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2006 In The Rearview Mirror
According to the Gregorian calendar, the December 21 equinox is rapidly approaching and consequently so is the end of the year 2006.

It seems fitting that as we phase out of our last 365 and in to our next 365 we should pause to remember the good and not so good. So, here is our interpretation of 2006.

The Pittsburgh Steelers win the 2006 Super Bowl! This has nothing to do with technology or business, but the Steelers are the ultimate in sports teams (OK, American football sports teams). The Super Bowl win is an exciting start for the new year, but as the Steelers return to the gridiron for the 2006 / 2007 season they certainly lack the grittiness and determination that made them champions in February. And, as any Steeler fan will attest, the three basic tenets for understanding the Steelers are: 1) never give up, 2) it is always the fault of the quarterback and 3) defense will win the game for you because of tenet #2. File this for 2006 under – the peo…
All We Know Are the Facts – the HP Acquisition of Mercury is Complete

Since I am in Los Angeles this week, I am in a Dragnetkind of a mood, and as Sgt. Joe Friday would say – “All we know are the facts, ma'am"

The facts are:
• The HP acquisition of Mercury is completed
• The cost to HP $4.5 billion in cash
• The acquisition was announced on July 25, 2006
• The acquisition was closed on November 7, 2006

All we know are the facts – all we know for certain.

The more important issues around this acquisition are about what is not seen or heard. On HP.com, banner ads for HP and Mercury, HP printers and toner, HP storage, and HP laptops rotate. The position of “Business outcome. The next big thing in IT” swaps places with HP’s VoodooPC acquisition. What is wrong with a headline screaming that the $4.5 billion acquisition of Mercury is complete?

Instead of boldly announcing a successfully completed acquisition in a reasonably short time, viewers are left to watch quirky ads with upside down …
VMWorld 2006 – VMWare – Software Innovator with a Social Conscience

Along with 7,000 others, I am attending VMWare’s third annual conference! Let me reiterate that number – seven thousand attendees at a conference in its third year!

VMWare is the new cool! The company is so cool they are not only creating industry changing technology, they are also helping in the global movement to conserve energy!

A software company helping with energy conservation – how 21st century is that? At the opening session of VMWorld, PG&E (electric and natural gas provider to northern and central California) announced an energy conservation plan around server consolidation and virtualization. Businesses can receive a credit from PG&E for $750 - $1350 for every server removed. The program caps at $4 million per company!

VMWare is making software that will change the way we use technology. VMWare’s philosophy is to take control of the resources and use what you need, when you need it, and where you …
Leaving (the Software World in) Las Vegas
The final (assuming the HP acquisition of Mercury closes) Mercury World was held in Las Vegas, Nevada the week of October 9, 2006. Captain Mercury had one last hurrah - I am sure many of you remember Captain Mercury, the superhero of load testing!

Mercury World has evolved to an industry bellwether event. Attendees can be assured they will be educated as well as entertained. And, true to their DNA as a software company of vision, Mercury ended their run as an independent company in grand style. The venue was splendid…the Bellagio. The keynote speakers were inspiring…Dr. Jared Diamond (author Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse), slam poet Rives and the supernova in a shining event, former US Secretary of State, Dr. Madeleine Albright.

Back to the business of Mercury World…the conference was kicked off by Mercury CEO Tony Zingale and CMO Christopher Lochhead. These two executives were full of zeal and certainly engaged the crowd. In an int…
“IT’s the Future”…A Clever Play on Words by SQS

I recently had the pleasure of delivering the keynote presentation at the Software Quality Systems (SQS) conference in Zurich. SQS is always an excellent and gracious host at their conferences. And, as usual, the conference was chock full of information. Tracks included:
- Outsourcing
- Methodologies
- IT Governance and best practices
- Organizational structure and effectiveness
- Auditing (internal and external)
- The culture of quality
- Test automation
- Creating secure test data
- Embedded systems

This was not the typical conference focused on development and test tools, nor was it a bunch of techies showing their test scripts. The conference made one question their quality practices within IT and what they were really doing to modernize their practices to better serve their customers.

The conference title - “IT’s the future” or “It’s the future” is really a clever play on words – think about it or IT. We constantly talk about the future, …
A Long Way To Go And A Short Time To Get There
That is what HP (NYSE: HPQ) has ahead of themselves as they announce their bid of $52 per share or $4.5 billion to acquire Mercury Interactive Corporation (OTC: MERQ).

