Tag Archive for 'OpenSource'

That Was the Year that Was – uberSVN & All That…

I suspect that I will always remember 2011 as the year when the curtain came down on one of the true greats – Steve Jobs. Great, not just in my world of Silicon Valley techies, but great for just about everyone else on the planet. Even though most of us never knew him we feel like we must have. We seem to use his stuff just about every day.

Apple’s success has had and will continue to have a massive impact on the design of computer systems and products. When we were thinking about uberSVN the very first thought we had was about the relationship between the product and the user. Ten years ago I don’t think that would have been the case. I guess you could call it ‘the pre-iPod days’ (the first iPod was released in October 2001 and was cast as “1,000 songs in your pocket”) before that, according to Jobs, music players were either “big and clunky or small and useless”.

Our customers told us that ‘old fashioned’ ALM was big-and-clunky; and they’re probably right! In many cases they were moving away from these ‘dinosaurs’ to a best-of-breed approach. Like Subversion for source control, JIRA, Redmine or Trac for defects & wiki, Review Board for peer code reviews, and so on.

When we launched uberSVN in April I talked about empowering users by giving them choice. Freedom to choose any combination of ALM tools that best fit the business requirements be it price or functionality, open source or closed source. How’s it doing? In short – amazingly well! To our delight it’s being used everywhere from Fortune 100 companies to the US Senate. I even got my 11 and 12 year-old children to install it on their MAC books – it took them only 5 minutes! Not sure how much use they get out of Subversion – but they did get double pocket money for their efforts! That really is the point of uberSVN. We have made an extremely powerful but complex product extremely easy to use and install by anyone and I think we succeeded in that regard.

We quickly followed-up with uberApps. Another ‘first of a kind’ product with an enterprise AppStore for software development tools. Now, with just a single click, it is possible to install a build & test product like Jenkins or even buy external QA resources from crowd-sourcing vendor uTest. This is another step in making ALM both usable and useful. Anyone, and I mean anyone can deploy these apps without special knowledge, experience or skills.

These products were developed in my hometown, Sheffield. It was our Christmas party there the other week and it really was astonishing to see how quickly we have grown. From a small office where we would “see what happens” we have grown to almost 40. There was a lot of laughing behind hands from my ‘friends’ from the south and lot’s of “ooop north” jibes. Well, in between wearing flat caps and racing whippets, the Sheffield team delivered an award-winning piece of software. uberSVN won 2 awards in the first year of its launch and we have seen almost 50,000 downloads.

Apache Subversion also continues to grow. Subversion is still the ‘King’ of source code management. More traditional Enterprises are turning away from old-fashioned / big-and-clunky ALM for Subversion. And SVN 1.7 (also released this year) has delivered a much-needed performance boost. Throughout the year I have been embroiled in various spats with the Giterons (Git fundamentalists who believe in the inerrancy of Linus) but only this month I have spoken to 3 or 4 companies that tried Git but had to pull it out due to various-and-sundry issues. Much more on that early in the new year, when we might just have a solution for those looking to use Git as more of a client to a central SVN server of record…

There was also some politics earlier in the year when one of our competitors used some pretty underhanded tactics to besmirch our good name. Unfortunately for them it worked quite well in our favor. We are, and always have been a big supporter of the ASF (we are even the only Subversion contributor to also be a sponsor). In fact, at the time of writing, we are in the process of proposing a new project for the ASF incubator. Again, lot’s more on that in the new year.

We also took some steps earlier in the year to solidify the Subversion community by acquiring SVNforum.org. I think we have done a pretty good job of updating the site software, Subversion Liveeradicating spam and generally making the site a useful, free resource for every SVN user. As part of our efforts for the SVN community we also hosted the first Subversion user conferences. Audiences in San Francisco, Boston and London attended “Subversion Live”. We are hosting Subversion Live again later in the year with a extended program.

So 2011 was a great year here at WANdisco but 2012 should be even better. We have several major product launches planned including a new (free) open source defect tracker / wiki, uberSVN Team, uberSVN Enterprise and a solution to the Git/SVN conundrum. In the words of ‘Potato Claus’ (the lead character in my kids’ favorite book from a few years ago) may I take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, and also local and regional winter holidays and celebrations.

Here’s a rather nice pictorial representation of 2011 from a WANdisco perspective (click to enlarge):

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About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies. Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth. With over 15 years' executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards. David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Specialties:IPO's, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A

Enterprise Software is Dead! Long Live Enterprise Software!

