Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thank you HAL Corporation for FUD spreading

I mentioned a few months back how a certain group of people at a certain company that was conjectured to be the basis for HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey were spreading FUD about JBossTS. Now not doing your homework is bad enough, but then building a whole marketing exercise around it is even worse! To say it's like building a house of cards is an understatement. It only takes someone to start questioning, probing and pushing for the whole thing to start to come tumbling down and the sheer stupidity of the original exercise comes to the fore.

Now comparing and contrasting projects, products or pretty much anything, should really be done on a scientific basis. (OK there are some things in life where that might be overkill or inappropriate, but not here.) It should be testable and reproduceable, ideally by anyone independent. If you're going to make statements about the pros and cons of this or that, then in some ways your reputation is being put on the line. Of course if you don't value your reputation then this is all moot. However, for JBoss and Red Hat, reputation and integrity are very important, so we're not going to say something bad or potentially maligning unless we have all of the facts, and even then we'll typically do it in a very scientific manner once again. This means that if we're wrong and it's because we made a mistake, e.g., had overlooked something, then we'll admit it.

Another thing we won't do is go around prospective customers spreading FUD, demonstrating FUD and making statements about "fundamental issues" with a competitor's product/project that mean it can never do X, Y or Z, unless there's proof, and in which case it's not really FUD. But of course our principles aren't shared by everyone. But when I heard that that was precisely what was happening it made their previous FUD attempts pale into relative insignificance. Despite my previous blog post, lots of real world deployments showing that recovery works, a history dating back to the 1980's which included being part of HP's foray into the middleware space, it wasn't enough for some who had been bedazzled by the IBM Roadshow (and to a degree you can't really blame them, since this is Big Blue after all.)

So we decided that enough was enough. Our honour had been besmirched (insert smiley). Fortunately recovery is so critical to a transaction system that we have lots of demonstrators and QA tests that cover pretty much every situation you can consider. And most of them are publicly available in our repository. Wow: who knew?! (Insert tongue firmly in cheek). So our teams (TS and QA) got together and in less than a day had produced something that duplicated the scenario, showed that recovery works, and therefore showed what a load of rubbish was being spouted.

Now of course it can be argued that we knew all of this to start with so we just wasted time and effort proving it yet again. I agree in part, and when this impacts on my holidays, as it did, it does make me a little bit mad. But I don't blame anyone other than the original mud slingers. Hopefully they'll learn something from this exercise. Hopefully they'll learn what open source is about and how to use it as well as contribute towards it. Unfortunately I have my doubts. So until the next time I'll leave you with this thought: what's that they say about glass houses?
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