Wednesday, December 14, 2005

LAMP BusinessWeek Article, Slashdotted Again

There was a great article about LAMP and ActiveGrid by Steve Hamm in BusinessWeek today that was Slashdotted and started YAFF (yet another flame war) very reminiscent of when we were Slashdotted last year.

To sum up the article, it lists a few indisputable facts:

  1. Google, Yahoo, and a lot of Web 2.0 companies such as Friendster, Flickr, and Facebook are using open source stacks like LAMP instead of Java.

  2. There are more and more developers and websites using PHP, as evidenced by booksales and Netcraft stats.

  3. Companies like Merrill Lynch write processor intensive code in C/C++ directly on Linux and script it rather than use Java API's, presumably because they want more perfromance and do not care about platform portability out of Linux.

  4. .Net is getting used a lot more in enterprises (something I have seen in quite a few large accounts and which Sun even acknowledges in the article).

  5. "Earlier this year, [IBM] threw its weight behind PHP as a Web programming language."

Well these are all facts, and grouped together like this, I daresay they are a trend. Sun's response?

  1. Java is getting a lot of traction on mobile phones.

  2. Java is still used for "large, complex corporate applications".

Hey, I recommend Java myself if you want to write a cell phone game or a large, complex corporate app. But for a lightweight web app that needs to integrate a bunch of services with a rich user interface? It's LAMP all the way.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Google - A Network Effect on Ads

There have been rumblings through the valley about how Google is arrogant, going to fail, not partner friendly, etc. At ActiveGrid, for example, we are bummed that our Googlezon demo is exceeding Google's maximum allowable web service calls.

Matt Asay recently wrote a post about how Google's properties beyond search are all relative failures. I frankly don't think Google's search is all that hot either, I use MSN Search when I do complex queries.

What Google has, and the reason it will be around for a long long time, is a network effect on advertising. Just like EBay cornered auctions, PayPal cornered point to point transactions, and Flickr cornered photo sharing, there is a huge community of people and companies who advertise hundreds of thousands if not millions of terms of Google. Users are accustomed to searching for very nichy (I dare say long tail) things on Google and finding relevant ads.

While search has clearly become commoditized and matched by Yahoo! and MSN, the chances of anyone successfully competeting against the advertising juugernaut that Google has created is not likely. It is as challenging as convincing a critical mass of EBay buyers and sellers to move to something new.

Google is definitely helping a lot of folks make money by advertising their products to new customers. I just hope that Google starts to enable software companies to create new services that use their platform without a bunch of hassle - this is one thing that Microsoft actually has always done very well.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Googlezon - SOA in Action

Today's applications require rich user interfaces and tie together multiple systems. It was hard enough to build a simple HTML app to front-end a single database - most of these types of projects are delivered over budget and late, if at all. Clearly, using today's technologies, developers can't deliver these types of applications in a time-efficient and cost-effective way.

As many of you know, we built ActiveGrid from the ground up with AJAX as well as SOA standards like BPEL, XML Schema, WSDL, and XPath. The new 1.2 version of the ActiveGrid Application Builder and LAMP Application Server offer numerous rich interface and SOA features that make it very easy to build rich applications that tie together a slew of services, ranging from databases to RSS feeds to REST services to Web services.

Check out the following demo app, Googlezon (named after the Googlezon Flash movie that made the rounds last year. Googlezon lets you search both Google and Amazon at the same time by calling Google's SOAP service and Amazon's REST service. It uses scrollbars that asynchronously fetch data from Google or Amazon as you scroll, so you can simply scroll back up to see the previous results. And it previews pages in pop-ups when you mouse over the search results. We like to call it a better Google than Google. :)

Imagine integrating your CRM and ERP results into a single page, just like this ActiveGrid demo integrates Amazon and Google.

Update: Apparently we have hit the Google connection limit, so here's a screenshot for those of you who are getting an error message!