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Social Coding and uberApps for App Dev in the Enterprise

Interview with WANdisco CEO David Richards

With the opening of WANdisco's uberApps Store, we felt it was a good time to have a chat with David Richards, WANdisco President & CEO.

What is WANdisco's role on the Apache Subversion project?

Richards: Over the past couple of years we have become a very active participant on the Apache Subversion open source project as its principal sponsors as well as with several members of our staff specifically assigned to its core development. We are keen to ensure that Apache Subversion maintains its position as what we consider to be the world's leading SCM tool.

Since Subversion is a free, open source project, what is WANdisco's business model?

Richards: Subversion has over 5 million installations in everything from one person all the way up to the world's largest development teams with over 40,000 users. Our business model is similar to Red Hat's where we make our money from the top of the pyramid where companies need enterprise-class performance, scale and availability. We also offer a security and access control add-on that gives the kind of audit reporting that Sarbanes-Oxley requires. And we offer professional support for the pure open source Subversion product that gives enterprise the peace of mind...

What makes Apache Subversion such a compelling technology base?

Richards: Apache Subversion is widely considered to be the best version control system in the world and the proof of that is the number of installs (over 5 million) and market-share (over 50%). The misconception is that people use open source because it's free. Wrong! Subversion is used because it is better. I am constantly amazed at the size and scale of some Subversion installations. In most cases they try to use a proprietary product but cannot get them to scale.

Before we get to the uberApps Store, what additional value does WANdisco bring to the Apache Subversion project?

Richards: Because we work with some of the world's largest Subversion implementations, in the most extreme environments, we get to see Subversion used in ways that you simply cannot replicate in a lab environment. As you can imagine, not only does the product go through rigorous testing, but we are also able to feedback into the project requirements that may not ordinarily be uncovered. We also ensure that our core Apache Subversion developers experience these deployments as part of their everyday job.

Can you tell us a bit about your product line?

Richards: We have several products in the developer tools space and specifically version control. As a major contributor to the Subversion project, we of course have a number of products in that area. In addition to our certified open source Apache Subversion Binaries, we also have Subversion MultiSite and Clustering for performance and scale. We have Subversion Access Control for security and SOX compliance and we also have a number of professional support contracts available for the Apache Subversion open source product.

Recently we announced uberSVN, an open ALM platform for Subversion. The uberSVN platform is a very easy to use, easy to implement and easy to extend inside a distribution of Subversion. We see SCM as a core component of ALM because it's where the source code files are stored. So transforming Subversion into a platform that enables you to choose best-of-breed ALM components is a very natural and evolutionary step for us. We don't believe that any single vendor can provide a complete, best-of-breed ALM solution.

Are your Subversion MultiSite and replication technologies proprietary keys to the WANdisco product line, and how do they enhance open source Apache Subversion?

Richards: WANdisco's heritage is in distributed computing-our technology enables active-active replication over a wide area network. The first application we implemented this with was Apache Subversion to create Subversion MultiSite (a distributed, highly available and scalable Subversion implementation).

Existing Subversion users come to us if they need huge performance, global distribution or security. Our software also has the nice side effect of global back-up. We have seen our customers' buildings destroyed by earthquakes and fire and they lost no time or data as they were able to fail over to a server on another continent.

What is the "enterprise" part of enterprise subversion - are you primarily targeting enterprises rather than individual developers or open source projects?

Richards: Yes, our Subversion Enterprise product line is focused on Enterprise rather than individuals or open source projects. uberSVN however, is being used by many individuals as it's so easy and convenient to install.

How do WANdisco/Apache solutions compare with GitHub collaboration? Do you consider them your direct competitors?

Richards: GitHub did a very nice job for small open source projects where disconnection is a good model. Our focus is not on that market segment. Our focus is on software teams within a company. As I said earlier Subversion has over 5 million server installs, many within the enterprise where teams work together on the same projects. We never see a company debating whether to use our stuff or GitHub's.

Turning to the uberApps Store, does it represent an expansion in the options available to WANdisco customers?

Richards: uberSVN was launched in response to demand from enterprises to be empowered to choose ALM tools to meet their business goals - be it price or functionality, open source or closed source. We don't think it's possible for any one vendor to provide the best-of-breed, soup-to-nuts solution.

uberApps takes that concept and wraps it in the new way we are consuming software today. Almost 3 years ago to the day, Apple updated iTunes and in that update was an app store. That changed the mobile device into a platform where, with just 1 click you can deploy sophisticated applications for just about everything you need and some things you probably don't. It's successful because it's incredibly easy, fast and cost effective. That, along with the zero-latency installs in the cloud, have changed the way that we, as both individuals and enterprises, expect software to work.

What assurances does uberApps offer to customers - can they try before they buy or "return" products that don't work as expected?

Richards: All uberApps come with a 30-day trial period before the user is required to purchase the app. Given that everything is a single click to install, you can be up and running in no time and test the app before you commit to any purchase.

Do you expect the store to spur the growth of the WANdisco developer community, and the number of third-party tools?

Richards: Yes we do! We have seen fast adoption in the first few months since we launched uberSVN. We have received great feedback on how easy it is to install and manage uberSVN. Given the explosive growth of uberSVN, uberApps is an attractive proposition to any developer. They can get their apps showcased in front of thousands of companies and millions of developers. We are also not limiting this to just software apps. We have some partners that provide only services such as uTest who will be providing crowd-sourcing via the platform or Assembla who provides software tools in the cloud

How does the certification process work - are there submission guidelines and testing fees?

Richards: In order for an App to be listed in uberApps it will need to be submitted through the uberApps developer portal, where it will undergo rigorous tests by our certification group. Specific guidelines about the process will be published in October when we open the program up to a wider audience.

Do the apps in the uberApps Store require WANdisco's uberSVN, or do some work with open source Apache Subversion as well?

Richards: All applications within uberApps require the uberSVN platform. Of course some applications may work stand-alone but they will not benefit from the elements in uberSVN such as social coding, security and license management.

Thank you for your time.

•   •   •

Questions asked by Xenia von Wedel. For more information please go to http://www.ubersvn.com/videos/introducing-uberapps or download the trial at http://uberSVN.com, or follow the company on twitter @uberSVN

About David Richards: David Richards has over 15 years of experience as an executive in the software industry and sits on both boards and advisory panels of several Silicon Valley start-up ventures. David is a veteran of several successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognized as an industry leader in both EAI and EAI standards. He has spoken and written widely about standards in application integration and the adoption of open-source technologies.

Prior to WANdisco, David served as the President and CEO of Librados, where he took the technology company from its early stages to exponential customer and revenue growth. David led Librados in its acquisition by NetManage (Nasdaq:NETM) just over a year after joining the company. Following the successful acquisition, he joined the executive management team of NetManage where he served as Vice President and General Manager. Prior to Librados, David was the President and CEO of Insevo, Inc. where he successfully secured funding from the world's largest venture capital fund, 3i. After becoming a recognized leader in the middleware space, the company was acquired. David has also served on the boards of ObjectWeb, a leading open source application server company based in France, and the EAI Industry Consortium where he also chaired the adapter committee.

David currently serves on the boards and advisory panels of several technology companies. He is a strategic advisor to NEC Corporation, where he advises the head of the NEC software group (Japan) in defining open source strategy. David holds a BS degree in Computer Science from the University of Huddersfield, England.

More Stories By Xenia von Wedel

Xenia von Wedel, Tech blogger and VP of Socialradius/San Francisco-San Jose. She mainly writes about B2B solutions, social media and open source software. SocialRadius is a full-service social media marketing agency, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. The agency is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, social media outreach and strategy.