The prognosticators at Israel’s Globes newspaper called this acquisition on May 1, 2006 but with a price tag of a paltry $3.5 billion. When this “fictitious” article hit the press, Mercury was quick to insist the rumors were false and expertly put a spin around the notion that they wanted to remain an independent software company, put the NASDAQ delisting behind them and continue to serve their constituents with high quality software. What a difference $1 billion can make!

In Mercury’s defense, they were moving along in 2006 appearing as though they were going to remain independent and possibly even somehow re-invent themselves. Some examples of this pursuit were the two acquisitions made in 2006 totaling $123.5 million. For those keeping score the tab was $105 million for Sys…
Jenny…867-5309…
I thought of this Tommy Tutone 1982 one hit wonder as I wrestled with the latest machinations of my mobile carrier. And, quite honestly, no blog is complete without some overt reference to 1980’s nonsensical music!

Let me get to my problem. I spend quite a bit of time on my bicycle. These rides are not just around the block to visit friends, rather they are Lance Armstrong inspired long distance events of 100 miles or more. One minor problem, I don’t have the luxury of having Johan Bruynell and the Disco team trailing me to provide food and support. Without the resources of the Team Discovery, I have to take my own food as well as communication device. This means a light weight, durable, and reliable cell phone. Easy problem to solve, right? Wrong!!!! I recently had to expand my Cingular calling plan to a family plan – even though I am the only person on the plan. So why does a family of one need a multi-number plan? Good question – here’s the problem and the solution…

Wh…
Think Before You Leap…
At Microsoft Tech Ed, I had an informative conversation with Jason Beaudreau, Director of IT for Altair Global Relocation. When I first met Jason, I had no idea who or what Altair Global Relocation was. I figured they moved people around, but really did not think a relocation company would be a poster enterprise for technology. Think again!

Jason told me Altair was a global company and gave me an impressive list of corporate clients, all household names. He then told me that Altair employed a mere 200 people with a scant 20 in the roles of IT. And, the next thing Jason said was Altair wins business because they can differentiate themselves from the competition through technology. The technology helped them be more efficient and accommodating to their customers. Jason really stressed the people aspect of the business describing how understanding the customer’s needs was the major focus of the business.

My next logical question was around outsourcing. No, Jas…
Er / Ment…
At Tech Ed, the Microsoft spokespeople were certain to stress that the company was moving from supporting the developer to supporting development. This may seem like a big case of over analyzing semantics and word parsing. Trust me, this is a major statement.

By publicly communicating the movement from er to ment, Microsoft is saying they are serious about the application life cycle. Microsoft understands and knows the developer, but what about the rest of the players in the application life cycle chain – the development and deployment aspect? This is something Microsoft has been wrestling with for a while. How do they move up the all-important stack from er to ment? Start by introducing products (of course we should expect products from Microsoft) that will attract other members of the life cycle…architects, quality assurance groups, business analysts, project mangers, etc. A big check mark on the product side with Visual Studio Team System, however, Microsoft is stil…
It’s the Little Things That Count, Really…
I left Boston and Microsoft Tech Ed 2006 today. As a road warrior and conference veteran I must say the Tech Ed experience in Boston was superb.

The show, as always, was well organized and met the needs of a variety of attendees…developers, architects, analysts, managers, students, purchasers, executives, partners, and even competitors.

Microsoft has really set the standard for hi-tech events. Realize, this event was attended by well over 13,000 people. To scale quality to that size takes some effort. Microsoft always manages to take care of the creature comforts at its events. With Tech Ed being a developer-centric event, the typical staples were on hand. For those not familiar with the care and feeding of developers, that means plenty of caffeine and processed sugar along with wireless internet access, plenty of power, and comfortable seating. Microsoft delivers on that 100%. But what about the rest of us, those that see white food as…
When It’s Time to Change, You’ve Got to Rearrange…
I’ll admit it, I am a product of 70’s sitcoms, primarily The Brady Bunch. Who among us cannot remember Peter Brady belting out his memorable line “when it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange…” about change in the midst of teenage angst and puberty Brady style!

Well, the software industry is well beyond puberty and really has to change and rearrange. The software industry is no longer about software…it has to change and rearrange to be a hybrid.

Microsoft is, without question the definitive quintessential software company. The problem is the company is, at its core, an operating system company. Everything Microsoft is and does is about selling and installing more copies of Microsoft Windows. Windows is the franchise product – period – full stop! Now, this is not an entirely bad problem to have, but what about the future. People and enterprises are no longer paying in excess of $500 (US) for a single productivity application to put o…
Expression in the Land of Beige?!
Americans are obsessed with beige. They live in beige houses with beige furniture, beige floors, and beige walls. They wear beige pants and drive beige cars. They use beige computers and beige monitors and eat from beige plates atop beige tables and beige counters.

