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Sustainable software? Look down under!

A few months ago I was sipping a drink with friends, and I was asked what would I do should I ever leave Sourcesense. I answered that I would hope I’d make enough money by then but assuming it wasn’t the case, I would most likely start a new company or, failing that, I would contemplate moving to Sidney and send my CV to Atlassian.

There is more than surfing Australian waves in my admiration for that company: I’m watching with great amusement the debate on Open Source sustainability, how making money is tied to proprietary extensions, how Open Source is not a business model, and all the yadda-yadda that regularly pops in when someone dares to comment how, really, the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. Such commentaries are being filed in the “Firm grasp of the obvious” category, but they make for a fun read anyways: meanwhile, as the Commercial Open Source world is out there frantically looking for the Holy Grail of software sustainability in an open and collaborative ecosystem, it seems to me that a happy bunch of Aussies are filling it with Foster’s and passing it along.

While most Open Source companies try to make money by providing a free all-you-can-eat Sunday roast buffet, as long as you carve it yourself and bring your own gravvy, Atlassian is showing the beef by providing great food at reasonable prices, all the gravvy you want and a tab with no hidden charges, surprises or discretionary service fees attached. Not to mention a recipe book and access to the grill to cook to your own taste. Can you really argue with that?

I know, I know: it’s not Open Source, you need to pay to play and the ball is theirs. Yet their model is so upfront and clear that it feels like a breath of fresh air when compared to the amazing lot of commercial Open Source/crippleware in disguise out there:

  • pricing is clear and reasonable, mesured on real value instead than on what it takes to send a salesman to your premises to measure your spending ability, then provide you with a quote.
  • you pay for what actually drives value. Do you have 50 developers with software installed on their machines to build and test locally, plus a build and a staging server? No problem, here goes your unlimited free development license key to go along with the one you purchased for your production server.
  • do you want to tinker with the source code? You get all you need and then some to fix stuff yourself. And no, they won’t withdraw support just because you messed up with the code.
  • do you fancy ecosystems? Just browse the amazing number of plug-ins, add-ons and extensions that have been built by developers all around the world, or just ask for assistance in the user forums.
  • do you want to use their technology to support your Open Source effort? Here, get a free license and have fun. Oh, and by the way have a look at the notable number of contributions that Atlassian did to Open Source software and libraries they are using.

Can your Open Source vendor do this? I will need a few more fingers (and toes!) than I have access to if I wanted to count how many quote-Open Source-end-quote companies out there are doing their best to play the baitware game, providing astonishly little value for amazingly high prices and playing hardball with customers. While the Commercial Open Source world is talking about hybrid revenue models, here comes a pragmatic shop that just nails it. May I suggest analysts to pick up the phone and give Mike Cannon-Brookes a call?

The obligatory first post

Who am I not to oblige to write a quick post to test both my upgraded WordPress install and my brand new iPhone? This also works as an excuse to test the quite nifty WordPress iPhone app.
More later from a real keyboard, just bear with me while I turn a useless post into an hopelessly pointless waste of bandwith by adding a quick picture snapped with the phone camera outside the London house…

photo

“Turn left at the bears, you’ll see elephants on your right”

This is the very first phrase I heard when me, Simone, and a truck full of beverages arrived to the location for this year’s Cocoon GetTogether. Such things happen if your conference venue is actually a zoo.

From then on, it has been an incredible roller coaster: you really don’t know what “busy, crazy busy” means until you have organized a conference.We have been through an amazing three days stretch with a great bunch of old friends and a surprising number of newcomers: the Cocoon community never ceases to amaze me: for the fifth time in a row we managed to get an incredible group of people, traveling from all over the world (even from Australia!) to enjoy the company of fellow Cocoon hackers and share some nice food and drink in sunny Rome.

I’m expecting to be in tatters for the next week or so, but I’m really, really enthusiastic about the conference so far. We had a productive hackathon, a couple of fantastic evening events and, of course, a conference packed full of great information about the latest and greatest in Cocoon-land (if you didn’t check the new Cocoon website, this is an excellent time to do so). I’m really lost for words when it comes to describing what we’ve been up to so far: just know that by missing the conference you’ve missed a chance to understand how loud an elephant trumpeting a tiny wall away from you can be. Or how you can eat humongous quantities of food, drink enormous quantities of wine and sing along at a table full of hackers in the Roman countryside. And this isn’t even scraping the surface of what the CocoonGT has been: you can probably get a small feeling of what we’ve been up to by looking at the photos popping up on Flickr, but that’s really not going to give you the full picture. You have to be here to understand how the Cocoon community is different, so stay tuned and don’t miss the sixth edition!

The Futurama effect

Sometimes there is a lot of stuff we take for granted. Being somewhat an Internet-based professional kinda takes all the magic out of this amazing connected world and the changes that have been happening among us. Imagine a guy being hibernated some twenty years ago and waking up today. Try to figure out the astonishment and the overwhelming sensation of a world that has taken a quantum leap since he’s been refrigerated. Try to explain to him stuff like the Internet, the World Wide Web, Wikipedia, social networks and the like: chances are you’re in for a lot of blank stares and puzzled looks.

