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Open sourciness

Red Hat's JBoss conundrum

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Although both began and still conduct business as open source product companies, arguably, Red Hat was around commercializing a support model for external innovation around Linux, whereas JBoss' open-source model is more about what we have called in the past the captive model, in that it was largely about its own project - or projects such as Hibernate where it hired the leaders and brought them in house.

Chief technology officer, and the contemporary of former JBoss chief executive Marc Fleury, Sacha Labourey apologized for "a complete shutdown of communications" that exacerbated the problem with JBoss faithful, admitting that JBoss management was too preoccupied with integration into Red Hat. When it came to communications, JBoss swung from one extreme to another. He conceded that when JBoss spilt off the enterprise product from the core open source project on JBoss.org, that many of its best customers were not even aware of the split. Admittedly, the turning down of the volume reflected a move to make the company more enterprise-friendly, where customers with large deals value product stability over nightly innovation.

And, with the splitting of JBoss.org, the goal was to align JBoss' open source business with that of Red Hat, which has two separate streams: one that stabilizes code for enterprise licenses, and the other the purer open-source model where source code is updated nightly. Labourey took pains to point out to us that, although JBoss was trying to align itself more closely to the Red Hat business model, that JBoss would retain its uniqueness. Admittedly, the differences were a bit subtle to our ears: while Red Hat Enterprise Linux is only publicly available in binary, for JBoss, you can get access to the source code if you go to the JBoss.org site, where it's frozen in an image.

To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, some open source technologies have more open sourciness than others.

This article originally appeared in onStrategies.

Copyright (c) 2007, onStrategies.com

Tony Baer is the principal with analyst onStrategies. With 15 years in enterprise systems and manufacturing, Tony specialises in application development, data warehousing and business applications, and is the author of several books on Java and .NET.

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