Part III of IV: IBM and BEA announce SCA

 

Last week IBM/BEA/SAP and a few others announced a new specification called the "Service Connector Architecture" (SCA). Here is an article about the news
BEA official: New SOA spec won't go to JCP

 

From a technology standpoint we are still wrapping our heads around this announcement, but cursory analysis reveals that it is a potpourri of JBI/EJB3/SEAM. That is interesting actually, at least from a tech standpoint. It seems to re-invent, by copying a lot of programmatic constructs, a lot of the microcontainer, IOC, annotations, stateful conversation innovations that are present in these three frameworks and standards. It is a new shot at a closed standard for SOA.

 

But the real meat in this announcement is what is missing:

  • The fact that key vendors like MSFT, Sun and JBoss were left out of this, making it a de facto closed standard
  • It is done OUTSIDE of the JCP standards body, in fact purposefully bypassing it.

 

That right there should be a warning flag as far as the adoption of this technology goes. Guys and gals, this is a declaration of war on standards and you shouldn't bank your future on closed proprietary formats. It is a closed standard, not an open standard and SCA will have problems getting support from JBoss and Sun, without a true open standard endorsed by the JCP.

 

It is not the first time BEA and IBM attempt this kind of dubious manoeuvre. The first time they were simply frustrated by the slow speed of the JCP, rightfully so. Earlier, they attempted the SDO coup to force Sun's hand to standardize a spec, written outside and after the fact, with a stamp of approval at the JCP level. These are known as "purple JSRs" -- JSRs that were created outside by a small clan and then forced on the JCP. SDO failed. This time around it is something different.

 

We are all frustrated with the speed of the JCP and would like to see it be more nimble (note to Bill Shannon: follow an aspect oriented approach to service definition, TX would fit in 5 pages with annotations, same for security, same for webservices, same for persistence, same for remoteness, same for monitoring, same for management, same for injection, same for dependencies, same for clustering yada yada, we are well on our way to do that. What we need is to break up EJB4 in many little pieces, my two cents…) But here BEA and IBM said they don't want to standardize. It may be a bluff, but I don't think so.

 

I wonder if SCA isn't IBM and BEA’s response to Sun open sourcing SeeBeyond, or vice versa. But I don't think this is the heart of the matter anyway. I do, however, really believe IBM and BEA want to bypass the JCP. See, what happened to Java EE when JBoss joined was a rapid commoditization of that stack. We rapidly became the number one vendor. After all, why compete on a standardized technology when it is implemented by a credible and independent open source entity? I knew that when we joined the JCP EC, achieved standardization and captured volume leadership IBM was going to react. They did so by acquiring Gluecode and are botching it.

 

Bottom line is that FOSS a la JBoss, where developers are in control scares the hell out of IBM. We heard from ex-IBM'ers that we are the new Microsoft to them. We commoditized EE fast, capturing volume leadership, and they REALLY don't want to see the same thing happenning to SOA and integration where they make so much of their money. So IBM and BEA left the JBI specification when we joined. Of course they used a weak excuse about some tech point or other, but if you put the timelines together you get the picture.

 

Now they went off and created their own little exclusive club keeping us, MSFT and Sun out. Are they afraid of REAL standardization? I think they have just done a great disservice to the Java community by attempting to splinter the spec in the Java world. This coup d'etat attempt worries me. These folks want to sell proprietary implementations of proprietary standards and not let Sun and JBoss mess it all up with open standards and open source. Here again MSFT must be laughing its @ss off at the mess being created.

 

To add insult to injury, IBM and BEA are trying to "open source" the Tuscany project at Apache. I read the announcement by the IBM employee to the Apache lists, What turns my stomach upside down is when I read this letter telling the Apache community about "meritocracy". Haven't you guys had enough of this hypocrisy from IBM, enough of being treated by IBM like a colony? I know we do as members of the apache community. Here is a message for our developer friends in the Apache community. Beware of uncle IBM offering you candy and talking about how right you are to do BSD licenses and about meritocracies. It is all about being able to fork the good community work you put in there for their competing implementations. END OF STORY. I am sad when I see young developers buy into the license noise and how GREAT it is to do BSD. To me, this is nothing but naivete asking to be taken advantage of. Guys, BSD is a license FOR VENDORS that doesn't protect your work. ISV's should beware of these licenses as well, since they lead to forking and poor community implementations BY DESIGN.

 

IBM is deathly afraid of companies like JBoss that can self-sustain and beat them in the marketplace with FOSS. As long as they control the timeline of releases, the roadmap and they can fork when needed (which they ALREADY did to Geronogo, poor guys…), they are fine with FOSS. Developers take note. By BSD licensing your software, the best you can professionally hope for is low level employment in the belly of the beast.

 

Oh don't get me wrong, we at JBoss are just as controlling in the sense that we control the roadmap and quality of the FOSS projects we lead, but we do it with a different mindset. WE ARE COMMITTED TO PURE OPEN SOURCE PLAYS. BE IT AT APACHE (Tomcat/mod-jk) or with Hibernate, or Arjuna etc. Remember IBM loves Linux under GPL, because it has no choice on the license and it helps them fight MSFT but they HATE REAL FOSS when it comes to MySQL and JBoss. They pay lip service to how committed they are to FOSS. In areas where they actually make money, they make sure their low end FOSS implementations are crap…and then fork the hell out of them. BEA is there in the SCA, I am not sure why. They look more like a headless chicken than a leader here.

 

Again, while big vendors like IBM and BEA are taking the road of closed standards and closed implementations and paying lip-service to open source, we at JBoss choose the road of true open standards, the JCP and real pure-play FOSS. Our agenda is completely transparent; theirs is not and never will be. If you are an end-user or an ISV you should know where the difference lies and care about it. SCA is just another attempt to force everyone's hand, in this case by capturing volume with closed-standards open source a la IBM. Ask yourselves why they didn't want JBoss and Sun in there? Simple: JBoss would probably have the best implementation before they could say "my license business is safe"--they don’t want to repeat the EE commodization nightmare.

 

This leaves JBoss and Sun in a mode where we MUST collaborate to make the JCP a success. Together, we control the volume distribution of STANDARD EE. JBoss reiterates its commitment to the JCP and Sun as a leader of the JCP. We are looking at SCA, from a technology standpoint and if there is anything worth doing, we will. We will also standardize a lot of the work we have already been doing. Collectively, we already have most of the tech that they have, the differentiator will be programming models and I believe in the EJB3 style standard of programming (which I helped write, so it is not surprising :) Open Standards, open source and good programming models will prevail.

 

I will leave our friends at IBM and BEA with a little historical parallel. Attempting to split the programming model by splitting the standards according to vendor interest will play out just like THE UNIX WARS. IBM believes they can win it, that they control all the cards, and BEA is so afraid of us that they would rather cozy up to their old enemy… Meanwhile, IBM already lost with Gluecode. Maybe they’re still inebriated with their Linux success against MSFT and don’t see it. Sun WON the proprietary Unix wars, they lost. Then Linux started to trump Solaris, but it wasn't all about IBM, it was mostly the improving quality of Linux and the power of FOSS. IBM has none of this with SCA and Tuscany, not a volume play (we do) not a true FOSS play in L/GPL (we do). Oh how quickly some forget that Open Source IS NOT JUST LINUX. Now ask yourselves who is the Linux of Java EE? JBoss, that's who.

 

Much as IBM would like to believe their little coup d'etat will succeed, if tech history has anything to teach us, it is that they have already lost. Open Source on Open Standards has always prevailed. Why? What’s in the best interest for the customer? Proprietary standards and proprietary implementations or open standards and open source?

 

I know where I vote. I know where the majority votes.

 

marcf

Part II of IV: SUN Open Sources ALL software

 

SUNW last week announced that it would open source ALL OF ITS SOFTWARE and pursue a subscription business model à la JBoss. WOW.