Just imagine if someone approached you with a ‘brand new idea’ for CRM software.  It would cost millions-of-dollars, install in 3-6 months and takes a team of consultants to do most of the work.  Of course you would laugh and rightly so after all it’s such a 2001 idea… How times change.

The idea sounds preposterous now because our expectations have changed.  I can get SalesForce.com up and running and the only real skill I need is to know how to enter a credit card number. Everyone is talking about the cloud and trying to cram the word “cloud” into their new company names as we all did with “.com” back in the heady days of 1998 when the dot com typhoon first hit us.  I think it’s very easy to get carried away, just as we did at the millennium, and throw rational business thinking out of the window.  Back then we forgot that you still actually needed to sell and fulfill orders just like any other business – that doesn’t change.  What does change is the relationship the consumer has with the retailer.  I can’t remember the last time that I purchased an airline ticket inside a travel agent’s office for example.

Let’s look at the reasons why enterprises are moving some software to the cloud. A recent IDC study found the top reason was easy-fast deployment.  The other reasons (see picture below) are associated with cost (less in house IT, pay for use, low monthly subscription) or getting latest functionality.  The converse of this is that traditional enterprise software is difficult and slow to deploy, expensive and complex to update.

I really don’t believe that cloud computing is as revolutionary as the industry would have us believe but what it is doing is changing our expectations in the way in which we consume applications.  Applications do not necessarily need to be in the cloud but they must:

  • Be easy to Install (in less than 15 minutes)
  • Have no special skills to get up and running
  • Be cost effective
  • Just work every time

When we designed uberSVN, we did so with these principles in mind.  That’s why we got tens-of-thousands of successful installs of the product in the first couple of months. So what’s next for uberSVN?  Well we believe that enterprise will take a leaf out of the consumer book.  Almost 3 years ago today Apple updated iTunes and in that update was an app store.  That changed the mobile device into a platform where, with just 1 click you can deploy sophisticated applications for just about everything you need and some things you probably don’t.  Again it’s successful because it’s incredibly easy, fast and cost effective.

Just imagine enterprise IT departments could do this with enterprise applications… enter uberApps.

uberSVN was launched in response to demand from enterprises to be empowered to choose ALM tools to meet their business goals be it price or functionality, open source or closed source.

The concept of an app store means that not only can users get incredibly easy automatic updates and simple (single click) installation but also incredibly fast and efficient discovery of applications.  In a software tools context imagine if you wanted a build engine, a wiki and defect tracker.  There is a plethora of open source, closed source, expensive and free products out there to go and research.   Who even knows if they are all going to work together?

uberApps solves that problem.  The applications are certified to work with the uberSVN platform – that means complete integration and testing by our QA team.  How do you know if it’s any good?  First off you can read reviews from other users and then you can try it out.  Installation is only a mouse click away and if you don’t like it or don’t need it then you can simply uninstall just like you do on an iPhone.

There is one critical difference with iPhone apps though.  There is clearly a balance between fast discovery of applications by users and empowerment to deploy them. uberApps models the process that enterprises use today where departments can request products from IT and then go through a standard approval process.  It’s pretty cool because it means that this is centralized rather than having to get a separate arrangement with dozens of different vendors.

uberApps may be groundbreaking but it’s simply modeling the new way that enterprises expect to consume software today. Which one would you choose –  An app store or a stereotypical software sales guy with his Porsche, golf clubs and Armani suit (all of which you’re eventually going to pay for)?

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About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies. Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth. With over 15 years' executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards. David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Specialties:IPO's, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A

Hot news coming at OSCON 2011 & a bit of politics on the Subversion Dev list

At WANdisco we have been looking forward to OSCON 2011 for quite some time. Anyone who knows our company will know that we invest heavily in open source projects, in particular Apache Subversion, which is central to many of the enterprise services that we provide. Subversion (SVN) is used by a vast array of users for source code management, from individual innovators to multinational blue chip companies. But SVN is just one of countless potentially world-changing open source applications.

So it’s always invigorating to catch up with a broad spectrum of open source luminaries to share experiences, explore new ideas, draw inspiration and share mutual aspiration. This highlight of the open source calendar is being held from July 25-29 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

This year we are even more excited about OSCON because we have some big announcements of our own. We believe that these announcements in the coming days will dramatically change the landscape of how developer tools are purchased, deployed and used.

