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by MichaelF on April 30, 2007 05:05pm
As promised in the first post today, here is the second interview regarding today's announcements regarding Microsoft's Dynamic Language Runtime and Silverlight. In this video Sam sits down with John Lam, who we interviewed during the LANG.NET Symposium in August (before he came to work for Microsoft), to discuss his work with Ruby and the DLR.
by MichaelF on April 30, 2007 04:45pm
Mix 07 kicked off today with keynotes from Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie. Amongst announcements regarding media and Silverlight Scott Guthrie announced the release of a cross-platform version of the .NET framework within Silverlight Alpha 1.1. Included is a Dynamic Language Runtime that allows developers to use languages such as Python, Java and Ruby to program in Silverlight.
I could drone on about this but we decided to go sit down with two of the individuals who contributed to this effort: Jim Hugunin and John Lam instead. Jim, who we interviewed before, gives us some insight into this announcement including some information about new MS-PL releases to Codeplex tied to this announcement (Hint: IronPython 2.0).
Later today, we will post the second interview with John Lam.
by billhilf on April 26, 2007 06:56pm
When I started programming, it helped me a lot to think about the OSI model (Open Systems Interconnection Basic Reference Model). On the right is a simple example of a five layer OSI model. This type of model can help when coding or administering a system so you can effectively debug at the right ‘layer’. I’ve found that I use this same logic now in all sorts of other areas, as it helps me parse out the details of an issue. I also was reminded of this while reading one of Cory Doctorow’s new short stories, ‘When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth’ in ‘Overclocked’.
I’ve recently been looking at broadband statistics and, as usual, working on various business model issues. So let me parlay the OSI framework concept into a topic around mixed models and the Web. I often hear others try to simplify open source by comparing it to the Web or the Internet. This description is often used disingenuously but it did get me thinking about the relationship and it’s a fun thought experiment so let’s break the totality of the Web down for a minute to prove the point – and let’s use an OSI-like model from the bottom up (including, but not limited to, protocols).
Physical, Data, and Network Layers
For the Internet this would be not only Ethernet standards but also electrical specifications, bridges, switches, host adapters, and signals operating over copper and fiber. ATM, Frame Relay, IPv4/v6, IPSec, RIP, X.25, and other protocols also live at these layers. But the Internet isn’t just protocols. Companies such as AT&T, Quest and Level 3 have laid hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable at the physical layer and infrastructure providers such as Foundry, Juniper Networks and Cisco build technologies that allow Internet exchange points and ISPs to interconnect.
Transport+Session, Presentation and Application Layers
Here we have the layers that move the data between end users and programs. Fundamental to the Internet are TCP/IP of course (and UDP for you gamers). TCP/IP is over 25 years old and being an open standard was critical for its dissemination and success. Other important protocols and services at this layer are POP3, SMTP, SSH, HTTP, DNS, instant messaging protocols (and many more). These protocols have been implemented in both open source and non-open source software, the key was having standard protocols for communication. Also at this layer are other infrastructure-like providers such as Akamai, VitalStream, BitTorrent, Amazon’s S3 and other caching and content delivery networks.
It is important to note that at all of these layers above were other once-relevant technologies that have since faded or altogether expired. When I worked for IBM I use to carry a Token ring adapter for my ThinkPad as many IBM offices didn’t have Ethernet, but only Token ring (this was true just four years ago). Anyone use much Token ring today? Or RUDP? Or FDDI? Or even telnet? These each have diminished or disappeared, IMHO, because either 1) something better came along and/or 2) lack of relevance or value to consumers, users and/or businesses. These are positive market forces: we want better, higher value, more relevant technologies and standards to replace lesser, lower value, irrelevant versions of the same.
There is an important, non-OSI layer above all of this and that’s the content that is driving the growth of the Web and broadband (global number of broadband connections rose 33% last year). My highly subjective distillation of ‘content’ is the YouTube, MySpaces, Yahoo, MSN, Google conglomeration of data that pumps across those layers above every day in all their data hungry glory. Oh, and all that advertising too. Certainly, there is a supply-demand correlation between the infrastructures at all levels of the stack and the content users are demanding (and supplying back). These are also positive market forces. Companies such as Level 3 (which was almost itself leveled in late-90s) are seeing growth in traffic on their fiber lines and also in their revenue – and they are buying more. Comcast has signed up over 12 million homes for cable-based broadband connectivity. Western Europe broadband penetration is growing faster than the U.S., and Japan now has 7.9 million fibre-to-the-home subscribers. The home media and phone technologies will also be tapping into these bigger pipes, from the TiVo to iPhone to Windows Mobile devices. And all sorts of amazing applications are sprouting up to take advantage of this broadband growth – for a test, think back to how many videos you watched online just three years ago compared to today.
