OS3G - Open Source, 3rd Generation

A (humble) attempt to publish news from the trenches where Free/Libre/Open-Source Software is brought to the mainstream -- and Francois Letellier's blog, too

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

JOnAS Mutatis Mutandis

Red Hat announced a few days ago that it will buy JBoss. Congratulations to both companies. For sure this deal will bring the best to both, and it's bad news to their competitors. This announcement can be seen as a sign that the open source market is getting more mature as the (open source) software industry is starting to concentrate.

What does it mean to ObjectWeb? Is it bad or good news? The announcement immediately raised concerns in our community. Analysts said it is a terrible blow for JOnAS and, as a consequence, for ObjectWeb. Well, there's no denying that the announcement seems badly detrimental to JOnAS. But the terrible blow jointly hit out by Red Hat and JBoss is not first aimed at ObjectWeb. Its main targets are commercial middleware supergiants (IBM, BEA, Oracle, Novell, etc) and to a smaller extent other Linux distros. At this point, JOnAS and ObjectWeb are not in the firing line.

Red Hat Executive VP of Engineering Paul Cormier has been re-elected to the ObjectWeb board in 2006. This means that there's a privileged communication channel between ObjectWeb and Red Hat. When the acquisition is effective, we can expect this channel to extend to JBoss as well. From Red Hat's viewpoint the decision to buy JBoss makes perfect sense. This is not a technology decision; this is a business decision. JBoss means a brand, an installed base (50% of which on Windows), instant credibility in the J2EE space, a portfolio of professional services, distribution channels, a market share and a fully operational team. To ObjectWeb, it is good news that Red Hat chose JBoss over Geronimo. It confirms that Red Hat bought a company, not a piece of technology. This acquisition tells nothing against the technical quality of JOnAS.

A very common misunderstanding is to consider ObjectWeb as an ISV. Although placed on Gartner Group's Magic Quadrants, ObjectWeb is not an ISV. ObjectWeb's goal is not to compete against commercial companies. It is to produce technology and to grow ecosystems. And this is happening today. The more concentration happens in the industry, the more there's a place for organizations like ObjectWeb. Far from collapsing, ObjectWeb is experiencing nice growth. JOnAS has been around for over seven years and has been instrumental in the commoditization of J2EE. Certification of JBoss, JOnAS and Geronimo announced that this part of open source history was almost over. ObjectWeb remains as a proponent of technology independence and as a collective commoditization strategy on many fronts, with components higher in the Java middleware stack: portals, wikis, business intelligence, workflow engines, enterprise service bus, RFID and the like.

JOnAS has been deployed in production in scores of enterprises by Red Hat, and also by others. Red Hat's Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Matthew Szulik declared that they have made a significant investment in the work of JOnAS and he expects that to continue. JOnAS' roadmap leads to Java EE 5. Version 4.7 stable will be out shortly. The EasyBeans project is also making headway to a full fledge EJB3 container, to be plugged in JOnAS 5 or other application servers. It is very unlikely that JOnAS disappears altogether, and this is the beauty of open source: projects can strive, evolve, merge and be taken over.

That's right, tables are turning in the world of middleware but for many reasons I don't see in the recent announcement a doomsday scenario for JOnAS but instead a full spectrum of opportunities. It will be everyone's decision to take them or not. And we, at ObjectWeb, will work to facilitate synergies. See you in a while...