 

A good article that captures most of it is Information's week Charles Babcock's Sun Bets On Open-Source Middleware For Turnaround

 

I was in Munich at the time of the announcement drinking beers at night with Sacha Labourey and Michel Goosens as we were doing a European press tour (London, Munich, Paris) and we dialed into the conference call. I was trying to put a question to Jonathan Scwhartz and John Loicano to congratulate them on the bold move and ask them how they hell they were intending to pull it all off. Needless to say I was filtered out of the call.

 

As Charles noticed Jonathan Schwartz, SUN's COO, must have mentioned JBoss 10 times as the proof point of why the business model was working. Essentially, this is a 180 degree turn from statements two years ago when Jonathan was also announcing that SUN would be the new dominant PROPRIETARY software player. Now, Jonathan has seen the light and decides to open source everything, mentioning JBoss as a proof point of the business model of FOSS and subscription. SUN's turnaround is going to be bet on the JBoss business model?

 

Just a little point of correction for the SUNW marketing team and the press. As the Wall Street Journal picked up, Sun's appserver SES with it's claimed 3.5 M downloads is NOT THE VOLUME LEADER. JBoss has 6 M on AS alone (as verified by Sourceforge) and north of 8M downloads on the JEMS suite, and that is not even including Tomcat. So, please correct your slides.

 

But the numbers are details. On a grander scale, betting the future of SUNW on FOSS and subscription is a bold and visionary move by Scwhartz and his team. The writing was on the wall and I predicted something like this would happen back when IBM announced their acquisition of Gluecode, specifically that it would "force Sun’s hand". However I didn't expect them to answer this quickly and this strongly. They have met IBM’s challenge and raised the bar.

 

The last time Sun open sourced something I wrote "Sun open sources XYZ, who cares?" but this time around there is a significant dimension that I want to focus on. Just as our acquisition of the Arjuna/HP transactional technology represents a significant acceleration of the timeline at which we open source technology, SUNW's OSS'ing of SeeBeyond is an explosion in the integration sky. We saw it, and cheered. I am sure IBM took notice, but I am not sure they are cheering.

 

All of the sudden, integration and distributed transactions, two technologies that were supposed to hit FOSS maturity in the year 2030 timeframe are available now, mature now, stable now in FOSS. SeeBeyond was a solid if not overly exciting tier 2 integration play, but nonetheless I claim this represents a steep escalation of violence against IBM’s reluctant FOSS strategy.

 

Both moves go directly to the heart of IBM's software business in Websphere. Half of their license business is driven by integration and high-end transactions. That is not even counting the Global Services revenue that comes from integration because Websphere is so complex. The acceleration of the timeline must be spinning heads in Armonk. A trap door just opened under their feet. Fear and loathing of FOSS must be at an all time high over there. "What did we do with Linux? We wanted linux only... Not ALL of software, ohmygod!".

 

I don't know why SUNW is choosing to market this as a move against MSFT. Being an ex SUNW employee I know that the anti-microsoft crack is pervasive in their ranks but come on guys, MSFT is laughing their heads off at this move. We are eating each other up right now, throwing bombs over trenches. I believe it is a marketing mistake to target MSFT with this because they don't care. In fact, I am sure they applaud the short term implications of this move...

 

While we are on the topic of botched marketing communication, I really think SUNW should drop the "Solaris link" with SES. It is a mistake. People will use it in other platforms, remember. Our own user base at JBoss is 50% WINDOWS. You guys invented Java for cross platform purposes. I hear in the market that it is pretty good :) why you decide to go against that technical fact is beyond me. Selling hardware nowadays is done on hardware merits alone, due to the dominance of virtual machines. You either compete on metal or you don't.

 

Let's talk about the long run. Jonathan, if you read this, congrats again on this move, but seriously you have nowhere to run now. You need to succeed. Fail and Wall Street will open source you (as the comments on yahoo financial boards called for in the wake of these announcements); succeed and you will be hailed as The Man.

 

Sun has a poor track record of execution in middleware. Quality of implementation has always been sub par and customer satisfaction is a sore problem. SeeBeyond has its own legacy bloat to deal with. Solaris is a shining star in your line up, but face it JES has been an embarrassing failure so far. Even after being open sourced, it still fights for 8th place marketshare in the low-end. What next? You already OSS'd it, are you going to do like IBM and give away plasma TV's for people to download your middleware? Free and OSS doesn't cut it nowaday, it is not the silver bullet some people think it is. JBoss succeeded because the SOFTWARE AND THE SUPPORT are world class.

 

Charlie Babcok’s analysis is right on the money, the devil is in the details. Can Sun open source everything as they claimend? On what timeline? Through our partner network that has OEM relations with SeeBeyond, we know FOR A FACT that Sun CANNOT open source certain parts of that stack. Already Sun is back-tracking in the press as to the timeline, oy! Come on, Sun, execute well on this one. This is your last chance, but it’s your best shot yet. I would hate to see them end up with the short straw on this one.

 

As far as competition is concerned this is further fragementation of the number 2 open source middleware contenders. SES will be fighting Jonas, Geronogo for distant second place in open source and maybe 5 or 6 th across the board, in the market. ONJava survey puts JBoss at a 40% market share as of a couple of weeks ago and IBM and BEA are at 20% each. How in the world is anyone going to encroach on our respective positions? For what reason? For sub-par software and support? JBoss ranks first in customer service satisfaction, which is normal since this is the only place we make money. Hmmmm, anyone considering migration would be taking a step backwards on the software and support front. SUNW would be wiser to work with us, as opposed to fighting us.

 

But don't let me downplay the Sun announcement. It says "the future is now" and "the future of the business model is Professional Open Source". This represents a tremendous acceleration of the timeline of OSS: buying SeeBeyond for $400M and then OSS'ing it was a bold move. Just as IBM forced Sun's hand 6 month ago, Sun just forced the hand of ALL THE BIG PLAYERS NOW. The dominos are starting to fall and JBoss sits in the sweet spot , in a war of the worlds that involve the big boys, JBoss represents a premium brand of volume OSS distribution. Everyone has to react to an open source stack, again, I got made fun of the last time for saying this but where will it end? The future is now and I congratulate SUN for calling the end game on the business models and putting its software where its vision is, will it be enough for SUN to pull it of? Probably not, but we will see,

 

I am starting to seriously enjoy this,
Marcf

Part I of IV: The Arjuna Deal

 

As you may have seen in the press, on Monday Dec 5th, JBoss announced the acquisition of the Arjuna Transactional engine from Arjuna and HP. We also announced the recruitment of their cofounder and CTO Mark Little.

 

The press was pretty good on this, about 40 articles and counting. Two of our favorites were
The phone interview with Jeremy Geelan of Sys-Con
The Register’s Gavin Clarke.”Tuxedo this, sucker”

 

The deal is fairly straightforward: we are acquiring three technologies from HP and Arjuna

  • The JTA engine for standalone embedding in JBoss AS
  • The JTS engine for distributed transaction
  • The WS-TX engine for distributed transactions over WebServices.

 

We will be open sourcing ALL this technology in the Q1 2006 timeframe. All of it is already integrated since Arjuna was a long-standing partner of JBoss. Our commitment is to Professional Open Source as a business model and open sourcing technology. We are proving that we can accelerate the timeline for product completion by open sourcing previously proprietary technology. This is a first for us.

 

In keeping with our professional open source methodology, Mark Little will be joining us in the capacity of Director of Standards, leveraging his background in various standard bodies. He will also lead our ESB effort. Mark is well known as one of the foremost experts on distributed transactions. As you know we care about super-stars. JBoss today concentrates many of the lead developers in our industry (and I don't count ;) We are all very proud to welcome Mark to our ranks.

 

The significance of this move should not be lost: we are bringing technology to the mass market that was previously a high-end, proprietary niche. By the same token we are also bringing FOSS benefits to the high-end market by reducing the cost basis and simplifying the model. This move of open sourcing previously successful and well-established proprietary technology is a benefit to both worlds.

