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Disruptive JBoss duo fluff Java cloud

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Two of the brains behind the disruptive open source application server JBoss are building platform services for Java coders.

JBoss' ex-chief technology officer Sacha Labourey is leading CloudBees, a company that plans to deliver Java development tools as a set of hosted services charged by the minute. JBoss' former vice president of strategy Bob Bickel is also on board as an adviser.

CloudBee's first offering is Hudson as a Service (HaaS), based on the Hudson open source continuous-integration project, and released as a beta.

The idea echoes Salesforce.com's original CRM offering for suits, of giving you the important data and tools without needing to install the software.

Hudson lets you set up and monitor code changes in version-control systems such as svn and git so you can build Java applications using tools such as Ant and Maven, and then conduct tests.

Bickel said in a blog post announcing HaaS that Hudson is perfect as a cloud service because:

It is kind of hard to set up (the CloudBees HaaS makes it easy), it is bursty (so CloudBees charging by the minute makes a lot of economic sense), development and release teams never have enough machine resources for all the processes Hudson needs to spawn (no problem with a cloud of worker-bee Hudson Slaves dynamically scaling up and down to handle any load), and it works best when it delivers on the promise of CONTINUOUS Integration (CloudBees is ready when you are).

Bickel said alpha customers of HaaS have been running Hudson on Amazon's cloud.

Bickel was JBoss' vice president of strategy between 2002, working from its early days nipping at the heals of BEA Systems, IBM and Oracle to acquisition for $350m by Red Hat.

Labourey joined the JBoss project in 2001 as a core committer and became CTO in 2005. He was named co head of Red Hat's middleware division in 2007 and left Red Hat in 2009.

JBoss began as an open source Java-application server project under Marc Fleury in 1999 and quickly hit the mainstream, much to the annoyance of the industry's dominant Java application server and middleware vendors BEA, IBM, and Oracle.

JBoss gained appeal among developers because it offered them a flexible Java programming architecture, the code was open source and price was free.

This hurt BEA, IBM, and Oracle that charged developers to use their application servers while forbidding access to their code base and forcing them to consume monolithic architectures out of step with a shift towards Agile and modular development. Having got a foot in the door among developers, it wasn't long before JBoss spilled into deployment and the open source stack started running organization's entire web sites and services.

JBoss claimed 34 per cent market share by 2005.

Openness and free were double-edged swords, though, and JBoss' founders constantly looked for ways to convert their disruptive and popular application server into a profitable business.

Up to acquisition, JBoss attempted to surround the foundation application server with a set of charged-for middleware products and support services. JBoss was finally bought by Red Hat, but not before Fleury had talked to Oracle — apparently Oracle felt it might be better to have JBoss inside the tent for once. ®

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