Every time I think open source can't make inroads any faster, it does. Every time I suspect that we've hit a plateau, we haven't. Every time I think I can't be any more surprised by the proprietary world's response to open source, I am.
Such was 2007, a year when open source became more than a marketing buzzword/phrase. Starting in January (and ending, oddly enough, in December :-), here are the top stories that caught my eye in the first half of 2007. I think you, like I, will be shocked by just how much happened in 2007.
- Rumors start to swirlthat Novell is in the market to acquire Xen or Altiris. The company didn't acquire either of them, but both were later acquired....
- Rob Bearden leaves Red Hat/JBoss to become COO of OpenSpan in a worrying trend for 2007 that saw a steady exodus of key JBoss employees from Red Hat.
- Microsoft releases the upgraded version of its omnipresent Office product to rave reviews. OpenOffice continues to chug along in the background, where it largely stayed throughout 2007.
- Mozilla reports its 2005 revenues and shocks the world by announcing that it is second only to Red Hat in terms of sales. Not bad for a not-for-profit.
- Vista gets one of its first of many terrible reviews. Comparisons with Mac OS X left Vista looking like the annoying younger brother who always wants to know where you're going and what you're up to. If only this would have been the worst that Vista saw in 2007....
- SCO continues to limp along despite very clearly having gasped its last breaths.
- Luis Villa heads to law school to demonstrate that productive members of the development class can become unproductive members of the litigious class. :-)
- Apple tries to push a completely closed iPhone without third-party applications. Apple was later to discover that this whole "openness" thing is more than just a tagline.
- The European Commission puts out an extensive report [PDF] that, among other things, most open-source developers hail from Europe, the open-source code base roughly doubles every 18-24 months and would cost 12 billion Euros to code, and will account for ~4% of European GDP by 2010. Wow.
- Sun followed Oracle's lead to undercut Red Hat on pricing. If you can't beat them, lowball them?
- Open-source attribution (aka "badgeware") boils and boils and boils....Unfortunately, no one initially thought to come up with a way to make open-source licensing apply in the Internet-based services world.
- The Free Standards Group and OSDL decide to merge and created the Linux Foundation, which Jim Zemlin helms. I wasn't a big fan but am slowly coming around. Very slowly.
- Wal-Mart comes out in favor of Novell's patent pact with Microsoft. Sort of.
- Zimbra hits six million paid mailboxes, well on its way to $20 million (or more) in 2007 bookings. My jealousy runneth over.
- Red Hat mutely announces that it will be open sourcing the source code for its Red Hat Network. No real details as to when....
- MySQL upsets some of the faithful with its new MySQL Enterprise product, following in the footsteps of Red Hat (both in the success of the move and the ire it raised). This comes on the heels of an exceptional year of sales for the company.
- Oracle's Fusion is delayed...but that's about the only thing that Oracle does wrong all year.
- Oracle's Unbreakable Linux fails to have any impact whatsoever on Red Hat's business. Except that Red Hat continued to get stronger and stronger. Regardless, the smart money speculates that Oracle has Microsoft, not Red Hat, in its Linux sights.
- Bill Gates gives a shocking interview to Newsweek in which he claims Microsoft's technology is more innovative, more secure, and better in every way than Apple's. My particular post on that subject got over one million page views as people kept visiting it to snicker.
- The Free Software Foundation started rattling its saber, suggesting that Novell might be barred from distributing Linux. The patent pact with Microsoft suddenly seemed a little less wise.
- Microsoft continues to struggle to convince consumers and businesses to adopt Vista.
- Marc Fleury decides to leave Red Hat. Little did anyone know that the real reason was that he didn't feel his scores in Gears of War were up to snuff. :-)
- Red Hat joins Microsoft's Vendor Interop Alliance but continues to refuse to go down the patent pact route that Novell did, insisting that real interoperability begins and ends with open standards, not closed-door agreements.
- The Open Solutions Alliance is born to create meetings for people's already busy schedules and to build interoperability between small open-source vendors that no one yet needs to integrate. The industry yawns.
