Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Microsoft launches open source .Net package manager

Microsoft began offering on Wednesday an early version of NuPack, an open source package manager for its .Net software development platform.

Also, Microsoft is providing a beta version of its ASP.MVC (Model View Controller) 3 technology and a second beta release of its WebMatrix Web site-building tool.  [ Keep up with app dev issues and trends with InfoWorld's Fatal Exception blog and Developer World newsletter. ]

The company's NuPack technology works with .Net project types, including ASP.Net WebForms, ASP.Net MVC, and others. "NuPack is a free open source package manager that makes it easy for you to find, install, and use .Net libraries in your projects," said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Developer Division, in a blog post. A developer preview is available at the Codeplex website.

"Our goal with NuPack is to make it as simple as possible to integrate open source libraries within .Net projects. It will be supported in all versions of Visual Studio," said Guthrie. Microsoft anticipates NuPack serving as a fundamental component of the .Net stack and that it will encourage more .Net developers to use open source libraries.

Developers maintaining open source projects, such as Moq and NHibernate, can use NuPack to package up libraries and register them with an online gallery, or catalog, that is searchable, Guthrie said. Dependency management between libraries is handled.

"The client-side NuPack tools, which include full Visual Studio integration, make it trivial for any .Net developer who wants to use one of these libraries to easily find and install it within the project they are working on," Guthrie said.

NuPack has been accepted as an addition to the Outercurve Foundation's ASP.Net Open Source Gallery. Outercurve is an open source projects organization formerly known as CodePlex and launched by Microsoft.

Microsoft on Wednesday also launched a beta release of ASP.Net MVC 3, which is an update to the ASP.Net MVC 3 Preview that shipped two months ago. The beta release includes enhancements to the Razor view engine option, including cleaner MVC integration. New view helper methods are supported as well.

The beta release is accessible at Microsoft's website. AJAX and Validation helpers in the package use an unobtrusive JavaScript approach by default. NuPack integration also is supported as well as extended dependency injection. Helpers and classes are featured to improve "everyday coding," Guthrie said.

Microsoft's WebMatrix Beta 2 offers Web page enhancements as well as improved templates and NuPack integration. WebMatrix is a tool for building Windows Web sites. The release is available at the WebMatrix website.

"Today's releases further evolve and enhance the Microsoft Web Stack," Guthrie said. "All of the above capabilities work with .Net 4 and [Visual Studio]  2010 and do not modify any existing files that ship with it -- they are all additive and safe to install on your machine."

This article, "Microsoft launches open source .Net package manager," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Open Source: No one is working for free

People continue to wonder how to make money in the free and open source software world. It’s dressed up in discussions of how one makes money when you give away the software for free, or why developers are working for free. It can likewise lead to a management backlash of not contributing to FOSS projects because some think their developers are working on FOSS instead of their own work.

Here’s a different way to think about it. Everyone is familiar with the idea of a normal "bell curve" distribution representing R&D investment over time. As a technology is better understood and a product succeeds in the marketplace R&D investment increases, and over time as new technologies advance the R&D investment in the original technology and product wanes. The function can also represent the "knowledge" gained or the increase in the intellectual asset base. Taking the integral of the normal distribution gives us the total investment and is the “S”-curve that is familiar to many when discussing technology innovation over time.

Good companies develop and invest in new successive waves of sustaining technologies. Microsoft’s success in PC operating systems started with DOS, then Windows, and finally enormous investment in Windows NT. Strong companies are good at sustaining innovations and know how to jump from technology to technology along the sustained innovation path. This is easily seen when looking at a single company’s R&D investment. These observations come from Clayton Christensen’s work as described in “The Innovator’s Dilemma.”

The R&D investment curves for projects like Linux and Apache still look like bell curves despite lots of individual and corporate contributors. These contributions, however, might best be viewed as a stacked bar chart. Individual contributors invest to meet their specific needs. As a project gains wider use, more contributors get involved. Because there is enormous overlap in their common needs, the sum of the investments remains the same but everyone is sharing the costs.

Individual contributors get enormous return on their investment. (One gives a few bug fixes to the Apache httpd team, but gets an entire HTTP server in return.) Organizational contributors give for the same ROI. They get enormous return in the technology they use as a complement to their products and services or as a component in their overall solution to the customer when compared to the investment in their contributions.

One can see this with the continued growth in the Linux community as it is adopted by more and more embedded device and mobile handset manufacturers. One only need read the Linux Foundation report charting the growth statistics in the Linux kernel to understand the enormous shared value generation happening release-on-release, four times a year.

