Despite all the "conspiracy theories" floating out there, the announcement was very factual: we are focusing on customers. Windows Server is widely deployed with JBoss. Our own surveys show that 50% of our user base is on Windows. Ironically, Java is what enables so many of you to run Windows with our apps: the end-user gets to choose what platform he deploys on and Windows Server gets to compete on the serverside just like any other OS. Thank Java for that unlikely cooperation.
At heart there is concrete technical collaboration.
- Microsoft Active Directory(R) integration. Integrated sign on and federated identity, this is very relevant for our Portal effort for example
- Web services. Interoperability using WS-* Web services architecture. This one is a no-brainer.
- Management. A Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager. Since people are heavily using Jboss in Windows environment it makes sense for us to collaborate so Jboss is manageable from the Microsoft Operations Manager.
- SQL Server(TM). Optimized performance for users of Hibernate, JBoss' object/relational mapping technology, and Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0. This one is particularly interesting as it could signal the avaibility of JavaEE features for .NET/C# developers. EJB3 on net? Hmmm
The feedback has been very positive, if not a bit overwhelming. First, has JBoss sold its soul? Well, again I think that a lot of the anti-MSFT sentiments come from the fact that Linux competes with Windows. Many folks at JBOSS have tremendous respect for MSFT, for what they have achieved as a company and a technology house. However our soul has always been about FOSS, or rather, Professional FOSS. It is kinda sad that a fringe of the Linux community gets wrapped up in the "MSFT is the Devil" rethoric. The reality of the field often gets blurred by the ideologues.
The philosophy isn't that far apart at a certain level: we all believe you should be able to make money producing software. I often refer to the "Open Letter to Hobbyists" written by Bill Gates in the mid-seventies as a proof point that "software costs money". Today, we have systems that enable us to produce software without the need for a for-pay, proprietary license. MSFT didn't have that luxury when they invented EULA's. What has changed is the advent of the Internet and, with it, a cheap way to build, distribute and support software that can sustain disruptive business models. The bottom line is still the same though: we believe in software's standalone potential, be it FOSS or proprietary. In that sense MSFT and Professional FOSS are not that far apart.
Another thing I hope this announcement signifies is a big opening at MSFT. It is kind of sad that both Java and FOSS were perceived so negatively from the get go at MSFT. It is difficult to overcome first impressions. Probably it is due to the early marketing. In the beginning Java was positioned, cleverly by Sun, as a Windows killer--which it never was--and FOSS grew from Linux which, for its part, clearly was a competitor to Windows. But two negatives amount to a positive. 1) Java enables our users to run Windows Server and thus helps MSFT capture a share of the corporate Java playground and 2) FOSS represents more than just Linux. I hope this announcement has helped a lot of MSFT employees see that FOSS != Linux and that Java ain't all that bad.
There is no reason to let IBM take all the karma points on loving FOSS. While I am grateful to IBM for having created a market for Linux, they did it primarily as a way to diminish MSFT's influence. I can assure you that Big Blue doesn't hold its punches in the field when it comes to its own software--DB2 and Websphere. IBM doesn't love FOSS. They HATE FOSS; they love Linux, which is a different story. Here I think MSFT can give IBM a little taste of their own medicine, and I am chuckling under my breath.
Still, in the fun part of the equation, this has been a joyous event for our company. Two partnerships, Dell and Microsoft, were announced in the quarter almost as a one-two punch and it was a pleasure to see how our own employees reacted. Sure, some of the developers went "gasp," but even some of the more hardcore guys were jumping with joy and saying "about time." What really warmed my heart were the private email from employees saying how proud they are to be at JBoss, how unique this experience is and, as one put it, "wow."
I hope our collaboration flourishes. We can see, thanks to the syntactic similarities between Java and C#, a day where annotations are your passport to various platforms. One day Visual Studio developers with C# will be able to use annotations from EJB3 and leverage Java EE in the back-end. There is such an installed base of EE services out there (and I am not talking about WS-limp integration, but real language support). Many developers in the EE camp are comfortable with their back-end in Java (on Windows :) but are looking for better tools and web frameworks to develop in. I truly believe this is where Java EE and .NET meet. WE will be working towards that.
All in all, a very good week and as Dana Blankenhorn wrote Marc Fleury's best day ever :) And, btw the picture on that article was taken in Joe McGonnell's office on the day of the announcement by Dana on his phone cam. I couldn't wipe the smile off the whole day :)
Finally I want to thank the people that have worked on making this possible. First Shaun Connelly and Pierre Fricke on the JBoss side. Sacha Labourey for working on the partnership early on. Thanks also to the folks at MSFT, particularly Bill Hilf and Martin Taylor, as well as Charles Fitzgerald. It was a well executed announcement with very positive results.
Peace, Love and Good Software Collaboration,