sábado, mayo 31, 2014

Microsoft reenfocándose

Una noticia reciente poco comentada, pero quizá importante, ha sido la de abrir .NET y C# a proyectos open source, digamos, en mayor medida de lo hecho anteriormente. Recogido por Mary Jo Foley a comienzos de abril, pocos comentarios más se vieron en casi dos meses. Siguiendo a eWeek, Microsoft anunció en su conferencia Build 2014, sus planes en open source: la creación de una fundación (.NET Foundation), veinticuatro proyectos para iniciar actividades, y la conformación de una dirección integrada por funcionarios de Microsoft, de la subsidiaria Microsoft Open Technologies, y Miguel de Icaza. Entre los proyectos puestos en open source, está .NET Compiler Platform ("Roslyn"), y un par vinculados a Xamarin, la implementación de Miguel de Icaza de la plataforma de desarrollo.NET para dispositivos Android, iOS y GNU/Linux (el desarrollo completo en el comunicado de la fundación). En eWeek:
Microsoft formed the .NET Foundation to foster further innovation across the .NET ecosystem. The .NET Foundation will start with 24 .NET open-source projects under its stewardship, including the .NET Compiler Platform (previously known as "Roslyn") and the ASP.NET family of open-source projects, as well as the MimeKit and Mailkit libraries from Xamarin.

"We are going to be delivering a preview of the Roslyn compiler as a service," Somasegar said. "The most interesting thing that we're doing there is we are making both our C# compiler and our VB [Visual Basic] compiler open source. You want to be able to work with the community, you want to be able to take contributions back from the community, and you want to be able to work in the open. The other thing we are doing is adding support for .NET in Azure Mobile Services." - 
Tanto de la lectura de los comunicados iniciales, como de los comentarios de Foley o Tim Anderson, se puede decir que lo más importante a la vista es la mayor colaboración con Xamarin e Icaza, y por lo tanto, un frente más en la apuesta por ganar un lugar en las tecnologías móviles. Tim Anderson pone especialmente el acento en este futuro móvil:
The focus now though is on mobile, and interest in C# is stronger, mainly from Microsoft-platform developers reaching beyond Windows. There is also Unity, which uses C# as a scripting language for developing games for multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox, PS3 and Wii – PS4 is coming very soon.
Microsoft has now consciously embraced multiple platforms, as evidenced by Office for iOS as well as the Xamarin collaboration. “We want C#developers to build great applications across different form factors and different device platforms,” said Jay Schmelzer Director of Program Management for Visual Studio.
You might observe that this position has been forced on the company by the rise of iOS and Android, a view which likely has some merit, but the impact it has on C# and .NET itself is still real.
Una nueva acción  en el sentido de adecuarse al rumbo actual y próximo del mercado tecnológico, como los movimientos de apertura de Office o los intentos de mejorar la posición de sus tabletas. ¿Con qué alcance? probablemente, destinado a ofrecer una alternativa al mercado propio en el ajeno de Android o iOS.
¿Hasta qué punto este nuevo lanzamiento es open source?  Si atendemos al inicio, en cuanto al carácter abierto de la fundación, su directiva es casi completamente Microsoft:
The new foundation will be initially staffed by Microsoft and third parties, including a representative from the Microsoft Open Technologies subsidiary and someone from the .NET organization, as well as Miguel de Icaza, CTO and co-founder of Xamarin, which is partnering with Microsoft on a related effort, Somasegar said.
"There will be a board of directors," he said. "There are going to be a couple of people from Microsoft that are going to be on the board. There will be one person from MS Open Tech that's going to be on the board; there will be one person from the .NET team that will be on the board. We are also getting Miguel de Icaza to be on the board, so we'll have at least one third-party person on the board from Day 1. And we'll have a couple of third-party projects, including efforts from Xamarin and others. Our plan is, over time, to expand the board to include more people. There will be a board that will govern the .NET Foundation. Microsoft will initially have a strong presence, but it will not be exclusively Microsoft."
Mi primera impresión fue de sorpresa, ya en que demasiadas ocasiones las grandes empresas mandan a open source los productos que dejan de ser centrales en sus proyectos: una manera de reducir fondos a un producto que no está en sus planes, descargando en una comunidad el esfuerzo futuro de desarrollo. Sin embargo, en este caso, existe un deseo de mantener un control estricto sobre la conducción de la fundación, y existe un área de sumo interés futuro. En los artículos de Foley hay parecidas impresiones:
I have to admit that I wasn't sure if Microsoft's decision to open-source more of .Net would be met by cheers or jeers by those attending Build last week. I was curious if developers might see the move as an indicator that Microsoft no longer considered .Net valuable enough to keep in-house as part of its collection of crown jewels. Most of the devs with whom I spoke at the show seemed upbeat about the move, however.
Hejlsberg told attendees of a press panel during Build that Microsoft is not abandoning .Net.
"We are actively investing in .Net going forward," Hejlsberg said, in response to an audience question as to whether Microsoft was putting .Net on the back burner.
"It's not going away," Hejlsberg said. "We are all in on .Net."
El tiempo, más rápidamente que lo que nos podríamos pensar, irá diciendo a dónde va esta iniciativa. La competencia actual no da lugar a muchas dudas.