In late April we released our own freely available open ALM platform – uberSVN – which has transformed Subversion into an extensible platform, empowering software developers by enabling them to use a wider choice of toolsets, which can be combined to best fit specific business requirements.  The reviews, across the board, have been fantastic; I keep telling people that I have never been involved in such a successful launch.

Also incorporating social coding into Subversion for the first time, uberSVN has clocked up tens of thousands of installations in less than three months and rave reviews keep coming, usually highlighting the ease of installation and excellent usability that the platform provides.

Those attending OSCON 2011 have a great opportunity to win $2,500 by downloading uberSVN from a USB stick being handed out at the conference. We are pretty certain that you will be impressed with the platform whether you win the cash or not! Failing that you can grab one of our cool t-shirts or stickers.

uberSVN was a factor in WANdisco being included in the Red Herring Top 100 North America list and we have been working hard to ensure that the platform keeps up with the expectation of the massive SVN user community and, working on feedback from Subversion users we are now able to reveal some major new enhancements.

Software developers have been keen to find quicker and easier ways to deploy the tools they need and considerably reduce costs at the same time. And WANdisco has a solution…

Interested? We’ll be revealing full details very soon so keep your eyes peeled!

In addition to this major development we have a major partnership announcement looming large on the horizon too! As you would expect from WANdisco we will be hooking up with an organization regarded as the best at what they do. We pride ourselves on the quality, functionality and reliability of the services and products that we supply and we partner with companies who are held in the same regard by users of SVN. The announcement we have later in the week will also herald another significant leap forward for the capabilities of uberSVN!

We look forward to interacting with conference goers at OSCON and open source users around the world that are increasingly discovering the power that uberSVN delivers. Make sure you keep up with our upcoming announcements on this groundbreaking platform and its associated products including training, consulting services and support.

Finally, a bit of politics from the Subversion open source project.  As you may be aware we committed to improving branching & merging several months ago.  With Subversion 1.7 close to release we have been working for several weeks with Andy Singleton and his team at Assembla.  Andy has some interesting ideas that we have been exploring to “fix Subversion merge”.  Frankly the reaction of some and I mean some on the Subversion Dev list is, to put it mildly, disappointing.  If someone new appears with fresh ideas why should the first reaction be a passive-aggressive “no you can’t do that”.  It’s strange how the naysayers all derive from the same place as Harold Evans once famously said of journalism “it is simpler to sound off than it is to find out. It is more elegant to pontificate than it is to sweat.”  Well we are going to sweat!  We will not be derailed or distracted and our core Subversion guys like the idea so we are planning to build a prototype.  This is something we see as vital for Subversion users. Watch this space!

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About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies. Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth. With over 15 years' executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards. David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Specialties:IPO's, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A

Q&A With BCW Magazine

Here’s an interview I gave with Business Computing World (http://www.businesscomputingworld.co.uk/qa-david-richard-wandisco/)

Can you position SCM and SCCM technologies as you see them in relation to ALM in the wider sense?

WANdisco’s heritage is in distributed computing—our technology enables active-active replication over a wide area network. The first application we implemented this with was Apache Subversion to create Subversion MultiSite (a distributed, highly available and scalable Subversion implementation).

Over the past couple of years we have become a very active participant on the Apache Subversion open source project and we are keen to ensure that Apache Subversion maintains its position as what we consider to be the world’s leading SCM tool.

Recently we announced uberSVN an open ALM platform for Subversion. The uberSVN platform is a very easy to use, easy to implement and easy to extend inside a distribution of Subversion. We see SCM as a core component of ALM—it’s where the source code files are stored. So transforming Subversion into a platform that enables you to choose best-of-breed ALM components is a very natural and evolutionary step for us. We don’t believe that any single vendor can provide a complete, best-of-breed ALM solution.

Why would a firm choose Subversion over traditional SCM solutions such as Perforce, Serena or even products from HP?

I guess a better question would be “Why do firms choose or replace traditional SCM solutions with Subversion?” I guess this is because Subversion is open source and hence free, but it performs and scales in some of the most aggressive SCM environments on the planet where some of the traditional SCM products could not. Subversion now has over five millions implementations—how many do the traditional SCM’s have? Not even a fraction of that and that means Subversion must perform and scale in a huge amount of environments.

It sounds like WANdisco’s core technology could be applied across multiple applications. Are you looking at other areas?