 

I particularly liked the Gavin Clarke sub-title of "Tuxedo this, sucker" as JBoss Transactions will clearly be a formidable competitor to BEA Tuxedo. This represents a several hundred million dollar business in both licenses and maintenance. Despite the fact that the financial markets haven't yet picked up on the news, we are clearly going after the new market for transactions. While Tuxedo is part C, part C++, part Java, Arjuna stood out as a pure Java play from the get-go with fifteen years of TX experience behind it. Historically, distributed transactions hadn’t progressed far in FOSS because they serve a need in a high-end niche. We just closed that window. Here is the solution and it is one of the best. It removes the last significant barrier to entry competition like BEA were using against us. Time to revisit those JBoss FUD marketing slides boys. You got some catching up to do.

 

IBM has always been afraid of this move. I remember hearing through analysts that the scenario that personally scared them was "When JBoss would get distributed transactions". Nobody expected us to get this fast. Well, that future is now. It is a new world out there.

 

The real significance of this announcement is that FOSS is maturing fast, the business of FOSS is maturing fast and we are proving that we can get to market through financial ways that were previously thought out of our reach, we did this without raising debt or equity. Today, we are proving a new way of delivering FOSS technology, not just the traditional in-house approach like we did with clustering, or the proven, federation approach like we did with Hibernate; today JBoss has the financial wherewithal and market credibility to acquire proprietary technology and open source it overnight.

 

Tuxedo this, boys.

 

marcf

In case you want to know more about what it is like to work at JBoss, we ran a series of video interviews at JBoss World in Atlanta. The first one we are releasing is an excellent interview with Bela on joining JBoss, his experiences here and JGroups/JBoss Cache. The format is casual and many personal questions are asked, not just hard tech. Bela is a great guy and it comes through in this interview. Hope you enjoy it, we will be releasing many more.

 

marc and bela

 

The full video is available here. The download is big but well worth it.

SAP's Shai Agassi recently got some press saying "FOSS does not promote innovation" and slamming "open source socialism".
"Intellectual property [IP] socialism is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society," he says. "And we are an IP-based society. If there is no way to protect IP, there is no reason to invest in IP."
This echoes an earlier sortie by Bill Gates on "open source communism".
"No, I'd say that of the world's economies, there's more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don't think that those incentives should exist. And this debate will always be there. I'd be the first to say that the patent system can always be tuned -- including the US patent system.

 

Interesting. I think both Bill and Shai raise the right questions but answer it emotionally, phrasing their dismissal with buzzwords for press effect. In the midst of such extreme statements, let me see if we can put some middle-of-the-road common sense in this discussion.

 

The question of innovation is the right one. If our industry is incapable of sustaining innovation then it should be just a commodity business, think electricity. This is clearly not the case of software, an industry that is only 30 years old and still in the technical dark-ages, especially our middleware infrastructure, which is still primitive and immature.

 

I agree that a business model of software MUST include R/D. The idea that FOSS is "free" development is a fallacy, a romantic lie, which is where the IP socialism/communism label is probably coming from. At the end of the day, everyone must put food on the table. However, it is proven today that FOSS development models are economically sustainable, have lower expenses associated with them, specifically in the QA arena and that for-pay licensing-based software, while greatly profitable, can be undermined by cheaper models.

 

At JBoss we always claim that FOSS is about a better way to develop, distribute and support software. Today's software have tons of room to grow in terms of technical maturity, the economarket dynamics have tightened since the bubble forces The dirty little secret of the enterprise software model in today's maturing market place is that, with the notable exception of a few players (MSFT and SAP included, ironically) the days of the hugely profitable sotware license are gone. In With the traditional software development model, your cost of sales, marketing and distribution is so high that these models completely depends on the for-pay license.

 

But FOSS turns that equation on its head, again we have a better way to develop and distribute. An optimally functioning FOSS business model needs 20 cents of sales and marketing to acquire 1 dollar of maintenance, where a traditional software company will have to spend around 2 1/2 dollars. Get it? Professional FOSS businesses can sustain sales and marketing costs out of the maintenance revenue stream. What does that mean? That this model produces earnings (EBITDA) according to the P&L of stable software business models, those in mature subscription-based phases. The P&L of these business sustain R&D of 20%, where we are today at JBoss. Thus Professional FOSS, in theory and practice, sustains the research and development expenses associated with the classic business model.

 

THAT economic fact is what should concern these guys, the fact that innovation is sustained by the new business models. As a proof point, JBoss and the FOSS community in Java have been pushing the frontier with EJB3, annotations, light-weight containers, IoC, SEAM and you ain't seen nothing yet, and trust me there's a lot more in the pipeline above and well beyond what the proprietary competition is doing. That's the point.

 

"Someone is doing the same thing better and cheaper". SOMEONE WILL ALWAYS BE DOING IT. It may or may not be us or mySQL in 20 years, it may or may not be IBM, but the innevitable fact remains: SOMEONE WILL BE DOING PROFESSIONAL OPEN SOURCE IN 20 YEARS. The financial models are solid and proven today.

 

Obviously the reality in the field is different than these statements to the press. Jboss is working with both organizations at various stages of discussion, both SAP and MSFT. We are actually very pleased with the level of collaboration with MSFT actually, good things will come out this.

 

Don't be afraid, the days of fat profits in licenses may be gone but software is moving ahead, as vibrant and innovative as ever.

 

marcf

marc fleury

JBoss and Microsoft

Posted by marc fleury Sep 29, 2005
So the news hit the street on Tuesday that we announced a collaboration with MSFT. The press was on fire, literally. Silicon Valley, according to one of our investors, was abuzz with the news. As many articles mentioned, two companies on opposite sides of the open source philosophical divide, Microsoft and JBoss, have decided to collaborate.

 

Despite all the "conspiracy theories" floating out there, the announcement was very factual: we are focusing on customers. Windows Server is widely deployed with JBoss. Our own surveys show that 50% of our user base is on Windows. Ironically, Java is what enables so many of you to run Windows with our apps: the end-user gets to choose what platform he deploys on and Windows Server gets to compete on the serverside just like any other OS. Thank Java for that unlikely cooperation.

 

At heart there is concrete technical collaboration.

  • Microsoft Active Directory(R) integration. Integrated sign on and federated identity, this is very relevant for our Portal effort for example
  • Web services. Interoperability using WS-* Web services architecture. This one is a no-brainer.
  • Management. A Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager. Since people are heavily using Jboss in Windows environment it makes sense for us to collaborate so Jboss is manageable from the Microsoft Operations Manager.
  • SQL Server(TM). Optimized performance for users of Hibernate, JBoss' object/relational mapping technology, and Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0. This one is particularly interesting as it could signal the avaibility of JavaEE features for .NET/C# developers. EJB3 on net? Hmmm

 

The feedback has been very positive, if not a bit overwhelming. First, has JBoss sold its soul? Well, again I think that a lot of the anti-MSFT sentiments come from the fact that Linux competes with Windows. Many folks at JBOSS have tremendous respect for MSFT, for what they have achieved as a company and a technology house. However our soul has always been about FOSS, or rather, Professional FOSS. It is kinda sad that a fringe of the Linux community gets wrapped up in the "MSFT is the Devil" rethoric. The reality of the field often gets blurred by the ideologues.

 

The philosophy isn't that far apart at a certain level: we all believe you should be able to make money producing software. I often refer to the "Open Letter to Hobbyists" written by Bill Gates in the mid-seventies as a proof point that "software costs money". Today, we have systems that enable us to produce software without the need for a for-pay, proprietary license. MSFT didn't have that luxury when they invented EULA's. What has changed is the advent of the Internet and, with it, a cheap way to build, distribute and support software that can sustain disruptive business models. The bottom line is still the same though: we believe in software's standalone potential, be it FOSS or proprietary. In that sense MSFT and Professional FOSS are not that far apart.

 

Another thing I hope this announcement signifies is a big opening at MSFT. It is kind of sad that both Java and FOSS were perceived so negatively from the get go at MSFT. It is difficult to overcome first impressions. Probably it is due to the early marketing. In the beginning Java was positioned, cleverly by Sun, as a Windows killer--which it never was--and FOSS grew from Linux which, for its part, clearly was a competitor to Windows. But two negatives amount to a positive. 1) Java enables our users to run Windows Server and thus helps MSFT capture a share of the corporate Java playground and 2) FOSS represents more than just Linux. I hope this announcement has helped a lot of MSFT employees see that FOSS != Linux and that Java ain't all that bad.

