Disclosure: I am a shareholder of RedHat. I do not work for RedHat.
I am back from JBoss World. It was a good thing for me to witness what JBoss has become and I wanted to share my raw notes and impressions.
I feel the JBoss division is finally integrated.
The RHEL-FEDORA model has been implemented and that is a good thing from a sales standpoint. The overlay model of sales is finally being implemented. A lot of attrition and turnover in the sales ranks, but those that have stayed seem to be doing well for themselves and their morale is high due to the proprietary sale of the RHEL/FEDORA model. Customer usage is high. Customers use JBoss heavily, many use multi-products from line-up. "You guys are everywhere, this is the third startup I work at and the default go-to app-server is JBoss". Momemtum in product adoption on the rise.
Developer ranks are intact. Morale has improved dramatically. Some are truly happy there, some less so, but virtually all developers have stayed so far. Change in CEO seen as a potentially positive thing from the inside, "operations are finally going to be fixed". Delivery of the division from a product standpoint is there, innovation is there. Strong leadership of EE6. Some concerns over the leadership of SUN in EE6 (probably worth another blog). Strong product announcements with SOA and Black-Tie. Weak product announcements with JBoss DNA, doesn't mean anything. Great traction of SOA product, well done to that team. AS5 needs to be finished and certified. Lack of certification is the only big black spot on the product front. Whining about RedHat from developers is mostly over. People laugh over the operational clumsiness or mediocrity and appreciate the good stuff. Still globally under-invested in R&D. "Can you believe they hired two persons for a internal cookbook but won't let me hire for my project?". Some HR priorities seem clueless.
Competition talk involves BEA/Oracle and Glassfish. Question abound over SUN's role in EE6 and their lack of neutrality given GlassFish. Spring is no longer percieved as a threat/competition, the customers use it and it doesn't affect the JBoss business. IBM is perceived as having failed Geronimo and Websphere CE, internal contradictions at IBM are apparent to most developers. Java's momentum is the talk of town, perception that Java is peaking. Talk for the need for a new language beyond java among elite developers. On the positive clear perception that java has entered golden age of maintenance. The race is over and now we just mint money, which is good from a shareholder standpoint.
Extreme turnover in the ranks. Not many old timers left, btw congratulations on organizing JBW pretty much all by yourself, Ms Goldstein, you have outdone yourself. Ranks being replenished, new head of marketing shows promise and is a veteran. Too soon to tell. Red Hat is still groping for a multi-product message. Continued failure to communicate as a multi-product company. Technically vapid marketing fluff like "enterprise acceleration" or "SOA governance" does not constitute multi-product communication. To appear as a multi-product company all that is needed is to TALK ABOUT THE MULTI-PRODUCT LINE UP ****FRONT AND CENTER****. Simple but somehow magically complex for Red Hat to handle. Main marketing problem is 1/ Marketing lack of product definition, defaults to vapid and innocuous messages 2/ PR is still broken.
Serious issues in PR. Perceived loss of press momentum of JBoss under Red Hat, I know where it comes from: not from sales or customers, the sales and usage are increasing: it comes from internal PR. JBoss, the brand and message, are being mismanaged and ultimately squandered. Severe people issues. JBoss PR needs to be rebooted.
Black-Tie, RHQ and SOA PR were botched. BlackTie specifically was both a product announcement, as drop in replacement for Tuxedo, and a defining company statement (we are targeting the enterprise with a OSS Tuxedo/BEA replacement, in production, in maintenance, where the money is with OSS). What a perfect fit! Instead announcement was nowhere on keynotes, was slipped in as a "in other news" announcement reportedly for fear of pissing off Oracle.
I am overall positive, the momentum is here, product and sales are solid. Energy levels are back up. What is broken seems limited to a few individuals and not systemic (e.g. no business model incompatibility). Not everyone is able to make the transition to a multi-product redhat.