Over the noise of a small propeller aircraft the other day, Matthew Szulik told me that a lot of Red Hat's success came from putting their customers first. It was funny to me, first I hate flying (and I hate small planes even worse), but I was thinking about how I always thought of my employees first. If they are happy, the customer should be happy. Anyway, I was paying attention. This was the day we announced Red Hat's definitive agreement to acquire JBoss, and we were flying back to Raleigh.

 

Three weeks later, I saw the JBoss Innovations award press release come over the wire and get announced on our own internal lists. The organization was excited about this event. Getting positive customer feedback is very gratifying across the organization.

 

I remember vividly when I reviewed the submissions one afternoon, in the middle of the stressful negotiations we were going through. It was a good pause in the middle of the madness. I sat down with Rebecca Goldstein, who headed the project, and she handed me a neat package of entries to review. They came in from around the world. Five minutes into the process I really started to enjoy it and I am really looking forward to meeting the winners, who are all invited to the awards event at JBoss World Las Vegas. It should be a cool show :).

 

 

We tried to evaluate projects along many dimensions, economic, business, innovation etc. I was personally excited to see so many DNA-focused companies, large and small use our technology and submit this year. I like to read about that field in Nature magazine and we seem to be helping in the process of high-speed DNA screening. I did not know that! It is a great example of an SOA application enabled by JBoss technology and pricing :) May your farms be fruitful with JBoss!

 

Among other examples, JBoss technology is currently part of the effort being made to improve the Florida state electoral system, you know as in "accurate counting". Another extremely courageous and clever application was about MASSIVELY STREAMLINING bureaucracy processes using JBoss jBPM. I think it may have won its category, actually. If anything I will personally award it the "Serious Cojones" award.

 

 

Another interesting point this year was the fact that so many big company names submitted. I was happy reading what people do out there with our stuff. Reading what an ADP, Cendant, or a Kroger does (and the list goes on), gives pause. The depth of implementation and dimensions of benefit you are all reporting at this level were great news and very interesting data-points. It is nice to see systemic results reported from the field. Dollar impact was of course a key metric by which these corporate submissions were ultimately judged.

 

The higher figures were usually GENERATED in business benefit (as opposed to saved) and this was reported across medium and large businesses. Medium companies actually reported some of the best numbers through systemic and aggressive usage of JBoss. Glad to see many of you praise our organization's help and realizing big benefits from your bet on JBoss.

 

The category of clustering, while stand-alone, actually spilled across the other categories. From high-speed, massively parallel DNA screening farms to high-end corporate environments, you were all reporting some very large-scale and sophisticated usage of JBoss. These are really state-of-art installations you are all running. Thanks for pushing the envelope, we are glad we can help you unlock the true power and economics of your software applications with Open Source and JBoss.

 

 

I remember the research category. I actually started with it. Annotations applied to the problem a Domain Specific Languages was popular research topic this year. It deserves to be for many more years and I was glad to see that "custom annotations" was starting to be perceived as an efficient and API-intuitive way to work and program. It is a good one and deserves more attention from SI practitioners. I believe it impacts integration programming models. Entries there usually made use of the raw modules, EJB3, SEAM, AO, JBPM, JGROUPS. I think the winner is a fantastic entry in terms of impact of annotation-driven languages to a particular vertical consulting domain. It was applied research, reporting very positive findings in the field. I am proud of the quality of the submissions.

 

Best in Show: well, we haven't selected the Best in Show. This honor will go to the attendance of JBoss World Las Vegas, the winners will present in different tracks and you pick the overall winners. Remember innovation in this case is not just technical innovation, innovation in applying OSS to age-old SOA problems in IT and achieving massive returns should count as much as cool technology. There is such a thing as "cool and new" business approaches. Choose wisely.

 

I want to thank all of you for your submissions. Again, it was a pleasure. I also want to thank the whole team at JBoss, including our panel of judges, that worked on this and reviewed this. It will all result in a fun event and a cool night in Las Vegas! Sky's the limit! I am looking forward to meeting many of you in person.

 

Congratulations to all the winners, and congratulations to the all the honorary mentions.