The economics of open source works. The value gained by each contributor is enormous when compared to the cost of contributing. Nobody is working for free.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Open source could be a success story, too: Red Hat CEO

MUMBAI: From airlines to open source software, Red Hat’s global CEO Jim Whitehurst has made a smooth transition. Mr Whitehurst, who was the chief operating officer(COO) of Delta Airlines in his earlier stint, and helped the bankrupt airline return to profits, is now at the helm of open source software vendor Red Hat, which competes with firms several times its size such as Microsoft and Oracle.

Mr Whitehurst’s focus has been to change Red Hat from what he calls a one-trip pony selling, supporting open source operating system Linux to an enterprise infrastructure software firm, competing on technologies like cloud. “If you look at how we are positioned now with our customers and how analysts view us, we’re an enterprise infrastructure company.

That’s been a great transition. One of our biggest contributions to open source is our growth in profitability. It demonstrates you can have a successful model around open source,” Mr Whitehurst told ET in an exclusive interview.

Coming from an airline, the 42-year-old Mr Whitehurst is an unlikely CEO for a technology company, and more so, a company that makes profits from selling free software.

When he left Delta, he was approached to do a lot of additional turnarounds, but Mr Whitehurst said rather than trying to fix something, he wanted to build something, where there was a buoyant canvas to be painted, and Red Hat fit that bill. Red Hat was also looking for someone from a non-tech background and Mr Whitehurst’s profile, with his interest in geeky stuff, matched it well.

Other than expanding Red Hat’s portfolio, Mr Whitehurst worked on diversifying its customer base to include more than just banks (NYSE Euronext is one of its customers) and telecom firms, that are typically early adopters of technology.

“When I joined, our top customer list was great — all major banks and telcos. But where’s everybody else? Where are the big mainstream users of IT? That’s one of the key things that we worked on,” said Mr Whitehurst. Red Hat today has railroads, utilities, airlines and petro chemical firms on its top 25 customer list.

“The most powerful force in technology is not Moore’s law, its inertia,” said Mr Whitehurst, who beefed up support from systems integration partners and independent software vendors to extend its presence among customers.

“People want to feel confident they can deliver what they promised. And we generally feel more confident doing something we’ve done before. So if you are a systems integrator and you want to deliver for your customer, you feel more confident using things you’ve delivered before. So there is an inertia out there that we’ve to just overcome,” he added.

Even as Microsoft and Google get more aggressive in the consumer space, Mr Whitehurst is clear that Red Hat will not dabble in the consumer business.

“We’re an enterprise software company and we will stay focused there at least for the medium term... Look at Apple, they’re a consumer company. Look at Oracle, they’re an enterprise company. Very few companies have been able to do both well, and not just in technology but in business in general.” Red Hat is participating in India’s ambitious Unique ID project through its partners.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Facebook has problems, Diaspora isn't one of them

The bigger a company becomes on the Web, the more likely it is to be accused of privacy violations. Google has been fending off privacy concerns for years, but it's now Facebook's time in the limelight.

An increasing number of people are concerned about Facebook's privacy policies. And while some are reportedly looking to jump off the Facebook train, most continue to complain...on Facebook.

Enter the Diaspora project, an open-source social network that eliminates the midddleman, the "anti-Facebook."

Diaspora attempts to solve Facebook's privacy problems at the infrastructure layer, using a decentralized, peer-to-peer approach. Unfortunately, this approach has the potential to limit the service's appeal by introducing complexity, as ReadWriteWeb explains:

Because not everyone will be technically capable of (or interested in) setting up their computer to function as a "seed," there are plans to offer a paid turn-key service too, similar to, the blogging platform. Wordpress itself is software you can install and configure on your own server, if you're inclined to do so, but if you're less technically-savvy, you can opt to quickly start a blog via instead. Diaspora would function in a similar way.

In other words, if you care deeply about a decentralized social-networking service and have the technical chops to set it up, Diaspora provides a way to do that. For everyone else, there's a somewhat centralized Web site.

This is progress?

Let's be clear: one of the primary reasons for Facebook's success is that it disintermediates the complexity that makes it hard for 400 million (and counting) people to connect to each other. For Diaspora to compete, it needs to be more than merely open: it actually needs to be better at connecting hordes of people simply, casually, easily.

As, the open-source Twitter clone, has shown, there's a niche market for those who prize openness over other considerations. But it's niche. The mainstream doesn't have time to set up seeds or otherwise follow openness for openness' sake.

