JBoss World 2005 – Marc’s Keynote

For someone he gives the laid back impression that he doesn’t really care what’s going on with JBoss, he certainly speaks with passion and conviction about his company, the products and the company’s visions and goals.

I’m sure this has a lot to do with his success – he doesn’t seem to be as emotionally involved as other IT executives, and his lack of seriousness I think brings him down to a level where everyone else, the developers using the products, can equate with him – he’s just a regular guy, but who has great ideas. And he has put this ideas into motion.

What a success story too – from leaving Sun, working from home and taking those first steps to grow JBoss as a product and as a company, he has definite made a huge difference in the IT industry with the ‘Professional Open Source’ approach – open source software, but backed by support contracts, and also interestingly, indemnity insurance against patent infringements and other lawsuits, for example from recent attempts like SCO.

The current direction of JBoss seems to be to change their image – they are not just JBoss ‘the application server’, but are a company providing professional backup and support to users of open source software, also including now Apache Tomcat (and possible sometime soon Apache HTTPD, the web server itself). Marc introduced the concept of JEMS – JBoss Enterprise Middleware Software – which currently includes JBoss AS, jBPM (a workflow engine), Hibernate, JGroups, JBoss Cache, JBoss Portal, JBoss Eclipse IDE. The company not only has one of the leading J2EE application servers, but are steadily building a whole stack of supporting middleware software to give a complete solution.

The enthusiasm is definitely there, and from the general feeling of the people attending the conference there is a lot of dedicated support to JBoss. Time will tell what will happen with the other main J2EE App Server vendors (IBM, BEA, Oracle), as JBoss is definely become a force to reckon with, and the other big 3 must be aware of this. IBM, BEA and Oracle have such a financial investment in their ‘monolithic’ app servers that I’d be surprised if they attempt anything drastic to compete with JBoss (or maybe they don’t feel they have to), but I wonder if they’ll attempt to open source lightweight versions of their servers to get products out there to compete with JBoss. On a purely financial comparision, how can you compete with a product that is free? And regarding the previous concerns that large corporations have had with adopting open source, like where do they turn to get support, JBoss with their support contracts really have this wrapped up. I don’t believe anymore that this is product by developers for developers – the product is already in use by large commercial companies, and its picking up momentuum.