Posts Tagged ‘Apache’

Justin Erenkrantz Interview

February 4, 2009

Towards the end of last year I did an interview with Justin Erenkrantz, the President of the Apache Software Foundation. Apache is a non-profit virtual ‘company’ which specialises in open source software projects and is famous for giving the world the Apache Web server (amongst many other things). The interview was for Oxford University’s OSS Watch service, which was hosting the workshop where the interview took place.

The thing I found interesting when I interviewed Justin was how little pieces of open source history came together—how people’s reactions to certain events were key in creating more formal structures. The final piece is called Meritocrats, cluebats, and the open development method and if you want to know why you’ll have to read the piece.

Microsoft runs with Apache

July 29, 2008

Last Friday, Microsoft announced that it was becoming a platinum level sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation, equivalent to 100,000 USD per year. Apache is a community of open source developers and users, famous for bringing together the team that built the first serious Web server (which is still used to deliver at least 50% of the world’s webpages).

So why does this matter? Outside the open source community, few people will have heard of Apache or even care too much about which software is delivering their webpages. What is of wider relevance is what this says about Microsoft’s attitude to open source code more generally.

For many open source types, Microsoft sits at the pinnacle of the proprietary software industry and are little more than the devil incarnate. In recent months though there have been big personnel changes at Microsoft, not least with the retirement of Bill Gates and the appointment of Ray Ozzie as Chief Software Architect. This has coincided with an increasing interest in open source software development, with staff participating in open projects and the launching of initiatives such as the Port25 blog, which is a conduit for the views of open source developers within the company.

On the face of it the sponsorship of Apache is a big step down the open source route, since it involves putting up cash. It is also interesting as Microsoft make IIS, Apache Web Server’s leading competitor. I’ll have a lot more to say about this once I’ve done the research for a new article I’ve just been commissioned to write, which is due this winter. In the meantime though, one thought strikes me. If you read Sam Ramji’s posting on Port 25 you’ll notice that he says: “[the sponsorship] is a strong endorsement of The Apache Way”. The Apache Way is the project management and governance process that Apache’s community of developers have built up over the years. I really do have an open mind on all this, but could it be that what Microsoft is really interested in is learning about how open development can be more efficient that traditional coding methods?

Microsoft’s future

July 2, 2008

Last week the BBC sent that well-known techno-geek, Fiona Bruce, to interview Bill Gates for the Money Program. The result was a fairly pedestrian plod through the history of the company, although it was interesting to see the bit where they recreated the original (and now infamous) photo of the Microsoft start-up staff in full, late-1970s regalia.

What the programme didn’t say much about was the far more interesting question of what happens next. Where will Microsoft go post-Bill? Although they did touch on the emerging threat of Google and the on-going Yahoo buy-out situation, they had little to say on the way Microsoft clearly has to change to deal with the post-PC era and the emerging Web generation.

One of the issues facing the Redmond-based behemoth is the rapid rise in free and open source code, open data, and associated new innovation development methods. On Monday I had the privilege of interviewing Justin Erenkrantz, who is the President of the Apache Software Foundation, a leading open source software development community. Amongst many interesting lines of discussion we touched on the changing nature of Microsoft and Justin expressed his opinion that, based on his recent experiences, there has been a ‘sea-change’ at Microsoft.

Justin is one interesting and busy guy – juggling a software job at online TV start-up Joost, undertaking a PhD and carrying out his role with the Foundation, but he certainly has his finger on the Silicon Valley pulse. As ever I have to disappoint and say you’ll have to wait until the full interview comes out for further details.