 

Remember we love you,

 

marcf

 

 

Despite being a scientist, or more likely because of it, I am actually extremely superstitious. In December 2002, I wrote "Blue," or "Why I love EJBs," followed up by "White", or "Why I love Professional Open Source" in April 2003. However, I never got around to writing the third and final installment in the trilogy: "Red." Partly because I got lazy and partly because I always felt it wasn’t time to write it, the future I wanted to write about was still being defined. Red was intended to be a vision of the IT future, along the lines of Morpheus' quote in the Matrix:

 

"You take the blue pill, and you wake up in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill; you stay in Wonderland and see how deep the rabbit hole goes."

 

Today is the beginning of "Red;" we are going to wonderland and the rabbit hole keeps on going. Just like the Matrix protagonist wakes up to find “the real battle”, JBoss, Inc. today is stepping up to a bigger challenge by merging with RedHat. We chose a future in which I am proud to take part. Today we are announcing the signature of the definitive agreement. JBoss, Inc. will become a division of RedHat. I am staying on, reporting to RedHat’s CEO, Matthew Szulik, with direct responsibility for the JBoss organization.

 

Like all futures, its roots extend directly from the past. In "White," I wrote about how the Internet is the grandfather of free and open source software. The wave of commoditization started to roll towards IT infrastructure and the first impact was the operating system. In "White" and in my blog entry The Elephant and the Tiger, the focus is on market-leaders and master-brands and how hard they are to displace in open source. RedHat is our big brother. We walked in the footsteps of RedHat from a business standpoint, copying their subscription model and the Operations Network approach to scale our business.

 

RedHat emerged as the clear leader of the Linux pack, proving to the marketplace the viability and scalability of the subscription-licensing services format and that yes, you could build a good old-fashioned profitable business out of open source, whodathought?.

 

JBoss, Inc. has number one market share in middleware and we are blowing out our sales and growth forecasts. This is thanks to an amazing team with whom I have the privilege of working: your superior talent and spirit permeate our ranks. I want to thank you all, from the development teams who have transformed this industry through their innovation, to the sales and marketing team who've done an outstanding job educating the IT customer about the superior quality and savings that can be achieved with Professional Open Source products, to the support staff who are on the front lines every day proving to the customer the value of getting someone on the phone who really knows how to address their problems, to every last person whose work at JBoss has made this possible. Thank you not only to those in our company, but to those in the community who have brought us to the forefront of the industry through their support and evangelization.

 

Why take this step you may ask? When evaluating any major decision that impacts JBoss' future, I ask myself the following question: Which option will increase our chances of delivering on our mission to transform the way “we develop, distribute and support software”?

 

JBoss, Inc. had many options. I believe this will provide the best future for our community, our customers, our partners, our employees. Our investors and employees get instant-IPO liquidity, an IPO was possible and indeed planned but in this day and age of “Sarbannes-Oxley” the right M&A provides liquidity and reduces much of the risk. You have all worked hard and long hours and I am happy that this liquidity is coming your way, you all deserve it. Finally I want to thank the JBoss, Inc. team that has made this possible, Joe, Cary and Rob. I particularly want to single out JBoss’ COO, Rob “git’er done” Bearden. Rob, you were truly amazing and I am thankful for what you have done for the company.

 

Our partners will readily see the beneficial implications of this move. How many times I have heard you wish that we remain independent. In this rapidly consolidating and maturing industry, a pole will emerge around the open source pure play we represent. I believe this will strengthen our ecosystem as we merge with the Redhat ecosystem.

 

But I believe it is our customers that will benefit the most from this move. By remaining independent in a company with a shared mission and business model, you know our service to you will continue unchanged. We will accelerate the timeline of products. Consolidating the geographies of open source became a strategic consideration. We need to build the 21st century of open source and we need to build it fast and we need to build it aggressively. Joining ranks with RedHat increases our chances of success. RedHat and JBoss share a joint culture of pure-play open source. While different, our cultures are both centered around the mission of changing the industry through the development, distribution and support of free and open source software. We share a joint mission to put the customer squarely back in the driver's seat, by offering relief from "perpetual" software licensing pain, with the flexibility, choice and peace of mind that comes with highest-quality open source software, backed by highest-quality services.

 

The IT consumer need look no further. As every large player makes its move to create the open source stack of the 21st century, RedHat and JBoss, Inc. are making the first move and throwing their common hats J in the ring. We are THE independent pure-play open source company.

 

Before I close, I want to personally thank the team over at RedHat. I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with you all. Finally, thank you Matthew. In choosing the future of JBoss, Inc., besides the financial aspect, the trust I could establish with the leadership was personally very important to me. I guess I am old fashioned that way ;) Thank you for your mark of trust in us; you have bought yourself an elite corps.

