Snagging Coders in the Mesh

The once and future Live Mesh; sharecropping for Google.

Microsoft made quite a splash introducing its Live Mesh hybrid cloud-and-desktop software technology last month. But the Tuned-In Tabby keeps hearing no end of questions and speculation about how this latest Microsoft platform will take shape.

Perhaps the first question out of everyone's mouths after what form it will take (unknown) and when it will be available (also unknown) was, What platforms will it support besides Windows?

Apple seems to be the logical answer, since there are no current or presumably future plans for Live Mesh to support Linux. That is why MuleSource CEO Dave Rosenberg, whose company makes open-source data integration technology, suggested to the Quizzical Katt that Live Mesh couldn't really be considered part of the cloud.

"It defeats the entire purpose of why you start to move stuff out to the universe, which is to be able to support multiprotocols, multisystems, etc.," Rosenberg said.

True, but for better or worse, riposted the Philosophical Feline, Microsoft plays in its own universe, with most of the free computing world revolving around it.

That certainly applies to the PC-centric, client/server world. But if Live Mesh is going to synchronize desktops with smart phones and cameras in one common language that works seamlessly, it will need to speak some sort of lingua franca.

Rosenberg's comments inspired Spencer to rush back to his cluttered desk in search of the notes he took of a recent conversation with Danny Kolke, CTO of Web application development tool maker Etelos.

In that discussion, the Katt asked Kolke, who isn't shy about speaking his mind, what he thought about Google's new Web-hosted App Engine based on Python.

"I think it has promise," Kolke said. "I struggle with stuff when I have too many boundaries, personally. I like doing things my way, and I understand when you're running inside someone else's environment that you've got restraints you've got to play with."

Kolke is referring to the fact that programmers who build their apps on the App Engine are locked into Google's stack and are subject to the free beta service's daily constraints on app creation and gigabytes of storage consumed.

Programmers who go for this, say programming evangelists such as Sun Microsystems' Tim Bray, become sharecroppers for Google's plantation.

This presents a forlorn image. Also, Kolke said his biggest concern is with Google's legacy of changing different APIs because "they're still figuring it out." Sudden API changes lead to faulty products and customer complaints.

This is why the Etelos platform enables apps built on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python/Perl) stack. "In our model, you can walk if you wanted to" instead of being trapped by platforms with constraints, Kolke said. By the end of this interview, the Tippling Tabby was convinced it was time to run, not walk, to the nearest bar for a frosty pint of Guinness.

Spencer F. Katt

Spencer F. Katt

Spencer F. Katt, the Whiskered Wonder, has been the mascot and tipster extraordinaire for eWEEK and its predecessor print publication PC Week since 1984. The Gadabout Gatto makes the rounds of...