It was a good week at JavaOne. It went by in a flash. The overall feeling for me was that the industry is changing. As we were celebrating Java's 10 year anniversary, the players for the next 20 years have emerged.
A journalist nailed it on the head when he said "All the sudden the Java industry is coming to grips en masse with the phenomenon of open source, some more gracefully than others..." It turns out open source impacts more than just Microsoft. Personally, what I picked up was a lot of confused noise and background panic from a lot of those vendors whose markets are being hit hard by FOSS. The reaction varied from BEA going "liquid" to IBM going "confused" to SUN going "transparent" with blowfish. I believe that the rise of Professional Open Source plays a key role in this phenomenon. The industry is changing under our noses. The more the establishment pretends we don't exist, the more we are becoming the establishment.
FOSS is not just about the destruction of the proprietary licensing model, but about the re-invention of the software industry as a whole, and middleware or POS are proof points here. JBoss has surfed the FOSS wave to become a major player in middleware, as the volume leader on 4 JEMS products (App Server, Hibernate, Tomcat, Portal). The proprietary vendors show their true colors when open source is no longer the cuddly penquin that helps them fight MSFT, but starts to look like the hordes of Genghis Khan camping out in their back yard.
The JBoss cocktail party was on Monday night at the top of the Marriott San Francisco on the 39th floor in a place aptly named "The View". We had about 400 people show up throughout the night. The event was energized and alive (BTW the other party that impressed me with the "energy" was the Netbeans party on Sunday). We had many customers and partners show up at the party and many developers and independents.
The Microsoft reception on Tuesday night was a nice, smaller event. We joked with them about MSFT and JBoss both being persona non grata in previous years at JavaOne. At JavaOne 2002, there was no way we were going to get any talks or BOFs approved so rather than pay for a booth (supposing Sun would have approved it) we did our first alternative show. Sun's meeting planners had locked down all the nearby hotel space but somehow they omitted the bar around the corner, so we held JBossOne on the upstairs of the Thirsty Bear that year. JBossTwo was held at the Sony Metreon in 2003. Since those earlier years, Sun finally made it possible (at significant expense on our behalf) for JBoss to become J2EE-certified, JBoss has joined the JCP Executive Committee and participates in many specs and Sun has joined our hardware Solution Certification program on JBoss. Who would have thought...
Our product news focused on EJB3 and JBossPortal. I am proud of both announcements. Not only did I personally participate in the EJB3 spec (made the proposal on the programming model) but Gavin and Bill worked hard on this release. Gavin King and Bill Burke worked hard to make the spec work :) So this release for me is the proof-point that OSS CAN DRIVE INNOVATION. Many people ask the question of whether OSS can innovate or whether it can only copy (see the posts below). IF we only copied, we would be faced with a Zeno's Paradox or the race between the hare and tortoise, where the tortoise moves more slowly but has a lead on the hare. The hare will catch the tortoise, but in the mean time the tortoise will always have moved a bit more, repeat indefinitely). I think we collectively smashed through that glass barrier on the EJB3 release.
Oracle being named co-spec lead on EJB3 was not the most classy move by Sun. Since JBoss employees have contributed so much to the spec, it is misleading. I guess the little guy (us) got screwed on that one. But, at the end of the day, EJB3 being released is a good thing. The talks were overwhelming (I heard) and they had to create an overflow for the overflow of Linda DeMichiel's talk.
JBoss Portal was the other big software announcement. Let me give you some color on why it is a significant proof-point for us. First of all, Jboss Portal is a very solid product on a feature by feature basis. We are making it a real contender against IBM and BEA. While these guys are busy trying to copy us in the low end, we go after the money bags in Portal, something both companies still sell for 60k/CPU. Already JBoss Portal has achieved its first Professional Open Source milestone, with a solid product, a great community and volume leadership in open source. I also want to stress out that the BEST IS STILL TO COME. We are working with our partners, including Novell to kickstart a large portlet library. Congrats to Julien and Roy, the JBoss team and the OS volunteers for another fine example of Professional Open Source leadership.
The business announcements focused on our hardware partners with the "Solution Certification program". We signed HP, Unisys and Sun to certify their servers on JBoss. It's a shame that the announcement of JBoss certifying Sun's Solaris 10 platform running on SPARC, x86 and 64-bit machines got overshadowed by their recent Pufferfish diversion. Yes, Sun has their own irrelevant app server, but the little gem of an announcement at JavaOne that got kind of missed was the fact that the hardware group has just signed an agreement with JBoss for Certification. They recognize the power of our #1 market share, and at the end of the day, Sun makes it’s money by selling hardware. So even Sun, with it’s own app server, has joined our JBoss Certified Partner Program. We are an open company, and we welcome the broad community that is gathering around us – and we are here to help move that whole community forward.
A highlight is always running into James Gosling. We were at this street light and Sacha Labourey, completely star-struck, wanted to say hi to him. When I met James he saw my "Vote for Jboss" tshirt and he asked if he could get one. I was very pleased to see folks I never ever met wear their big bright "Vote for Jboss" shirts. It was so loud! For those who don't get it, I recommend Napoleon dynamite". It was fun to see that support. The t-shirts were a hoot.
I want to put a special mention for Joe McGonnell and the team at JBoss that pulled the event together. It was smoothly run, almost matter of factly, very pro.
So overall it was a great week, the press was good and it went by in a flash. It left me, again, with that feeling of "the industry is reshaping around FOSS" as an unspoken underlying theme. Funny how things have changed.marcf