Where Worlds Collide - and then there's Sharepoint

Where Worlds Collide - and then there's Sharepoint

Summary: I'm at the Open Source Business Conference where Jonathan Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer, Sun Microsystems, Robert Youngjohns, President, Microsoft North America and Dr. Robert Sutor, Vice President, Open Source and Linux, IBM Corporation have just keynoted.

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I'm at the Open Source Business Conference where Jonathan Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer, Sun Microsystems, Robert Youngjohns, President, Microsoft North America and Dr. Robert Sutor, Vice President, Open Source and Linux, IBM Corporation have just keynoted.

This is my third OSBC, a conference primarily framed around the open source business ecosystem and the often underestimated legal complexities of deploying open source code (this is a business conference, and not a Birkenstocks Free Code Fest).

This year open source is somewhat obscured by clouds public and private: open source is the network, whether at an operating system or application layer of the techie troposphere.

In a world growing increasingly used to the concept of utility computing - on demand software as a service available like electric light when you need it - how the services arrive on your screen is of little consequence unless you have skin in the game as a vendor or integrator.

The vast and growing open source ecosphere, despite the aforementioned cloud cover ('Behind every cloud you'll see the Sun': the cloud cover includes a storm of PR) is continuing to grow in a down economy.

Budgeting realities are making interoperability between the rich offerings of the blue chip keynoters mentioned above increasingly important, while not using open source is increasingly risky to end users as mainstream adoption accelerates.

From my conversations here adoption is often a financial wash when comparing propietary and open source installs and adoptions - the attraction of OS is in the much more granular control of code, control of your architectural destiny and longer term cost savings.

Windows is here to stay - 97% of Novell clients will continue to use the Microsoft operating system for the foreseeable future, said Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian in his SUSE Linux in the Service-Driven Data Center keynote - but cited open source solutions such as Mono for increased interoperability.

The coexistance and in some case collisions between these disparate proprietary and open source worlds is increasingly high stakes, particularly when we get through the worst of the financial storm and strategic business planning starts to rationalize next generation IT infrastructure.

Sharepoint uses an open source marketing model

Dion Hinchcliffe picked up on the continuing dialogue around the realities of Microsoft Sharepoint deployments last week: talking to OSBC chair Matt Asay this morning (on video, to be posted shortly for open enterprise 2009) Matt commented on how similar Sharepoint propagation is to the open source model.

Open source relies on making your product easily accessible for down load a deployment to prove utility. The business goal is then to sell support, maintenance and integration help as well as licensing.

Sharepoint is often trojan horsed in 'free' with other Microsoft products and can be used as a shared drive document repository by end users with no financial impact. The vaunted collaboration components in the current iteration are rudimentary, and a partner ecosphere has grown up to essentially use Sharepoint as a database foundation.

Going forward Sharepoint is everywhere, and as future iterations of a cloud oriented Microsoft Office hook into the next iterations of Sharepoint, it seems likely an extensive new walled garden will emerge. How and if this Microsoft ecosphere will allow interoperability with the open source world is a loaded question.

Tactical alliances between open source solutions to Microsoft proprietary competitors and the next Microsoft offerings seem a business certainty of course - or even acquisitions.

Where Drupal and commercial wing Acquia have made spectacular progress in user adoption, as Drupal founder Dries Buytaert discussed in his 'Secrets of Building and Participating in Open Source Communities' session, Microsoft have quietly been making similar progress with Sharepoint.

Whether there will be the same altruism in the Sharepoint community as there is in the Drupal world remains to be seen.

Topics: Software, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Open Source

About

Oliver Marks leads the Global Digital Enterprise Team at HP, having previously provided seasoned independent consulting guidance to companies on effective planning of business strategy, tactics, technology decisions, roll out and enduring use models that make best use of modern collaborative and social networking tools to achieve their business goals.

These are Oliver's views and not those of his employer HP.

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4 comments
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  • The Open Web and the Walled Garden

    Nicely stated:

    <i>Going forward Sharepoint is everywhere, and as
    future iterations of a cloud oriented Microsoft
    Office hook into the next iterations of
    Sharepoint, it seems likely an extensive new
    walled garden will emerge. How and if this
    Microsoft ecosphere will allow interoperability
    with the open source world is a loaded
    question.</i>

    Somehow Microsoft was able to protect their
    desktop monopoly, preventing others from
    integrating into the MSOffice productivity
    environment. There was an interesting eMail that
    came to light during the Iowa-Comes v. Microsoft
    anti-trust case. It seems Chairman Bill had been
    approached by the MSOffice team in 1998. They
    wanted to make MSOffice Web ready. His response
    was a rather direct; future formats, protocols and
    interfaces must be proprietary. And that included
    the WebDAV protocol.

