Revenge of Hailstorm

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

That was the whole point of the demo, because at no point have we written a single line of UI [user interface] code, meaning anything that puts bits on the screen. IE [Internet Explorer] was putting all the bits on the screen, and it was telling us what the user did when they clicked. All we were doing was reacting, telling IE what to put on the screen and then figuring out what to do when the user hits it. So we act as this middleman on the client. And thats the code were open-sourcing. The code were open-sourcing is the sort of smart middleman on the client, which is smart data caching between client and server, the smart template rendering that pushes out to the browser, and the smart script engine that talks to the cache and the browser. For example, in the demo Alex [Bosworth, Adams son] did, when the Web service completed, a little thing showed up on the screen saying your order has been confirmed. The way that works is synchronization occurred between the client and the server. A callback occurred on the client in a script. The client promptly set a value and a working space that was being referenced by the page. The smart code we had said, oh, a script has just run—notice it was triggered by an event coming into the server. And its time to refresh the page. And we refresh the page so that we now show that the order had been confirmed. That kind of thing is very powerful. It means now you can be listening at what happens elsewhere. And so thats the plumbing we want to make widely available and open-source and standard.
So what are you making money on? Volume?
The server. Weve been talking to a lot of customers about what theyd pay for this. And the numbers are actually really big because what theyre spending right now is horrendous. And virtually all of them say if you can give me a server. … And were not building this yet; Im not making a product announcement. But if you had a server that was not only a way to build Web sites but to build mobile Web sites as well, and also to be an adapter for the form factor for good behavior, and we could build these apps as easily as youre describing, and they work as well as you describe … they will pay us a fairly large amount of money per year for those servers. Money interesting even to us. It could become a very lucrative part of the BEA revenue stream. Does that mean that theres not a market for a big service to do this too? Of course not. Im looking at big service partners that we would license this to on much cheaper terms than the server, so they could deal on a much larger scale. Were designing this thing to be highly scalable. But our core competency isnt service and software, its software. Our core competency isnt client, its server. And so Im focusing on what can we either sell to the enterprise or license to services as a product. Sounds like HailStorm?
There are points of similarity. Except that HailStorm was also going to be a service, as I recall—at least originally. And, like I said, were not Microsoft. We dont have $10 billion in positive cash flow to play around with. So we pick our battles. Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging & Collaboration Center at for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

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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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