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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Can You Believe This?!

Who would have thought that Microsoft and JBoss (yes you read it right an OPEN SOURCE application server company) would ever be anywhere together but in a battlefield or a court of law? Well, they just announced earlier today a tight partnership whereby the two companies are going to collaborate in several areas. One of them is that JBoss' persistence layer (using Hibernate or EJB3.0) is going to support Microsoft SQL Server; another area of collaboration would be JBoss deployment/management using Microsoft Operations Manager or JBoss supporting Microsoft's Active Directory for single sign-on… This deal does not seem to involve money but the companies have committed to dedicate development resources.

Who's loving it?

- I can hear OSS purists say how in the world can Marc Fleury touch Microsoft a with a 10-foot poll after everything he said about them? It's called business! In my opinion Marc Fleury pulled off a sweet deal, it adds to JBoss' credibility as a company and a product. Believe me I used to run an infrastructure software startup and credibility is a huge deal!

- Microsoft hates endorsing Java or open source but they had to recognize that the world out there is all but monolithic and most CIOs say that both .Net and Java cohabit in their systems. In other words, Microsoft chose JBoss as its interoperability play/partner. Finally is always happy when it can punch IBM in the face, and this is clearly pointing the gun at IBM who's investing in Geronimo (via the Gluecode acquisition) to eliminate JBoss from the map. Anything that helps JBoss disserves IBM's middleware story. BTW, I don't buy IBM's message when they say that open-source application servers have a place in the market for smaller installations and departmental applications, to that end, we bought Gluecode whose product is based on Apache's Geronimo application server. In other words it's a migration play from Geronimo to WebSphere. I think it’s a play to destroy JBoss. Time will tell but I have a feeling today's announcement will do everything but weaken JBoss.

Who's feeling the pain?

- IBM for the reasons mentioned above. Anything that serves JBoss (small enemy) and Microsoft (the real enemy) doesn’t sit well with big blue.

- This announcement's timing is horrible for BEA. Today is the first day of BEA's main event BEAWorld. As if the once-sexy-middleware-company wasn’t hurting enough with OSS commoditizing their #1 source of revenue (WebLogic) much faster than BEA could come up with adjacent areas of growth.

- Microsoft is sending a message to Sun. We know you have Glassfish (also an open source application server) and we told the world that we are the greatest friends now and that we were going to cooperate a lot more moving forward. Ooops Sorry, your app server isn't good enough. We'll have to find new friends: JBoss.

This seemingly happy marriage needs to be taken with a grain of salt for the following reasons:

- I want to see what these two companies will actually develop and if it makes sense. In a way SOA already bridges the .Net and J2EE worlds and it will do so even better as time goes by and as software a service (SaaS) becomes the ruling architecture for building software. Oracle already offers a variety of ways to tie .Net services to J2EE applications using Web services and the BPEL Process Manager.

- Let's see how JBoss' biggest supporters (OSS advocates) and strongest partners (such as MySQL) react to this rather surprising news. MySQL cannot be happy about this alliance which makes JBoss look friendly to SQL Server. These are the people (OSS community + partners) who made JBoss who they are today and pissing them off could be costly. They may consider switching horses and transfer their support onto Geronimo, Jonas/RedHat, Tomcat, etc.

- Last, history shows us that getting too close to Microsoft is very rarely a good thing especially when they hate what you stand for Java and open source. I can still hear Steve Ballmer calling open source "cancer" or saying "We compete with products. We don't compete with movements." Microsoft is like a female praying mantis. The female mantis often kills and eats the male immediately after or even during mating. So my advice to JBoss is to enjoy the love while it lasts.


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