OK, maybe I am exaggerating, Americans choose from a palette consisting of eggshell, taupe, sand, nougat, tumbleweed, caramel, mocha, latte, stone, and light tan. Guess what, it is still beige by any other name!

As a society ensconced in beige it seems only logical that the human interface of the software designed by primarily Americans has been anything except revolutionary. Admit it, software interfaces have been rather beige!

At Tech Ed 2006, Microsoft is presenting its four new tenets for “People_Ready” software. As part of making the tenets reality, they are focusing on the correlation of said tenets and their products. One of the highlights of this movement has been the little publ…
The Red Sox Nation and Microsoft?
I spent a productive afternoon of doing nothing taking in all that is Boston. Boston is one of the greatest, if not the greatest American city. It has history, music, culture, art, august educational institutions, an efficient and well used transit system, architecture and, of course, the Boston Red Sox. I love Boston and I love the Red Sox, but I do not randomly clad myself in their logo. As I meandered from one section of town to the next I was struck by all of the Bostonians showing their support for the Boston Red Sox. These were not people on their way to or from a game – these were people out for Sunday brunch, shopping, meeting friends, enjoying the bucolic Sunday afternoon. There were people in pink Red Sox hats, the St. Patrick’s Day green Red Sox hats, jaunty tweed Red Sox hats in the tony Beacon Hill area, Red Sox t-shirts, jackets, blankets, and umbrellas, and the traditional good old fashioned Red Sox logo hat. Why was everyone so …
Life is a Database Old Chum…
We are rabid consumers of information. We want our information fast. We want our information to be accurate. And, we want our information any time and any where. We can be this demanding because we know everything of importance has been cataloged, filed, arranged, and assigned a key field – at least electronically. Now, as consumers of data we are not too concerned about the infrastructure supporting our insatiable need for fast, reliable, and on the go information. However, someone has to do the behind the scenes work so we don’t suffer in our quest for information. For years we have had developers toiling over performance algorithms to help us over the hurdle of server constraints. It was the best we could do.

Enter ENCIRQ. The ENCIRQ Data Foundation Framework gives developers everything they have been wanting…a way to get away from the classic client / server database architecture. Client / server is so 1980’s. With this model, ENCIRQ just mo…
Folklore and Software…Pure Inspiration
I first encountered Trolltech about four years ago and have been intrigued since. After you get over the odd name and being reminded of Peer Gynt and the Three Billy Goats Gruff legends, you realize the company has some interesting technology that will go a long way in helping with device software optimization (DSO). You also realize that Trolltech is a company of and for developers – after all, if trolls are exposed to sunlight they turn to stone. And, we all know that real developers prefer to work their magic in the wee hours of the night and avoid those harmful ultra-violet rays at all cost.

So why do I find Trolltech so intriguing? They have a simple product lineup – Qt and Qtopia. Their mission is to unleash the creative power of the developer. In this day and age of turning software development into a structured discipline instead of a creative expression, Trolltech’s mission is commendable. There should be a little creative expressio…
If Everyone Wrote Clean Code Would You Too?
As I mentioned earlier, Coverity is one of the vendors to watch. They really can make your code cleaner, more reliable, and more secure.

I saw a presentation given by Coverity CTO, Ben Chelf , that unequivocally proved to a room full of highly skilled developers that it is neither simple or pleasant to cover 100% of your code when searching for bugs and the simplest of things are not really as simple as they appear. At the end of the session, developers were clamoring to find out more about what Coverity could do for them. This is what every good demo sets out to accomplish.

Coverity views the software life cycle as “design / code / system test / QA / release. " The Coverity products fit squarely in the “code and system test” portion of the life cycle and focus on quality, security, and concurrency. By conducting 100% code coverage of all possible paths in the source code, Coverity can uncover bugs early in the life cycle – read as - …
Understanding the Gem
One of the unique vendors I encountered at the Wind River Worldwide User Conference was Kuka Controls. The company, among other offerings, makes two products that can really enhance the experience between device software and a traditional Microsoft Windows environment. The two Kuka products with so much to offer in terms of integration are VxWin and CeWin.

Kuka’s VxWin allows Wind River’s VxWorks device software operating system to run on the same PC as Microsoft Windows. There are certainly benefits in terms of hardware reduction, overall weight decreases of the entire system, and reduced mean time between failure (MTBF). But the benefit around unification is delivered via integration of a device software operating system and the standard as well as ubiquitous Microsoft Windows operating system. This means a device can use Windows for a GUI display or enterprise connection. Some of the scenarios this enables are: completion of the ERP system for manufacturi…
Look What I Found...
One of the biggest benefits of going to conferences is coming across new and exciting vendors in the industry. While you are attending the conference and caught up in the excitement, it’s thrilling to find a new gem with innovative and creative ideas, products, and offerings. Last week at the Wind River Worldwide User Conference, I found five exciting “newish” companies and one stalwart with a new twist on things.

