Red Hat Buys JBoss
- By John K. Waters
When Pierre Fricke, JBoss's director of product management, and I rescheduled
our meeting on Friday—he
zigged, I zagged, long week—our
plan was to get together today to talk about some new product releases.
What a difference a weekend makes.
Unless you've been coding in a cave all day, you've probably heard that Linux
distro Red Hat has agreed to acquire open-source e-biz middleware maker JBoss
for $350 mill in cash and stock. The acquisition gives Red Hat the technology it
needs, the company says, to advance its SOA strategy.
''By acquiring JBoss, [we] expect to accelerate the shift to service-oriented
architectures,'' the company said in a statement, ''by enabling the next
generation of Web-enabled applications running on a low-cost, open-source
JBoss, the company, was founded to provide support for
the open-source, Java-based JBoss app server, first released in 1999. Marc
Fleury, who wrote the first version of JBoss, started the for-profit operation
in 2004, to provide ''resources, technology direction and core development'' for the technology evolving around
Today, the center piece of JBoss's product catalog is the JBoss Enterprise
Middleware Suite (JEMS), a customizable collection of products, including
application servers, databases, portal software, process management apps,
transaction and management applications, and developer tools. The company bills
JEMS as ''the leading open source platform for SOA.''
Both companies pursue similar business models—the
folks at Atlanta-based JBoss have long referred to their approach as
''professional open source''—and
in the long run, that may be the biggest news in this announcement. Together,
these two companies are validating the commercial/professional open-source
''Red Hat and JBoss are fully aligned around the belief that the open-source
development model continues to change the economics of enterprise IT in favor of
the customer,'' Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik said in a statement, ''and we truly
believe in the potential of software innovation, once freed from the fetters of
It remains to be seen, however, how well the two company cultures will
integrate. Fleury is no shrinking violet, and there was a time not long ago when
he had little good to say about Red Hat. He once suggested that the Raleigh,
NC-based company was an innovation-challenged ''open-source pretender,'' and
some other things my editor won't let me print here. For now, though, he's
playing nice. ''This is a winning combination that we believe will further
expedite the proliferation of open source in the enterprise,'' Fleury said in a
statement, ''which has been our mission since day one.''
And then there's the question of what will become of Red Hat's
own JOnAS-powered app server. The company began shipping the open-source app
server from the European ObjectWeb consortium back in 2003. The JBoss acquisition could make a
few developers nervous.
Fricke, who is usually pretty forthcoming, was under strict orders not to
talk about the acquisition, which made both of us a little grumpy: he, because
he had some pretty significant product stuff to talk about that would probably
be overshadowed by the acquisition news; me because, well... it was Monday.
''Developers are going to care a lot about this [product] news,'' he said.
''The acquisition is big news today, but people who are writing enterprise
applications, people who are looking to improve their SOA deployment, are going
to be excited about these products. In a way, I think it's even more important
Yeah, but it's not newsier.
Still, Fricke has a point. This is the stuff Red Hat is buying, so it's
certainly worth remembering that JBoss has announced three core JEMS products,
- JBoss Transactions, an open source distributed
transaction management platform based on technology acquired from Arjuna and
HP in 2005. It's the first high-end transaction engine available for free
through the open-source community.
- JBoss jBPM 3.1, the company’s Java-based business
process management system. A core piece of JEMS, it adds multi-process
language support, and integrates with
- JBoss Seam, the company’s new framework for building Enterprise Java apps.
JBoss Rules 3.0, the latest version of the company’s open-source business
That's all until I get Mr. Fleury on the phone.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached