Since its inception, SUN had done a decent job stewarding Java into a multi-billion dollars ecosystem. It has not always been an easy ride, but things have steadily progressed (remember the days where it wasn’t legal to provide an Open Source implementation of the J2EE specs?)

As time passed, SUN became more financially challenged, and it became obvious that SUN wasn’t willing to relinquish its control over the JCP, but yet, wasn’t able to inject as many dollars as it used to in JCP specifications, research and engineers. So essentially, the Java ecosystem was forced into increasing its investment in something a competitor had control over. Furthermore, SUN had always done a terrible job at monetizing its own spec work, and this actually helped to position them as a benevolent dictator. Yet, when Schwartz decided it was time to aggressively monetize their Java investment, this over-control/under-investment situation became embarrassing.

But the real contention point was Apache Harmony, the Apache implementation of Java SE. While SUN had Open Sourced their Java implementation, they did it under a GPL license + Exception for SE and a straight GPL license for ME (more on this here). The goal was clear: they wanted to open source Java *while* maintaining their ME royalty revenues intact. From that standpoint, Apache Harmony was potentially a very big risk as it would allow phone vendors to migrate to a royalty-free Java implementation! Consequently, against everybody’s interpretation of the JSPA, SUN refused to grant the Apache Harmony project a full fledge Java SE license. That decision put Java in a complete dead lock:

  • EC members (who only have a negative power i.e. they can only enforce a NO vote, they cannot enforce a YES vote against SUN’s will for the base platforms) refused to let SUN start any new spec;
  • Only SUN could start a new Java SE (or ME) spec;
  • ==> No new Java SE (7) spec will be created unless SUN gives a proper license to the Apache Harmony project

All EC members had made it VERY clear that they would stand by their word, and they did! Well, all members … until ORCL became the new JCP prima donna.

What’s the deal today?

So, while ORCL’s stance on Apache Harmony and the JCP was crystal clear back when SUN was in charge of the JCP (ORCL wanted a SUN-independent JCP body, they wanted SUN to give a full license to the Apache Harmony project, etc.) and had been very vocal about it, things have changed since they acquired SUN.

ORCL is now the one in charge of the JCP and, guess what, they refuse to give the Apache Harmony project a suitable license, as requested by the JSPA. ORCL’s lawyers, who yesterday were reading that document in one way, now read it the exact other way around.

Will this become ORCL’s new signature: “when ORCL’s lawyers have the same opinion two-weeks in a raw, the only conclusion you can draw is that they changed their mind an even number of times.”

And that is exactly in that context that the ORCL vs. Google Android lawsuit has to be seen: ORCL sent a very clear signal: they won’t allow any dissident implementation, be Harmony or Android. Either you play by the rules, or you’ll suffer ORCL’s punishment. Except that in Harmony’s case (which is clearly not in the same situation as Android since they politely asked for a license), ORCL is interpreting the rules as they see fit.

I was hoping for ORCL to announce something meaningful for Java at JavaOne this year (better renamed JavaHalf), but they didn’t. This is bad, it means they are not likely to change their mind easily.

What are the consequences?

Larry made the bet the Java industry would bend and surrender. Possibly. This is a tough call: if ORCL remains in charge of Java the way they do today, it puts the IBM/RHT/VMW/GOOGL of the world at his mercy – which is not a sustainable mid-to-long term business decision. On the other hand, if they go nuclear, fork Java and take their independence, this could hurt them short-to-mid term. Tough call.

So, fork or no fork? Si vis pacem, para bellum.

My opinion: si vis pacem, para bellum (“If you wish for peace, prepare for war”).

Larry will not change his mind unless the battle of will evolves.

Consequently, Palmisano, Schmitt, Maritz and Whitehurst have to join forces and work towards an independent Java Community, a complete fork. Whether this will ultimately have an impact depends on i) how fast they move, ii) how good their plan is and iii) whether they can demonstrate to the world they can work together in a non-partisan way. If the above are true, the threat to ORCL will be too big and ORCL will be the one to bend. I think such a fork is very feasible.

Furthermore, it would be such a A-Bomb PR that this could actually help rejuvenate interest in the Java platform – especially if the launch of this new standard body was coupled with some technical announcements (new “ForkedJava” 7.0, roadmap for a new ForkedEE, etc.)

But all of this can only happen if IBM is part of it. IBM owns IP rights on a LOT of the Java IP; this would mitigate the risk of ORCL suing this new standard body. Furthermore, I’d love to see some of ORCL’s best customers join this standard body: while this has to be led by the key Java players, the ecosystem at large must stand up, and that includes the END USERS of that technology, the SI, the ISV; not just the usual suspects.

Bottom line: unless Larry decides to become the nice Java guy, the Java ecosystem has to stand-up.

Born Again Linux – let’s reshuffle the cards September 20, 2010

Posted by Sacha in English, IT.
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Last week, Amazon made an announcement which didn’t get due credit: they’ve released their own version of Linux. And guess what: it could very well become one of the top two Linux “distributions”.

Much like ORCL did 3 years ago, Amazon took the most widely deployed enterprise Linux clone, CentOS, and customized it for its AWS usage. What does it really brings to them?

ISV ecosystem

From an API/package standpoint, leveraging the CentOS distribution brings them binary compatibility with RHEL, the leading Linux distribution which supports the largest number of ISVs out there. While AMZN’s Linux distribution sounds like a purely technical exercise today, the day they decide to build a proper ISV program, the work that existing RHEL ISVs would have to perform to support that “new” environment would be marginal (unlike, say, if AWS had decided to use Debian or Ubuntu).


From a “back-end” standpoint, AWS has a very specific hardware base to support, this is the dream of any OS distributor and which only the like of Mac OX, Sun, HP UX, etc. could partially enjoy: you don’t need to support thousands of different devices of all kind and their respective incompatibilities: you target a very small set of well defined hardware configurations. This allows you to focus on key drivers and hyper-optimize your OS. No other vendor could ever reach that level of optimization since Amazon is probably the only one to know what hardware runs in their datacenters.


The former point also has an interesting consequence: the cost structure required to maintain such “distribution” is much reduced: they leverage all work and QA that RHT does on the core packages, and only focus on maintaining a well defined set of drivers/hypervisors. As you can imagine, for RHT the situation is radically different: supporting all those random hardware devices, comes at a significant cost.

The net result of this is that AMZN is in a position to deliver a more power-, performance- and cost-efficient Linux distribution than anybody ever could and ISV would have no technical trouble supporting it.

My only criticism? They do need to find a proper brand name for their OS. “Amazon Linux AMI” won’t fly if you want people to remember and name your product…

What does it mean?

Unless you are in denial about what impact the cloud will have on IT, you probably realized that significant computing load will move to the cloud in the next 5 years. Given the current market forces, chances are high that AWS will represent a sizable share of that market. Consequently, AWS Linux could become a key Linux “distribution” in the next 5 years (they don’t “distribute” it per se – they “run” it, the GPL could face interesting use-case loopholes here).

You could even imagine have AWS license their Linux power-pack to other regional IaaS (telco operators with a hosting business to retro-fit would be a prime target I’d imagine).

If such scenario indeed happens, RHEL could end-up becoming the new HP-UX, only surviving in aging on-premise environments (and on “private cloud” comets). In the mid-term, RHT could decide to license a lower-cost cloud-specific RHEL version – but that would only slow their revenues and margin fall and looks more like a IaaS-specific consulting business than anything truly subscription-based. In the longer term, the real question for RHT is whether they want to become a cloud provider themselves, but RHT has a long history of not being ready to trade a strategic bet against the risk of upsetting one of its “partners” (such as good buddies ORCL and AMZN).

As for an acquisition of RHT, this won’t happen at the current price level IMO except if a bidding war takes place (see next paragraph, “Enter Star Wars”, on how this could be triggered at current price levels).

For ORCL and AMZN, as long as RHT can do all of the work and produce RHEL (hence CentOS) for free, the deal is probably good enough for them.

Enter Star Wars: The VMW+SUSE scenario

(Note: it is Sunday the 19th of September 2010 as I write this, cruising altitude of 42’000 feet).

I’ve seen the tweets of a potential acquisition of the NOVL business by VMW. NOVL’s current market cap is very low. Furthermore, if as implied by the rumor, VMW has been able to negotiate to split the deal with a private equity fund and only pay for the SUSE business, this becomes a bargain.