 

There is no reason to let IBM take all the karma points on loving FOSS. While I am grateful to IBM for having created a market for Linux, they did it primarily as a way to diminish MSFT's influence. I can assure you that Big Blue doesn't hold its punches in the field when it comes to its own software--DB2 and Websphere. IBM doesn't love FOSS. They HATE FOSS; they love Linux, which is a different story. Here I think MSFT can give IBM a little taste of their own medicine, and I am chuckling under my breath.

 

Still, in the fun part of the equation, this has been a joyous event for our company. Two partnerships, Dell and Microsoft, were announced in the quarter almost as a one-two punch and it was a pleasure to see how our own employees reacted. Sure, some of the developers went "gasp," but even some of the more hardcore guys were jumping with joy and saying "about time." What really warmed my heart were the private email from employees saying how proud they are to be at JBoss, how unique this experience is and, as one put it, "wow."

 

I hope our collaboration flourishes. We can see, thanks to the syntactic similarities between Java and C#, a day where annotations are your passport to various platforms. One day Visual Studio developers with C# will be able to use annotations from EJB3 and leverage Java EE in the back-end. There is such an installed base of EE services out there (and I am not talking about WS-limp integration, but real language support). Many developers in the EE camp are comfortable with their back-end in Java (on Windows :) but are looking for better tools and web frameworks to develop in. I truly believe this is where Java EE and .NET meet. WE will be working towards that.

 

All in all, a very good week and as Dana Blankenhorn wrote Marc Fleury's best day ever :) And, btw the picture on that article was taken in Joe McGonnell's office on the day of the announcement by Dana on his phone cam. I couldn't wipe the smile off the whole day :)

 

Finally I want to thank the people that have worked on making this possible. First Shaun Connelly and Pierre Fricke on the JBoss side. Sacha Labourey for working on the partnership early on. Thanks also to the folks at MSFT, particularly Bill Hilf and Martin Taylor, as well as Charles Fitzgerald. It was a well executed announcement with very positive results.

 

Peace, Love and Good Software Collaboration,

 

marcf

marc fleury

JBoss in the press

Posted by marc fleury Sep 23, 2005

 

What a week in the press. In case you missed it, we got the lead in the cover story of Investor's Business Daily (IBD) on their OSS coverage. It was a high to pick up the well known business newspaper on Wednesday morning getting on a plane and seeing my name plastered in the middle of the first page. The first paragraph curbed my enthusiasm "It's easy to see why Marc Fleury's numerous enemies accuse the 37-year-old CEO of having a god complex.". So it is now official, 1/ I am 37 (I will be on Nov 22nd) 2/ have a god complex. The real downer though was my picture on page 7, I look like a retard, a smiling retard. Oh well, I am not complaining :)

 

The second article in IBD on thursday (part Deux) was very interesting. It contained interesting quotes from both Chuang at BEA and Mills at IBM. Mills comes out of the gates with a flaming endorsement of JBoss and MySQL as real competition. If you only have time for one article read that one as it is a great summary of FOSS's impact on the field. IBM likes Linux but doesn't like mySQL and JBoss, what is so surprising about this? Well what is surprising is that IBM is pushing FOSS, when they meant to be pushing Linux. This has nothing to do with loving OPEN SOURCE but rather with pragmatic business competition. When Linux helps them fight MSFT, it is a cudly penguin but when it comes to their own turf well... romanticism be damned, the boys from Armonk mean business.

 

The big product announcement of the week was SEAM. There was great coverage on SEAM starting with this article by Darryl Taft. We briefed Darryl on a exclusive basis and he did a good job of capturing what SEAM was about. I don't know how Darryl does it but he managed to find 2 guys that don't like us :) one is a staunch detractor for the past 2 years, the other an ex BEA executive, he he. I want to correct one thing in Darryl's article. SEAM is all open source. Most people in blog-land got it right though, which proves that blogs are still a valid source of information when unbiased. Gavin was showing me all the blog coverage and we had a good time reading it. Too many to link here but I want to thank all of you for the coverage and fair evaluation. We are as excited as you are about SEAM and we want the SEAM community to grow up fast. SEAM is here to deliver RoR style productivity and we believe a merge of the component models from the front end to the back end is well over due. We want to be pushing this at a standards level and we will need the support of the community to get this through at the JCP level. Community enthusiasm around a product is the most gratifying thing, I am happy and proud for Gavin and his team, a big score and a big project being launched, this one will be for the ages.

 

We will be at Jboss World Barcelona in 10 days from now. I know I will see many of you there and I relish this opportunity. We also have BIG NEWS COMING AT JBW. I think it will surprise many in the community to see the direction we are taking and the seriousness with which we are executing on our plans. Be ready to be surprised :) The truth is that today, Jboss is a much different company than it was even a year ago. We were at 70 people and still young, today we are 150 people and it looks like a corporation in action. The level of talent in the organization is high and more importantly, pervasive. From my direct executive team of seasoned and talented professionals to the rank and file in sales or support, Jboss is not your run of the mill startup. I am proud of the fact that Jboss is one of the best places to work at in the software industry. I am proud of the caliber of talent we are able to attract. Taking a SEAM off the ground or really challenging the big boy like we are doing is possible because WE ARE STARTING TO OPERATE AS A REAL FIRM.

 

But I want to save the best for last :) But actually just a teaser because I will not say anything except that we GOT SOME DYNAMITE OF AN ANNOUNCEMENT COMING OUT ON TUESDAY MORNING. That's right, I am chuckling under my breath when I think about it. The big-ness of it, the beauty of it, the surprise of it.

 

It will get the attention of mr Mills at's for sure!.... Buaaahahahahahahaah

 

Watch the news on Tuesday. Right here, same channel. Go get the popcorn! entertainment ACOMIN'

 

marcf

 

Hello Folks,

 

I am actually in San Diego where I keynoted this morning at the excellent JavaPRO Live event. I was asked to blog about our own upcoming event in Europe, JBoss World Barcelona. I just booked my flight to Barcelona for our first user’s conference and exhibition in Europe, JBoss World Barcelona. This should be a better experience than my last flight to Spain (see my previous blog). Plus after our successful conference in Atlanta in March, I am excited to bring JBoss World to Europe in the Spanish Style. Why? well apart from the little known fact that I actually not pure French but actually a franco-spaniard (my mom is from Spain, my dad from France), Barcelona seemed like the right venue. What that means is that we will make room for “Siestas” in between deep tech session at a brand new 5 star hotel and we will party to deep techno at night in what promises to be fun venue. Our packages are ALL-INCLUSIVE and this is what you will get.

 

We have designed this event to be a SOCIAL gathering for our community as well as WORKING gathering for our community.

 

JEMS products such as Hibernate, JBoss Portal, JBoss jBPM, JBoss Cache, or JBoss Application Server will be covered in detail, the roadmaps discussed and this is a great chance to meet the leaders of the projects, whether you contribute today or are using today or plan on using. You will see that there is a clear roadmap for the Open Source Platform of choice. The conference is a chance to gain exposure to new JEMS product developments and to learn how other companies are leveraging JEMS open source products. Above all, JBoss World Barcelona is a great networking event. It is a chance to meet the core developers behind the products, key partners that provide certified products and services, and other interesting and important open source advocates in Europe.

 

From a content standpoint, we had an amazing response for our call for papers, a great group of sponsors, and an agenda that keeps growing as a response from our community. We even had the luxury to be quite selective in the call for paper process. This will be a quality technical event as well whether you are a developer, a business person or an architect. Three days of break-out tracks will comprise presentations by leading business and technical community members and JBoss founders and core developers that address real-life, industry-wide challenges with pragmatic and proven solutions, whilst highlighting the best practice in industry for the components of the JBoss Enterprise Middleware System (JEMS)

 

Here are some of the few reasons you should come.

