Friday, March 20, 2009

Genentech Future vision of Tech Business

Wednesday I was invited to a meeting at the Princeton Nassau Club to hear Todd Pierce VP CIT of Genentech talk about the "Future of Technology in Business". The company is considered to be the founder of the biotechnology industry , and the IT leader was talking about the future of tech at one of the most advanced biotech firms, I had to go.

He first started with a little history of the company. The company's goal was to develop a new generation of therapeutics created from genetically engineered copies of naturally occurring molecules. The first discovery was targeted at insulin growing needs, many millions of animals were slaughtered to meet the diabetic needs of patients, but it couldn't scale. Within a few short years, Genentech scientists proved it was possible to make medicines by splicing genes into fast-growing bacteria that produced therapeutic proteins. in 1978 Human insulin was cloned by Genentech scientists. The latest research developments provided a new way of looking at Alzheimer.

Mr. Pierce was very optimistic about these economic times we are in these days, he sees a bright future for innovation during these tough times. He noted that one of the founders Robert was unemployed at the time that he discovered a new scientific field called recombinant DNA tech. It was during that time that he saw opportunity to build a new business and partnered with Dr. Boyer and founded Genentech, with the first breakthrough just two years later. He wondered what new innovations would spring from the current crisis.

Today Genentech continues to use genetic engineering techniques and advanced technologies to develop medicines that address significant unmet needs and provide clinical benefits to millions of patients worldwide. Kleiner Perkins was an early VC and invested $100K to start Genentech and its worth something north of $360mil now, not a bad return since Roche is trying to buy the rest of the company that it doesn't already own.

Then he discussed the corporate culture at Genentech, the first idea was about the company becoming more efficient during these times. Like most companies, Genentech has many new research initiatives, a growing customer base, and many new partners - collaboration is key. To facilitate better efficiency without sacrificing creativity, they decided to use Google Apps. The entire organization moved to using Google calendar, and he shared the risk that his organization was faced moving the entire enterprise into using a mostly consumer web service. He said at one meeting they had over 150 change requests that were implemented by Google web team in only a few days. It was that kind of business efficiency and agility that allowed him to move all his 2.5mil MS Outlook meetings onto using Google apps. The company is also a big user of Wikis and crowd sourcing like I discussed in one of my earlier articles.

He also talked about the opportunities of mobile computing, using the iPhone as a specific example. Only one week after the phone was released he saw the opportunity for collaboration on the go, and worked with ATT to create a corporate plan so that Genentech could do corporate purchases. He also discussed this weeks new iPhone 3.0 demo from J&J of a diabetes application that would monitor glucose/sugar and transmit the patients data back to a website to help them better manage their blood levels.

Since Genentech is on the cutting edge of cancer treatment (read more about Avastin) I asked a question about how devices like iPhone could be used in personalized medicine a movement to more efficiently treat cancers, is Genentech using this kind of device to collect research data from the field?

IT has been a big enabler for the scientists and researchers, but now IT departments will be in the middle of patient care just as important to the treatment as the pills and doctors and hospitals, because the devices will be with the patient all the time. Monitoring vital stats, creating alerts for the patient, auto-scheduling dr. appointments when needed, and preparing the doctor ahead of time for his patients condition, etc.

It was a real enlightening meeting and I can't wait for what comes out of the labs at Genentech next.

New York City Zend Framework Meetup and SIG started

After the Zend Framework presentation at the February NYPHP user group meeting a bunch of members came upto Alan and myself asking to start a SIG or meetup, so we did. You can join the NY/NJ/PA Zend Framework Meetup here. We'll try to find interesting speakers to talk about ZF and other relevant topics. Members will also be encouraged to present applications that they've built with Zend Framework and share interesting challenges and their solutions with the rest of the meetup group.

Our first meetup March 24 is after the NYPHP meeting (4th Tuesday) you can RSVP to get into this months meeting at and then meetup with us at TGI Friday's at Lex and 56th St.,+New+York...