 

JBoss, Inc. today makes me proud, very proud. I won’t lie to you, it is not without emotion that I signed those final papers on Friday night at 11:57PM, being very conscious that we were turning a page in our history. JBoss/RedHat tomorrow will achieve even greater things than we have done separately. The road ahead will bring challenges; the competition will react to this defining move. Make no mistake, we are all signed up for what lies ahead of us and I am personally relishing this adventure that is to come.

 

Onward,

 

marcf

 

PS: the JBoss, Inc. deal team, Cary (left) and Rob (right)

 

Like the protagonist says at the beginning of Trainspotting, you can…

 

Choose a career path, choose a cubicle, choose endless code review meetings, choose an IDE, choose to be good to authority and hope authority will be good to you, choose a thought leader, choose a license, choose an architecture, choose a paradigm, choose a retirement plan, choose a language, choose your SOA, choose sensitivity training, choose Linux vs. Windows, choose a debugger, choose an MBA, choose the system…

 

Or…

 

You can choose not to choose the system. And the reasons? Who needs reasons when you’ve got Open Source?

 

One of the advantages of achieving a little notoriety is that you get to spend time telling young journalists about what a “bad boy” you are. The aftermath: you get to read the ensuing portrait of a money grubber who’s “clawed his way” to the top of the open source pile (of what, kaka?) and who communicates via a “fervent, almost preachy and completely self-serving blog.” The online extra contains such gems as “most hated in open source after Bill Gates,” followed by a fleeting compliment “pioneer in spawning (nice image, even better than a viral. I can just imagine those cute little larval aliens now) viable businesses from free software,” and then, back to the real me “also alleged to be abrasive, paranoid, controlling, and a credit hog".

 

It is enlightening to see that after an hour and a half of interview, all Ms. Lacy’s colleague chose to remember was that I sit in an unkempt office (no way!) put Visine in my red-lined eyes, drink coffee like there’s no tomorrow and spit sunflower seeds in the general direction of my numerous detractors.

 

Media Training 101 includes a warning about articles that prominently feature “insiders” and “people close to the source.” The journalist has a story and whatever you say, they will make it fit. Examples abound, but my favorite has got to be the “Oracle rumor” bit. So, during the interview, I was asked by Sarah “insiders say the deal fell apart because you were going to walk away?” I tell her I am not going anywhere. Me leaving is not an issue. She tells me that it is very clear. The result in print is this wonderful quote where “insiders say the deal fell apart because marc wanted to stay.” On another note, I have always wondered about the “confirmed by multiple sources” line too. In this day and age of the Internet, the “master source” of these multiple confirming voices could be one loud dumbass.

 

Sarah got another bit of important information wrong. It wasn’t just “one” genius I was taking out for their birthday bash but rather 3. Above is a picture inside the “limo” she refers to in the article. You will recognize Gavin in his signature red-velvet party jacket and to the left Ben Sabrin a genius in business in his own right and employee number one (see the podcast interview of Ben on jboss.org) Also. it wasn’t organized by me. As she correctly points out, people do all my work these days and it was actually Ms. Katie Poplin that put the bash together.

 

My investor, David Skok, was really disturbed by the outcome of his interview. He would like it to be known that: “He has always been supportive of me. He wouldn’t have invested otherwise and that he is disappointed to see a total misrepresentation of the conversation that took place between himself and Sarah Lacy.” David don’t worry, I really don’t care. But if you care about your reputation with other entrepreneurs, let me assure you guys that David is an A+ player and has supported us all the way.

 

With my VCs, as with the future of JBoss, there were and are a multitude of choices. I chose David and Matrix Partners because he understood open source, respected our model and frankly was the most qualified all-around due to past Silverstream experience. I felt that they would be the most able to bring value in growing the company. This has absolutely been the case and JBoss and I have benefited from their experience. Next time, David, be wary of soft-spoken Southern belles asking questions. They have an agenda. Believe me. I know, I married one.

 

Don’t get me wrong I am actually EXTREMELLY GRATEFUL for the article, Sarah, I mean it is not every day that ANYONE gets a full-featured article in BW. This is more publicity than I could ever hope for and I did get a chuckle out of reading it, so thanks.

 

marcf

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