For argument’s sake, let’s say this SUSE asset acquisition indeed happens; as we well see, this would further accelerate the plan described above.

VMW would probably see multiple advantages to this acquisition.

First, they would get to solve a long standing issue: in order to become a true “full-stack” enterprise player, they do need to onboard lots of ISVs, fast. Problem:  to date, they haven’t been able to do so successfully. The only way they would have to accelerate this process at warp speed would be to “buy” those ISVs them by acquiring SUSE. While SUSE supports less ISVs than RHEL, their catalogue is significantly broader than VMW’s and I have no doubt an acquisition by VMW would rejuvenate the interest of this distribution by ISVs.

The second reason is that VMW currently present the same weaknesses as RHT do – their predators, once again, are the mega-IaaS, simply because they do not need them. The difference here is that I suspect VMW would have the cojones to become a cloud provider of its own. In doing so they’d probably upset tons of existing partners but that might be the price they have to pay to remain relevant long-term. Don’t forget VMW has strong MSFT DNA in-house and just look at what MSFT is doing.  Bottom line, by acquiring SUSE, VMW would get its own cloud-OS, much like Amazon just did. Furthermore, unlike AWS, VMW wouldn’t not need to worry about whether they’ll need to acquire their Linux provider one day. If NOVL was to disappear, this could trigger a bidding war for RHT – no company currently largely dependent on RHEL or CentOS (IBM, ORCL, AMZN, etc.) would want to stay with a big strategic hole in their stack…

Last but not least, I am pretty certain VMW would love to get a few of those delicious NOVL patents in case MSFT get aggressive: firing a scud or two in their Office business would calm them down.

(To keep things simple, I’ll not cover here the challenges that VMW would inevitably face in running an Open Something project, despite their acquisition of SpringSource, FOSS is clearly not in their DNA).


5 to 10 years from now, I don’t see an on-premise Linux distribution/subscription to be a viable business: too limited of a market, too expensive to maintain. While this might be a long way to go, I do think that the (courageous) decisions required to escape from that black-hole must take place now.

CloudBees is now live! August 26, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.

After several months of stealth-mode activity, CloudBees has now gone live. From the initial vision document to the current day, an enormous amount of work has been achieved and I am very proud of our team.

If you are interested to know what CloudBees is about, read our introductory blog and visit CloudBees’ web site. As you will see, our vision will be executing along two axes: DEV@cloud (SaaS for developers) and RUN@cloud (PaaS for production). While our initial offering falls under the DEV@cloud umbrella, we are already working on our RUN@cloud offering – so stay tuned.

On a personal basis, while I had been used to work with a very distributed team at JBoss/Red Hat, my daily interactions were mostly with European- and US-based colleagues. At CloudBees, the situation is more extreme: with people on 5 different timezones, spanning from -9h to +8h to where I live, this has been very stimulating! Have a question or an idea? Just jump on IRC and you can be sure to find somebody 7/7, 24/24.

So, what can you do for us? Well, if you are using Hudson (or if you would love to be using it), you should definitively give a try to our Hudson as a Service (HaaS) offering. I think you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to register and use it – and only pay for what you need. No more fights with your IT department to get the boxes you need, have them setup and maintained, etc. Just start a job and it will execute on a fully dedicated and fresh instance – billed by the minute (!). Best: you don’t have to change anything to your existing Hudson habits. And since our beta program has limited availability, you’d better register now.



ORCL vs. GOOG: hopefully just a bad timing August 16, 2010

Posted by Sacha in English, IT.

A few years back, I remember sending an e-mail to the JCP EC mailing-list in which I was wondering how GOOG was able to “leverage” so large chunks of Java without licensing it – I was finding that odd, especially for a company sitting on the JCP EC, hence supposedly elected to make Java move forward*. The feedback I got back from one of the Google’s rep had been relatively aggressive (and that I interpreted as “if you think I am infringing on some IP, show it to me, otherwise ST*U”). My goal at that time wasn’t to corner GOOG, but to better understand something that seemed like an elephant in the room. The fact that nobody from SUN replied to my comment and that the discussion thread died so quickly told me that the elephant had to be pretty big.