We also will have meetings in Princeton, NJ and Philadelphia in the coming months. Let me know if you have ideas for a meeting room in your organization.
More info about

If you're looking for a complete list of ZF meetups I'll keep this list updated, CA, NJ and PA meeting are upcoming but here are the links to join:
CA/LOS GATOS - Zend Framework Meetup
NJ/PRINCETON- Zend Framework Meetup
NY/NYC - Zend Framework Meetup
PA/PHILI Zend Framework Meetup

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

CISCO and IBM bet big on Open Source this week

Its been a busy week of open source activity by two of the tech industry's bellwethers. Early this week CISCO made a big announcement of its new architecture called Unified Computing. Aside from the usual new CISCO hardware there was a big bet on using open source software on its complete virtualization solution, based on LAMP and yes PHP can be shipped on every hosted server.

If you recall, it was only last month that I wrote an article in our Zend Newsletter and quotes from CISCO leader John Chambers. He was hinting about "aggressively investing in new markets to ensure success when the economy becomes healthy once again", but he said that Cisco will be even stronger, I think he was referring to his big bet on Unified Computing and Open Source initiatives. You tell me, here's that article and Cisco comments at the end.

Another divisions at Cisco called Webex, continually rolls out innovative PHP projects. The latest project took only 4 days to develop a iPHONE application in PHP, wow that's real agile development. How did they roll out soo fast, they took advantage of open source Zend Framework and our developer stack to quickly develop it.

Today's big rumor was about IBM merging with SUN MICRO in the Wall St. Journal. Sun has been struggling to revive its financial prospects and declining Solaris business, the only semi-bright spot has been its open software. But open sourcing Java has been a rocky road, and more agile environments like PHP and others, have made significant progress. Ajaxian claims more new web2.0 app developers are using PHP then Java, Burton study reported on Ajaxian, more then 5 times more PHP developers. oDESK high tech job site reports 6 times more demand for PHP developers even during these difficult economic times. And over 22mil websites run PHP on the internet, its because PHP is easy and usually installed by default whenever a new LAMP server is spun up.

But inside the firewall, Java and other tech like ASP and Client/Server have ruled for a long time because of the head start, but luckily PHP programmers can play nice if they need to frontend a Java server. Its call Java Bridge for PHP and its available in our beta Zend Server, see this Caffeinated PHP video webinar to get a good insight of what is possible by my pal Kevin who was using our current production version of it. Works the same in the beta.

So I am excited about this IBM rumor, I have to say its a big bet by BIG BLUE on open source and IBM has been betting on both Java and PHP for a long time. Zend has had a long partnership with IBM and recently all IBM iSeries boxes ship with Zend PHP stack by default. Read more about the announcements in our Zend IBM Newsletter. And if you want to see all the interesting PHP projects at IBM, look here on IBM developerWorks. Take a look at one of my favorite IBM projects built on Zend Framework in the early days, here's the case study, and video.

Have you placed any open source bets inside your own company? If not, take a look at using ZEND PHP stack to do a project faster, better, cheaper. Lots of info on Google, and our site, but if you want to chat with a live person to help get you started, you can ring us at Zend or ping us on chat.


Here's a musical selection for this article to celebrate the symphony of these announcements, a classical favorite of mine from the USSR Orchestra playing Chopin, press play

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Pilot is picked up for another season

My pilot blog has been picked up, woohoo! Like a news article circulation or a TV series it’s important for the pilot to hit a cord with the audience, and I’ve been lucky enough that after a few articles on my blog my editor is giving me the opportunity to have my own space and corner in the Zend newsletter.

So my blog went from a few eyeballs to a few million and the pressure is on. The readership of the Zend PHP newsletter goes to some of the most advanced internet thought leaders in business. As you can imagine this diverse audience creates a challenge for an engineer like myself. What does my audience want to know about open source PHP, since it’s very well documented, and plenty of great magazines and sites online with examples, user groups/conferences/training etc? But as well documented and supported PHP is in the internet, it is far less understood in the enterprise and behind the firewall. Gartner Group finds 85 percent of enterprises adopting open source, and published a report recently that said that in the next 5 years, there will be a 5 fold increase in enterprise PHP developers.

