Tim O'Reilly's Keynote: Open Source Paradigm Shifts


Tim's talking about paradigm shifts. He makes the point that software makers no longer tied to hardware. IBM gave that right to Microsoft and created a the biggest powerhouse in the computer world.

Open architecture inevitably leads to commodity software But open architectures can contain proprietary components: viz. Intel Inside, Cisco Tim sees some trends:

  1. Commoditization of software
  2. user-Customizable systems and architectures
  3. network-enabled Collaboration

Open source promotes competition and dives down margins

  • linux on intel gives 10x savings
  • Apache means web serving is not a revenue opportunity
  • MySQL threatens to do the same thing for databases (there's a Wall Street Journal article about this today)

cover Proprietary alternative must become free (as in beer) to compete. They will usually bundled with added value components. Plug compatible software has become the norm. eBay has switched from Linux to Microsoft and now (that IBM has the account) will probably go back to Linux.

Commodity components provide platforms and infrastructure on which addition software is built "for-use" in delivering services, not for sale (see Eric Raymond's book on the " The Cathedral and the Bazaar" for more on this).

cover Internet-era applications are updated daily, not yearly. This is why the P in LAMP matters so much. Dynamic languages form the glue for bringing software components and information together to build Internet interfaces. Open source has its roots in USENET and code sharing that was enabled by networks. Gives rise to the "Adhocracy" (See Cory Doctorow's " Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" Users help build the application (more from Eric Raymond).

With a large enough development organization, OSS-berhavior emerges. He gives the example of Microsoft's ASP.net.

Tim recommends reading the essay: Listening to Napster by Clay Shirky. (Chapter 2 of Peer-to-Peer : Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies) Clay outlines three ways to build something large:

cover
  • slaves
  • pay people
  • self interest (volunteers)

Napster was built so that individual self interest built a centralized directory. Google page rank depends on millions of independent linkers via the Page Rank algorithm. More people have "contributed" to Amazon than to Linux.

Tim talks about commodity software business models. Two of the most interesting are new platforms (e.g. web services, digital identity, location, search, etc.) and aggregating content for sale by the subscription, not the piece He gives the example of cable television subscriptions which are more successful than pay-per-view. People like large package of stuff.

Not just "professional services" but services delivered to end users. The ISP industry is a subscription-based access to open source software. UUNet is the greatest open source business success to date. BIND is a monopoly in disguise. Sendmail and Apache are not about software sales, they're about email and web hosting. Google, Paypal, Amazon, et. al. are the next step on the path to a services-based software economy.

Tim believe we're building an Internet operating system.

  • p2p and ad hoc networking
  • wireless
  • social software
  • cell phones
  • pervasive computing
  • grid and on-demand computing

Give customers increased opportunity for customization with plug replaceable standards compliant components, extensible architecture, and scripting support. Look for hidden services business models. Leverage collaborative development and processes and participatory interfaces. Watch the Alpha Geeks. New technologies are first exploited by hackers, then entrepreneurs, then platform players. For example, screen scraping predicted Web services.