The Most Exciting Birds of a Feather Session goes to Marc Fleury and the JBoss.org group. Other than the slides being basically unreadable (hint: use a dark foreground on light background), it was great to attend a session with such a passionate speaker. For those of you who don't already know, JBoss is an open-source J2EE application server. JBoss is distributed under the LGPL (the so-called "Lesser" or Library version of the Gnu Public License), so it can be incorporated into commercial products without "infecting" the rights to the commercial software.
JBoss is going right to the heart of the J2EE movement by building a pluggable, extensible server core using JMX and then bootstrapping all of the other server capabilities atop of the core. So, you can suck in as little or as much of the various services as are appropriate for your needs. Contrast this to the more monolithic approach that most, if not all, of the proprietary server vendors are taking.
Fleury and crew are also trying to support themselves by forming a non-profit foundation (a la Apache) which can take tax-deductible donations and make money through branding and certification, licensing, and franchising. If you want to become an "official," certified JBoss consultant, you will have to take the JBoss group's training. Then you'll get a franchise-like license and gigs in your area will be sent to you. (I presume the foundation gets a percentage of the revenue.)
In terms of software, Fleury thinks that there is a market in which component/service developers can create software that extends the power of the JBoss services and then sell those components for say, $50. He wants to convince the developers to open-source the code once their component has brought in a certain amount of revenue. It will be an interesting experiment to watch. Good luck!
The Best Comeback to the Threat of .Net also goes to Marc Fleury of the JBoss Group. In the JBoss BOF mentioned previously, Marc quoted an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal piece wherein BEA's Bill Coleman conceded the low end of the enterprise market to Microsoft's .Net. Marc proceeded to get hot and bothered; he swore that Java technology, through open-source projects such as JBoss (and JBoss specifically) will own the low-end enterprise market. Throughout the session, Marc kept coming back to this issue, reiterating that not only is JBoss a competitive J2EE server, but it also has the very best per-CPU fees (and so will eventually own the mid- and high-end markets too).
(My comments JBoss will become the spine of the Java Technology )