Open Source Strategies

A blog about open source software and business models, enterprise software, and the opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Suite.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Clone Wars

A lot has been written about the IBM acquisition of GlueCode: that it's war on open source, that it validates open source, that it's just business as usual. One thing is for certain: we'll soon be seeing lots of GlueCode clones. There's even one group that's raised a fund specifically for Java middleware projects and companies using the Apache license.

Here's my guess at a plot for how it goes from here:

There are currently several frameworks, such as Spring, J2EE, .NET, and LAMP, for building (often web-based) applications. Underlying these frameworks are technologies such as PHP, Java, ASP .NET, Hibernate and products such as JBoss, WebSphere, WebLogic, Apache, etc.

These frameworks all try to streamline the process of developing web-database applications--namely, setting standards and making the process more efficient. This is happening because the underlying applications are maturing. (A website is no longer such a novelty.) Open source frameworks, including Java middleware, is a further step in this maturing process. It is essentially a step towards commoditizing the products that make up the frameworks. (This is a view that JBoss has espoused as well.)

If there are no new application needs, then the frameworks will battle themselves out in the usual manner. Debates about the various frameworks are already starting to sound like the "Pepsi Challenge."

But sooner or later a new technology will come along and create a whole new type of applications, and one particular framework (who knows which one?) will be particularly well suited for it. At that time, the demand for this new type of application will pull the appropriate framework far ahead of the rest.

Remember COBOL, FORTRAN, and Pascal? We used to have similar debates about those frameworks, until the Internet and web-based applications came along and pulled PHP, Perl, Java, and ASP .NET ahead.

The question is--what will that new technology be, and what will the next application look like? There are a few suspects: web services, utility computing, ubiquitous computing, and (a perennial contender) artificial intelligence. There could also be some hidden new technology, a phantom menance yet to be discovered.

I can't wait for the sequel...

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