by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 28th 2008 3:41pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Apr 23rd 2008 1:31pm
from the good-advice dept
So, what could Sun do with MySQL to help build a bigger and better business that doesn't involve locking up any software? The blog Milking The Gnu has a very interesting suggestion that makes a lot of sense (and certainly fits in directly with the economics we discuss around here). The idea is not to worry about locking up the software, but to turn MySQL into a cloud computing web-platform. The reasoning makes a tremendous amount of sense (much more than Sun's current strategy). Basically, on the low end, you have folks who will never pay for a premium version of MySQL anyway. At the high end, most of those companies (if pushed) will probably lean towards Oracle or IBM. But in the middle-tier there's a real opportunity -- not to be a database software company, but to build that all important web platform we've been discussing.
Already, Amazon and Google are trying to build that platform, with Amazon seeing a fair bit of success (and Google just starting). Sun has promoted the concept of cloud computing for years, so why not flip things around and make MySQL the database part of a cloud computing offering. With so many folks already comfortable with MySQL, it will be much easier for many of them to embrace this offering, rather than having to figure out the details of Amazon's SimpleDB or Google's AppEngine/BigTable setup. Then, the more people you get to adopt the free open source version of MySQL, the more likely they are to make use of Sun's cloud computing offering over the alternatives. And, then, Sun can charge for the use of cloud computing resources (scarce resources) while knowing that the infinite nature of MySQL promotes that scarce good. Given that Sun's been such a promoter of cloud computing for so long, you would think this was a no-brainer. But it's latest actions with MySQL suggest it may be going in a different direction, and that's unfortunate. Update: Marten Mickos of MySQL/Sun responds in the comments, and Glyn Moody points us to an interview he recently conducted with Mickos suggesting that Mickos is thinking along similar lines about cloud computing.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Apr 16th 2008 12:12pm
from the watch-this-space dept
In a way, it's related to the other holy grail we've discussed in the past: situated software. This is more personal software. Basically, it's software that anyone can create for their special needs. It takes the programming out of the hands of the few and gives it to the many, which allows many new ideas to flow and totally unexpected and useful applications to come out in the end. When we first talked about situated software, we noted that it didn't need to scale -- but if it can also scale, then things get even more interesting. This isn't to say that AppEngine suddenly makes it easy to program. Not at all. But, it's heading in that direction. Purists will complain (of course they'll complain) that this will lead to a ton of crap, but that's the same argument made by journalists slamming bloggers. Of course it'll lead to a ton of crap, but it'll also lead to a ton of really interesting, fascinating and useful things that'll rise up out of that crap. It'll also lead to a lot of innovation and, potentially, totally unexpected and different ways to use the internet. And that should be exciting.
by Tom Lee
Thu, Apr 10th 2008 11:57am
from the harping-on-huddlechat dept
If you've heard of HuddleChat at all, you already know about its demise. Put together by a few Google engineers in their spare time, the web chat application was used to showcase Google's newly-announced App Engine offering. There was just one problem: it was nearly identical to 37Signals' Campfire, a well-known SaaS web chat application. 37Signals gave some petulant quotes to ReadWriteWeb about the situation, and shortly thereafter Google pulled the app down.
As Om Malik has pointed out, this is all a bit ridiculous. AJAX/Comet chat is a fairly simple feature to implement. If my fellow participants in the Web 2.0 economy are counting on earning their keep via a collective conspiracy to make our jobs look harder than they are, we're all in deep, deep trouble. There's additional potential irony here, too, given that 37Signals has been accused of ripping off others' work to create Campfire in the first place.
But while this incident may prove portentous to the long-term prospects of the 37Signals business plan, it's hard to see how it could mean anything for Google. Breathless declarations that "many in the developer community [will] view Google App Engine as a Xerox machine for copycat product developers" are downright laughable. Google's decision to kill HuddleChat makes good PR sense, but it's inconceivable that many cost-conscious, Python-friendly startups would give up on App Engine over this minor blog imbroglio. As in many other respects, Amazon Web Services will likely provide the relevant template for these issues, and so far AWS has wisely avoided getting dragged into policing its users' apps.
Of course there's a lot of speculation that App Engine will include a free offering, and for that reason it may attract more troublesome users than EC2 currently does. But even if Google finds itself obligated to fight more griefers, phishers and spammers than Amazon does, it seems certain that they won't waste their time arbitrating squabbles over who called dibs on which trivial featureset. Sadly, that will remain for the courts to decide.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 8th 2008 12:27am
from the took-'em-long-enough dept
So, now, finally, nearly four years later, Google has come to its senses and announced its entrance into the web platform space with its aptly named AppEngine offering. In many ways, it's similar to Amazon's offering (which is a good thing!), though much more integrated, which could prove to be either a problem or a benefit depending on what you want to do. Amazon allows for a much more a la carte setup, which could appeal to many, while you have to really embrace Google to enjoy the benefits of its setup. A big open question is pricing. A huge part of the appeal to Amazon's Web Services platform is that it's crazy cheap. You really have to be working it quite hard to build up any sort of significant charges. Google hasn't released info on pricing yet, offering AppEngine up for free to the first 10,000 developers (who appear to have snapped up all the open slots in less than two hours). That free service has some limitations: initially 500 MBs of storage and enough bandwidth to serve approximately 5 million pages per month. There's some suggestion that the final service will always be free up to that level, with charges starting if you go beyond that. If so, that could certainly appeal to people who just want to try some stuff out for free.
While this may seem like something that will only appeal to serious techheads, this could be a really big deal. A lot is going to depend on how well AppEngine really works, and how open it really turns out to be. However, if it really does provide another super cheap (or even free at low levels) full service, highly scalable platform for all different kinds of applications, things could start to get very interesting pretty quickly. Between this and Amazon's Web Services, the very concept of developing online applications may finally start to change in significant ways for the better. The easier it is to develop and deploy highly scalable web applications, the more innovative and creative solutions we're going to start to see.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 31st 2007 11:22am
from the it's-about-time dept
However, both Google and Facebook are getting ready to launch new offerings that look like they hit directly at the other company -- but which really demonstrate some of the tactics both companies are hoping to use in branching out from their core areas of business to become more of a web platform. And both involve hitting the other provider by doing what it won't do in terms of opening up certain data to outside uses.
First up is Facebook, which is rumored to be launching a major ad network initiative designed to compete with Google's ad platform. The key is using Facebook profile information tied to an ad cookie to make the ads that someone sees as they surf around the net a lot more relevant (or creepy, depending on your point of view). It's this vision that Microsoft is buying into (as the supplier of the ads). This is a clever move. It's something that Google can't do as directly or efficiently, as Facebook in many cases will have a lot more data about the user's specific interests and profile. But, it's also an example of Facebook finally doing something that involves pulling data out of Facebook to do something useful elsewhere.
Then, there's Google. The company is launching a new set of standards designed to make it easier to build apps that run across any willing social network. The company has built up an interesting alliance of networks, including (no surprise) its own Orkut, but also LinkedIn and Salesforce.com. The idea here is that developers can now have their apps easily work with a variety of social networks. Facebook hasn't signed on to the deal, and may resist it for some time -- but if it really starts to get some traction, the company may feel it necessary to join in. In effect, this is Google's way of forcing social networks to open up more and be a part of the larger web platform -- rather than being stuck in their own little silos. If it works well, Google could conceivably then build a similar ad offering on top of multiple networks of information, and it would also serve to protect Google somewhat from the faddish nature of social networks, as it wouldn't matter if one particular network declined as another gained prominence -- as long as they're all using these standards.
Comparing the two strategies is interesting -- as both revolve around doing the sorts of things the other company doesn't want or cannot easily do, yet which will directly impact the other's business. But, both also involve a somewhat tricky cat and mouse game of determining which parts of a business are really open and which are closed, with both seemingly hitting at each other's key weakness within their core offerings. In other words, it's about to get a lot more fun to observe how these strategies play themselves out. As for who wins? Despite thinking that Google should have opened up years ago, I think Google has the stronger position here. On top of simply having a lot more money available, it's strategy is much more about enabling others to do much more online. Facebook's strategy, on the other hand, risks consumer backlash over having private info spread outside of Facebook, and also leaves the company reliant on everyone staying within Facebook just as Google is about to make other social networks potentially more interesting.