How things have changed…

Starting to compose blog this on my train ride up to Boston on Tuesday night form NYC, I am sure I will actually finish it later which is why I mention this (it is now Friday and I am finally completing this blog on my train ride into NYC, correction it is now Tuesday afternoon and I am finally finishing the blog, I was sidetracked by a few other activities and a more factual blog – worked on it on Friday but did not finish).  The train ride between NY and Boston provides plenty of captive time to catchup on industry happenings. 

I am a fairly regular reader of both Dave Hitz’s blog, great content (since I will most likely not drive a Tesla anytime in the near future I need to read Dave’s blog to gleam some insight) I also happen to think that he is a very intelligent individual – not alone there.  Also from time to time when I am board I also read Jonathan Schwarz’s blog, he is a bit maniacal IMO but he also has some good tidbits which can be gleamed from the piles and piles of rhetoric, for instance reporting earnings on your blog c’mon, sometimes it is just a bit over the top.  I also wish someone would create a JAVA sucks, kill it now petition, I would be more than happy to be the first person to sign it – sometimes portability is just not worth the anguish (With that said SUN had done an incredible job proliferating this utterly painful technology.  Tonight I read both Dave’s and Jonathan’s blog hoping to gain some additional insight into the litigation saga.  BTW – .Net and Mono provide a pretty decent solution for a good looking, decent performing, portable, etc… alternative to JAVA.  Now I am off on a tangent, as a long time Linux user and long time VMware user can someone please explain to me why the hell VMware would remove Linux support for the ESX console in ESX 3.x?  I understand that the bulk of the desktop users are running Windows so Linux support may seem insignificant but I should remind everyone that Linux users needing to run Windows were some of the early adopters of VMware’s technology – show us some love.  The sad part is that the VMware console is built on .Net, some planning and Mono compliance would have given them portability to multiple platforms.  Anyway thought I would through that in there.  Onward….

The litigation situation between SUN and NetApp is what prompted this unorganized stream of consciousness.  It got me to thinking about how much innovation has slowed due to the need to “litigate vs. innovate” (taken from Shwarz’s blog – obviously written during one of his cosmic moments of consciousness).  SUN has changed a lot from the days of Khosla, Bechtolsheim (happy to see him back), Joy and McNealey.

I really enjoy technology history for a couple of reasons, it is factual, finite and tangible, it is well documented with little speculation over what actually happened.  Historical accounts of technology lack the personal opinions that taint world history, religious history and most other historical happenings.  Why is this relevant you will see in a moment – hopefully…

If I were to mention the name Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston most people will respond with a blank stare and possible a who?  In fact Dan Briklan and Bob Frankston are two of the greatest innovators in personal computing history they wrote and application called VisiCalc which was originally released for the Apple II in 1979.  Interestingly enough the creators of VisiCalc did not pursue a patent for their work, while today I am sure that Dan and Bob would file for a patent back in the day almost no one filed for patents related to software inventions.  A few other software inventions not protected by patent law are word wrapping, cut and paste, the word processing ruler, sorting and compression algorithms, hypertext linking, and compiler techniques.  Could you imagine how innovation would have slowed if these technologies were all patented…  The ability to leverage each others inventions dramatically accelerates the innovation cycle.  The open source community is proof positive that this does work, the problem is that so many of the market leaders (e.g. – Microsoft) would rather protect their market share by  locking the doors rather than just being the best and forcing them selves to out innovate their competition.  It is a complex problem and not one that I have answer for, with that said I would like choice, I would like an open document format that works seamlessly across multiple word processors, etc…  Stifling competitive innovation through lock out is not the right answer.

Another name that most would struggle with is Gary Kildall who was one of the key pioneers of the PC industry who was “upstaged” by Microsoft.  Gary Kildall was a hobbyist and the creator of the MS-DOS predecessor CP/M.  Back in the day when Microsoft was headquarter in a strip mall in Texas developing Basic for the Altair, Gary Killdal was in Seattle running a company called Digital Research and writing a hobbyist operating system called CP/M.  CP/M would be the code base that would eventually become MS-DOS and propel Microsoft to heights beyond their wildest dreams.

While arguably the developers of the modern operating system and the modern spreadsheet application stood by as Microsoft and Lotus became multi-billion dollar companies and continued to innovate today two industry giants like NetApp and SUN would rather take a position just to take a position…  The sad part is that corporations have so much control today that the Bricklins, Frankstons and Kildalls of today, the Torvalds, Raymonds, etc… have a significantly larger hill to climb.

Sometime I actually feel pain when I read Jonathan Shwarz’s blog, with that said WAFL, ZFS, who cares… move on… NetApp, ZFS is not even close to a threat, SUN is not and never will be a storage company.  SUN how about spending less time pulling patents and reviewing them to see what you can litigate against.  I just wish someone would focus their time, money and energy on building something new and innovative rather than trying to keep current technology alive by boxing each other out.

I for sure do not know everything but I do know that the rate of development and innovation has slowed dramatically over the past 30 years.

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