Tasktop's SLI Could Be Something Really Special for Developers

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-03-29 Print this article Print

It started with Kersten, he then brought in Neelan Choksi as president and chief operating officer, and now he has another guy to help push the vision as much as he does: Dave West as chief product officer. West is a scary-smart, stylish ALM industry veteran who has a knack for enchanting an audience.

Choksi is a business guy who keeps the place running, makes the deals and helps build the brand. As a former member of the MIT blackjack club, he doesn't make many bad bets, and you'd better believe he's looking to get paid, a.k.a. win. Not so much for himself, or not only for himself, but for the company. These guys are the Big 3 of Tasktop—Lebron, Wade and Bosh.

Or, rather, in a different sports analogy, Choksi is like a junior Ozzie Newsome. Like Ozzie, he's a mastermind at putting a winning team together. He did it at SolarMetric, at SpringSource and at Lexcycle. He may be doing it even better at Tasktop.

If Neelan is a junior Ozzie Newsome, then Mik is a junior Ray Ozzie. No, I'm serious. Ozzie made his name in collaboration software, from his early days at DG, Software Arts and Lotus, to founding Iris Associates, back to Lotus, to IBM, to founding Groove Networks, to Microsoft and beyond. He's known for Notes, and end-user technology.

Mik is known for Mylyn, a developer technology. Mik's thing is task management, and he can ride that like Ray Ozzie's ride on the collaboration software wave.

Kersten's stint at Xerox PARC and Intentional Software steeped him in aspect-oriented programming (AOP) and enabled him to work with other software visionaries like Gregor Kiczales and software billionaire/space tourist Charles Simonyi.

Meanwhile there's Dave West, former Rational guy, former IBMer, formerly a big-time analyst at Forrester. I could say Dave's like an Ozzie Smith because it's hard to get anything past him. But all I'm saying about West is that he's just some kind of wizard.

Still, SLI is a big undertaking. Will it work?

"I'm naturally cynical about any grand unification scheme in ALM because none have ever worked before," said Tony Baer, an analyst with Ovum. "Success depends too much on the kindness of strangers. Tasktop is one of the few players that has any credibility in this space, because they have traditionally come from a bottom-up approach that has been minimally threatening to established players. Whatever the odds for success, they've got as good a chance, and arguably better, than anybody else in this space."

Yes, we remember efforts like ALF, the now defunct Application Lifecycle Framework at Eclipse (not the goofy TV show with the space alien), which tried to do many of the same things as SLI. But if Tasktop can pull this off, the company believes SLI could be as seminal in the industry as Marc Fleury's famed White, Blue and Red papers, which helped define the professional open-source software movement, as he called it.


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