Thursday, October 04, 2007

Be Like Mike

Based upon the title of this blog entry, and further based upon the fact that I live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, you may be inclined to think I am referring to North Carolina's favorite son, Michael Jordan. Many of us aspire to “be like Mike” - dominant in our field of endeavor. In this case, however, I am not referring to Mr. Jordan, but instead I am writing about another famous Mike that is equally dominant in his vocation – the vaunted Mike Rosoft, the top player in the software game.

I am writing about Mike today because I was reminded of the pending growth in new application revenue that Mike is soon to realize by a just published blog entry by Bruce Richardson, the Chief Research Officer of AMR Research. It seems that Mike is about to get even more aggressive in the applications space, and he possesses a considerable competitive advantage over the rest of the field – far greater than the advantage Mr. Jordan brought to his dominance of the NBA.

You see, Mike Rosoft not only gets paid on the price of admission to the game (the application license), but he also gets paid on all of the concessions because he owns the arena where the games are played (the platform). And in his arena, he sets all of the rules of the game such that he has an enormous advantage over the competitors. He knows the location of all of the wet spots on the floor that will slip up the competition and land them on their ass, looking and feeling foolish for taking such a spill. He turns off the air conditioning in the guest locker room so the visiting team does not benefit from refreshment during halftime. He generates white noise from several unknown locations in the stands such that communications between the coach and the players gets confused. Yes, competing with Mike in his arena is a daunting task. The solution? Get your own arena. By the way, many of the best building materials are free.

What in the world am I talking about? Microsoft has a huge advantage in the applications space because they only deliver their applications on their platform. This approach cuts their R&D expense and customer service expense in half compared with application providers that attempt to deliver on every platform. But Linux coupled with hypervisor technology such as that offered by VMware is about to change all of the rules of engagement in the application sale. Application providers can wrap their application up with Just Enough OS (JeOS) to optimize application performance and deliver a complete experience to their customers in the form of a virtual appliance. No more “slipping on the wet spot” (an undocumented “feature” in the OS or a maintenance “patch” that just happens to conflict with your application), or “sweating in the overheated locker room” (watching application performance slide because the OS is consuming all of the hardware resources), or “screaming to be heard from the sidelines over the roar of the arena” (being pre-empted on application calls by a cacophony of OS cross talk). In your arena, you set the rules.

Linux and open source infrastructure provide a terrific set of building materials for your application “arena.” The hypervisor allows the customer to continue to exercise their preference for hardware and system infrastructure. Are you ready to “be like Mike?” I think you will like the way the outcome looks on your income statement.


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