So what is the relationship between all of this? Certainly, without useful and relevant standards like TCP/IP and HTTP we wouldn’t be very far. But we also wouldn’t have today’s Web without the physical fiber and backbone providers, IXPs/ISPs, and router manufacturers that provide the infrastructure. And without software such as Apache, IIS, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc., we wouldn’t be using the Internet like we do today. And last but not least, without something to do on the Web, from reading news on Yahoo to auctions on eBay to Skype phone calls to videos on YouTube or social networking such as MySpace or doing business online, the Internet would have just been a neat technology experiment (or, minimally, as one of my favorite BBC columnists Bill Thompson points out, a tool for ‘computer scientists to find ways to share time on expensive mainframe computers’). Open source, proprietary, infrastructure, protocols and standards… and lots of hard work and innovation. It’s all in there – that’s the Web we have today. Just like there is a mix of content that makes up the Web, mixed software, hardware, infrastructure, and a community are all necessary parts of the body Internet.
If someone needs proof that open source and commercial models/software/hardware/etc. can be and are compatible, just look at the Web. Not only are they compatible, they have proven to be an amazing powerful combination. The challenge for the OSS pundits is to dig deep, don’t be superficial. I like how Stephen Walli challenges a lot of ‘stack’ thinking by explaining how the application is a network, and the network isn’t simple. It’s a good analogy, and although the OSI layer-thinking helps draw some lines, the network model is more realistic – which is why I am using the Web as subject matter here.
When I was a kid, my oldest brother used to sell me gravity insurance for $1 (for the record, I only bought one policy when I was six). It was his lesson that I shouldn’t forget about reality. He tried to sell me another policy again when I finished graduate school – likely worried I was getting lost in theoretical thinking. In reality, there are powerful combinations of mixed models in software design/development, licensing, and businesses. We can bury our heads in the sand, or in the clouds, and believe there are only two camps, two separate and foreign tribes – open source and commercial. It might even make us feel better to believe this. Or we can see that, in the real world, there is no spoon.
by Community Contributor on April 25, 2007 01:39pm
This morning, a guest blog from Gerardo Narvaja, Senior Sales Engineer from the MySQL User Conference...... In Bryan’s article he used the metaphor calling the coopetition between Microsoft and MySQL the “beautiful game”, or like the Brazilians like to call it: “jogo bonito”. I will try to exemplify it scripting what could be a real world scenario. I will be making a quick demo based on this article during the Primetime ODBC: Constructing ODBC Applications and the ODBC 5.0 Roadmap talk at the MySQL Users Conference on Thursday at 11:50 AM.
Situation: How many times did you wonder if some neat and big spreadsheet could be imported quickly into a DB in order to be able to do queries and data manipulation beyond Excel’s capabilities? How many times did you prototype in Excel what would be a few tables prototyping the solution to a given problem and now need to create the DB to start developing your application?
Problem: Just to illustrate this problem I chose to use the data generated by the Nike+ iPod accessory. The data is stored in the iPod file system XML format and it can be imported into Excel with relative ease. In order to keep the problem simple, I only extract a portion of the data and didn’t translate the fields to more adequate data types (see schema at the end of the article). For the sake of simplicity I will not illustrate the process to import this data, there are plenty of examples in the web.
Solution: Following is a series of steps to follow combining tools from Microsoft and MySQL in a Windows environment to quickly convert a simple Excel table into an actual database. This article assumes that the proper DSN to access MySQL is already configured; otherwise check the article in the Port25 site before going forward.
The whole process shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes depending on the complexity of the initial data. The next steps could be normalize the database, extend the DB schema, etc. Using Access it is possible to quickly develop a prototype a proof of concept. The MySQL server can also be accessed using the Connector/.NET allowing to create the final solution using Visual Studio .NET.
Conclusion: Most of the time, when we face a problem for which we are looking to device an IT solution, we start with a group of data representing such problem. By using Microsoft’s tools as described above it is easy to represent this data in a database and quickly create the necessary tools to work with it. Using the MySQL Server and the MySQL Tools it is possible to create a client/server backend that will carry the initial database prototype from a quick proof of concept into the final solution. All these operations are facilitated by the Windows environment.
- Gerardo Narvaja, MySQL Community Manager
by Bryan Kirschner on April 24, 2007 03:49pm
At the MySQL Conference and Expo 2007, technical experts from Microsoft and MySQL are here demonstrating a number of technology projects that give customers more choice when deploying MySQL on Windows. In fact, MySQL and Microsoft work together on a number of applications, including ADO.NET provider Interop, and a Visual Studio plug-in that enables developers to access MySQL data directly from VS.
