Intel Beyond Tomorrow and what Open Source can learn

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I recently read a case study describing some of the challenges faced at Intel during the late 90’s after the bubble burst on all the web companies who where running businesses without a clue how to turn a profit. I’ve been thinking a lot about how things of this nature affect the rest of the industry and how everything in technology seems to be related in some way.

The case study described with some of the challenges Intel faced since the reduction of PC sales in the late 1990’s. Intel was faced with a reduction of sales of its core business that it had not seen since it decided to move its core business away from the DRAM market and focus mainly on microprocessors. Intel had experience stellar growth of its core business all through the 90’s, but this growth was mainly due to the number of personal computers sold and Intel’s dominant position as a producer of microprocessors for those computers. As the market for Personal Computers declined so did Intel’s ability to grow profits.

The company’s management realized they would not be able to continue to rely totally on the microprocessor business to sustain their growth so the company begin an aggressive acquisition phase and put billions of dollars into R&D projects. The company experienced varying success with these endeavors and many of the products they invested in where quickly abandoned without Intel realizing any return on investment for their efforts.

This shows how it is important to recognize the market conditions a company operates in and change the strategy of the company based on those factors. While the company’s management made several mistakes during in their attempt to expand the company’s offerings, their efforts where not without some value. The company was learning about their environment and moving the company towards a position going forward in which they will be able to maintain growth in their core businesses.

This is important for any company who wishes to function as a learning company and change as the market conditions require it to change.

I got to thinking this same strategy could be applied to open source projects and I’m not sure it always is considered. It is very important for open source projects to realize the market they are currently operating in and modify their stance to account for those changes. Most people would say this is not important for an open source project since there is usually none or very little revenue associated with the project. I tend to disagree for an open source project to be successful it must gain a wide range of adopters who are constantly requesting new features. If the developers working on the open source project of not consider the environment in which they are completing then how can they hope to maintain a successful product and continue to attract new blood and resources to the project. Attracting new blood into an open source project is crucial for the project’s long term success.

Microsoft just can’t win with the EU

I read an article today that made me just shake my head. In 2004 MS lost its Anti Trust case in the EU and was forced to pay thousands of Euros in fines and told to make it so rival companies such as Samba or other open source initiatives which provide file sharing services to Windows machines to provide better interconnectivity. Well the EU said MS did not do a good enough job of creating documentation for the API they provided, so MS agreed to open up its source code to individuals who licensed their Windows Server software which should help those developers do a better job of making the connections between Windows and their software.

Well that’s not good enough either since now the EU is saying this is a poisoned honey pot and that software developers should not take MS up on this offer as it will only lead to Microsoft claiming IP infringement and allow them to take over those companies as the companies integrate their software with Windows. Seems to me like Microsoft just can’t seem to win. Maybe Bill needs to gather a group of Project Managers and Developers from Redmond and just send them on over to the EU so they can fix the code in these applications.

Any way this is an interesting read, If you are interested then take a look at http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9593_22-6046754.html

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Core Competencies in Open Source Projects

I recently decided to go to grad school and obtain my masters in MIS with an emphasis in security. Securing systems has always been a passion of mine and there was probably even a time when I wanted to see if I could break them. It just seems like some fun knowledge to have and with the current climate in the Information technology industry security training will be a skill to have and will make me more marketable.

Well I just completed my first series of classes and it was very stressful since I took two classes and they where pushed into an eight week time frame. Couple this with the fact that I still go to work every day it makes for some very full weeks, when both professors expected me to read 5 or 6 chapters every week and write at least one paper. Well I made it through and even managed to pull two A’s out of the classes. One of the classes turned out to be very interesting even though I did not see eye to eye with the professor, he did disseminate some very useful information. This class was Strategic Management of Technology and the majority of the course dealt with determining the core competencies of an organization and encouraging innovation around those core competencies. For clarity a core competency is defined as:

  • Something that provides access to a wide variety of markets.
  • Something that provides a perceived value to the customers of a product
  • It must be difficult for competitors to imitate.

Now all through the class the professor kept telling us to define what our core competencies where to build up those competencies. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately and he is absolutely correct, I need to build up my competencies and use those competencies to compete in my everyday life. That’s is one reason I decided to start working on this blog and capture my thoughts on a daily basis. Hopefully it will help me to define where I want to go next. I’ve definitely determined it is not to continue to work a 9-5 job every day as I have done through out my entire career.

Well enough of me, I started looking at the various projects available in Asp.Net and I am have been trying to determine the competencies for the various open source projects. I first thought of the Rainbow project. I would think their core competencies is in their localization of their framework as it is probably one of the most complete implementations of localization of any of the open source or shared source projects available in the .Net community ( at least of the ones I’ve seen). Now Rainbow is not one of the most popular projects by a long ways so either their core competency is not really a great competency as it does not provide them with a broad range of markets, but it is a needed feature and they have done it very well, but maybe that is not the most important feature to the developers in the Asp.Net community.

Now thinking of DotNetNuke, I can think of several competencies. The first one that comes to mind is the multiple portal feature where you can have hundreds of web sites on a single installation of DNN this is definitely the killer feature that allowed DNN to gain its foothold in the community and has also allowed it to become the most popular asp.net project by a long shot. But I don’t really think this could be described as a core competency for DNN, but it probably was one at one time. DNN’s true core competency is in the community around the project. The community is what gives DNN its position and without the strength of the community, I would think DNN would have faltered long ago and would now be only a memory or have numerous forks all working towards different goals. Its getting late so I will need to finish these thoughts later, but I just find it interesting that a competency of a open source project probably has less to do with the cool code it contains than it does with the people who support it. I would say this it probably true of any successful open source endeavor. The community is what creates value in open source an not really the code. So for all the people who says if a web application is not built utilizing LAMP, then its not true open source maybe they should think again and consider open source is about a lot more than the platform that runs or creates the application. I personally think its more about the community and sharing and not just whether it runs as platform independent.