sábado, mayo 17, 2014

IBM: Liderazgo en fuga?

IBM 360, en computerhistory.org
Adam Hartung, en Forbes, comenta la evolución financiera y de bolsa de IBM reciente, poniendo en evidencia la errática conducción de la corporación, y su inexplicable estrategia...Hartung pone en el centro de sus decisiciones descaminadas, la baja de su inversión en investigación, lejos de lo que fuera por décadas, y la recompra de acciones, incluso recurriendo a endeudamiento. Hartung apunta a un problema de conducción de la empresa, focalizando en su actual CEO, aunque probablemente podamos hablar de más tiempo...
Why You Don't Want to Own IBM
IBM just finished a tough week.  IBM fell 2% after announcing earnings on Wednesday, dragging the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA or Dow) down over 100 points.  And as the Dow reversed course to end up 2% on the week, IBM continued to drag, ending down almost 3% for the week.
Of course, one bad week – even one bad earnings announcement – is no reason to dump a good company’s stock.  The vicissitudes of short-term stock trading should not greatly influence long-term investors.  But in IBM’s case, we now have 8 straight quarters of weaker revenues.  And that HAS to be disconcerting.  Managing earnings upward, such as the previous quarter, looks increasingly to be a short-term action, intended to overcome long-term revenue declines which portend much worse problems.
This revenue weakness roughly coincides with the tenure of CEO Virginia Rometty.  And in interviews she increasingly is defending her leadership, and promising that a revenue turnaround will soon be happening.  That it hasn’t, despite a raft of substantial acquisitions, indicates that the revenue growth problems are a lot deeper than she indicates.
CEO Rometty uses high-brow language to describe the growth problem, calling herself a company steward who is thinking long-term.  But as the famous economist John Maynard Keynes pointed out in 1923, “in the long run we are all dead.”
Today CEO Rometty takes great pride in the company’s legacy, pointing out that “Planes don’t fly, trains don’t run, banks don’t operate without much of what IBM does.”  But, powerful as that legacy has been, in markets that move as fast as digital technology any company can be displaced very fast.
Just ask former CEO Scott McNealy and his leadership team at Sun Microsystems.  Sun once owned the telecom and enterprise markets for servers – before almost disappearing and being swallowed by Oracle in just 5 years (after losing $200B in market value.)  Or ask former CEO Steve Ballmer at Microsoft, who’s delays at entering mobile have left the company struggling for relevancy as PC sales flounder and Windows 8 fails to recharge historical markets.
Managing earnings is not managing for long-term success
CEO Rometty may take pride in her positive earnings management.  But we all know that came from large divestitures of the China business, and selling the PC and server business to Lenovo.  As well as significant employee layoffs.  All of which had short-term earnings benefits at the expense of long-term revenue growth.  Literally $6B of revenues have been sold off just during her leadership.
Which in and of itself might be OK – if there was something to replace those lost sales.  Even if they didn’t have any profits – because at least we have faith in Amazon creating future profits as revenues zoom. But IBM was far late to the cloud, and hasn’t shown it has anything to leapfrog industry leaders.
The REAL problems – R&D cuts, higher debt, massive stock buybacks
What should terrify investors about IBM are two things that are public, but not discussed much behind the hoopla of earnings, acquisitions, divestitures and all the talk, talk, talk regarding a new future.
CNBC reported that 121 companies in the S&P 500 (27.5%) cut R&D in the first quarter.  And guess who was on the list?  IBM, once an inveterate leader in R&D, has been reducing R&D spending.  The short-term impact?  Better quarterly earnings.  Long term impact????
The Washington Post reported more this week about the huge sums of money pouring out of corporations into stock buybacks rather than investing in R&D, new products, new capacity, enhanced marketing, sales growth, etc.  $500B in buybacks this year, 34% more than last year’s blistering buyback pace, flowed out of growth projects. To make matters worse, this isn’t just internal cash flow spent on buybacks, but companies are actually borrowing money, increasing their debt levels, in order to buy their own stock!
And the Post labels as the “poster child” for this leveraged stock-propping behavior…. IBM.  IBM
“in the first quarter bought back more than $8 billion of its own stock, almost all of it paid for by borrowing. By reducing the number of outstanding shares, IBM has been able to maintain its earnings per share and prop up its stock price even as sales and operating profits fall.
The result: What was once the bluest of blue-chip companies now has a debt-to-equity ratio that is the highest in its history. As Zero Hedge put it, IBM has embarked on a strategy to “postpone the day of income statement reckoning by unleashing record amounts of debt on what was once upon a time a pristine balance sheet.”
In the case of IBM, looking beyond the short-term trees at the long-term forest should give investors little faith in the CEO or the company’s future growth prospects. Much is being hidden in the morass of financial machinations surrounding acquisitions, divestitures, debt assumption and stock buybacks. Meanwhile, revenues are declining, and investments in R&D are falling. This cannot bode well for the company’s long-term investor prospects, regardless of the well scripted talking points offered last week.