Fast forward a few years and we learn that ORCL has sued GOOG over some Java-related patents. Am I supposed to be surprised? Because I am not. The GOOG gooorilla is walking on fragile grounds with his big feet and Larry wants to show who is the boss.

Now, while I don’t really care about this ego-war, I think the timing of this legal action is very badly chosen. The SUN acquisition has closed for months now and ORCL hasn’t yet communicated what they would do with the JCP: will they be Java’s benevolent dictator or not? How? Under what terms?

JavaOne 2010 is not far ahead, so we will most probably get our answers soon, but it would have been much more readable if ORCL had i) officially stated they would further open up the JCP (as they repeatedly requested SUN to do) and ii) sued GOOG. This would have shown leadership and strength: “not only are we going to further build Java but we are going to step up to defend it – so beware!”.

Consequently, I really hope this is just a bad orchestration and that ORCL will announce good things at JavaOne 2010. If not, this could quickly get ugly…



*) a good part of the JCP contractual document, the JSPA, is dedicated to how the Intelectual Property of any Java spec flows from contributors to licensors – so IP issues were a hot JCP topic.

Banks and the cloud – tiny sample August 16, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.

As I am preparing for the launch of my new venture, I visited 3 banks in NYC last week. I admit that I entered into those meeting ready to hear that they were not ready for that shift, that clouds(*) weren’t secure/SLAified/robust enough for them, that it had to further mature, etc.

Consequently, I was actually surprised when the first two banks told me they were already working in the cloud(*) and ready to accelerate that move. The last one told me what I initially expected to hear (that SOX and other regulations would prevent them to do so), but that then sounded awkward based on the initial two reactions I had gotten. Maybe I didn’t ask the question to the right person.

This is certainly not a meaningful sample of any sort to do statistics, but I think it is a very encouraging signal at the very least.

Other interesting data is that those two banks were interested in a standardized cloud API (that we do not have today) so that they could “address” their IT assets in the same way as clouds, in a transparent and unified fashion. Makes sense.



P.S.: By default when I write “cloud”, I mean “public cloud”. <sarcasm>In the same way, when I say “it is cloudy today” I mean that “the sky is cloudy”, not that I have clouds in my bathroom or my car.</sarcasm>

GAE+VMW: co-petition in the cloud-era May 26, 2010

Posted by Sacha in CloudBees, English, IT.

During Google IO, Google announced “Google App Engine for Business“. Well, it seems the marketing department has been more active than then engineering team lately…

This is the exact same GAE platform, including its ugly limitations, with the following key differences in terms of its offering:

  • They announced a roadmap for 2010 where they’ll provide an SLA, a management interface, and support for SSL certificates (…)
  • It will be priced at 8USD per app per month … but this will be ONLY for INTRANET applications and pricing will scale with the number of users in your intranet up to a maximum of 1000USD/month/app
  • They intend to release an offering for public-facing applications (you know, this “Internet” thing) but they haven’t worked out the pricing yet
  • They will provide later this year a SQL-based offering


This is a purely reactive move to the smart VMForce announcement. Google is a huge company, they consider themselves as the cloud company, they’ve had GAE available for TWO YEARS now and the only think they come up with is … a roadmap listing revolutionary features such as SSL support and an SLA… This is immensely weak. If anything, this announcement reinforces what GAE’s current deficiencies are.  The pricing information also indicates the very reactive nature of this move: their offering is only for intranet apps (…) since they most probably do not want to release their pricing before VMForce does (VMForce hasn’t disclosed what pricing scheme they’d use). And they also probably realize that coming up with a public pricing scheme will be tough (and a departure from their current scheme – based on “people being nice”).

The other part of the announcement was Spring’s availability on GAE’s platform. But, wait, aren’t those two companies supposed to be fiercely competing (or about to)?!? Yes, they are, and it seems to show that in the cloud-era, companies are willing to make “co-petitive” partnerships pretty easily if it can ease their own agenda. In this case:

  • VMSource gets to amplify their desire to see Spring as the defacto Java programming model of the cloud (remember, they seem to fully ignore EE6!),
  • Google gets to hide the mud by providing the Spring API on top of a highly restrictive platform (which probably wouldn’t satisfy anybody writing modestly sophisticated apps)

This is going to be a fun decade 🙂