Indeed our replication technology is generic and can be applied to other areas. Relational databases is one area we are investigating in our labs right now. Maybe next year we will be in a position to announce something more concrete around database replication/shared-nothing database clustering.

Is WANdisco actively supporting the development of Subversion?

WANdisco is a huge supporter of the Apache Subversion open source project in a number of tangible ways. We have dedicated committers on staff that we pay to only develop Subversion, we are a sponsor of the Apache software foundation and we produce Subversion binary downloads and make them freely available on our website. There was some controversy last year but that was ‘rabble-rousing’ by one of our competitors. The end result is that Subversion development on the open source project is very active again. There is a lot of energy on the project right now and that is good for the wider community.

Are there any clear trends in the SCM space?

Subversion is continuing to gain adoption in the enterprise and government organisations. That’s probably not entirely surprising given that, in product lifecycle parlance, Subversion is in maturity. As I said earlier it continues to replace traditional SCM solutions. I would also say that Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS) is also gaining traction and is probably in the number two position. We don’t see enterprises moving their source code to the cloud yet. That may change but we have see some of the tooling move there—just not the source code.

What’s the uptake been like for uberSVN?

I’d say things are looking healthy, we have thousands of installs in just over a month and the feedback has been very good. I have never seen so many product installs and that is a good sign that the product is very easy to install. We worked very hard to get a product that could be installed in less than five minutes and we will never trade that off for anything.

Are there any big announcements scheduled for uberSVN?

In July we are planning a major new product feature that will enable customers to very easily install third party applications. It’s a really cool feature that will change the way ALM software is delivered behind the firewall. We also have some partner announcements around software build and quality tools.

Is GIT a threat to Subversion?

Funny, I was talking about this only today with an industry analyst and he has the same conclusion that we have. Git has its uses but probably not in the enterprise. OK please listen, I know that statement will upset a bunch of senior developers who think that GIT solves everything but it really doesn’t.

If you think about it GIT actually promotes anti-social software development; development in small, disconnected silos is not how software is developed in the real world. Most software is developed by teams whose members have a variety of skills who need to see what each other is doing and that’s the fundamental reason why GIT is not a threat to Subversion in the enterprise. It’s fine for the development of the Linux kernel but that model doesn’t work for most companies.

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About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies. Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth. With over 15 years' executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards. David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Specialties:IPO's, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A

uberSVN: The Best is Yet to Come!

Since the launch a couple of weeks ago the growth of uberSVN has been nothing short of spectacular.  We’ve had thousands of downloads and successful installs.  Probably the only thing to raise our eyebrows a little is the amount of support tickets or to be more precise the lack of them!  I must admit (touch wood) that this is / was by far the best new product launch that I have ever been part of! The feedback (and unsolicited too) has been terrific.  Another well done to the uberSVN team!

It is very important that we don’t rest on our laurels and push forward with new features (such as LDAP integration) and enhancements (which is the posh way of saying bug fixes) and acting on user-feedback.  To that end, we met last week in Napa to sanity check the feature pipeline of uberSVN and our other products.  I think it’s safe to say that the best is yet to come!

We have some pretty big plans for the product.  Indeed the goal from the start was for uberSVN to be a living, expanding product guided by a large community of users.  One of the fundamental early features of uberSVN is the easy to use auto-update mechanism that allows us to offer these new features and functions to users very quickly.

Next week we’ve got a minor release coming out. Here’s what is planned:

  • LDAP Authentication – this has been requested by many users
  • Bug fixes including native language support, loading repos from large dump files.

The next major release will be in late June / early July and we will be announcing some pretty big news at OSCON.  Here’s a sneak-peak:

  • Integration with Subversion MultiSite
  • Scheduling back-up / import
  • Bundling some cool third party tools, pre-integrated with uberSVN.
  • Tool for adding / extending uberSVN.
  • A fully documented API for third party integration.
  • ???? You’ll just have to wait but we have a pretty big surprise up our sleeves!

Partnerships will have a big part to play in the uberSVN ecosystem. We have been working with several leading tools vendors for several months to include them in this new ecosystem and it’s something we are pretty excited about.  We will be opening this up to other vendors after July so if you’re interested in joining the uberSVN ecosystem, drop me a line.

