It's been three months since Microsoft managed to lure Don "Father of Websphere" Ferguson away from IBM. And still, analysts are trying to figure out why, precisely, Ferguson left his cush fellow position at IBM to migrate.
In this Redmond Developer News feature, Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond compares being an IBM fellow to being appointed to the Supreme Court:
They get their own budgets, they can do whatever they want with those budgets, they can work on whatever they want. It's basically a technician's dream position. The fact that somebody would choose to leave that for any reason was highly surprising.This feature may seem late, but it's probably because it offers a thorough examination of the Ferguson/Microsoft mystery. The author examines how Ferguson's past accomplishments might fit in with Microsoft. Analysts from Forrester, the Linthicum Group, Redmonk and Hurwitz Consulting also weigh in on the question.
While their explanations are more conjecture than fact, it only makes sense that Ferguson's move to Microsoft has to do with Microsoft's need for a better enterprise integration solution.
So far, Microsoft has been only a bit player in enterprise-class solutions, which, of course, is IBM's specialty. Microsoft doesn't like to be second-best anything. When you add to the equation Ferguson's key role in Websphere, IBM's popular SOA-based enterprise software and tools, a pretty clear picture starts to emerge.
Microsoft has been very hush-hush about Ferguson's role. His official title is technical fellow of platforms and strategy, which is housed in the Office of the CTO.
The analysts predict that, whatever Ferguson's role, it will be substantial and long-term. Given Ferguson's stated beliefs about software, it could also significantly alter the Microsoft development environment.
This isn't the first time IBM and Microsoft have clashed. And you can bet, with Ferguson's departure from IBM, it won't be the last.