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Shawn Connolly's Blog

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Mohandas Gandhi's quote actually goes: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."


This quote has been a rallying cry for many years at Red Hat, and is oh-so-appropriate given the shenanigans going on in the software market these days. Let's focus on two major proprietary software vendors shall we? In order to protect their identities, I will simply refer to them here as....Thing 1 and Thing 2.


Thing 1 says he will just take our technology and make it his own. He reasons that this will help him deliver more value to his customers. Hello!! The BIG COSTS for customers are in the layers on top. Click here for more...





For the past 3 years, we have been busy building out JBoss Enterprise Middleware as the Open Source Platform for SOA. During this time, we have been very consistent in our stance that SOA needs to be Simple, Open, and Affordable. We contend that SOA technologies should be available to all, not just the privileged few who can afford the HUGE license costs.


This approach delivers real value to our customers. And since joining Red Hat last June, there are more and more people around the world who want to understand our strategy, product roadmap, etc.


I use a set of 3 graphics to describe our product strategy. These are designed to illustrate how I see the open source market - one graphic for last year, this year, and next year. The color coding on the slides is meant to illustrate the level of pain (threat level) that proprietary vendors are feeling due to open source competitors. Click here for more...





What Do You Stand For?

Posted by shwncnnlly Mar 25, 2007
I've spent the better part of my career as a software developer, bouncing back and forth between product management/marketing and development since 2000, and programming since the mid-80's before that. In my transition to the Marketing "dark side", I have to admit that it took me a while to get what "Brand" really means. Yeah, yeah, I's simple stupid! Kleenex, Band-Aid, Google, and Coca-Cola are examples of good brands with well established trademarks. Click here for more...





At Red Hat, we are 100% focused on an open source business model and what we call the democratization of technology. Let me elaborate on what this means and how it fuels our strategy. Having been with JBoss since 2004, our approach to expanding our base of open source technologies and accelerating innovation has been accomplished using one of the following approaches:
  1. Work within existing open source communities. Our work on a wide variety of Apache projects and Eclipse projects are examples here.
  2. Create and staff new JBoss projects. JBoss Seam, JBoss Portal, JBoss Messaging, JBoss Web Services, and JBoss ESB are examples of projects that fit this category.
  3. Identify complementary open source projects and recruit them to join our community. Hibernate, JBoss jBPM, and JBoss Rules are examples here.
  4. Free great proprietary/closed source technology. Let me use three examples to illustrate this further.


JBoss Transactions is an example of great technology that was previously proprietary. We worked with HP and Arjuna on freeing that technology so we could enhance our middleware technologies and open up technology to the benefit of the larger community.


Our partnership with Exadel is actually a blend of two approaches. We've added their open source technologies to our community as JBoss Ajax4jsf and JBoss RichFaces. And we are working with them on freeing their great Exadel Studio Pro technology at Those who want to consume the individual Eclipse plug-ins will have that ability. Those interested in getting all of the Exadel, JBoss, and Red Hat Eclipse tools in an integrated and tested offering will be interested in the Red Hat Developer Studio.


Finally, our new Hibernate Shards project was developed by Software Engineers at Google who created some really cool technology built on Hibernate and then decided to free that great technology for the benefit of the broader community. Max Ross at Google describes the process in his Ode to Hibernate blog. Thanks Max, Tomislav, and Maulik and welcome to the community!


As I mentioned in my blog on Open Source Community, while I consider the open source projects and people who work directly on those projects as the core neighborhood within the "community", I do think the definition of community is broader and includes neighborhoods that extend beyond the core neighborhood.


I love working at a company whose core strategy is focused on constantly extending our community so we can free more and more great technology. It is much more difficult for proprietary closed-source sofware companies to follow suit since they are continually lured by the siren’s song of license sales and using “open source” as a marketing tick rather than as their raison d'etre.


So you are wondering what Barack Obama and the open source community have to do with eachother? Well I've been catching up on blogland recently and came across a few new posts arguing the definition of open source community and implying the way we do things at JBoss is less pure than it should be. The argument laid out by posts like these actually reminds me of the wave of press focused on the question: Is Obama Black Enough?


"Obama's mother is of white U.S. stock. His father is a black enyan," Stanley Crouch recently sniffed in a New York Daily News column entitled "What Obama Isn't: Black Like Me." "Black, in our political and social vocabulary, means those descended from West African slaves," wrote Debra Dickerson on the liberal website Salon. Therefore....Obama is not black enough. Makes logical sense, right? Uhhhh.....I don't think so!


The definition of open source community isn't as singular in nature as some would like you to believe either. Definitions of open source community that focus on one way to do things or one way to interact and communicate are missing the bigger picture. Open source communities extend beyond those who interact directly on the open source projects, mailing lists and forums, and include the users, customers and partners in a wide variety of ways. In my opinion, there are neighborhoods within the larger community that have their own perspectives and ways of interacting with the larger community. So, yes, there is the core open source development neighborhood, but there are also neighborhoods for customers, partners, indirect users, etc. and they are all active community participants in their own ways.


