The A Team

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-06-07 Print this article Print

So, yeah, Microsoft could do that. They could try and say, and they will say, intelligent things about what happens on the server. For anything you want to build theyll say we want to do that too, but the places where they put the A teams—and even Microsoft only has so many A teams—are the places that have the highest return on investment, and thats usually the large economies of scale. And thats why Google exists. Google exists because they were able to focus far better on search than Microsoft, even though Microsoft has far more money than Google. Google thinks clearly and well about what they do. Microsoft never got an A team on search.
But Google harnesses what I call the Tom Sawyer effect, which is convincing the user that its in their interest to give Google the data so that they can turn that into metadata and turn around and sell that back to the users.
Yes. I always liked that part of the Tom Sawyer story. Im naturally lazy. I dont mind seeing other people whitewash that fence. Exactly. So is that a new economic model for generating architecture in the real world? Sure. And I think that its a very profound economic model. What Im doing is Im building some enabling technology for it. Im not building all the plumbing you need for that economic model. Why? Thats not my business. I get paid by BEA. And right now BEAs business is enterprise computing. My focus is, and Ive kept BEA& #133; its been my experience that companies that try to change who they are run a very high risk. And I remember this company called Personal Software that later became Visicorp and then vanished many, many years ago. And they vanished because they forgot who they were. What they really were was a spreadsheet company first and foremost. Mitch Kapoor went out and built Lotus 1-2-3 and it just devastated them. If we forget about the enterprise I think BEA would be in trouble. And so right now my focus is to make sure that the value I deliver to this company is targeted to what enterprise customers want. So while I absolutely agree with you that those are needs and demands, we wont always deliver them when it comes into what I call the consumer server space. In the enterprise server space its more interesting. But even there I think its going to be a slow process for a company like ours to change ourselves to a more service-oriented company. Next page: Crossing the Chasm.

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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