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Internal Development

Many of those contributing to open source are employees of existing companies who are looking to solve the problems that they encounter in their own daily tasks. Preliminary studies have shown that many organizations already employ staff that are well schooled in the development tools and languages that are used for open source projects. This might or might not be the case for your organization. The information in this section is a summary of the development resources that are available for deploying, creating, or integrating open source solutions—inside or outside of an organization. If you have an internal development group, chances are these resources are already in use at your site. If you don't have an internal development organization, you might find that with the availability and usability of development tools, an internal programming group could be leveraged very effectively to create powerful, customized applications and services.

Responsible development organizations should be seeking to simplify as much as possible. As mentioned earlier, increasing the number of variables through differences in hardware, operating systems, standards, applications, and so on tends to have a multiplying effect on the complexity of management. It's no different with software development and any variables that are eliminated or consolidated can reduce the demand for management, support, and capital costs.

One of the most obvious simplifications is to eliminate the need to support multiple platforms. You don't want to manage two versions of an application—one for Windows and one for Linux. And, thanks to several technologies including Mono and Novell exteNd, you don't need to. Using the Mono framework, it is possible to create one version of an application that works on both Linux and Windows, taking advantage of the latest technologies from each. With Novell exteNd, corporate application developers can powerfully combine identity, integration, and portal services to securely deliver relevant business information and services. In addition, with open source AMP technologies (Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python), developers can create applications that are web-accessible, platform-independent, scalable, and secure. Developers have programming flexibility without limiting choice.

Mono

.NET was designed as a rapid application development platform that was to simplify programming by allowing developers to write applications without concern for network services or operating systems. The idea was, you write modular application components in any language and they run on any operating system, accessing Internet and networking services. This was accomplished by creating a common language infrastructure, which is really a type of virtual machine. Different programming languages are converted into a common intermediate language (CIL) that is run by the virtual machine. It's a great idea with only one flaw—the only family of operating systems that it supports is Windows.

Mono was developed as a more inclusive, open source solution with the capability to accommodate Unix and Linux as well as Windows. The Mono objective is to enable Unix/Linux developers to build and deploy applications that work on all common platforms, including Windows, Unix/Linux, NetWare, and Mac OS. Probably the biggest benefit to Mono is that it allows applications written to .NET to run on Unix and Linux. Developers don't have to make exclusive decisions about which operating systems to support and can focus on multisystem solutions that meet market needs regardless of platform.

Mono includes (like .NET) a common language infrastructure (CLI) virtual machine. The CLI virtual machine includes a class loader, just-in-time compiler, and a garbage collection runtime. It also includes class libraries (both .NET and Mono) that can work with any supported language and a compiler for the C# language. Languages supported include Managed C++, Java Script, Eiffel, Component Pascal, APL, Cobol, Perl, Python, Scheme, Smalltalk, Standard ML, Haskell, Mercury, and Oberon. Mono also includes tools that facilitate the creation of product APIs.

You can't talk about Mono without wondering where the name came from. From the Mono website at http://www.mono-project.com, "Mono is the word for 'monkey' in Spanish. We like monkeys."

Mono was originally developed by Miguel de Icaza and sponsored by Ximian, which is now part of Novell. It's important to note that Novell doesn't own Mono even though it was started at Ximian. Novell will continue to contribute to Mono and support it. Novell is working on components of Mono, which are on a critical path to release a development and execution environment. After being released, it will follow the evolutionary path of all open source software. Novell, however, will provide support and consulting services around Mono as customers need and request it. Microsoft has contributed several technologies to EMCA (international information and communications systems standardization organization) that are part of the Mono project.

Novell exteNd

Novell exteNd is a comprehensive suite for the rapid development and deployment of service-oriented web applications. With Novell exteNd, corporate application developers can powerfully combine identity, integration, and portal services to securely deliver relevant business information, at the appropriate time, to the right people. The exteNd suite includes the following:

  • Visual development tools that help you transform legacy systems into web services, orchestrate them into business processes, and create interactive portals—without writing a single line of code

  • Support for the Linux operating system, adding to the industry's widest platform support for NetWare, Windows, Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX

  • Compliance with multiple industry standards that provide integration with existing systems, including Xforms, which simplifies the process of creating web pages and forms, and the Portlet 1.0 specification, which allows portlets from different vendors to interoperate

With Novell exteNd, you can integrate web services and data from throughout your organization to create innovative business solutions. Several prepackaged exteNd solutions are available including the following:

  • Secure Enterprise Dashboard Portal—Integrates business information from various data sources and proprietary portals into a single comprehensive view of enterprise performance

  • Novell Partner Portal—Securely opens information and applications to trusted partners, suppliers, and customers, enabling companies to strengthen business relationships and improve efficiency

Lower Development Cost

It should be obvious, but it's worth mentioning again that using Linux and open source can dramatically reduce development costs for both internal programming efforts and the cost of goods created for ISVs. It is possible and feasible for companies to create a viable application or service that is developed entirely using open source software, utilities, and tools.

A manufacturing line management program can use Apache, MySQL, JBoss, and a Mozilla client while including some proprietary scripting or binary logic. The entire solution carries no additive royalty requirements. If the solution is for internal use, you can install as many instances of the solution as you need without incurring incremental licensing fees. If you are an ISV, license the proprietary elements and include the open source components at no additional charge.

Creating solutions with Linux and open source can provide a competitive advantage for companies in two ways. First, by including all the components for a solution such as the application, operating system, and web services components, the solution becomes a complete package with no need to go anywhere else to make it work—"batteries are included." Second, if you are an ISV, by supporting your customers on open source, their entire solution will be less expensive without the requirement to license an operating system, database, or client.

Finally, developers who have adopted Linux as a development platform and utilized open source services and tools have found the transition effort to be minimal. As mentioned, a large collection of existing services and tools are easily combined to create web-based applications. These include MySQL, the leading open source database; scripting tools such as Perl, PHP, and Python; Apache Web Server; application servers such as JBoss and Tomcat; and all the supporting open standards technologies such as XML, SOAP, UDDI, and more. In addition, thousands of existing open source projects are available from sites such as http://www.hotscripts.com, http://www.sourceforge.net, and http://forge.novell.com that can be combined or leveraged for development.

Programmers who have developed in C or Java can transition to Linux with minor (if any) adjustments. It has been interesting to note at Novell that the level of enthusiasm for development has increased because Linux, as a platform, lends itself to clean, elegant solutions. Developers enjoy creating solutions that can be leveraged, scaled, and valuable across a wide range of uses. With the Linux architecture, modular packages, and the collection of web services available, developers can create libraries of reusable components that contribute to current as well as future projects. In a few words, development on and for Linux is cool. Other ISVs and Novell customers who have adopted Linux and open source as a development platform/environment have had a similar experience.

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