    Today we a situation where Microsoft applications
    provide end users with a choice. They can choose
    1998 Web standards that have more often than not
    been extended to accommodate Microsoft proprietary
    innovations. Or, they an choose <i>rich Client -
    rich Server" formats, protocols and interfaces
    that are proprietary, but full featured,
    integrated and highly interoperable within the MS
    galaxy of desktop, device, server and Web server
    systems. These proprietary RiA formats, protocols
    and interfaces are part of the Windows
    Presentation Foundation layer, with acronyms like
    OpenXML, XAML, Silverlight, XPS, VML, Linq, and
    Smart Tags. All of which are designed as high end
    alternatives to Open Web HTML5, CSS4, SVG/Canvas,
    emerging JS Libraries, JavaScript4, XHTML, RDF,
    RDFa, and Sparql.

    There is also the problem that Microsoft has
    learned how to work within the foot dragging
    vendor consortia charged with continuing Open Web
    innovation and interop. It doesn't take a whole
    lot of mush about <i>backwards compatibility</i>
    to slow down the already slogging vendor
    consortia.

    The bright light in all this is the revolution
    occurring at the edge of the Web with iPhone and
    the WebKit community monster set loose as Apple
    boots the world into the age of visual computing.

    Microsoft of course has their hands full with the
    wave of WebKit RiA rushing the edge with iPhone,
    Android, Nokia, RiMM and Palm. Microsoft was
    seemingly caught flat footed. But with RiA
    challengers like Adobe AiR, Eclipse and JavaFX
    having embraced the WebKit layout and visual
    document model, joining the fray with massive
    developer communities in tow, the future of the
    Open Web looks better than ever.

    ~ge~

    gary_edwards
  • SharePoint, Open Source and Small Businesses

    In my opinion, both SharePoint and Open Source are not good enough for the really small businesses, the ones with 100 employees and less, which form a major chunk of the economy. thats because, even though open source is free, and SharePoint comes bundled with other MS products (individual licenses of SharePoint are expensive)- they still need to be configured and maintained, and need experts to run them. the so called TCO is very high.

    the requirement of smaller businesses is "out of the box" solutions, that can be set up immediately and dont need hardware or ongoing maintenance. something like "pre cooked" food that you can heat and eat. but with a degree of customizability of course. the solutions that best serve this is thin client web applications like <a href="http://www.hyperoffice.com">HyperOffice Collaboration Suite</a>.
    pankajunk
    • WSS vs MOSS / WSS great for SME

      PankaJunk, I think that the value proposition of Windows SharePoint Services is particularly well suited to small businesses - it is free on a Windows Server 2003 licensed box, or available as SAAS through many Tier 1 providers (including Microsoft themselves, with SharePoint online)...

      It's really when one suddenly realizes the power of MOSS (which, of course requires CALs, not to mention a dedicated instance/server of MSSQL) that the costs start to increase.

      As far as TCO goes, WSS is a nice COTS solution for basic collaboration that happens to integrate very tightly with the OA tools most used by small businesses; Microsoft Office...
      Robin Majumdar
  • RE: Where Worlds Collide - and then there's Sharepoint

    SharePoint is spreading fast and contagiously reaching businesses from small scale to large scale industries across the verticals. SharePoint comes with a beauty to use AS-IS or with availability of variety of options to customize every granular part of it to its possible extent. SharePoint is built on rigid and yet flexible architecture, it is not only complementary for databases but has better ways of handling data. The flexible liquid layout can be customized as a topping on the robust back end to enrich and create RIAs. Out-of-box feature available from the software directly maps the organizations need, such that it can be used broadly across various business goals. It can easily fetch the data from the LOB or legacy applications and organization may not require scrapping traditional systems.SharePoint technology along with the Microsoft based frontend technology , runs in sandbox in user?s browser called SILVERLIGHT. Hence SILVERLIGHT can play wonders for the ISV?s and Customers looking for web based custom Rich Interactive Application?s development.
    Prateek Parkhi (RIA Evangelist)-SpadeWorx Software Services