If this is a surprise, a good way to understand why we’re working together in this way is to look at the most popular sport in the world—football (what the U.S. calls soccer). Football is often referred to as “the beautiful game.” Despite the fact that every team wants to compete and win, and many teams have fierce, ongoing rivalries, all teams share common ground in the value of playing a “beautiful game.” If football maintains its unique appeal compared to other sports, it will continue to attract more fans, generating more opportunity for an ecosystem of business partners and investor, and thus more opportunity for current and aspiring players. By virtue of being part of this broad ecosystem, each individual player on each team steps onto the pitch with a part to play in the future of global sport
Customers as Common Ground... As commercial software companies, MySQL and Microsoft share substantial common ground. Marten Mickos, MySQL’s CEO once told The Economist that their centralized staff of developers enables them to maintain governance of the code and “go to the commercial users of the product and guarantee the product.” Explaining, “You could say that this is what they pay for.”
I would take this a step further: it is not only about developers and code. What commercial software companies offer extends to all the people at both companies who come to work every day cognizant of their role in a broad global ecosystem, and accepting that their job is that much harder (and potentially more rewarding) because of the challenge of playing a “beautiful game.” I and my counterparts, Gerardo and Reggie, and our respective colleagues come to work thinking both about supporting our company’s centralized development processes and enabling participation from a broad community of volunteers and business partners. Or the relationship between our investors and shareholders and our employees and business partners. Or the relationship between our customers and our competitors who may share those same customers.
Everyone shares a desire for “their team” to succeed—but this type of intelligence and competition is a long way from myopic, zero-sum conflict. And it fosters a diverse and sometimes unpredictable world of opportunities.
Comingling, as Far as the Eye Can See Particularly in light of a history (of often overly simplified) rhetoric in the market about “proprietary versus open source” business models, I would guess many people would not have predicted they would see a demonstration of MySQL and Microsoft interoperability before they walked into the conference hall. In fact as I walk around the conference hall, I am reminded of the an excellent book—Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software—in which MIT Professor Michael Cusumano closes the Foreword with this statement:
The conclusion I reach from reading this book is that the software world is diverse as well as fascinating in its contrasts. Most likely, software users will continue to see a comingling of free, open source, and proprietary software products for as far as the eye can see.
The conclusion I reach from reading this book is that the software world is diverse as well as fascinating in its contrasts. Most likely, software users will continue to see a comingling of free, open source, and proprietary software products for as far as the eye can see.
I confess I am not sure what I’ll see here next year—but I confident that with [Gerardo and Marten Mickos and Bill Hilf and] we will continue to compete in a “beautiful game”—and I anticipate we will continue to favorably surprise everyone who walks in the door.
Reference: Mickos http://www.economist.com/business/displayStory.cfm?story_id=5624944 Foreword: http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/chapters/0262062461forw1.pdf )
by Sam Ramji on April 19, 2007 04:18pm
A few key people in the industry (Stephen Walli and Matt Asay in particular) pointed out the flaws in Hugh Macleod’s strip on Open Source. I like the Blue Monster idea (there’s some real passion in that art) but this one missed the mark, because Hugh framed the issue wrong. Hugh is clearly a smart guy and is in the process of learning about this field of software. The resulting discussion on Hugh’s blog was quite productive thanks to multiple viewpoints – including members of the Microsoft ecosystem that we are serving today.
However, Hugh’s approach is not in line with Microsoft’s strategy.
Here is my attempt to get the conversation on the right track by providing our official viewpoint:
There is a basic problem when people frame “traditional software vs. open source software” – the assumption that there is a zero-sum game to be played and that therefore it is war.
This is a mistaken understanding. Software is technology. It can be delivered as a product or as a solution. It must meet the needs of its users. Users come in different segments as defined by their needs and their ability to communicate with each other about the technologies they are using.
This may seem obvious, but segments vary! High-level, simplistic discussions of “A vs. B” miss the reality that there are different right answers – and sometimes multiple right answers – for any given segment.
I have personally heard – among other places, at the Open Source Software Think Tank 2007 – enterprise CIOs state exactly this: “I don’t have time for science experiments.” I believe this was Max Rayner, CIO of SurfControl. You can take that quote as disparaging open source, or you can include the context of the statement, which is this: enterprise CIOs are looking for technologies that solve their problems. Their definition of the problem includes long-term viability, mission-critical support, and interoperability with their other technologies. So what this quote means is “if you have a technology for me – open source or not – you have to provide for my key concerns.” Companies like Novell, Red Hat, JBoss, and MySQL have built businesses based on meeting these needs. This is reality. It is foolish to label these companies and their customers, users, and community as playing with things that are “not proven” or “science experiments”.