In order to reach out to this bigger community, the Professional Open Source model we use at JBoss enables our developers to spend some of their time delivering services to our customers - via support, training, or consulting. This affords them the ability to interact directly with users who may not be subscribed to the individual project mailing lists, forums, etc. We also have Product Managers, Sales Engineers, Support Engineers, Trainers, and Consultants who spend a lot of time with customers and partners discussing and understanding their technical requirements and funneling that input directly into the open source process. At Red Hat, we spend a lot of time looking for new ways of serving, expanding, and recognizing our community including user conferences, roadshows, Innovation Awards, Red Hat Challenge, client advisory boards, web conferences, face to face meetings, etc.


The definition of open source community need not be so black and white.
Like the software these communities produce, the definition of community needs the chance to evolve and change in ways that we can't even imagine.

Think BIG!

Posted by shwncnnlly Mar 3, 2007


I've been with JBoss for a while and during that time, we have grown from 20 people to 200 people (right before joining Red Hat), and are now part of a global Red Hat team of almost 2,000 people. That is 100x growth over the past 3 years.


But "big" is relative. The JBoss philosophy has always been to think BIG because of who we're competing with. I can't tell you how many users, customers, and partners I've met that were amazed at our size...they thought we were much bigger due to how widely our technology is used.


I've recently traveled to two of the world's biggest cities: Tokyo and Mexico City. Normal words don't describe cities like these. They are ginormously hugantic!


My trip to Mexico City was to represent Red Hat at LinuxWorld Mexico as well as help launch our direct presence in Mexico City. There is a lot of interest in JBoss in Latin America; in particular Mexico and Brazil. I was able to spend time with some of our users building mission critical applications on JBoss Enterprise Middleware. We are just getting started in Mexico, but the excitement and interest expressed by partners, customers, and prospective customers has me pumped. Oportunidad muy grande.


My trip to Tokyo was focused on launching our JBoss business in Japan. Red Hat already has an impressive share of the Linux market in Japan, and I found big interest in JBoss Enterprise Middleware. I met with the Japan JBUG (JBoss User Group) and have begun to integrate their efforts into our localization process for our documentation and sample applications. They have done great work with JBoss AS, EJB3, JBoss Seam, JBoss jBPM, and JBoss Rules. They are indeed a motivated group. Domo arigato Japan JBUG!


While in Tokyo, I just couldn't pass up the chance to walk around the Tokyo Fish Market. This quote perfectly describes the Tsukiji market: "Tsukiji is a fish market in the sense that the Grand Canyon is a ditch". My highlight was sitting in a food stall next to the fishermen eating after their early morning shift at 8am. I ordered a bowl of sushi (and assorted raw stuff I did not recognize) and ate like a fisherman. I am glad that I do not speak Japanese, because I don't think I want to know what I actually ate...BUT it was fresh and yummy, so that's all that matters.


Anyhow, as I mentioned in my JBoss Reloaded blog, the fun has just started, and my visits to Tokyo and Mexico City have absolutely redefined what it means to "Think BIG!".



JBoss Reloaded

Posted by shwncnnlly Mar 1, 2007
It has been an interesting few weeks of Blog and press coverage of Marc Fleury's departure from Red Hat:


With Fleury Gone, Red Hat Shifts To New Leaders For JBoss


Marc Fleury Leaves Red Hat


Salut, l'Ami!


If we view JBoss as a movie series like The Matrix, the first JBoss film starred Marc Fleury as "the one" - the open source maverick who made it BIG. Marc was never shy to speak his mind, and that fact helped keep JBoss in the news as much as our great technology did. Marc's persona fueled love/hate feelings forever preserved on the Internet; if you Google "Marc Fleury", you will get hundreds of thousands of hits. Love him or hate him, you have to give Marc props for taking a huge risk in 1999 and creating a software business that was valued at $350M in June 2006. JBoss Part 1 has proven to be a fan favorite and box office success.


JBoss Reloaded starts in February 2007 and highlights an ensemble cast rather than a single star. The foes are bigger and badder too. For the past nine months, the ensemble cast has been hard at work on melding two strong brands, Red Hat + JBoss, into a single software powerhouse known for delivering great technology and unique value. During that time, the market has been comparing the Red Hat stack of products versus the competition and true value continues to win out.


So, we have been working feverishly on our plans and the results of those investments are starting to kick in. We've rolled out new versions of JBoss Seam Framework and JBoss ESB. We've got new revs of JBoss AS, JBoss Portal, JBoss jBPM, and JBoss Rules coming next, and we've bolstered our plans for by adding Bob McWhirter to the team.


So what will be the next big plot twist? Buckle up! The fun has just started and it should prove to be even more action packed than the original.