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Reuseable IP

By John | July 23, 2007

A few weeks ago I taught a class for IBM and had some interesting discussions in the class. Actually two of my students in particular gave me food for thought and connected some missing dots for me. The first was a woman who was a lead architect for one of the largest professional services organization in the world. For the sake of simplicity I will call her the architect. The second was one an original employees that came out of a Silicon Valley startup that was purchased by IBM a few years ago. I will call him the entrepreneur. As always I look for the angles, and I started to talk to the woman architect about me possibly doing some on demand teaching to other professionals in her organization. She liked my ideas and gave me some contact names. However, she also offered me some advice. She said – if you are going to try and sell them on this training you might want to tell them how you can help them with a hot topic they were all using called reusable IP. Hmmm! I have built a few professional services organizations and those two simple words kind of crystallized what I would call the holey grail of processional services.

Later in the class I struck up a conversation with the entrepreneur. We talked about what most ex-entrepreneurs always talk about – we made fun of VC’s. Some where along the way I told him that when ever I spoke to VC’s it was as if I was speaking German and they were speaking Japanese. There was no “Love-Connection”. I told him about a visit I had with an OSS ESM Nagios based startup I had last year out in San Francisco. I told him that the meeting went great at first. The founder loved my ideas, the architects loved me and the visit was going great. However, my last meeting was with the CEO (a VC plug-in). Needless to say it didn’t go well. When I told the entrepreneur who the company was he said – holy cow – the CEO of that company is my best friend. At this point he was a little confused to what could have gone wrong. He had been sitting in my class all week and he was convinced I knew my stuff and it didn’t make sense knowing his friend – the CEO. Then he asked me if I minded telling him what the idea was that I proposed. So I told him what I was selling was using their open source ESM product as a Trojan horse as entrée into the Big4. We would go after low hanging fruit via service offerings and integration projects and work to get the software sales on the back-end once we were in the door. This was all based on my long standing philosophy of the three R’s (references, revenue, repeatable-revenue). I also told the CEO that this is a new world. The old world of selling software is gone and the new world is one where its not clear the difference between services and software. —– stop right there the entrepreneur said. That’s were you lost him because you offended the VC police. No one within 100 miles of Silicon Valley is an allowed to use that word. If any one in that valley is caught using the word “services” the VC’s will come and lock em up. I tried to explain that the OSS (Nagios) ESM company I was meeting was currently selling services at a 3 to 1 ration (i.e., 15k per software deal with 30k add on services). Doesn’t matter they are in denial – he said. They just can’t stand that word. Then I told the entrepreneur that I wasn’t talking about regular services, I was talking about repeatable services, in fact “Reusable IP”. The entrepreneur then asked me – did you use those words during the meeting. I said no… Then, there you go – he said – that is where you lost the battle.

Where’s the IP

A friend of mine recently asked me what IP means to me. I use the acronym a lot and I know it can mean a lot of different things. Instead of regurgitate wikiepedia let me give you a few snips of what I think of when I use the letters IP. A few years ago I was doing some Tivoli consulting for the Navy in Hawaii. The hotel I was staying at had a little Ukulele shop. Each afternoon when I came home from work I would walk past the shop and peek in the window. One day I stopped in and asked the shop keeper if he could show me a few chords on the ukulele. He hemmed and hawed and seemed annoyed. Then he told me he is not really a teacher and he really didn’t want to do it. Then I told him that if he showed me just a couple of chords I might buy one. Reluctantly he handed me a cheat sheet that had about 6 chords on it. I fumbled for a few minutes and then broke out playing and singing a killer rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison. The shop keeper looked up in amazement and asked me if this was the first time I had ever played a ukulele before. I told him that yes it was the first time and that was a true statement. What I didn’t tell him is that I hade been playing the ukulele’s six string ancestor, the guitar, for over 30 years. That my friends is what I am talking about when I use the term IP.

I’ll give you another example. If you do a search on Google for resumes of people who can install Tivoli monitoring you will find hundreds of resumes. However, there are less than 30 who can actually make it work. It’s the same software why can’t those hundreds of consultants make it work. Young consultants that work for me are always amazed when they show me some new software program that is written in Python or Ruby I can scan it quickly and tell exactly what the program does and why. What they don’t realize is that I spent my first 10 years of my career coding assembler and the language is the least significant part of the program. One of my favorite authors is the Italian philosopher Umberto Eco (Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum). He writes all his novels in Italian however I have read all of his books in English and I have had no complaints. So when I look at the OSS ESM market and hear Nagios vs. ZenOSS or Groundwork vs. Hyperic what I look for is the IP around those products. What does the vendor’s service internal and external organizations look like? How much IP is there around the implementations using the vendor’s software? If it’s ZenOSS, Hyperic, GroundWork, Nagios, or Zabbix who cares

John Willis

Topics: Blogroll | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Reuseable IP”

  1. IBM has figured this out a long time ago at John M Willis Says:
    November 12th, 2007 at 10:12 am

    [...] Reuseable IP | [...]

  2. My Top 17 Favorite Posts of 2007 at John M Willis Says:
    December 15th, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    [...] Reuseable IP [...]