This is not a war. This is about technology.
It’s only a war when we hold on to hunter-gatherer era tribal mentalities and say “Our way is good! Their way is bad!”
It turns out there’s a non-zero-sum game to be played here by working together, communicating intelligently, and thinking through the details. But it will never happen while we hold on to old, fuzzy ideas about competition and tribalism.
by billhilf on April 17, 2007 04:55pm
I found this through James titled “How well does open source currently meet the needs of shareholders and ceo's? ” It’s interesting to read through both post and comments. I spend a lot of my day on these types of issues, related to software business models and technology trends, and the main point of Hugh’s post (and certainly the comments) is about the ecosystem and partners. I’m a big believer in this - shared growth works. Thanks for keeping it interesting Hugh…
by hjanssen on April 16, 2007 04:04pm
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog called ‘We're Writing Firefox Plug-ins? Interview with Ian Gilman and Thoughts on 10 Months at Microsoft’ (Who came up with that title anyway!)
In which I chronicled my first 10 months on the job. Also in there I mentioned Microsoft writing plug-ins.
Well today I am very proud to announce that we have released another official Microsoft plug-in. It shows another level of interoperability and eagerness in working with the Community to get this released.
This plug-in allows you to use Windows Media Player inside of Firefox. It is designed to support the following Windows platforms;
Port25 is hosting it, and you can download it from here; Windows Media Player Firefox Plugin - Download
It was put together by the Windows Media Player team, and special thanks go to Eric Anderson and Thobias Jones. (And all the other people in the Windows Media Player team). I also wanted to thank Mike Schroepfer and the Mozilla Foundation in helping us get this released.
From now on when you go to the plug-in site at Firefox, you will be automatically routed to Port25 to download and install the plug-in.
It is backwards compatible with the old 6.4 Windows Media Player. And among other things has the following new features;
We will post some links to example code in the next few days to help people use some of the new features.
Install it, and to test it just go to Port25 and check out any of the videos.
by MichaelF on April 13, 2007 11:10am
May 22nd through the 23rd OSBC, now produced by Infoworld, is being held at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Microsoft is a Silver Level Sponsor this year and we look forward to the discussion and networking.
Just a couple of quick notes:
We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco!
by MichaelF on April 13, 2007 09:21pm
In this interview Sam sits down with a veteran of the gaming industry, Star Trek Deck Plan Expert and Development Manager for the XNA Community Game Platform: Frank Savage. Sam and Frank discuss his background and how he ended up at Microsoft as well as the finer points of XNA. Included are demos of both games that have been developed using XNA as well as how XNA eases much of the work associated with game development allowing users to focus on the game itself.
You can download XNA Express Studio and the XNA Framework here.
by MichaelF on April 10, 2007 04:05pm
In cases where business applications have been built on open source databases, it may be necessary to connect other Windows applications, such as Microsoft Access or Excel, to these databases for reporting or business intelligence purposes.
One potential application of this process is to use Excel as a front-end for data analysis. Data can be pulled from views or tables and then further analyzed, graphed, and the like. Even pivot tables can be used to create even more powerful reporting solutions.
This how-to walks through this process using Excel as an example application. Although in this example, the MySQL and PostgreSQL servers are running on Linux, the steps are no different if the software is running on Windows. These steps are:
1. Setting up authentication 2. Installing the ODBC Drivers 3. Configuring the data source 4. Importing the data.
by billhilf on April 09, 2007 02:09pm
When we started Port25 a year ago we certainly had no idea how it would turn out. The process of creating, launching, and evolving Port25, I believe, has many similarities to an OSS project: small group of motivated individuals, loosely coupled development model, organic growth, and meritocratic guidance and leadership. These things helped us quite a bit as we broke some new ground for Microsoft and I’m proud of where we are at one year in.
Our goals list growing an online community, but let me tell you a little secret, Port25 was just as important for inside Microsoft as it was outside. Giving Microsoft employees like Sara Ford, Steve Marx, Bruce Payette, Mike Hines (and others) a forum to talk about how their work relates to the community is part of the internal goal. Showing other Microsoft employees how we can have open and real conversations and even debates with technologists in the OSS community is part of the internal goal. Providing a place for critical analysis and learning of software built in different development models is part of the internal goal. And, one that I that I haven’t shared with anyone until now, showing people at Microsoft and in the OSS community that we have to keep all this damn stuff in perspective: it’s important, but it is just software after all.