I don't foresee Diaspora ever breaking into that mainstream because it's starting from the wrong premise: it treats privacy and decentralization as its primary goals. This isn't how users see it, though. For most people, privacy is a secondary concern (though it is a concern). The primary concern is connecting with friends and family.

So long as network effects favor Facebook, Diaspora users will remain few and far between.

If anything, the best Diaspora can hope for is to help prod Facebook to improve its privacy policies and communication about them. This is an area that Facebook recognizes it needs to improve, as Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy at Facebook, notes in a recent interview:

It's clear that despite our efforts, we are not doing a good enough job communicating the changes that we're making. Even worse, our extensive efforts to provide users greater control over what and how they share appear to be too confusing for some of our more than 400 million users. That's not acceptable or sustainable. But it's certainly fixable. You're pointing out things we need to fix...

I sincerely hope that Diaspora can help motivate Facebook to improve how it handles users' privacy. I just don't think that it provides compelling competition for mainstream Facebook users who need ease of use before they need to be worrying about "seeds" and such.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Steps to adopt open source technology standards draw flak

India’s open source software lobbyists allege that the country’s proposed draft recommendations for adopting open technology standards and software for automating different government departments and functions, favours popular software solutions from large companies such as Microsoft.

According to people familiar with the draft recommendations, a meeting of the apex body on Standards for eGovernance was held last week, and the policy is close to being approved. ET was shown a copy of the proposed recommendations by one of the persons who requested anonymity.

“The modifications made to the suggestions given by an expert committee recommendations would make the policy very weak and not favour open standards,” says Dr G Nagarajan, chairman of the Free Software Foundation of India, which advocates that the software should be free and open for all. The draft is also not clear on whether it will also impact existing e-governance projects or only new tenders.

The policy is intended to guide the billion dollar e-governance purchases and tenders across government departments for software and hardware over next few years. The government has already allocated about $6 billion for various projects under the national e-governance plan. The new draft policy in its preamble recommends that standards which are ‘mature and have a large proliferation’ will be considered. This is being contended by the open source software community which says that it will favour proprietary standards which have large proliferation amongst masses. Last year, an expert committee comprising of many IIT professors had given suggestions to the Department of IT on the policy.

The most contentious point of the policy is that it includes standards which may be royalty free and non discriminatory (RAND) as compared to fair royalty free and non discriminatory (FRAND), which many experts had recommended. “The entire standard should be royalty-free and not just the “essential” parts of it. In other words, All patent claims necessary to implement the standard should be royaltyfree . Also, royalty free on FRAND/RAND is self-contradictory . If a Standard is Royalty Free (RF) then it cannot be RAND,” says Venkatesh Hariharan , a blogger and expert on open source affairs.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TCS, Infosys betting big on Cloud computing

Till a few years ago, the IT industry had three categories of companies - hardware companies, software product companies and IT services companies. If an organisation wanted to computerise a certain function such as payroll, it first bought the hardware, then the licences for the software, and finally hired the services of a third company to customise and implement the application according to its specifications. Naturally, it was an expensive and time-consuming process and managements debated on whether they had the budgets for it before embarking on such an exercise.

Smaller companies were the hardest hit because most of them didn't have the budgets for expensive hardware and even more expensive software licences. Many of them were forced to choose between postponing automation, building their own in-house applications or investing a huge amount money, which could have otherwise been invested elsewhere.

Now imagine if there was a choice of outsourcing all these requirements to a single provider and there were no investments in hardware, licences, or implementation to be made but just a single fee based on the usage of the application, wouldn't it be much more simpler and less expensive? That is the flexibility that cloud computing offers.

Cloud computing is an evolving technology that brings together all the elements of hardware, software and services in a single package. But despite being in popular use for last couple of years, there is still no standard definition for the term 'cloud computing'. Unlike terms like open source software (which indicates the source code software is open to all) or free software (which means it is free for users to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve) which have specific definitions, cloud computing is a more loosely defined term that can refer either to infrastructure, services or applications.

"Many market observers have offered up definitions of cloud and cloud computing - to no avail. Every party wants to adapt the definition to their own needs," pointed out technology research firm, Forrester, in one of its reports on this hot new technology.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Open source slowly gaining momentum in India

Open Source software in not much in use in India compared to other countries primarily because of the lack of awareness among the developer communities

Developers in India are not much aware about open source technologies and there aren't much good development tools and support for them, says Joydip Kanjilal, ASP.NET professional at Microsoft, in conversation with CIOL.

How do you see software developer community in India?

The software developer community in India is at par with the west and is touted to rise in the coming years. There is plenty of scope and talent in the software developer community in India.