  • Be part of the largest ever gathering of JBoss users in Europe
  • Come together for three days to network with your fellow open source peers
  • Get unprecedented access to the JEMS project founders and lead developers and learn where the technology is heading
  • Meet with key JBoss partners and learn about their certified products and services
  • Get an inside look at how others in the industry are leveraging JEMS in their enterprise including a special track dedicated to the Telecommunications industry
  • See first-hand new management and monitoring tools from JBoss and our partners that will dramatically improve your operational efficiency
IF YOU ARE WITH THE PRESS Our EMEA agency is reaching out to many of you as we will hold a press conference right before the event. We will be unveiling many roadmaps and the strategic vision for the future of JEMS. I mentioned some of the products we will be rolling out this morning with the keynote, specifically the SEAM integration of web and backend. Developers are going to love this new high level integration that spans portal to transactions in one stateful context. There will be more product announcements as well, we got a few surprises up our sleeves. So again, this event will be newsworthy from a product and JBoss strategy standpoint. Get in the loop to cover these news even from the US.

 

Entertainment – As I mentioned, JBossWorld is first and foremost a SOCIAL EVENT FOR OUR COMMUNITY. Our community of partners, our community of volunteer developers and our community of users will be present. To promote additional networking opportunities, JBoss World Barcelona will be the location of one of the greatest entertainment events in the industry. JBoss also wants to show its gratitude to all the contributors and adopters of our technology. We have found a place only fit to handle the cutting-edge tradition of open source – The Elephant club. A mansion split into three different areas, plus a lush outdoors garden. you are sure to find a place to relax and enjoy your time with the European open source community. This is going to be good clean fun as close to the Ibiza experience of yesteryears open air clubs as it gets, I personally guarantee and those of you who were in ATL can attest. BTW if you scroll down the blog you will see an entry by Nathalie on the events. The pictures shown are both ATL and Barcelona. And the guy with a smile is a customer of JBoss surrounded by all the JBoss ladies :)

 

ACT NOW

 

When: October 10-12, 2005

 

Where: Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona, a brand new 5 star hotel in Barcelona, Spain.

 

Register before Friday to save! Click here to register on the JBoss Store. Remember, a conference pass entitles you to all general and breakout sessions, access to the sponsor exhibit area, all conference meals, a very nice backpack that I am already wearing (black and red), and access to the cocktail receptions and a JBoss World party to remember. All-in-all, JBoss World Barcelona is one of the best values for any conference you will ever attend. That and I may do the Napoleon Dynamite dance, you don’t want to miss that!

 

Acordaros que os queremos! (spanish for remember we love you)

 

marcf

 

Phew, another round of silliness in open source is hitting the fan base. In this article Linus Torvalds has to go to bat defending LMI. LMI is the Linux Mark Institute and the body that administers the Linux brand. See Linus Torvalds owns the Linux brand. When I briefly met with Linus at an INTEL cap get-together, we talked about that. He immediately was on the defensive about the LMI and was quick to add "LMI doesn't make any money, it loses money" (he doesn't know me apparently) which he essentially restates in this article. Wow. Funny bit of history is that back in 2001 I was having this argument with my lawyer at the time about the trademark of Jboss, the brand name. I had actually taken a page out of Linus' book, I wanted the brand to be registered to my name, like linus had linux. To me it was a basic tenet of building the business around it. I told Linus as much, that basically I followed his example but I guess I failed to communicate how grateful I was for this precedent.

 

SOAPBOX
So I will now get on my SOAP BOX for a little bit and grab my loudspeaker. Linus doesn't need to apologize for anything, certainly NOT for making money. It is admirable that he stresses the non-profit nature of his LMI company, but I don't know that he owes anyone anything in this case. I don't think it should be a non-profit, not that it is my call. It would be perfectly kosher by me, if not truly admirable if in fact Linus could cash in on that brand, him and his cohort of core developers. Heck charge through the nose for the brand usage. Many people are making TONS of money on your brand Linus and you should definitely get a cut of the value you have created for the industry with your brand. Brands are valuable, even more so in open source. Linus you have built a fantastic asset and you, you cohorts and several generations of yous should roll in dough because of it. I know you made money through other means and managed to cash in on some of the VALUE you have created for the economy at large and I am truly happy you got that to show for it. If it was me, I would build LMI into a branding powerhouse. Make profit out of it Linus, there is nothing dirty about it. Cater to the people that count, your core developers, the people that have truly stuck by you and helped you over the year, you know who they are and they can probably be counted of the fingers of an alien (100 or so?). I am sure they would be thrilled to work on Linux full time with salaries coming from royalties paid to LMI. Do not cater to the naysayers that don't like you or anyone making money. For the sake of FOSS, us at Jboss and professional open source at large, continue taking a stand. By all means defend your brand with the full extent of the law. IP theft is just that, theft.
/SOAPBOX

 

So I am done with the hard soap box. I will come down now, sort of. The second part of the article also tickled my brain. It is quotes from Florian Mueller. I know Florian through email, I was on the mailing list he set up when he was fighting the EU on patents. Not that I contributed anything (I didn't) but it was interesting to read the progress. Florian is a truly smart guy and credit where it is due, it was actually the mySQL guys that contributed a lot. Florian scored a HUGE point when the EU turned down the patent proposals. It was truly a landmark moment, I was just happy to be part of that mailing list. Back to the article, both Florian and Linus try and educate some of the crowd on the difference between patents and trademarks. Trademarks relate to brands not the technology. Some people call linus an hypocrit, according to the article, for defending trademark when it comes to Linux and criticizing patents when it comes to other people's software. Well that is just ignorance I guess. Freedom of innovation and derivative works as defined by the FSF for example should not be mistaken with a free-for-all on IP. That is dangerous.

 

Brands are IP and brands drive businesses. Brands are the basis. Florian makes good points about a certain fringe of FOSS that is a little bit to radical on anti-IP stances, and makes reference to the MSFT portrayal of the community at large as irresponsible IP radicals. Our organization and many like ours, stand as living proof that FOSS is maturing and has clear level headed positions on IP. We treat IP, copyright and licensing very seriously, we have defended our IP in the past and will continue to do so. It is not OK to steal, that simple. The point is that much of our society is predicated on the notion of PROPERTY, and the respect of PROPERTY. Theft is not ok. When people abuse Linus' brand without the permission of Linus they are abusing his property. He has every right in my book to pursue them.

 

In the 60's they had this slogan in france that said "property is theft". On one hand MSFT tries to portray FOSS as a communist plot, on the other some developers scorn Linus for taking legal action to defend his property. The reality of FOSS today is a lot more mature, detailed and complex than these black and white extremes. We understand and RESPECT property, Intellectual PROPERTY is the basis for this new FOSS capitalism, where your capital is not money or hard tangibles assets like factories, but rather intangibles like copyright and brands. It still remains that it is PROPERTY and should be respected as the basis for our business and modus operandi.

 

marcf

marc fleury

DELL: I love Systems

Posted by marc fleury Aug 24, 2005

 

So as you may have picked up Jboss recently signed a reseller agreement with DELL. We are happy with this deal :) This is a very significant step for our organization.

 

First things first, I would like to congratulate Tom Leonard, who signed this deal on our behalf for the fantastic job he has done. DELL is notoriously hard to crack, our proprietary competition knows that and TomL brought all his experience and talent to bear to close the deal in time for LinuxWorld. That and the proverbial camping equipment in their corporate headquarter lobby. It is a trophy deal and we are all truly proud and grateful. We are DELL's *exclusive* provider of middleware. I like the sound of THAT.

 

The significance of this didn't go un-noticed by many in the press, basically that Jboss has now signed almost every major hardware vendor on the planet. HP, Unisys, Intel, Dell, SUN, NEC are all certifying with Jboss on their respective platforms. Who is missing? Well... IBM. Here is friendly call to IBM hardware and services. When the central software politburo isn't looking we are ready to do deals, we are waiting for you guys. Isn't it funny? Isn't it a repeat of the OS/2 days where it was an IBM software vs the rest of the world. Oh well, so much for open-ness.

 

But the real story I wanted to relay is that after 2 weeks into the agreement we are starting to see business coming in from DELL. That floored me. They took the longest to sign but once THE MACHINE is started it GOES.

