The Inquirer-Home

CA's Barrenechea lambasts SCO, IBM

Interview: Part 2 Sarcophagus entombed
Tue Jul 27 2004, 09:09
HERE'S THE second part of our exclusive interview with Mark Barrenechea, senior vice president of development. He's the man, the man with the open source touch. Part one is here.

INQ: Are you aware that, given some of CA's past moves before your arrival at the company (moves that some might consider pro-Microsoft) that Computer Associates has a lot of work ahead to win the "trust" of the Open Source community?. One has to think about recent experiences, with SCO for instance, which at one point embraced and promoted open source, and then turned against it... what are your thoughts on that?
M.B.: SCO is on the wrong side of the debate. I know it, the industry knows it. And, when you have more lawyers than programmers, you have to question your corporate mission. Open source is here to stay. We are supporting a variety of efforts from Plone to Zope, from Ingres to Ape. But at the end of the day, success is measured by our customers.

INQ: What steps will CA take towards the goal of winning the hearts and minds of the open source developers? Or will CA just take an "open it up and they will come" approach?
M.B.: You asked the right question. Open source is not about "open it up and they will come". It's about being relevant and building a community. And we will do this around Ingres.

INQ: I admit that I own a single CA product, but it isn't sold nor has it been supported for a long time: CA-Realizer. Why do you think it was/is so difficult for many companies to create and market alternatives to Microsoft's own products?
M.B.: Well, let's stay on the topic of open source. Open source is about Java and Python. And, particularly around Java, eclipse is the standard for developers. When it comes to Linux, it's Java, which is open; its eclipse, which is open, it's JBoss, which is open. And, now, the community will have an enterprise-class database which is open. It's Ingres.

INQ: Do you think this decision by CA will cause any troubles to the company in your relationship with "Redmond"?
M.B.: You make me think back to the days when Ben & Jerry's was just starting. Ben and Jerry themselves used to campaign outside of the headquarters of one of the world's largest food manufacturers by holding a sign, “What's the Doughboy afraid of?” All kidding aside Microsoft is a great partner of ours and has brought tremendous value on a global basis. We've worked together on a number of technology initiatives - most recently in security management

INQ: Sorry to drag you away from Open Source, but isn't it a tragedy to have the work of thousands of people being lost forever? Borland decided that there were plenty of people still interested in the company's legacy products, so one day it posted many of the packages for free download on the web. And Sybase went one step further, by open sourcing the cross-platform C++ and fortran compilers formerly known as Watcom C++ that the company acquired from Powersoft but later stopped selling. (at www.openwatcom.org). Your thoughts?
M.B.: I think this is a good idea, and companies should do more of it.

INQ: Given CA's move with Ingres, one of the company's "crown jewels", do you see any chances of CA eventually open sourcing some of their legacy smaller products that had a strong user base but whose development and sale was stopped a long time ago as well?
M.B. There are a couple of interesting open source projects targeted towards the desktop, such as OpenOffice and xPlanner. They hold promise. CA's focus is around extending the platform above the operating system, this is where our focus will be.

INQ: Back to Ingres, can you tell us how many developers were or are working at CA on this database?
M.B.: No., but I can tell you that the number of developers is about to go up tenfold.

INQ: In which markets, business sectors, and/or geographical regions is CA-Ingres stronge?
M.B.: The Ingres user-base is global, and they have been loyal through the years. The community has applauded the open sourcing of Ingres, and their reception to the idea has far exceeded my expectations.

INQ: Will the company consider releasing it under dual or multiple licences, for instance a GPL-like license and a commercial one for corporations, like some of the open source database vendors have done?
M.B.: We have decided on the CA-TSOL which has recently been accepted by opensource.org. We think it is the right licence for the right product.

INQ: Personally, I think there's a difference between "embracing open source' and just "promoting open source" to sell closed-source products that run on top of the GNU kernel. Do you agree?
M.B.: Clearly, Oracle and Novell are each embracing open source. Consider Oracle and their Oracle Cluster File System (OCFS) and Novell and SuSE. OCFS is an amazing piece of code. Ingres now supports it without a single modification in Ingres or OCFS. The developers at Oracle are incredible.
Consider IBM. Their open distributed lock manager was one of the worst pieces of code I have seen in a long time. We spent weeks getting it to work. Consider IBM's effort around Axis. They create a soap platform and abandoned it. What is the VP of Afterthought thinking?

CA can't get more serious about open innovation than with open sourcing a product line that has generated many millions of dollars over the last five years.

INQ: As someone from South America, I'm very excited to see governments fighting the uphill battle to embrace Open Source at least at the OS level as a way to avoid "vendor lock-in" and save taxpayer's money. What are your thoughts on this?
M.B.: How do you attack the Titans of software? It takes a million developers.

INQ: Anything else you would like to tell us?, can we expect "a new CA" and more exciting moves and announcements for the linux and open source communities in the future?
M.B.: You ain't seen nothing yet. µ

Footnotes:
CA-Realizer: A visual-basic IDE (integrated development environment) and compiler which was originally acquired by CA, and heavily promoted in the early to mid-90s. Development and sales continued until around 1996, when strangely CA threw the towel in the fight against Microsoft's Visual Basic, despite having a better, cross-platform product -in the opinion of many people who tried the product. Realizer was available in versions for 16-bit Windows 3.x, 32-bit IBM OS/2, and 32-bit Windows (version 3.0, for WIN9x/NT). If the timing of CA-Realizer's death had anything to do with CA's sudden cozy relationship with Redmond and their collaboration to promote Windows NT with CA's management services, - as many suspect - is left to the imagination of our readers...

CA-Superproject: A direct competitor to Microsoft Project. Also, used to be available for both Windows and IBM's 32-bit OS/2 platform.

It's highly ironic that one common complaint about linux is the lack of a robust Visual-Basic like development environment that could lure the Visual Basic hobby and shareware programmers from windows and allow cross-compilation of the same source code on different platforms, which is exactly what CA-Realizer did (and could eventually do on linux as well, if open sourced and ported to X by volunteers). Realizer also has given zero revenue to CA since 1996, so what would be the danger of open sourcing it?, this reporter wonders. The small but extremely loyal Realizer developer community has been hoping for such move for years

 

Share this:

blog comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement
Subscribe to INQ newsletters

Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ

Advertisement
INQ Poll

Heartbleed bug discovered in OpenSSL

Have you reacted to Heartbleed?