- Steve Ballmer makes it very clear why its patent pacts make so much sense for Microsoft, though not for anyone else: Microsoft fears business model competition, not technology competition. Open source poses a clear and present danger due to its zero-cost evaluation and near zero-cost distribution. Slap a patent tax on that baby!
- Dell launches its Ideastorm site to collect information on what consumers want. Every Linux enthusiast on the planet demands Linux desktops...though very few of these people then follow up with a purchase. At least not from Dell. , surely they're buying them from someone.
- Alfresco (Disclosure: I am an employee of the company), an open-source applications vendor, goes 100% GPL with all of its code, demonstrating that the GPL isn't only viable for infrastructure companies, but can also drive 400% annual growth for applications vendors, too.
- March kicked off with a raging, somewhat pointless discussion in the blogosphere about what constitutes an open-source company. I fought that battle hard as Chief Pointlessness Officer. I think I won. Which maybe means I lost. Not sure.
- Novell started the year with somewhat tepid performance in its Linux business. Microsoft seemed to be a wasted lifeline. By the end of the year, however, the strategy seemed to be working much better and its quarterly results improved dramatically.
- Openbravo, an open-source ERP vendor (Disclosure: I am an advisor to the company), got off to a rocking start to 2007 with downloads, sales, and partnerships on the upswing. It and several other open-source applications companies continued to demonstrate that open source is much more than Linux.
- Sourcefire goes public [PDF], providing the third example that open-source companies can scale to IPO-esque proportions.
- Will Hurley joins BMC, demonstrating that even stodgy old software companies can get new, open-source blood. Will promptly starts an IT management love-fest with his competitors but also takes a few swipes. A refreshing approach to an otherwise staid industry.
- Linux desktop growth jumps from 10.5% in 2004 to 20.8% in 2006, according to IDC. Microsoft stifles a yawn as the numbers mean that both Bob and Fred installed Linux on their home machines. Meanwhile, Mac adoption goes on a torrid growth boom of its own.
- Red Hat launches its Red Hat Exchange (RHX), a one-stop shop for SMBs to source open-source applications running Red Hat Enterprise Linux. RHX is maligned for not being open to competing vendors and many question its viability. Over the year, Red Hat morphs RHX into a platform for selling open-source solutions (and some not-so-open-source-solutions) to companies of all sizes. This change finally makes RHX start to hum.
- Microsoft starts to reveal just how ambitious are its plans for Sharepoint, dubbing it its next great operating system. The open-source world largely (and unwisely) ignores the Sharepoint threat.
- People try to figure out GPLv3 in anticipation for its release, but few succeed. I certainly didn't.
- Ian Murdock of Debian fame heads to Sun Microsystems to inject new life into its Solaris initiatives.
- Oracle announces some quality customers for its Unbreakable Linux, but the real news is just how strong its overall business is. IBM and Microsoft spent much of 2007 wondering what to do about Oracle's rising power.
- Novell tries to play Jekyll and Hyde with Linux. "It's good. No, it's bad! It's not that bad! It's not that good!!" goes the argument as it tries to settle on a winning marketing strategy for its patent agreement with Microsoft. It's tough to play both sides of the debate....Novell, for its part, gets tired of me talking about the patent deal. Open questions abound as to who benefits from the deal: Microsoft or Linux?
- 40% of developers surveyed by Evans Data Group reported using MySQL. When does a non-threat to Oracle become a threat?
- The Linux Foundation manages to elect a board of directors that only has one member of the open-source development community. How representative!
- GPLv3 was released to much fanfare but completely misses the opportunity to close the "ASP Loophole," the one major thing that it should have rectified. As a result, while adoption is solid, the Free Software Foundation failed to provide a 21st-century license to 21st-century development concerns.
- IBM's Steve Mills derides the GPL, providing further evidence that IBM prefers its open source to be conveniently licensed in ways that allow it to embed open source into proprietary products. Against this pessimistic view, however, was IBM's decision to resell MySQL.