 

I was walking through our offices yesterday and at the end of a long day. I really like feeling the pulse of the office at the end of the day, who is there, who is still feverish, who is happy, who has concerns, catching up with folks and just shooting the breeze. I specifically like hanging out in a particular corner of the sales offices where the energy is high. This is where I recharge my batteries on the business. I like the excitement, the commitment, the level of talent and energy that you can FEEL in our sales bullpen. I gotta admit, seeing faxes come in with orders was a always a rush for me, since the day I started working at SUN. Same excitement and fulfilment you feel with development, instant feedback. I am also grateful for the amount of stress these guys put up with on a monthly basis and I want them to know that I care. So yesterday's story was about one of our sales guys having to take down his calendar. The calendar was from BODOG (one of our customers) and think of it as sport illustrated calendar without the racyness, it is actually pretty tame. The guy claimed "miss august" was his lucky charm... and seemed a bit taken aback. So that was the topic of conversation when another one of the old timers barges in his face glowing red with excitement "I am about to sign THE FIRST deal with DELL and it is pretty big" to which someone replied "nope that would be the SECOND deal, the first deal was signed by so and so a couple of days ago". He seemed to be genuinely dissapointed that he wasn't the first but to me the fact that there was already **2** deals was news (I just came back from hollidays).

 

When he walked me through the deal and how all the parameters of the deal quickly fell in place with our new pricing it kind of hit me. We are dealing with a systemic entity. None of this "time to ramp", none of this "sales impedence missmatch", just a raw and unadulterated MACHINE at work in all its texan glory. The beauty is immediately apparent, a scale free systemic solution will by definition scale (hence the scalefree). From what I heard from the team that closed the deal, the DELL guys were absolutely impressive if not a tad overwhelming in their relentless and single minded focus on OPERATIONALIZING the deal, they deal with a system, you gotta work with the system, their job is to maintain the system. To the credit of our competition that couldn't strike a deal with DELL, it is all systemic, nothing personal. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that FREE SOFTWARE is a much better thing for volume hardware players and so it happens that they could make financial sense of our proposals in their system. The PR value is enough to put a small company like ours on the map (150 employees and counting) but if the baby cash streams we are seeing are a sign of the future cash flows, I can go to sleep knowing Dallas is systemically increasing our valuation, which is based on discounted cash flow calculations.

 

So here it is, in the wake of my emotional fiasco with the employees of an airline whose reservation system is a mess (see "when systems fail and no one cares"), here is the flip side of "when system works and the humans that maintain it deeply care." Our company today is focused on growing through systemic operations, scaling scaling and devising scale-free systems be it in finance, in development, in sales, in channels, in services and marketing (the last two are the toughest). It is a long road but we are making great strides and we obviously can learn a few lessons from our partners.

 

Don't mess with TEXAS! (which is the texan way of saying "remember we love you")

 

marcf

 

While some corporate blowhards blog about the notables they meet around the world jetting around in private planes, I recently found my little scrappy self living the Everyman Airline Nightmare.

 

I am currently finishing my annual vacation in Mallorca, an island east of Spain and like every year we flew from Atlanta to Madrid and from Madrid to Palma de Mallorca. It is a tough flight, not only because you have a crappy connection after the overnight and oversea trip but also because we are travelling with the whole family. So picture, Nathalie and I, our 6 year old girl and our twin boys, who are in their terrible twos, add two nannys for good measure and you get the picture of a gypsy caravan travelling.

 

So, with 8 hours of flying and 6 hours of jetlag and no sleep, we get to Madrid and all walk from one end to the other the Barajas airport and are informed at the last minute by Iberia that "Delta cancelled our reservations to Palma". WHAT? They CANCELLED our reservations? Yup! They cancelled them! Mind you this is the 20th of july, which is one of the busiest days in Spain air travel due to a national holiday and half of Europe travelling to Mallorca. They inform that there are no more available flights for the morning and we will get put on standby IF WE GET LUCKY and Delta actually straightens the mess out.

 

So we have to walk all the way back across the airport to Delta again. By now the airport is a massive sea of people and imagine the caravan slowly making its way across. Nathalie is so out of it that manages to get lost in the crowd and it is a good half hour before we find her again in front of the Delta counter. There, at least, a pretty lady attends us, she calms me down. She is just as incompetent as the rest we are about to find out but at the time I didn't know. She informs us that our reservations are still valid but too bad we have missed the flight while trekking across the airport. She issues new reservations, in standby for the next flight and we are off again for the hike across the airport. This time we feel slightly more calm, since we have our reservations in hand but I am pissed off since she told us that Iberia does this EVERY DAY, cancelling US travellers who don't originate with Iberia, due to overbooking. I hate overbooking, who doesn't, it is such an obnoxious practice specifically when you arrive from overseas.

 

So we make it back to Iberia, and I have mulled over the complaints I was going to unload on the ticketing attendant. The lady gets upset and says "sir, I am a person". That got blood boiling, "and what I am?" I ask in spanish... "a number? An overbooked casualty?". Anyway she brings her boss and things get worse. Turns out, Delta STILL did not make the reservations or Iberia can't see them. I will censor the rest of the event, suffice to say we couldn't travel with Iberia, they banned me for "bad attitude". A word to the wise, I learned this too late but if you ever have trouble with a Spanish airline, demand the "libro de reclamaciones" as apparently making a formal complaint does carry weight over there. However you should do it the same day otherwise I hear they will just lie and pretend you never showed up for your flight. So back to Delta, meanwhile, Delta has closed their office at 3PM and we are there, my feet hurting, children screaming and nannies confused stranded in Barajas. The joke cost us 2500 euros to buy new tickets and the last minute hotel room we had to book to wait for the first available flight the following morning.

 

At first I was convinced that Iberia had purposely cancelled our reservations since they were the only party that had an economic motivation to treat us like that. Then thinking on Delta, Delta had RANDOMLY cancelled our return trip from Madrid to Atlanta (hopefully that is fixed, I am still writing from Pollensa in Mallorca). And then it downed on me, we were just victims of a flawed software application. There is little integration between the companies, each company has a crappy system to boot. Did you ever wonder why gate attendants have to type in 1200 keys to check you in in their dumb terminals? Because they have crappy software. I mean they have to learn the acronyms for the destinations when drop down lists were invented 20 years ago! Argh!.

 

But here is what really gets me. It is the fact that systems without humans are useless. Neither of the airline attendant ever picked up a phone to call the other airline and solve our problem despite our vehement requests. All they cared about was getting rid of us as quickly as possible. Systems that become solidified tend to breed the worst human behavior in service industries--that of the "low level bureaucrat". A low level bureaucrat abuses his own system. The low level bureaucrat knows that the powers that be back him up to NOT serve the end user but instead defend the system, its inertia and its flaws. When humans stop caring about the systems they create and serve, the system will break down. A system is as valid as the people who serve it and maintain it. Stop caring for a system and your customers and your business will quickly dry up. In the case of airline companies, they still enjoy semi-monopoly status (yes you can fly other airlines out of Atlanta, but they don't always have direct routes) and the escape hatch of federal governments and your and my tax money to bail them out for a level of incompetence and poor service that would sink them in other sectors.

 

At Jboss we don't make any money besides service, there are no licenses to sell. Usually when software is sold, service is treated as an afterthought. This is not our case. I hope we never develop this spirit of mediocrity and meanness that creeps into large companies and entities. We commit to customer satisfaction.

 

marcf

 

PS: avoid Iberia if you can to come to JBoss World Barcelona

 

Say enough things in the press and odds are you’ll start a controversy, especially if you’re me.

 

This time, I knew I’d struck a nerve in a recent reference to “amateur open source” and a reference to the “Open Source Hare Krishnas” who occasionally heckle me in the audience because even Hare Krishna’s are writing me to say that I’ve misunderstood the true nature of Krishna (!). The context was a luncheon keynote (podcast) at the Massachusetts Software Council “Open Source Summit” on June 24th and Sarah Lacy’s July 8th Business Week article, The Myth of Open Source. And finally slashdot picked it up in what resulted in a 400 post thread that mostly gets it and is mostly positive.

