Friday, February 13, 2009

Whither Techno-Religion?


Whither Techno-Religion?

Published 13 February 09 02:52 PM | john.mullinax

First, the News. Moonlight 1.0 is officially released, Miguel de Icaza announced on his blog recently.  Moonlight is an open source implementation of Silverlight for Linux and Unix clients.  (Linux and Unix servers can already serve the Silverlight, of course).

In addition to the announcement, the post is worth a read as a Miguel spends some time walking through some of the ”personal history” of the project, how the team got started, and where it’s going next. 

BTW, if you didn’t know, Miguel is also primary guy behind Mono (open source linux/unix implementation of .NET) and a co-founder of GNOME project (linux/unix desktop client). 

Second, is this a sign the end is near?  No, I’m not talking about the end of the world… but the end of dogmatic technology religion.  To be clear, I’m more asking a question than making a statement.  I’m not really sure the end *is* near – or even if it will ever come – but things like Moonlight make me wonder if we’re moving toward a post-techno religious world.. or maybe just a less phlegmatic phase of it? 

Here’s what I’m thinking…

Of course, Microsoft still wants to make money selling commercial software (and other stuff), and also there are still people who want to be able to help create, modify, and maintain software platforms with fewer restrictions than commercial products allow. 

Even so, it seems to me there are two trends shaping the evolution of the technology industry that might change the way people think about open source vs. commercial software (and open source vs. Microsoft, in particular). 

  1. The exploding diversity of computing devices.  As broader and broader array of computing devices (PCs, Phones, cars, TVs, picture frames, media players, exercise monitors, … ) emerge, creating contextual experiences that provide an end-end proposition for consumers across all these devices is both a great opportunity and a great challenge that requires different devices to work together. 
  2. The emergence of the cloud.  As the notion of a cloud that provides nearly infinitely scalable compute capacity becomes a reality, many people will decide to shift some portion of their infrastructure to a cloud provider.  Of course, not everything will go to the cloud, and people will need all the stuff in the cloud and the data center to work together – as well as with different devices.

Putting these two trends together, I think you end up with a collection of cloud services, a collection of infrastructure in the data center, and a collection of many different devices that all need to work together well.  This, in turn, suggests to me two things that may reduce the vitriol that characterized the .NET – Java, Windows – Linux, and Apple - Microsoft wars. 

First, interoperability becomes more important than ever, as end-end experiences increasingly include multiple platforms and work across “tiers” (devices, servers, cloud). 

Second, one choice – linux or windows server– no longer dictates everything else… the application platforms, the tools, the human skills, etc, that makes up the end-end solution.  Rather, in a world of cloud services, servers, and many devices working together, the key is to find the right combination for your business and your users… linux vs. windows server is just one part of that. 

So, from all of that, my hypothesis is this:

  • The increasing prevalence of solutions that work across platforms and “tiers” (devices, servers, cloud), and…
  • The increasing importance of interoperability across platforms tiers to enable these solutions, and…
  • The shift of the decision about server OS away from being the defining decision, and instead to be simply part of a larger whole…

…Will lead to healthier, less vitriolic, and more appreciative discussion in the broad technology community. 

Is it all just a naive pipe dream?  Or, are we really about to see a decline in bitter techno-religion?

Beyond | IT : Whither Techno-Religion?

No comments:

Blog Archive