The five new companies I uncovered last week were:
Coverity
Encirq
Klocwork
Kuka Controls (VxWin)
Trolltech

And the one big surprise came in the form of IBM Rational with its realtime offerings.

There was one unique thing I noticed about each of these vendors. They all have products, services, or offerings around a theme of unification. Unification of devices. Unification of existing applications and device software. Unification of the enterprise to the field. This is exciting. These vendors have a clear vision that the problems faced in developing a…
Changes
The 2006 Wind River Worldwide User Conference concluded today. This conference was edgy. From the ultra-hip urban graphics on everything from signage to hotel room keys to a Phil Gordon hosted poker tournament, Wind River is shaking up a staid and conservative industry.

If there was one clearly identifiable theme at this conference, it was think differently. Wind River is at the heart of the DSO (Device Software Optimization) movement. While the core DSO tenets are standardization, openness of both standards and source, the espousing of best practices and an ecosystem it really means that all of the billions of IP enabled devices will be able to connect securely, reliably, and safely when and where they need to.

Shaking up an industry that has been content with building software for processors in devices is a tall task. Contentment is always a troublesome companion. Technology and the tools we build are capable of allowing constant connectivity. And, society is demanding connecti…
Back to the Future…Almost
Do you recall the big vision of a few years ago…the one that said because of connected appliances in your house along with a low cost, pervasive and reliable network, when an appliance begins to fail, a simple message is sent to the appropriate repair person and before you even know your appliance has a problem a fix or patch has been dispensed.

I thought this concept was brilliant, with the exception of one fatal flaw…household appliances rarely break. Or, let me rephrase this, the unattractive ones that you want to replace but can only justify replacement if they break never fail!

I’ve lived my entire adult life not being able to justify replacing a traditional white appliance with a luxurious, high tech, minimalist design because the random and ugly but perfectly functioning white appliance would never break.

So, while I thought the concept was useful, I realized its practicality was lacking – those white appliances are just too durable – that old Maytag co…
Blinded by Science … and Business
Science makes great things possible. Science and business together provide us with solutions. When you think about the equation of: Needs + Features = Benefits this is what purveyors of technology need to offer to their customers.

Today, at the Wind River Worlwide User Conference I hosted a panel comprised of business and technology visionaries from Motorola, Philips Semiconductors, and Smiths Aerospace. These trailblazers in the DSO space are looking at things differently; far differently than they did 3 years ago. Today, they are concerned with who their customers are, what their customers expect from them, and building out a workable ecosystem of their value chain. In some cases, their competitors may also be their customer. They inhabit a world in 2006 that was not even dreamed of in 2003.

What is certain from the way these business leaders are thinking about DSO makes it clear that devices need to be reliable, secure, and integrated while d…
Anticipation…
In my last post, I mentioned the importance of beginning with the end in mind. This fundamental and basic design principle translates into the customer of the product being satisfied. Satisfied with how the technology works, its reliability, and the delivery of expectations. I think of the workaround “solutions” that we all accept and undertake because basic design principles were not followed. And, I think of so many promises that were made and broken regarding technology.

So, as I await the start of the 2nd annual Wind River Worldwide User Conference and the announcements that are sure to coincide – I think we are at an inflection point in the market. That is one of having sufficient tools and technology to deliver products that make a difference. And, the difference can be made if we begin with the end in mind. Ask the basic questions about use and break free of the technology searching for a solution shackle. Let’s identify problems and be creative, thoughtful, and pur…
Welcome to “What’s Next?”, a blog designed to provoke thought, incite debate, and spark dialog among not only technologists, but all who benefit or attempt to benefit from the technology we are so dependent upon.

On the whole, I believe the technology industry has done a superb job in creating the tools to make technology useful. I also believe that we have failed to really capitalize on said tools to make technology, ubiquitous, relevant, and most importantly transparent. We still struggle too much with technology. We need to think differently about what we are doing and really begin to solve all problems with the end in mind. So, just think about what I’ve said. My subsequent posts will make you realize that we can certainly attain far more than we have – after all, it’s just software, it can do anything!

What’s next for me….I will be at the Wind River User Conference in Orlando, FL from May 16 – 18. I’m hoping to be inspired by what I hear and see and to find some answers abou…