 

The fact that my presentation’s title was the Business of Open Source, given in front of an audience largely consisting of business executives and that the second was a piece appeared in Business Week, should have offered some indication that the observations therein address one very particular segment of the FOSS community— FOSS developers and software publishers who aspire to earn a professional living by targeting the Enterprise IT market. I put a disclaimer (which you can hear in the podcast) that I was going to talk about how to make money at open source. There are other business models of FOSS (which I discuss in the podcast) but I was going to focus on POS as a viable subset of FOSS.

 

NetworkWorld’s Open letter to the open source community (what users want) does a good job of explaining that this is a market with specific expectations like professional-grade support, regular road maps whose schedules actually get followed, the knowledge that the software product is not going to stagnate or fall by the wayside because the key developers have scratched their itch and moved on or worse, have been hired by the proprietary competition. These users want to know the proverbial “one throat to choke” when it comes to support issues and they want the assurance that the FOSS software they are using is supported by an extensive SI and OEM/ISV partner network.

 

Even before the slashdot fiesta over the weekend I was discussing with Nathalie and Adrian Brock about answering the private emails and blog of Pamela Jones of Groklaw. When PJ blogged about the podcast and then privately with nath, it really touched me. Here is someone that is pure "volunteer", I paid attention to what she was saying. She simply points out that I could do a better job at communicating by using the word “Volunteer" Open Source as opposed to “Amateur” Open Source. I agree with her because I was talking about “amateur” to indicate work from which people do not intend to earn a living. She is right in pointing out that there is no need to disparage those who write open source software without compensation. A better word is volunteer, I agree, as amateur, at least in the US has a connotation of "low quality".

 

So here you go PJ, from now on I will be using the word "VOLUNTEER" open source. Peace.

 

Something that some people don't know about Jboss is that we ALL STARTED AS VOLUNTEERS. Some people wrongly assume we started as a company that embraced FOSS for marketing purposes. While the marketing is great make no mistakes. We DO NOT HIRE someone that has not started as a volunteer. I and ALL of the JBoss developers came out of the volunteer open source community. We strive to mix the altruistic ideal (you need that if you are going to work as a volunteer, like we all did) and the reality of feeding the kids. Except for those people who can afford to work full-time with no pay or who work on projects that don’t require full-time commitment, most of us need to deal with rent. Making money at open source is still a taboo myth, WHY? What is so wrong with wanting to earn a living at what you do? Why do people equate OSS with non-profit? why?

 

Now, as somebody who came out of the volunteer FOSS world, this is my experience. There are two dynamics that come into play in Professional Open Source: 1) You are writing mission-critical software for Enterprise IT, which means the only way your software is going to transition from being a developers’ toy to gaining market traction in Fortune 1000 run-time deployments is to stand behind this software with a full-time Professional commitment 2) After 18 months of open source development, your enthusiasm starts to SERIOUSLY cool (for insiders we call this the SMD moment) —yes, your project or contribution has been well-received, but working a full-time job and writing FOSS on nights and weekends is beginning to take its toll; odds are you are tired, spending no time with your spouse/partner/family/friends, to put it simply you have no outside life; and if you happen to have quit your day job, guess what? The bills start to pile up and the rent/mortgage needs to be paid. In fact the more succesful you are the worse this is, but that is also your silver lining...

 

When people (mostly those in the business community who have never worked as a developer, let alone a FOSS developer) talk about free FOSS development, they all get excited since what they hear is "free developers". You can see the dollar signs in their eyes as they think "ONE THOUSAND DEVELOPERS WILL WORK FOR US ***FOR FREEEEEEEEE***". Most people equate FREE SOFTWARE == FREE DEVELOPERS. We don't! we pay our top contributors, we hire them. Without financial compensation comparable, if not superior to, what they could earn in the proprietary software world, most of the top FOSS developers move on or simply cannot sustain the time commitment to FOSS projects demanded by the Enterprise IT consumer.

 

For the 124509th time: FREE SOFTWARE != FREE DEVELOPERS

 

Who likes free? The people receiving free? Or the people giving free? THINK for a second, with your business brain... If you are on the receiving end of free, you never get enough, you want more, you love it!; but if you are on the giving end, odds are you love it too (we wouldn't do it otherwise) but you get tired of giving at some point specifically when you reach critical mass and you get 100 mails a day asking for free help NOW! "because it will be good for your visibility" (how many times have I recieved that email, I still do today!).

 

Also the reality of Enterprise IT FOSS software is that most of the core development is done by a handful of people, the top 5% of the development ranks. I ***LOVE*** THESE PEOPLE, I WANT THESE PEOPLE TO GET FULL TIME COMPENSATION AND A NICE UPSIDE AS WELL. They need to be full-time paid professionals, these are the guys we hire at JBoss. They may work for a Professional Open Source company like JBoss or MySQL, first-generation OS packager like Red Hat, or their work may be subsidized by academia, governments or corporations in the loss-leader open source model practiced by companies like IBM, but the point is that somebody is paying the bills; there is no free lunch. Romantic myth perpetrating the contrary (FREE DEVELOPERS!) are disgusting to me, which is why I come across as strongly as I do. OUR MODEL AT JBOSS IS THAT THE BEST VOLUNTEERS BECOME FULL TIME EMPLOYEES HERE, which is why Jboss looks like it is developed by Jboss employees, a great contributor will become a Jboss employee with stock options and the whole nine yards.

 

Development in FOSS is not free, not even significantly cheaper than proprietary it is just more efficient because we fund those "mythical man month" developers and leverage our large community to do QA, distribution and further development. The free and “massive community” element comes into play when you are talking about those Enterprise IT projects and products with significant market share where the tremendous QA from the community in the form of patches and bug fixes leads to highly stabile projects. A lot of people on the slashdot thread picked up on that fact

 

What does a Professional Open Source Community look like? At JBoss, We started with volunteer OS developers, myself included and today, depending on the maturity of the project, our outside contribution (by non-JBoss employees) is around 15%, with mature project like App Server having less outside contribution and newer projects like Portal having a much higher rate of outside contribution. As the project matures, we tend to hire on the top volunteer contributors. That is the point, you go from volunteer to getting a reward. But some people think that is dirty? THAT is the communistic taboo I will fight, there is nothing wrong in making a great living at software. There is a low barrier to entry to start contributing, and we benefit from George Bernard Shaw’s observation (as shared by Pamela from Groklaw) that “talent shows up where you least expect it.” However, to keep our talent on a full-time basis, we pay them. Over time, we have had 500+ contributors to our software projects, 100+ RW (read-write) Committers, 30+ core (full-time, JBoss Inc.) contributors on App Server, which is our most mature project.

 

 

 

Our communities are structured, energized and viable. We sustain ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more activity and innovation than our FOSS peers in EE development. We measure CVS, mailing list activity, number of downloads, number of bugs etc. Because the CORE IS PROFESSIONAL you are looking at active communities that benefit from that funded engine. Many of our projects, we have 25 under POS management at Jboss, were brought on board because our customers asked for the project to be animated by us, that was a sign of stability and longevity. If a volunteer project needs POS we will usually move and structure it. Tomcat is a good example, started as POS at SUN, languished as pure volunteer (Remy didn't have the time) and is AGAIN a great POS success since Remy and his crew have joined Jboss. Same with Hibernate, Jgroups, JBpm, Portal etc etc

 

One parting word of advice to developers who do aspire to earn a living from their FOSS contributions, along the Professional Open Source model. Devote serious thought to your license because it can seriously impact whether you will be able to earn a living writing and supporting your software. If this is your ambition, I seriously recommend GPL-style licensing (JBoss projects are LGPL) because this licensing family encourages a positive feedback loop and discourages forking. While competing software vendors, for obvious reasons, love BSD-style licensing and will encourage you to adopt these more liberal licenses, the impact for the FOSS developer is that IF you are writing BSD-licensed software AND YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL, your only option may be to go to work for your proprietary competitor who is only to happy to incorporate your work in their proprietary product. Beware of the man offering you candy.