This is what just happened to me.

See, while on vacation some neurons of yours truly had a somewhat funky connection, and I figured out that I really want to play piano again, something I dropped in my teenage years. I distinctly remember how it felt back in those days: I was a broke teenager living in a small town, relying on pocket money and pub jobs to earn my fun. Living in a small place meant little to no access to information, and being nearly penniless didn’t quite help. I had to travel 40 miles to get to an halfway decent sheet music store, I wasn’t in touch with other pianists, (vinyl) records were too expensive for a teenage and I was frantically videotaping anything that vaguely resembled classical music performances on our mere six national channels TV. I still remember staying up late to record the Bach Series from Glenn Gould, and I clearly recall saving a few pennies here and there to finally buy a copy of Schubert Impromptus. Later on, I got sucked into different hobbies and life in general, so I basically dropped my piano altogether.

Fast forward twenty years later. Here is a guy sailing towards his forties who has been fortunate enough to witness almost all the Internet stuff happening in his country, from SLIP and UUCP access to ADSL2 and beyond, from NCSA servers to IPTV, from Swish and Altavista to Google. I have been fortunate enough to work behind the scenes and somewhat help making all this happen: it’s a great ride, but with the downside of spoiling the magic. Gone are the times where I stared at my 386 receiving a ping response from the other side of the Atlantic. I got used to the Internet in small steps, and to the idea that information is at my fingertips, be it a phone number, travel directions or software being written cooperatively by a community of strangers living all around the world. All this happened gradually, and it just became part of my life: I’m just expecting to browse for information and finding it somewhat.

The teenage in me just woke up, though, and wants to play piano. He finds himself in front of a computer screen, and understands that instead of relying on a lousy local shop, his piano might be coming from 700km away. He doesn’t have to take the vendor’s word, as there are a plethora of forums and sites full of qualified reviews. He can even drop an email to a good friend in the UK and get some great advice. There might be no need to buy music sheet as  no less than 12.618 scores are available for free download. Want to learn from pros such as Horowitz, Richter, Pollini or Ashkenazy? YouTube has plenty of that. Piano lessons? No brainer, there are instructors from Europe, USA and Japan sharing material on the Net. Care to share some thought with people with similar interests? Go figure the sheer number of piano communities out there.

This is just overwhelming, and so different from what it used to be. It’s a weird sensation being exposed all at once to such an unexpected massive amount of valuable information, and it really made me wonder. Most of us just don’t realize how exciting these times are and how lucky are we to witness the quantum leap the world has been through in just a handful of years.

Sometimes it’s really good to stop for a moment. And think about it.

See you in Philly!

I just got home from the Open Source Think Tank, and it’s almost time to pack again and cross the Atlantic one more time. Next week I will be in Philadelphia, talking about Open Source in Corporate Environments at Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise.

As my schedule gets tighter, this time I will have no room to hang out and have a look around: I will be landing in Tuesday and fly back on Thursday evening, which will make jet lag interesting stuff to master. If you happen to be around the Philadelphia area, just wave and I’ll be glad to have a chat over a beer or so while I’m attending the conference.

Hopefully travel won’t be too bad: I decided this was a good occasion to jump the cliff and give the “all-business” airlines a chance, so I’ll be flying via Paris with L’Avion, spending 70% than the coach class rip-off for short-length trips and enjoy a better seat, possibly with some sleep included on my way back. Bonus treat: I will escape the Heathrow security jokes. As it seems I’ll be crossing the ocean a number of times in the future, I hope this proves to be a good compromise between sustainable prices and travel comfort: where do I sign to have those guys open routes to the West Coast?

Harmonizing Cocoon

And so the great guys from Harmony managed run Cocoon on top of the fantastic software they’re writing. I wanted to blog about it a few days ago, then the usual amount of stuff hit the fan, and the news is no real news anymore, yet I thought I’d drop a line as it seems to me a major milestone.

The Gump guys used to say that Cocoon, with its HUGE dependency tree, was the ultimate testbed for their software. Maven had to learn the hard way what it means dealing with the amount of external, cross-referenced and tangled libraries we are using over here. Knowing that Harmony is now able to run Cocoon (together with Tomcat, Eclipse, JEdit and a bunch of other apps) means a lot to me, as it really shows that the project is going at a very fast pace and really nearing completion. If I was a mentor, I would have set it as a target to exit incubation (“runs Cocoon? Mission accomplished!”).

Looks like we’ll soon see a new Open Source Java VM straight from the ASF, properly packaged with friendly licensing terms and able to compete with the other guys in the block: interesting times ahead!