I should also probably address some of the spam comments from our competition friends.  This is not an open source product. Why? Simple, it doesn’t need to be!  We are part of the Apache Subversion project and we believe that Subversion, as a stand-alone product, should continue to be the best SCM product on the planet.  We are going to ensure that uberSVN always uses the latest Subversion Binaries in an unmodified form (our uberSVN users will be able to automatically install the new release of Subversion, 1.6.17, due out next week). In fact we will always offer the open source subversion binaries on our website.  It’s important to us that we always offer users a choice.

It’s a Beta product.  Gmail was in Beta for 5 years. I was one of the early users and used it for banking, my kids’ school stuff and a whole bunch of things that I couldn’t really do without.  It didn’t mean that it didn’t work.  In fact Google only removed the Beta tag when they believed that “the beta tag just doesn’t fit for large enterprises that aren’t keen to run their business on software that sounds like it’s still in the trial phase.”  In this case we are looking to reach a ‘complete’ set of features – as I said earlier this product is going to get much bigger – in the words of old blue eyes “the best is yet to come!

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About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies. Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth. With over 15 years' executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards. David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Specialties:IPO's, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A

Subversion Politics

My last blog post [Shaking-up Subversion by Listening to the User Community and then Committing to do the Work] unfortunately polarized the Subversion community.

On one side we had:

@phillipmarsay This is incredibly exciting news for avid Subversion users… (like us!)

definitely like the passion you guys have, the big plans, and the intention to “take the bull by the horns” :-). I hope you can get the ball rolling, with an actively participating community, and make Subversion better…

I also think this is good news and look forward to seeing the WANDisco contributions to the project. And if I had any more knowledge of the svn internals I might be applying for one of those positions.

On the other side we had:

“I was, and am, deeply offended by Dave Richards and WANDisco in general. Their business model seems to be to issue press releases rather than actually doing stuff… As it stands, just as you did a year ago with the Obliterate feature, you are just setting your people up for failure. You have declared that you are going to implement new features that the Subversion committers that work for you already know cannot be solved in the near term.” [Mark Phippard, Collabnet]

“It’s clear that the WANdisco CEO — David Richards — is frustrated at the slow pace at which Subversion is improving. But the two posts are simply making outrageous claims, either directly or via insinuation… Unfortunately, in attempting to woo customers, he’s had the side-effect of making his company appear both clueless and antagonistic to the project…” [Ben Collins Sussman, Former Subversion Committer]

“Apache Subversion to WANdisco: +1 on the code contributions, -1 on the attitude. We welcome WANdisco’s involvement in Subversion, and failure on WANdisco’s part to address the above concerns will have no effect on the acceptance of technical work funded by WANdisco. We simply felt it necessary to clarify WANdisco’s role in Apache Subversion, for the benefit of our users and potential contributors.” [ASF]

Interestingly most of the approval for our announcements is from Subversion end-users…

I knew that this would open us up to criticism, as I said in my blog “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

I actually regret the comment that  “certain unscrupulous committers decide to commit trivial changes in large files to simply get their stats up.” For me to substantiate this would require washing dirty laundry in public and that would help nothing – there are better ways to deal with matters such as this within the project itself.

Responses / Clarification:

  1. In my Blog post “Why we got so heavily involved in the Subversion project…” I used the phrase “The initial goal of our project was, basically, to create a better mouse-trap than CVS.” Just to be 100% clear the term ‘our’ [belonging to or connected with you and the group that you are a part of, when you are the person speaking or writing] is being used in the ‘connected with’ context like “Our Soccer Team Won Today” as I make VERY clear throughout the article [“We didn’t get involved to take the credit for creating Subversion. That credit goes to the guys I mentioned earlier.”].
  2. The Comment “I am sure we will face cynicism from some factions of the Subversion project,” is NOT referring to any individual or group of committers.
  3. I never claimed that any of the proposed enhancements were anything new. On the contrary, and again I quote “The requirements that we are committing to build, namely merging and branching, are not new.  Many of these have been in the mainstream and documented since 2007.

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and I don’t take any offense to any of the comments. Most of what we said was relaying what we are hearing from Subversion users. Could these things have been said with a little less venom? Yes, probably. But the bottom line is that WE CARE because we have a deep vested interest in this Subversion stuff.

Edit:

I should also point out that we do a hell of a lot for the community. Like Free Training (“Hidden Subversion” has almost 1,000 registered attendees for next weeks class) and Free Binaries for Windows, RedHat, CentOS, Ubuntu, SuSE, Debian, Solaris).

You might also be interested in attending one of our “Subversion Live” events in San Francisco (Silicon Valley), Boston (MA) or London (UK).