 

So to the volunteer out there that is working on FOSS projects and wants to make a living at it, take POS as example. It is one career path for you to think about. We have proved you can make money and earn a living in that model. Do not despair. Do not pay attention to the criticism and the noise that is trying to tell you that money is dirty. Go and do what you have to do. We all wish you good luck, you are already one of us.

 

REMEMBER WE LOVE YOU

marcf
marc fleury

JBoss at JavaOne

Posted by marc fleury Jul 8, 2005

 

It was a good week at JavaOne. It went by in a flash. The overall feeling for me was that the industry is changing. As we were celebrating Java's 10 year anniversary, the players for the next 20 years have emerged.

 

A journalist nailed it on the head when he said "All the sudden the Java industry is coming to grips en masse with the phenomenon of open source, some more gracefully than others..." It turns out open source impacts more than just Microsoft. Personally, what I picked up was a lot of confused noise and background panic from a lot of those vendors whose markets are being hit hard by FOSS. The reaction varied from BEA going "liquid" to IBM going "confused" to SUN going "transparent" with blowfish. I believe that the rise of Professional Open Source plays a key role in this phenomenon. The industry is changing under our noses. The more the establishment pretends we don't exist, the more we are becoming the establishment.

 

FOSS is not just about the destruction of the proprietary licensing model, but about the re-invention of the software industry as a whole, and middleware or POS are proof points here. JBoss has surfed the FOSS wave to become a major player in middleware, as the volume leader on 4 JEMS products (App Server, Hibernate, Tomcat, Portal). The proprietary vendors show their true colors when open source is no longer the cuddly penquin that helps them fight MSFT, but starts to look like the hordes of Genghis Khan camping out in their back yard.

 

The JBoss cocktail party was on Monday night at the top of the Marriott San Francisco on the 39th floor in a place aptly named "The View". We had about 400 people show up throughout the night. The event was energized and alive (BTW the other party that impressed me with the "energy" was the Netbeans party on Sunday). We had many customers and partners show up at the party and many developers and independents.

 

The Microsoft reception on Tuesday night was a nice, smaller event. We joked with them about MSFT and JBoss both being persona non grata in previous years at JavaOne. At JavaOne 2002, there was no way we were going to get any talks or BOFs approved so rather than pay for a booth (supposing Sun would have approved it) we did our first alternative show. Sun's meeting planners had locked down all the nearby hotel space but somehow they omitted the bar around the corner, so we held JBossOne on the upstairs of the Thirsty Bear that year. JBossTwo was held at the Sony Metreon in 2003. Since those earlier years, Sun finally made it possible (at significant expense on our behalf) for JBoss to become J2EE-certified, JBoss has joined the JCP Executive Committee and participates in many specs and Sun has joined our hardware Solution Certification program on JBoss. Who would have thought...

 

Our product news focused on EJB3 and JBossPortal. I am proud of both announcements. Not only did I personally participate in the EJB3 spec (made the proposal on the programming model) but Gavin and Bill worked hard on this release. Gavin King and Bill Burke worked hard to make the spec work :) So this release for me is the proof-point that OSS CAN DRIVE INNOVATION. Many people ask the question of whether OSS can innovate or whether it can only copy (see the posts below). IF we only copied, we would be faced with a Zeno's Paradox or the race between the hare and tortoise, where the tortoise moves more slowly but has a lead on the hare. The hare will catch the tortoise, but in the mean time the tortoise will always have moved a bit more, repeat indefinitely). I think we collectively smashed through that glass barrier on the EJB3 release.

 

Oracle being named co-spec lead on EJB3 was not the most classy move by Sun. Since JBoss employees have contributed so much to the spec, it is misleading. I guess the little guy (us) got screwed on that one. But, at the end of the day, EJB3 being released is a good thing. The talks were overwhelming (I heard) and they had to create an overflow for the overflow of Linda DeMichiel's talk.

 

JBoss Portal was the other big software announcement. Let me give you some color on why it is a significant proof-point for us. First of all, Jboss Portal is a very solid product on a feature by feature basis. We are making it a real contender against IBM and BEA. While these guys are busy trying to copy us in the low end, we go after the money bags in Portal, something both companies still sell for 60k/CPU. Already JBoss Portal has achieved its first Professional Open Source milestone, with a solid product, a great community and volume leadership in open source. I also want to stress out that the BEST IS STILL TO COME. We are working with our partners, including Novell to kickstart a large portlet library. Congrats to Julien and Roy, the JBoss team and the OS volunteers for another fine example of Professional Open Source leadership.

 

The business announcements focused on our hardware partners with the "Solution Certification program". We signed HP, Unisys and Sun to certify their servers on JBoss. It's a shame that the announcement of JBoss certifying Sun's Solaris 10 platform running on SPARC, x86 and 64-bit machines got overshadowed by their recent Pufferfish diversion. Yes, Sun has their own irrelevant app server, but the little gem of an announcement at JavaOne that got kind of missed was the fact that the hardware group has just signed an agreement with JBoss for Certification. They recognize the power of our #1 market share, and at the end of the day, Sun makes it’s money by selling hardware. So even Sun, with it’s own app server, has joined our JBoss Certified Partner Program. We are an open company, and we welcome the broad community that is gathering around us – and we are here to help move that whole community forward.

 

A highlight is always running into James Gosling. We were at this street light and Sacha Labourey, completely star-struck, wanted to say hi to him. When I met James he saw my "Vote for Jboss" tshirt and he asked if he could get one. I was very pleased to see folks I never ever met wear their big bright "Vote for Jboss" shirts. It was so loud! For those who don't get it, I recommend Napoleon dynamite". It was fun to see that support. The t-shirts were a hoot.

 

I want to put a special mention for Joe McGonnell and the team at JBoss that pulled the event together. It was smoothly run, almost matter of factly, very pro.

 

So overall it was a great week, the press was good and it went by in a flash. It left me, again, with that feeling of "the industry is reshaping around FOSS" as an unspoken underlying theme. Funny how things have changed.

marcf

 

In case you missed this snoozer of an announcement (I actually won't even bother to link to it it is so boring), SUN will open source its app server. Actually it is not even supposed to be a real open source license, since it is yet another invention of SUN. However, the truth is that it is irrelevant what kind of licenses they use since the whole thing is irrelevant anyway.

 

What are they going to do now? fight it out for second place? With IBM? Oh this is going to be fun. On one side you have SUN, a company that could never release (or rerelease or rererelease for that matter) a successful appserver vs IBM, a company that never understood mass market software distribution. Both of them have crappy products to boot, one still has to write it and the other one gave up on trying to write it.

 

Onto SERIOUSLY MORE INTERESTING THINGS, I strongly recommend the movie Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle Seriously this is the best movie and the funniest movie I have seen in a long time. If you liked "Napoleon Dynamite" or "Better Off Dead", you are going to love this. I have seen it twice already and both times I burst out laughing. Out there, but with a word of caution: not for the faint of heart.

 

Other than that I am stuck in class for this whole week. I get to reflect on "what kind of manager am I", all day long in this executive class at Emory University here in Atlanta. I am a little bit bored but it is pretty good and it is entertaining. You have all these colorful charts and they talk about YOU. wow, a whole week looking at my executive navel.

marc fleury

I am in tokyo

Posted by marc fleury May 30, 2005

 

I am in Tokyo just for one day. This is no "lost in translation" in fact it reminds me more of blade runner (tis a rainy morning here).

 

We are announcing a partnership with NEC that covers all of Japan. NEC will support JBoss and Tomcat on its line of servers for the Japanese market. We signed this deal last week so I am here for the press conference.

 

After 14hours of flight, it is 5AM right now, I am massively jetlagged and I am indulging in "navel gazing" blogging. Funny thing is that I am flying right back out this afternoon so today will be the longest day in my life. I start with a meeting in the morning and finish with a meeting in SFO in the afternoon. As Bob Bickel put it "You are seeing tomorrow, today. But by the time you get home it will be yesterday I guess..."

 

marcf

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