Where do you see the usage of open source software as against proprietary software from the developer community?

Open Source software in not much in use in India compared to other countries primarily because of the lack of awareness among the developer communities in the country.

However, with the state governments in India making open source an integral part of the state's IT policy, things might change over time. Usage of proprietary software has reduced over time and open source software is slowly getting popular.

How do you see the developer community involved with the Linux OS as against Windows based OS?

The developer community in India would continue to be more involved with Windows based OS than Linux OS.

There is a lot of user communities supporting Windows based development as against Linux based development. There isn't much good development tools and support for Linux based development yet, but, yes, it is picking up these days.

Being an independent software consultant and author of many books, which technology / platform will be used by most of the developers in 2010? and why?

I feel WCF and Rest would be the most sought after technologies in 2010 as far as .NET and its related technologies are concerned. Also, cloud computing would be very popular over time.

According to you, what's the best way to motivate developer community?

The developer community can be motivated best with seminars, conferences, etc, where they can participate.

How do you feel to be part of SPARK IT 2010 and what message you would like to give for aspiring engineers/developers?

I am excited to be a part of SPARK IT 2010 and would look forward to the event with keen interest. I feel great to be selected as a speaker among so many reputed international speakers.

The aspiring engineers/developers should develop their basics to the best possible standards. The need of the hour for them is to devote more and more time developing their basics and they should also participate in events, conferences and seminars so as to develop their skills and awareness.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Update: Gmail gets social with Google Buzz

Google has given Gmail a social networking component with its introduction of Buzz, a service built inside of the Web mail product that lets users post and share content in similar ways as they do in sites like Facebook and Twitter.

How successful Google will be in convincing Gmail users to shift their social networking tasks over to Buzz remains to be seen. Google believes Buzz offers enough improvements over existing social networks.

Specifically, Buzz has been designed to help users deal with the often massive amount of information they receive through their social-networking sites.

"Increasingly, it's becoming harder and harder to make sense and find the signal in the noise," said Bradley Horowitz, a Google vice president of product management, at a press conference on Tuesday.

The problem is only going to get worse, as people continue to find value in and embrace social media, he said. "We all feel this bombardment, this fatigue of having to go manually through and try to make sense of the torrent of information that's washing over us," he said. "This has become a large-scale problem, the kind we're good at [solving at] Google."

However, as Google officials acknowledged, Buzz right now has no links into Facebook, the world's largest social-networking site with more than 400 million members. This means that Buzz, at least for the moment, exists in parallel with Facebook, without the two of them intersecting, thus offering no help for users of that site, a major gap in Buzz's coverage.

As for Twitter, users can't post to Twitter from Buzz right now, but they can direct their Twitter posts to Buzz, as well as other content they post on public sites, like the Flickr and Picasa photo sharing sites from Yahoo and Google, respectively.

Google opted to build Buzz into Gmail because Gmail contacts lists are an underlying, existing social graph for users, officials said.

"Today, with Google Buzz, we're introducing a new way to share and communicate inside of Gmail. Buzz is like an entirely new world inside of Gmail," said Todd Jackson, Google Buzz product manager.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Open-source acquisitions: What's the holdup?

Trying to figure out a company's acquisition strategy is often complex. Some companies have very purposeful approaches to scoping out companies, products, and market segments, while others' approaches are much more scattershot.

Acquisitions of open-source companies have been a big topic of conversation ever since Red Hat acquired JBoss in April 2006. Many of us in the software industry thought that one or two large companies would snap up and consolidate several open-source companies in attempt to offer a complete open-source stack. But an open-source consolidator has yet to materialize.

In recent conversations with a number of open-source executives, it's come to light that many potential acquirers are less attracted to open-source companies that require more investment before generating revenue.

Considering that there are few private open-source companies generating beyond $15 million in annual revenue, an acquisition of an open-source company could certainly be tough for a public company to explain to Wall Street.

read more.....

Friday, January 1, 2010

The future of open source

There's no question that the open source community is a passionate one -- and one with significant influence on technology directions and options. We're way past the days when people asked if Linux or Apache was safe to depend on in business. Open source is now a mainstream part of the technology fabric.

Yet it remains connected to its roots around a passionate community working together to solve problems and share the fruits of their labors with others. Any endeavor based in community is bound to spark passionate debate. After all, without contention, how else to determine the best way forward?

Since its emergence, open source has embodied this spirit. Part defiant, part self-reliant, and often outspoken and opinionated, those immersed in the community have worked both in tandem and at odds, all with the intention of pushing the movement in as many worthwhile directions at once.

read more.....