Random French thoughts

This is written from an hotel room in Paris, while enjoying our last night in the capital during our driving trip to France. While waiting for more thorough thoughts when I get some more time, here is a quick bullet list from our first few days:

  • having been in Macon, I can now subscribe to Sylvain‘s theory: Beaujolais pretty much sucks. I hope I will encounter much better wines during my trip even though,as an Italian bashing French wine is a duty and a pleasure.
  • French hotels rock, and you should really stay away from big chains to settle for the small stuff. We had a great time in a castle hotel near Macon and we have been able to find a great place in Paris with free Wi-Fi, excellent location and very nice owners. My wife is definitely a great travel agent.
  • my French is surprisingly not so bad as I expected. At a very least, much better than the average English waiters and hotel personnel seem to speak. Problem is I seem to be fluent enough to inspire confidence in whoever I’m addressing, who then starts to speak at lighting speed, which makes me kinda helpless as I start not getting a single word anymore.
  • Paris is (surprise!) great. Too bad we are spending just two days here, but we’ll be back, and that’s a promise. But please, turn those stupid Eiffel tower lights off: at random intervals, the thing starts blinking and sparkling as a gigantic Christmas tree. Would be nice in December, but doesn’t feel right in the middle of August.
  • The Louvre is completely spoiled by stupid Da Vinci Code stuff. They are now renting audioguides with special content devoted to paintings somewhat related to the book. Oh my.
  • We had a load of great dining out tips from Stéphane. Too bad I read my email just a few minutes ago, when we got back from our last night in Paris. But we’ll keep them on hold until next time: merci bien, mon ami!
  • My back hurts. Badly. It seems to be somewhat related to driving, as it takes just a few kilometers to have me moaning and acting like a puppet. Strangely enough, getting out of the car and walking a bit makes (most of) the pain go away. Still, given we’re on a driving trip, this sucks in so many ways.

Tomorrow is driving time again. We’re off to Caen-Le Havre then heading to Mont Saint Michel and Brest. On our way back it will be the turn for Nantes, Orleans, Dijon and Geneve (too bad Bertrand is away), before heading back to Milan. Lots of driving ahead, but also loads of fun!

Resume

Gianugo Rabellino
Via Grandi, 38


Desio, MI

Italy, 20033
+39 02 24 12 68 45 (office)
 

Summary

I’m interested in building next-generation architectures of participation built around ecosystems of technology, economics and sociology.

Education & Affiliations



Law Law


University of Genova
October 1988July 1997
 

Liceo Classico G.Chiabrera – Savona
September 1984July 1998
 

Member, Apache Software Foundation
June 2004
 

Professional Experience



Founder and CEO

Sourcesense S.r.l., Milan, Rome, Amsterdam, Norwich
January 2006Present
 
Founder and CEO of Sourcesense, a System Integrator acting on a European level on Open Source technologies. Responsible for the overall international business strategy, execution of the business plan, partner network build out and management of a team of 30+ people. During its first year of activity, Sourcesense acquired a number of blue chip customers and nearly tripled the initial business goals: the company is now growing at a fast pace both in business and in european coverage to achieve the goal of becoming the leading Open Source System Integrator in Europe.


CTO

Pro-netics S.r.l., Rome
January 2002December 2005
 
Leading a team of 50 people devoted to system integration for the enterprise market, with a peculiar focus on Open Source technologies. Notable results include founding of the Orixo consortium (http://www.orixo.com) and constant growth of business and awareness of the Pro-netics brand as a major player in the italian SI market, working with enterprise-class customers to build complex solutions.


Network & Security Director, Project Lead

KSolutions S.p.A., Pisa
December 2001December 2002
 
Leading the network and security groups of KSolutions S.p.a., a Kataweb group company. My responsibilities included oversight and QA of the whole delivery process other than specific duties in coordinating the network & security business unit for the whole Ksolutions group, leading a team of seven people and managing a complex multi-site and multi-company environment.


CTO

Bibop Research S.p.A., Milan
May 2000October 2001
 
Responsible for the software development and system/network administration groups. Duties included fostering the technical department of the company, which eventually grew up to 20 people handling complex projects with customers as Terra Netwoks, KataWeb, Mediaset, RAI, De Agostini and many more. Also responsible for synergies with major HW/SW vendors (Sun, IBM, Oracle, ISP, Apache Software Foundation).


Project Manager

I.net S.p.A., Milan
January 1998April 2000
 
Started as a second level technical support engineer, while being responsible for the company DNS and domain/network registrations. On January1999 assigned to the colo cation business unit, as a large account technical project manager. Involved in planning, deployment and production phases of the most important Internet portals in Italy, such as KataWeb, Jumpy, Spray and Freedomland, and of other large customers such as Unicredito, Costa Crociere and more.


Sales Manager

SIR S.r.l., Genoa
June 1996October 1997
 


Account Manager

Do it S.r.l., Genoa
February 1996June 1996
 


Freelance Consultant

Indipendent, Genoa
January 1993February 1996
 

What? A lawyer?

From time to time people discover that actually I am a lawyer and start wondering how is it so and how I found myself doing Open Source and tech stuff instead.

I got tired of telling the story every time, so now that I have this mini-site I can finally tell people “this information is on my weblog”. Beware: it’s quite a long read.
Continue reading ‘What? A lawyer?’