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About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies. Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth. With over 15 years' executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards. David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Specialties:IPO's, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A

Shaking-up Subversion by Listening to the User Community and then Committing to do the Work.

Today we announced the radical step to overhaul the Subversion project by actually fixing and improving several areas that Subversion users have been crying out for.

I know that this will generate criticism from fans of distributed version control (GIT) because some of the issues we are going to tackle are the stick with which they beat Subversion. I am sure we will face cynicism from some factions of the Subversion project, but in some cases this is because of commercial interests that are dependent on the perception that they are the ones developing Subversion.

As the saying goes: you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.

We are not doing this for direct commercial reasons. We are doing this to protect the future of Subversion. We are doing this because we care. We are doing this because we need to. We are doing this because it is the right thing to do.

I’m sure there are lots of questions. Here is a selection of those I have tried to answer:

What Does This Mean?  Are You Forking Subversion?

At this point, NO. We don’t believe that it is necessary. What we are doing is committing our resources to develop several features that both WANdisco and our user community believe are critical to both the long and short-term welfare of the Subversion project.

Hang on a Minute! Didn’t the Community Just Announce A Road Map?

Yes they did, but that’s pretty much all that happened (and that really pisses us off.) The commit logs (code committed by developers to the project) tell the real story. We are not happy with the volume, speed or participation on the project right now. Blogging, or answering questions on user lists are important, but so is writing source code. We also believe it’s unhelpful when certain unscrupulous committers decide to commit trivial changes in large files to simply get their stats up. That behavior has no place in any open source project; it’s a bad form and wastes everyone’s valuable time.

The requirements that we are committing to build, namely merging and branching, are not new.  Many of these have been in the mainstream and documented since 2007. I find it more than a little annoying that, given their importance to many Subversion users; these areas have not been tackled.

Yes, they are difficult. Yes, they will take time.  That is why a corporation needs to step up to the plate and commit to deliver.

What Does WANdisco Get From This?

We have a thriving business.  Almost all of our customers are Subversion users and, frankly, we’re biased. A bit like Henry Ford’s choice of car color, that’s how we see SCM: You can have any SCM so long as it’s Subversion. Do the math.  It is really simple: The more [happy] Subversion users – the more potential customers for WANdisco and, yes, then we make money.

Who Attended This Summit at the WANdisco Offices?

We invited in the region of 10 companies, representing the largest implementations in the world, some with up to 40,000 users. We selected the organizations based on a very significant vested interest and, due to their complexity; any problems or issues would be magnified exponentially. Of course, everyone had their own special requests that were very specific to their situation but there was also a common theme: branching and merging must improve.

I can’t name all those that attended but they are companies of similar standing to Intel and Juniper Networks.

I Would Like to Help, Can I?

Absolutely!

Hyrum Wright is managing this process he can be contacted at Hyrum.Wright(at)  WANdisco [dot] com. We will work with ANYONE.   In fact, we would prefer that this be a community effort. Time is of the essence. Let’s not waste time in endless debate.  Let’s act together.

Subversion is a Community. How is this Working with a Community?

Ultimately, the community will decide if this work will be accepted. When Google decided that httpv2 (awful name and description by the way) was a good idea they developed it and presented it to the community. It was not a fait accompli .  It made sense, so it was accepted. In this case, the requirements have been out there for several years. Subversion users have been tweeting, blogging and complaining about branching and merging. We held a summit to discuss what needed to be done with the Subversion users.  This was their number 1 requirement! We are doing this for the wider Subversion community.

Are You Guys Trying to Take Over The Subversion Project?

Subversion is an Apache project, ideally it should not be inside a corporation.

After This, Then What?

We are still calibrating the requirements, but one hypothesis may be to completely upgrade the backend of Subversion. This is definitely not the end – we still have lots more to do.

avatar

About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies. Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth. With over 15 years' executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards. David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Specialties:IPO's, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A

Why we got so heavily involved in the Subversion project..

First of all I should point out that WANdisco has products that enable Subversion to perform on various different scales. Subversion MultiSite products provide service over a Wide Area Network (WAN) while Subversion Clustering is our specialist Local Area Network (LAN) system.

Some of the large-scale implementations we oversee have as many as 40,000 users, 2,000 repositories and over 18 million transactions a day. Of course not all of our customers are on that scale, but quite a few are and obviously Subversion is pretty important to them. Actually, let’s not beat around the bush, WANdisco Subversion is critical to the vast majority of those clients – mission critical.