sábado, mayo 10, 2014

Actualizando Visual Studio en Plex

Esto es de particular interés para los usuarios de Plex: hay abierta una votación  para conocer el interés de la comunidad de usuarios por llevar la versión de Visual Studio a la última disponible. En la comunidad de usuarios de CA, en la sección de ideas, o informalmente en el foro de Plex. Muy probablemente  más bien funcionará como una encuesta y un sondeo de opinión. Considerando el abismo abierto entre la versión soportada actual (2005) y la versión oficial (entre 2012 y 2013), es imposible anunciar una actualización sin consultar a los usuarios. A esta altura, a los pro evidentes, hay que sumar el costo del retrabajo necesario para subir la versión. ¿Cuánto es este retrabajo? Es de interés de cualquier empresa que haya trabajado en una arquitectura con clientes WinC (o funciones servidoras WinC) participar en la discusión, y aportar su visión del impacto esperado.
(Para acceder a los enlaces debe tener un usuario registrado en las Comunidades. Si no lo tiene, regístrese)

domingo, mayo 04, 2014

Tendencias: IOT

El 6 de junio de 2012 se produjo el Lanzamiento Mundial de IPv6, inicio explícito del nuevo y reformulado protocolo de Internet. "IPv6" no se trató simplemente de atender la explosión social de Internet, sino que fue un paso necesario para atender a otra explosión: la perspectiva ya inmediata de extender la red de internet potencialmente a cualquier recurso susceptible de aplicarle inteligencia. Esto es, la Internet de las cosas (IOT), es decir, la posibilidad de que enormes cantidades de objetos puedan disponer algún grado de inteligencia, una dirección propia para comunicarse, y posibilidades inagotables de interrelacionarse con el mundo circundante. Sumémosle el mundo ya lanzado de la movilidad, y tendremos un universo de recursos de potencialidad sin límite. Ian Skerrett, de la Fundación Eclipse, expuso ayer mismo en pocas líneas su visión sobre el alcance de IOT. Creo que vale la pena reproducirlo, por su claridad, profundidad y síntesis:

How to categorize the Internet of Things

I was recently asked how to categorize the Internet of Things. IoT is so broad and multi-dimensional that I am not sure if there is one easy answer or set of categories. However, here is my current thinking…

1. IoT Hardware

A lot of the excitement in IoT and the maker community starts with the cheap, easily accessible hardware. Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone are the poster kids in the space. Now there are a ton of new hardware solutions be made available, ex Parallela (16 cores for $99) , Galileo from Intel

2. IoT Standards and Protocols

There is a lot of talk about IoT protocols and which one will win. It is too early and I agree not any one protocol will win. One thing I do know is that closed proprietary solutions are not going to win. We do need to work on having a common set of standards like CoAP, MQTT, Alljoyn, SensorML, etc  Of course, we also need to make sure that we have open source implementations for these standards and protocols. That is why Eclipse IoT is so important for an Open IoT.
There will also be a lot of vertical standards that will be developed for IoT, like OneM2M, Continua, etc.

3. IoT Gateway Software

The typical IoT solution architecture will have some type of gateway solution that connect the sensors and actuators to the Internet. Eclipse Kura and Mihini are good examples of this but there are certainly others.

4. IoT Middleware

Companies like IBM, Axeda, Sierra Wireless, 2lemetry, ClearBlade, Microsoft, Eurotech, Thingworx, Litmus Automation and others are providing IoT platforms/middleware solutions. This is definitely an emerging space where all platforms are not equal. I expect to see a lot more startups and the big enterprise middleware vendors driving the innovation for IoT middleware.

 5. IoT Databases

The amount of data generated by IoT solutions has the potential to be Huge Data, not just big data. AS pointed out by Matt Asay, the exists a massive opportunity in analyzing IoT data.  Splunk seems to be the leader in this space but I expect a lot of innovation in this space.

6. IoT Solutions: IoT & Humans vs Industrial Internet

There are also a lot of  industry specific and user-case specific IoT solutions. Tim O’Reilly wrote a recent article titled ‘The Internet of Things and Humans‘ which does a very nice job summarizing the human impact of IoT. In fact a lot of the hype for IoT is around wearables and home automation.  Nest is the poster-child for IoT&H but you can’t go a week without finding another home automation solution being launched on kickstarter.
There is no doubt the human side of IoT will be important but I find the Industrial side to be a lot more compelling. SCADA systems like the London Tube system , Nespresso providing remote management of coffee machine, the work GE is doing for hospitals, aircrafts, etc. are the things  are fascinating and exciting opportunities. This is also where a lot of the profits in IoT will be made.

In the last 6 months the activity/hype around IoT has exploded. It will be fun to watch how these categories emerge and merge in the next 1-2 years. Of course an Open IoT is what is needed for all this to be successful. Eclipse IoT will be an important part of the solution.
Es hora de adelantar(se) en este escenario; ¿nuestras herramientas serán capaces de operar sobre este conjunto? ¿conocemos los recursos, infraestructura, estándares, proveedores, con los que habrá que interactuar? ¿tenemos la comprensión adecuada para transmitirla a quienes serán sus beneficiarios? Creo que sin duda, esta es la hora de los DSLs y de los modeladores y generadores de código, y comparto la expectativa de Skerrett en el papel que Eclipse pueda cumplir, por su flexibilidad y la extensión de su comunidad de usuarios y proveedores.