- Sun's CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, contrarily blames proprietary software for doing more to damage it than any market downturn had.
- However, as evidence that one can never be open enough to please everyone, the Apache Software Foundation wrote to Jonathan asking him to open up the test kit for Java SE.
- Vista gets the kiss of death....Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal rips into it.
- Tim O'Reilly is first (as usual) to guess the purpose behind Google's free 411 service: get data. Lots of data. As the year went on, Google's voracious appetite to own personal data became one of the biggest (and most troubling) headlines.
- Adobe and Microsoft start to square off against each other. This could play out as one of the biggest stories of 2008, as it simmered (with Adobe announcing the open sourcing of Flex and , among other things) but never boiled in 2007.
- Loopfuse brings open source to one of the industry's hidden gems: marketing automation. Meanwhile, MuleSource starts kicking...tail as the leading open-source ESB. Net net? The industry explodes with new, interesting uses for open source. (Disclosure: I am an advisor to both.)
- Microsoft starts a whisper campaign against Linux, and signs up a range of easily frightened Asia-Pacific-based OEMs to its patent party.
- Red Hat brings its Fedora/RHEL model to JBoss. Some among the JBoss faithful are angered. Red Hat's JBoss results fail to convince (yet) that it is the right move.
- Dell starts selling Ubuntu-based computers, giving Ubuntu a bit more enterprise street credibility, the one thing that it lacks.
- Microsoft continues its Apple envy with a Steve Ballmer interview in USA Today that reveals just how much Microsoft wishes it were Apple.
- Forrester issues a reportthat shows open-source adoption pervasive throughout enterprises, ranging from Linux to MySQL to open-source applications...and increasingly in mission-critical implementations.
- Microsoft goes on the road to fight to maintain its monopolies on a state-by-state basis.
- Robert Love, a leading innovator at Novell, leaves the company, joining Walter Knapp, key members of its Linux Impact Team, and others. Between Red Hat's JBoss departures and Novell's Linux departures, a wealth of new talent rejoins the startup industry.
- Open-source venture investments top $2 billion. That's one heck of a lot of open-source code....
- As the rest of the industry opens up (to varying degrees), SAP closes off more code and more development processes. The company goes . Mostly back.
- Tim O'Reilly suggests that the future of open source is...closed-source software. Sigh.
- Microsoft finally does what we had long expected it to do: Microsoft declared in a Fortune articlethat Linux and open source violate its patents. When asked which ones, it said, "Allofthemnoneofthemsomeofthemguesswhichoneswewillnevertellyoubutyouareviolatingourpatents!!!" The open-source community responded, "Put up or shut up." Microsoft did neither, prompting Jonathan Schwartz to suggest that perhaps Microsoft should focus on innovating, not litigating. Bill Hilf tried to repair some of the damage done by Brad Smith's inopportune commentary, but the damage was done.
- Facebook opens its APIs to outside developers, helping to flood the world with useless applications like the Super Fun Wall. Woohoo! LinkedIn later follows suit.
- Governments around the globe continued to buy up open source and to increasingly legislate in its favor [PDF].
- As further indication that this open-source thing is destined for greatness, IDC pegs the standalone open-source software market at 26% growth through 2011, and on track to hit $5.8 billion by that year.
- The US Navy releases its open-source acquisition policy. Yet another sign that open-source is the team to beat.
- OpenAds, one of the industry's most interesting open-source companies, gets funding and ratchets up its race to compete with Google in the ad server business.
- I joined CNET as a blogger, leaving InfoWorld. OK, this wasn't a big deal to anyone else, but it was a great transition for me.
- Ubuntu's that Ubuntu won't be signing up with Microsoft for patent "protection" anytime soon.
- Microsoft claims that Windows is much more secure than Linux. Of course it does. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs proclaims that Linux will dominate the enterprise. Of course it will. Someone in there is not telling the truth. You decide.
- Both and announce stellar earnings. Again.
That's the first half of the year. I'll report on the second half shortly.