This week my kid’s going off to school for the first time and while it’s been a long time since I last went off to school, there’s something that lingers about the end of summer, start of fall, back to school season, a feeling that it’s time to buckle down and be a little less laid back and get some serious work done. Fortunately, right now is a wonderful time to be at work in our profession, and I just can’t wait for the pace to pick up again.
Themelessness · At any given time in the 23 years I’ve been doing this, there’s usually been some central tune that we’re mostly dancing to. When I got into the business, it was online (as opposed to batch) applications, then it was rolling out RDBMS, then it was client/server which almost instantly became multi-tier applications, then there was the richer (and richer, and richer) desktop, and then we all got to work on rolling out the Web.
Right now, we’re marching pretty well without a drummer. Microsoft, the incumbent on the desktop, isn’t really doing any leadership. They’re just stretched too thin between trying to back-fill the security infrastructure and shipping the next generation of product so they can start trying to sell it.
The Web, well the Web is now in the air we breathe and the water we drink, but aside from the explosions around RSS, Atom, and syndication, it’s pretty well understood and well deployed; it’s a fact of life, not a New Thing.
Open Source is maybe the biggest story right now, but if you know who’s leading the charge, please tell me, because I don’t. Red Hat is trying to make Open Source look as much like a conventional licensing-driven software business as it can, IBM is trying to use it as Global-Services fuel, and others like Microsoft and Oracle are wondering what the flaming hell they’re supposed to do next.
The IT Business · I’m supposed to be a geek, but I think maybe the most interesting action that’s going on right now is around selling and pricing. As Bryan Cantrill memorably asked a few weeks back, “Why is your Operating System becoming free and you’re still paying forty grand a CPU for your database?” To which I’d add, “Why are we still trying to pretend software licensing is a capital expense you can sanely depreciate?” This is one reason I picked Sun over my other options. I’m pretty well convinced that annual licensing on a per-employee or per-citizen basis is the best (not the only, just the best) way to buy and sell technology infrastructure, and I don’t think we understand yet what the business-model implications are of a world where this the norm, and it’s just a bunch of fun to be here and help find out.
Fun, Fun, Fun · This is the best of times. We’re teetering this way and that and I have no idea what our industry is going to look like in ten years. Yee-hah!