Much of that development will be new work or modernizing and converting older systems, most legacy mini and mainframe system need to be put on the web. And client/server systems have a high costs of maintenance and distribution problems that a web system would drastically improve. 67% of all internal systems are still legacy and will need to be updated to the web. PHP is a technology that already has been proven outside the firewall to be cost effective in this type of migration. And this climate favors open source based solutions like PHP that allow companies to start working with little to no budget and prove the concept quickly before they invest in the whole business plan. Take a look at this webinar about an example PHP project and ROI with PHP. It’s a far cry from the past when companies spent precious corporate funds on proprietary software only to find out that it limits what they needed to do, or would take months to years to complete a project, or worse wasnt a fit at all. Now you can implement a pilot project to prove out your concept, and then use enterprise open source technology to go production with it. Like using fedora before rolling out RHEL, or using PHP, Zend Framework and the community edition of Zend Server, you can do a lot with the basic software . Imagine what can be done with the enterprise version, well how about a boost of at least 30% more productivity in development. Now that's a good return ontop of the already big gains from PHP alone.

So what happens behind the firewall with PHP is not very well documented and I hope to share and collaborate with my audience about the PHP innovations that are not as visible as the ones outside the firewall. From Government to Health care to Media to all sorts of interesting businesses sectors, I hope to use this blog to highlight the work that is going on behind the firewall with PHP. Its the hidden side of PHP. And yes, I will still write about PHP internet sites here, as some of the interesting concepts start outside and work there way into the corporate datacenter. Collaboration is always welcomed on this blog, just send me a note here or email with any ideas you have for articles.

oDesk says PHP development outstrips demand for all other programming skills

EDC predicts PHP is best all around scripting language based on its latest developers survey results

Evans Data Corp Scripting Language Ranking 2009 Report

This song goes out to Ifat my editor its a band in Stafford England I just discovered a few months back, you guessed it called The Editors

Monday, March 2, 2009

Auto Industry goes OPEN today, VROOM VROOM VROOM

With today's announcement another industry goes OPEN, the automotive industry announced GENIVI alliance. Its a non-profit organization committed to driving the development and broad adoption of an open source In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) reference technology platform. Early partners include BMW, Delphi, GM, Intel, Peugeot, Visteon, Wind River and Magneti Marelli have already joined but its open to any open source automotive, consumer electronics, communications and application development company.

I love the press release today, it was jam packed with interesting tidbits of how open source will help the ailing automotive industry compete better in these hard economic times.

“GENIVI will challenge the traditional approach of proprietary solutions and spawn a level of creativity not yet seen in this segment,” said Graham Smethurst, GENIVI spokesperson and BMW Group General Manager, Infotainment and Communication Systems. “Collaborating on a common reference platform in non-differentiating areas of the architecture will allow GENIVI members to focus on the development and integration of innovative customer functionality.”

“The automotive business needs to improve its efficiency continuously through open competition and the avoidance of unnecessary rework on mature technologies, which is especially true in this current economic environment,” said Gerulf Kinkelin, PSA Innovation Area Manager. “We firmly believe that GENIVI is the right forum to put in place as it will drive business efficiency through an open environment and foster a rich ecosystem that will likely go far beyond what we can imagine today.”"
I've always been a big believer in open standards in autos, GPS is a good example, I have to say it saved my marriage. About 8yrs ago GPS stood for Global Positioning (HOT) Seat in my family car. That's when my wife tells me to go one way and the other way is better, yup many loud discussion about how to get somewhere since, we got something new. Anyway 8yrs ago we got our first GPS or should I say built one using a PDA + GPS, I'll try to upload a picture to show you what saved us on our long road trips, when we didnt have a map. We've since upgraded to a dedicated device, but I just cant wait for what is planned by this new open source auto alliance.

From the press release, GENIVI’s work will result in shortened development cycles, quicker time-to-market, and reduced costs for companies developing IVI equipment and software. GENIVI is headquartered in San Ramon, Calif. First car should have these open system inside by 2011, now that's a business plan you can be proud of presenting in Washington, boys.

So how are you using open source to change your own industry. let me know?

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