January 4, 2005 12:41 PM PST

Polese opens up on open-source plans

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SpikeSource, a start-up headed by computing industry veteran Kim Polese, has revealed more details of its plan to tap into the growing popularity of open-source software at corporations.

When it launched earlier this year, SpikeSource said it was working toward offering maintenance and support services for packaged open-source components to businesses. In an interview with CNET News.com, Polese fleshed out the company's planned lineup, which includes automated delivery of software and services for a "hybrid" of infrastructure software, both open source and proprietary.

"Our focus is software as a service--it's delivering a stream of updates and remote management of open-source stacks," Polese said. "We're going from do-it-yourself software to fully integrated and supported."

Polese was CEO of Marimba, which also developed tools for automatically delivering software upgrades over corporate networks. The company was sold to systems management company BMC Software in April 2004.

Polese said SpikeSource intends to start its full services lineup, which went into beta last month, in the first half of 2005. A software update service is slated for the second quarter of the year.

The company is one of a handful looking to capitalize on corporations' increasing use of open-source applications. Enterprise customers' use of software such as the Apache Web server and the Linux operating system is common, and they are now looking to use more infrastructure software, such as databases, Java application servers and tools, to build business applications.

Although the quality of open-source software can be good, the products required to build a business application, such as a database and development tools, typically are not designed to work together. SpikeSource and another open-source services start-up, SourceLabs are working to assemble different components into certified and pretested "stacks."

Initially, engineers at SpikeSource will assemble packages that include Linux, Apache, the MySQL database and JBoss open-source Java application server. A beta program for the subscription support and maintenance service launched last month.

But SpikeSource will offer other combinations of infrastructure software components, including support for the PHP, Perl and Python development languages, Polese said. It also intends to create stacks that include commercial products, such as Microsoft Windows, Sun Microsystems' Solaris and Oracle's database applications.

As new versions and security updates of different products come out, SpikeSource will send out updates to customers. It will have an automated system that will track bug databases to find out about available patches.

"Today, companies have to have people doing nothing all day but scouring news groups and mail lists figuring out the latest fix to a security vulnerability," Polese said. "All of that is manual overhead. It's an ongoing process that's very time-consuming because of all the moving parts."

The engine to deliver the company's service is what Polese calls a "process automation" application, which the company is writing. Much in the way Dell mastered the practice of configuring and delivering PCs, SpikeSource aims to use its process expertise to streamline the delivery and upkeep of software, she said.

SourceLabs, which also intends to offer maintenance services around open-source infrastructure software, was initially viewed as a direct competitor to SpikeSource. But SourceLabs' planned services appear to differ substantially. Rather than writing software to facilitate regular updates, SourceLabs' engineers are developing tests to "harden" open-source products to get better performance and scalability, said Cornelius Willis, vice president of sales and marketing at SourceLabs. The company is focusing its work on the LAMP combination, which stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP tools.

"We're going to do the tests and publish the test results, so when someone downloads a stack, they know how it will scale," Willis said. "There are lots of different configuration options on these various pieces."

Willis said SourceLabs is targeting large corporations looking to use open-source software to underpin large-scale, demanding applications. The company is still months away from launching its subscription service, he said.

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This woman has no clue.
I recently read an interview with Kim Polese on her company Spike Source and it read like a 5 year old essay. She used big words like pretty. It seems she has very little knowledge of open source software and the community that surrounds it. She talks about open source as if it is extremely difficult to figure out and maintain. This is quiet the opposite. I would consider my experience to be moderate to expert and I had no problem, with a little reading, figuring out open source software. The question I ask is this; if my IT staff cannot figure out Apache, do I need them working for me? The answer is no of course. She still seems to hold on to the .COM era of we provide a service no one will need or use. I just wonder how she got the money to back this insane idea. Hmmm. On a side note; there are a few companies that already do this for free.
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Economies of scale and econommies of scope
Ok, keeping your own open source IT infrastructure may be rellatively easy. But, what about costs and time savings, specially in comnies with gigantic IT infra-structures?

It's very easy to push a button. What about pushing one million buttons? It's still easy, but really time consuming.

So, companies like SpikeSource and SourceLabs are saying "leave this drudgery to us". Of course, they may focus on customer with really big IT infrastructures so that the economies of scope and of scale of its management are significant and thus, good candidates for this kind outsourcing.

The fact that the focus is on open source software only increases the potential aforementioned economies, adding value to the service itself.
Posted by Mario Nogueira (22 comments )
Link Flag
Economies of scale and economies of scope
Ok, keeping your own open source IT infrastructure may be rellatively easy. But, what about costs and time savings, specially in comnies with gigantic IT infra-structures?

It's very easy to push a button. What about pushing one million buttons? It's still easy, but really time consuming.

So, companies like SpikeSource and SourceLabs are saying "leave this drudgery to us". Of course, they may focus on customer with really big IT infrastructures so that the economies of scope and of scale of its management are significant and thus, good candidates for this kind outsourcing.

The fact that the focus is on open source software only increases the potential aforementioned economies, adding value to the service itself.
Posted by Mario Nogueira (22 comments )
Link Flag
 

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