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Growing Pains and Integration Strategy. Sun/Oracle is nothing new.

Should we expect a major shift in the way we develop? I say they didn't have much of a say in the first place.

So Sun and Oracle are officially going to be one company.  It affects my daily life in some interesting ways, but as a Technical Evangelist for IBM that's to be expected.  Both of these companies have been at the center of my 'coopetitive' world for years now.  From industry organizations to strategy sessions and relationships with competitive friends/allies, I have to change my routine.  However, does this have an effect on the direction of enterprise development, or the raw materials available to us to solve our business problems?  I really don't think so.  I'll say why but it's important to have two sides, and my inspiration here was an article by Douglas Allen over on the Server Side:

http://www.theserverside.com/news/thread.tss?thread_id=59317

The feeling from the teleconference seemed to centered around a strong integration path and a focus on big iron and big business.  I've seen that pattern somewhere before.  I think the primary color was blue.  IBM has been walking this tightrope for years, and it has taken (and continues to take) a long series of lessons and experience to keep from falling off that edge.  It doesn't come over night, and we can expect to see quite a few missteps in the process.  That's all analyst stuff, and I'm no analyst.

Here's what I do know though... the engine of innovation in the space of business solutions is not the platform owners or creators but the problems solvers themselves.  Decision makers and architecture astronauts draw boxes on charts and set far reaching strategies, but in the past ten years the real vocabulary in these discussions has been flowing uphill rather than downhill.  Developer mind-share is a powerful thing and shapes industries, and the proliferation of open source and easy and accessible idea sharing has made skill and developer efficiency the fuel that drives future direction.

I can think of many examples, but let's take the direction of standardized Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) technology.  I spent 6 years of my professional life picking and prodding at the performance of EJB 1.1 and EJB 2.0 persistence architectures for IBM.  Why did I do this?  Well we tried very very hard to make this a valuable function for customers, but just didn't see alot of adoption.  Nor did our competitors.  Most of this work ended up benefiting benchmark results.  Very rarely was any of it applicable to paying customers.  If I was worried about that I would have simply stuck to Servlets and JDBC.  A dismally small percentage of our customers had ANY interest or intent to use the entity beans available in the JEE specs up to 1.4.  Despite large investments from all directions (I like to think I don't come cheap, and I know many of my colleagues don't), developers just didn't like it.  They DID however, like the concepts and ideas behind Hibernate.  EJB 3.0 persistence, specifically JPA, is MUCH closer to those smaller grass roots persistence architectures than any of its predecessors.  Guess what?  JPA is wildly successful.  Developers will find the right tool for the job, and its our job as platform providers to integrate those tools, standardize those tools, and support those tools to make them suitable for solving real, critical business problems.

One more small example is the fact that I have a platform for my opinion at all.  My JOB is to identify and nurture these relationships and find where the mind-share and solutions are gaining ground.  We as IBM are investing in my time, and the time of the others on my team.  I'm not trying to make eXtreme Transaction Processing, eXtreme Scale, Cloud computing, etc fit everywhere.  I'm trying to find out from the real workhorses of this space, the developers, where they want to put it.  Show them the successful patterns and offer solutions, then let them run with it an innovate.  In doing so we hope to shape our tools to fit your needs.  Don't worry that those tools are going to disappear because a few companies become one.  Growing pains exists, but we know, and they will too, that our success is tied to taming the wild and making it palatable, not dictating terms or pushing an agenda.

 

It's important to mention that this isn't an official IBM opinion/strategy statement.

More Stories By Rob Wisniewski

Technical Evangelist, WebSphere eXtreme Transaction Processing - Rob is responsible for the interface and relationship between XTP developers/product teams and the customers who consume those products to solve cutting edge business problems in a low cost and scalable way. These responsibilities includes articles, video podcasts, conferences and direct customer engagements such as technical briefings and proof of concept work. His experience as a performance analyst working with WebSphere Application Server has created a unique perspective on the motivation for and creation of this new generation of elastic business solutions.