About 18 months ago we started to hear a few murmurs from sources within the industry, including some of those big implementations, that we should really be involved in the core development of the Subversion project.

Why? Well, what happens to most (if not all) volunteer-based open source projects is that they go though phases. The initial phase is the really cool phase – it’s a blank sheet of paper and you have a bunch of guys that basically say “OK let’s go climb Everest… and we’ll do it on a diet of coffee and pizza”.

So many of these projects never get off the ground because the guys that can do that have to be capable of climbing a huge mountain – people like Karl Fogel, Jim Blandy, Ben Collins-Sussman, Brian Behlendorf, Jason Robbins and Greg Stein. These are the kind of guys that would; (a) even conceive the idea of building a brand new SCM product from scratch and; (b) actually get off their arses to do it (the latter is much easier said than done!)

The initial goal of our project was, basically, to create a better mouse-trap than CVS. At the time CVS was the de facto SCM product. Much like Subversion is today.

The CVS project was beginning to resemble the abandoned Mary Celeste. The committers had simply moved on. There was no innovation and proprietary vultures such as Perforce, Accurev and Serena began to circle. Unfortunately (for them) Subversion was coming into view on the horizon.

Subversion had a couple of key features that were missing from CVS including Atomic Commits, efficient binary diff storage, versioning of symbolic links, web access via Apache and the open source license was not restrictive (unlike CVS), meaning vendors could take it and pretty much do what they wanted.

Sounds good, so why the concern?

Well the good news is that the initial phase was a raging success. The moment Forrester Research recognized Subversion as the sole leader in the Standalone Software Configuration Management (SCM) category in 2007 was the moment that everyone knew Subversion was it. The market from that moment was going to be IBM Clearcase and Subversion. Can you even imagine trying to be any other vendor in this market where one product is free and the other is IBM? Game-set-and-match you would think. Well, not quite.

Without corporate sponsorship you don’t tend to get key enterprise features on a product road-map. You’re probably familiar with these kind of projects – they usually don’t involve a UI and have labels like ‘LDAP integration’, ‘security’, ‘performance benchmarking’, and so on. Let’s face it nobody’s going to tackle those problems over a cold beer on a cold November evening. And that’s not a criticism of open source; it’s just the way things go.

And that’s really why we decided to get involved on the scale that we did.

We didn’t get involved to take the credit for creating Subversion. That credit goes to the guys I mentioned earlier.

We got involved to push the creation of a road-map and to tackle the trick un-sexy tasks that just need to get done. We have a fantastic team of open source engineers and we don’t interfere with what they do on a day-to-day basis because they are 100 per cent hired to develop Subversion.

WANdisco is now making some big improvements to the working copy that will be released in SVN 1.7. We are improving the JavaHL bindings so you won’t need to use the third party GPL SVNKit product. Subversion 1.7 is a very promising release that will see not only huge performance improvements but also the beginnings of features that some ‘GIT fanatics’ criticize us for.

The emergence of GIT has brought with it a breed of DVCS fundamentalists – the ‘Gitterons’ – that think anything other than GIT is crap. The Gitterons seem to think software engineering happens on their own island and often forget that most organizations don’t employ senior software engineers exclusively. That’s ok but it’s not how the rest of the market thinks, and I am happy to prove it: GIT, at the last look had less than three per cent of the market while Subversion has in the region of five million users and about half of the overall market.

The problem we saw was that the Gitterons were firing (cheap) shots at Subversion. Tweets like “Subversion is so [slow/crappy/restrictive/doesn’t smell good/looks at me in a funny way] and now I have GIT and [everything works in my life/my wife got pregnant/I got a girlfriend after 30 years of trying/I won six times running on the blackjack table]. You get the picture.

So we decided to do something about it. We pointed out that shelving would enable, if an organization chooses, working in a disconnected mode. Oh boy did the Gitterons not like that. How dare we make Subversion better?!

Thankfully, Subversion has a very bright future and WANdisco is 100 per cent committed to it.  Our  team is led by Hyrum Wright, Subversion’s release manager since early 2008, and backed by others including Julian Foad, Philip Martin, Erik Huelsmann and Stefan Kung(TortoiseSVN).  They’re all very talented and dedicated to the task of making Subversion the best and last centralized version control system.

avatar

About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies. Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth. With over 15 years' executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards. David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Specialties:IPO's, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A