Steve Ballmer retires. What does his legacy look like?
So far, we’ve talked about the impact of a modular approach on existing business models outside of the software industry. Today, we delve in on the industry most associated with modular design: software. Certain software companies have been suffering from the advance of modularity in software design. The main one, to date, has been Microsoft with its Windows software platform. In the mid-nineties, Microsoft decided to integrate a number of Internet components tightly with its operating systems offering. The two most critical ones of those components have been a web server (IIS) and a web browser (Internet Explorer). Leaving aside discussions relating to the antitrust issues this kind of integration has raised, the integration of those tools with the operating system have left openings for alternative approaches that were more modular. On the server end, IIS has been the subject of many attacks by hackers. Because it is hooked deeply into the operating system, an attack against the web server can have an impact that goes much further that the web front-end. In most cases, the attacks succeeded not only in taking machines down but also turning them into zombie armies that could then turn around and attack other servers.…Read More
The recent fights of the music industry remind me a lot about the early days of the personal computer industry. While I was still a kid then, it seems the software industry went through a similar experience in terms of trying to figure out how to deal with piracy. In this entry, I examine what I consider to be the four stages of dealing with piracy of digital assets. I believe that any industry that is seeing a move of their intellectual assets to a digital medium will go through four basic stages: ignorance, panic, protection and litigation, quiet acceptance. This was the case with software in the 80s and 90s, is currently the case with music, and will soon be the case with movies. I suspect that other industries like the professional photography market are facing similar issues currently or have in the past. Stage 1: Ignorance During this stage, an industry ignores the problem, either because it is seen as the domain of fringe elements or doesn’t seem like it could possibly have a huge impact. Consider this the ostrich strategy. Executives downplay the importance of a new culture (software crackers in the 80s, file-sharing in the mid-90s)…Read More
CIO magazine is running an interesting article showcasing efforts by several companies to use a more modular approach when building new EAI applications. Based on what the article is saying, it looks like we are now reaching a point where going with a single vendor for your complete solution is no longer the preferable choice. The rise of web services as the glue between different system could drastically reshape how large scale applications are built. his has an impact on anyone who’s currently involved in application development as it heralds a new age of modularization. If the trend holds, we will increasingly see extremely specific application modules being developed instead of one-size-fits-all software. That, in turn, might erode the profit margins of software development companies as they will be unable to sell features that the customer does not want. As this more distributed model evolves and services become less and less dependent on the underlying operating system, what will happen to companies like Microsoft, who tie things very closely with their operating system? It seems to me that the software world is about the experience the kind of breaking point the music industry has experienced with the rise of Napster.…Read More