Tidbits from the O'Reilly Radar Executive Briefing at OSCON

There were a number of detailed blog entries covering some of the sessions from my O’Reilly Radar Executive Briefing at OSCON. I thought I’d point to them for the benefit of those who weren’t there. On ZDNet, Russell Shaw covered Danese Cooper’s interview with Bill Hilf of Microsoft, my conversation with Jim Buckmaster of Craigslist, and my conversation with Ian Wilkes of Second Life. In each case, he captured some good quotes. A sampling:

Bill: “We are dealing with close mindedness inside and outside…”

Ian: “I did a count recently, and over an entire cluster there are five million user processes going on at any given time. There’s geographical mapping at the front end, but at the back end you are looking at a huge cross-connect where data stores can be movable.” (SL maps a geographic parcel to a specific machine. When a user moves around, his state needs to move around the network with him. And some parcels are densely populated, while others, much as in the “real world”, are largely empty.)

Jim: “”We do worry about how to maximize page views for kilowatt hours. We’re up to 150,000 pages per kilowatt hour…”

Meanwhile, Matt Asay reported on my conversation with Chris DiBona of Google and Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo!:

“One particular thing bothered me, however. I kept hearing Jeremy from Yahoo! and Chris from Google talk about how they don’t open up code because “no one would understand our code, or be able to make use of it – it’s too specific to a massive web company.”

Oh, really? Who is to say? Shouldn’t the market decide the relevance of code? Aren’t Yahoo! and Google missing the point or, rather, conveniently looking past it? Open source isn’t about beneficent companies giving code to the impoverished underclass. It’s about working on code collaboratively within a community.

Jeremy eventually owned up to a reason that I found much more compelling – disappointing, but compelling. Jeremy said that Yahoo’s applications are tightly bound together, making it difficult to open one piece without giving away information about how the remainder is written, or making it useless because knowing 1/10th of the application wouldn’t be helpful (because of all the unknown code).

All of which means, as Tim pointed out, that these companies have failed to write code according to a cardinal open source principle: modularity.

Matt also has a thoughtful post on “competition” in the database market, with some astute observations on why MySQL and PostgreSQL (at least in Greenplum‘s case) are targeting completely different markets.