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Money gone, people gone: Oracle's open-source blowback

GlassFish sucks dollars, Hudson quietly moves

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Oracle loves open-source projects and technologies – it's just not crazy about other people running them.

Now, Oracle has a growing reason to dislike the projects themselves and it's got everything to do with the two things Oracle values most: money and control.

Oracle has said that customers are picking the former Sun Microsystems' open-source GlassFish Java application server as an alternative to IBM's WebSphere and Red Hat's JBoss app servers. This means that those moving to GlassFish are not taking out an Oracle license for WebLogic, Oracle's flagship application server that they bought with BEA Systems in 2008 for $8.5bn. Oracle picked up GlassFish with a grab bag of other software – including Java – from Sun for $5.6bn.

There are two versions of GlassFish: the free community edition, and the version based on the community code that's sold by Oracle, called Oracle GlassFish Enterprise Server, starting at $5,000 per processor and with a support contract priced at $1,000.

GlassFish Enterprise Server is half the price of WebLogic Server Standard Edition, which starts at $10,000 per CPU with $2,200 in support, according to Oracle's February 2011 price list.

GlassFish was a project kicked out by Sun and intended as a reference implementation of Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE), as Sun tried to undercut more expensive EE implementations on the market – implementations such as, yes, WebLogic.

Ajay Patel, Oracle's vice president of product development for application grid products, put the best possible corporate gloss on GlassFish's success during an Oracle web cast Tuesday discussing the year since Oracle bought Sun.

Patel said that Oracle is giving customers a choice of application servers by offering GlassFish and WebLogic, and that it's making money from the GlassFish support contracts.

He also said, though, that there has been a 20 per cent increase in downloads of GlassFish, and the former Sun's NetBeans open-source IDE, in the year since Oracle's deal to buy Sun closed. Not bad for two projects nobody cared about while Sun was running them.

"GlassFish is getting a lot of momentum – people are moving from IBM and JBoss to GlassFish with the side effect of people adopting the technology and putting it in production," he said.

Patel claimed that one unnamed European carmaker had decided it would "move aggressively" to GlassFish. It's not clear whether that manfacturer had been a WebSphere or JBoss user.

Oracle, meanwhile, has quietly dropped its boisterous and damaging objection to continuous-build management system Project Hudson moving off its hosting servers and on to GitHub. The few remaining members of Hudson have apparently agreed to move Hudson to GitHub, following in the footsteps of the Hudson community who recently voted overwhelmingly to fork and move the project off of Oracle's servers and out of Oracle's control.

Hudson can now be found on GitHub here.

Oracle does not appear to have moved to stop Hudson moving off of its servers and onto GitHub – the very issue that sparked the Hudson fork called Jenkins in the first place. In fact, Oracle's chief Hudson maintainer Winston Prakash reserved an account on GitHub following the Jenkins fork.

The move to GitHub was broached by Sonatype, the software and services company working with the open-source Maven system. Following the Jenkins fork, chief executive Wayne Jackson had said that Sonatype would continue developing for Hudson. Now it looks like Sonatype is following the money – or at least the critical mass of community members, as Hudson now sits on GitHub next to Jenkins.

Oracle had moved to prevent the original GitHub migration by claiming it owned the Hudson name (technically, it doesn't; it has merely applied for a trademark). It said that anybody moving Hudson off its hosting servers could not continue to use the Hudson name. Hudson users wanted to move, citing the unreliability of Oracle's servers.

The Hudson community members voted by 214 to 14 to move and fork, and took with them not just the weight of those working with the project but also Hudson's valuable mailing lists and archives, along with its code. They also created a governance board to run Jenkins.

That left Oracle with just the Hudson name and the old archives and code. With the community gone, Parakesh blogged valiantly at the time that Oracle, partners, and "current Hudson community members ... will continue to build and grow the Hudson project and community."

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