Fleury left Red Hat in 2007, and since then I’ve gotten a steady parade of news releases, about former JBOSS executives starting brand new companies. In fact, I am overdue for a visit to one of those companies.
Meanwhile, JBOSS rival SpringSource has gone from strength to strength. Its latest acquisition is Covalent. It’s hosting user meetings in five-star resorts.
Let me first address the PR failure. What Dana is really saying is that he hasn't gotten any news releases from JBoss. As I have said in previous blog entries, all RHT has to do to be perceived as a multi-product company is to TALK about it's multi-product line-up. When I talk to RHT partners who do JBoss consulting they tell me that their business is going through the roof. The record JBoss World attendance and my previous coverage corroborate this. Unfortunately, in the absence of any news releases from RHT about JBoss products and momentum, the press corps defaults to news releases about departures. Normally, the latter would be a big snoozer. It only seems important in the dearth of any official JBoss news out of RHT. See my post on Blacktie, the drop-in replacement for BEA Tuxedo, as a great example of bungled product news.
Spring is touting itself as a JBoss replacement. Smart PR, but false. Spring is a development framework comprising wrappers and dependency injection on top of Hibernate and Tomcat runtimes, both developed, and monetized by JBoss. Where the official PR talks about them being used everywhere on Wall Street, I hear a more insightful story from their own sales guys about how impossible it is to monetize that usage. Some call it "the Spring Conumdrum".
Meanwhile, when I picked up the latest neon-colored issue of Wired "Everything will be free!!!" which caused me to snicker, whom should I read about but Their Current Hotnesses, the Ruby on Rails dynamic duo--David Heinemeir Hansson (aka God or DHH) and Jason Fried (his prophet). It was a great article. In between curing leprosy and walking on water in the software development realm, these kids go around insulting their users, answering critics with "f--- you" slides, the article is complete with their own brand of backlash. They appear to be minting money, selling products no less, and speculating that they come from another planet. Good People, people after my own heart. They embody the latest, rather virulent strain of Professional OSS. They have avoided the Spring conundrum and are selling product.
And it got me thinking: Three projects, three different life stages. As a colleague put it: JBoss is a MILF. She is aging well, she's beautiful, and the children (projects like JBoss Seam and BlackTie), are doing just fine thank-you-very-much. On the cover of every magazine, RoR is the hot new thing. It's eighteen, it's perky and oh, that sexy pout! The excitable fringe is just in lust. Meanwhile, Spring is getting a little longer in the tooth, and after dinner and a movie (training), there is really not much people need to stick around for (like a product subscription). So she gets a boob job (aka Covalent).
Back to Dana, he's just responding to what he hears. He hasn't heard from JBoss and he's not the only journalist who tells me this. At the end of the day, the definitive way to take the pulse of the RHT/JBoss pairing is on numbers, sales numbers, not on "feeling" derived from deficient PR. As I've covered in my previous blog--despite ill-defined marketing message and broken PR, JBoss R&D's intact, product line-up is solid, sales is now aligned and momentum and usage are up.