I’ve spent a long time in open source and commercial software development and businesses. Over these years I have seen positive evolution across the board. Port25 is part of a journey for Microsoft, and we are learning with each and every step. Thank you for listening, participating and creating.
by kishi on April 06, 2007 04:14pm
In my last blog called “Why Manageability Matters” I talked about why we chose to work on “Systems Manageability” as a whole and get a grassroots understanding of it within the context of Linux and Open Source space. In this blog, I’m going to address the Methodology and Ontology of the Systems Manageability project. This will shed immediate light on how we approach, design and implement projects in the OSSL. Let’s start with the main goals and purpose behind the project.
I. Systems Manageability Project Goals:
Once we defined what we needed to get into, yet another realization dawned on us, which was the sheer size and volume of the data and information that was staring at us in the face. Let’s just say “overwhelmed” was a mild word compared to what we were looking at. My colleague, Steve Zarkos and I immediately realized that it was time to trim the scope of what we were doing and limit ourselves to what’s achievable in three months and with two people J. This called for drawing up what we considered to be “out-of-scope”, which was:
III. Systems Manageability Project Methodology:
The approach taken for the project was simple and scientific. The project was divided into three stages:
IV. Systems Manageability Project Ontology (classification):
The hardest and most challenging aspect of the project was to develop some sort ontology, characterization or classification of the manageability technologies prevalent in the IT environments today. The diagram below represents the overall "buckets" defined as part of this exercise. Each section of the diagram is broken down to provide a detailed breakdown of each of these Systems Manageability classifications represented:
In the next blog to follow, I will break down the first segment of ontology i.e. “Provisioning and Deployment” and discuss our research with all of you. Meanwhile, we always look forward to hearing from you, our audience and urge you for any feedback you may have about the topic. Thank You for tuning into Port25.
by jcannon on April 06, 2007 02:45pm
Today, and with more retrospect to come on Monday, is our one year anniversary. Todd Ogasawara, with O'Reilly, kicks off the well wishes with a very thoughtful blog on the intersection of commercial and open source business models. You can read Todd's blog here: Belated Happy Birthday to Port 25! Is Microsoft "Getting" Open Source?
An excerpt: "There’s a lot of business model experimentation going on in both camps. Red Hat probably led the way years ago when they stopped providing ISO files after Red Hat 9. Then, they embraced Fedora Core. And, now, well, I can’t figure out what Red Hat is doing with Fedora Core to be honest. SUSE moved in a nearly opposite direction after being acquired by Novell taking SUSE from for-fee only to providing an OpenSUSE edition with freely downloadable ISO files. And, well, of course, that partnership with Microsoft that generates a lot of heated debate. MySQL split their distribution to a free Community Edition and a for-fee Enterprise Edition that adds some interesting proprietary management applications to entice potential license purchasers. Marc Fleury cause a bunch of commotion a few years ago with the Professional Open Source initiative at JBoss (before being acquired by Red Hat) and paying lead programmers of Open Source projects (to be honest, it seemed like a good idea to me). Google, the openess poster child and acknowledged thought leader in the web space releases their client-side applications (Google Earth, Picasa, Google Desktop, etc.) as free but closed source applications. SUN moved both Solaris and Java into the Open Source space. And, there are, of course, many more examples of interesting movements in one direction or the other.
The “truth”, I think, lies somewhere between the shrillness of the cries of “Microsoft is evil” or “Open Source is evil” from opposing philosophical camps. But, “the truth”, as the X-Files fictional Agent Fox Mulder would say,” IS somewhere out there.”
by anandeep on April 03, 2007 06:49pm
Michael Koziarski (a.k.a) Koz is one of the core group of about 12 people who holds the keys to the code repository for the Rails framework (also known as Ruby on Rails). They’re all listed on the Rails core page with name and mug-shot. (I checked, a guy who looks like the Michael I interviewed has his mug shot on the page!).
According to his bio there “Michael Koziarski (nzkoz) is a software consultant based in Wellington, New Zealand. After a successful stint as an enterprise Java developer, he switched to rails shortly after the first public release. He’s a contributor to The Rails Way and maintains a personal blog.” That’s as good a intro as any so we thought we wouldn’t improve on it!
Michael was invited to the Microsoft Technical Summit and I was able to spend some really entertaining and educational time with him. I even showed him the lab! I think he may have enjoyed his time here as he wrote about us in a blog entry.
I enjoyed talking to him – and he stayed to talk to us about Rails, the dev process and other stuff despite being very close to missing his flight!