The JBoss World expo and conference in Berlin last week was something of a celebration of the continued growth of open source in EMEA over the last 12 months.
JBoss and Red Hat see themselves as 'pure open source' providers with genuine roots in the communities from which they have sprung. The open source model has worked for Red Hat and JBoss because of the understanding they have nurtured within these communities, which is something they were happy to emphasize and contrast with their competitors at every opportunity - and it was hard at times not to trip over the small groups of JBoss developers who gathered in corners to talk over coding issues.
Despite, or maybe because of, the recent announcements by Oracle, Novell and Microsoft, Red Hat and JBoss were buoyant in their predictions for the future. JBoss has experienced 240 percent growth in its partner ecosystem during the last year, and a phenomenal 42 percent increase in revenue growth across the EMEA region. They have seen particular success in those vertical sectors which, for their different reasons, have proved to be the early adopters of open source technologies, such as the financial and telecoms sectors, which were prominent among the case studies in the conference.
The conference also featured stands hosted by JBoss partners, including HP, Unisys, CapGemini, Atos, Inubit and See Why; a Red Hat Forum; a service-oriented architecture (SOA) track that included real-world case studies; an executive series focusing on the business of open source; and a laptop workshop series designed to give developers hands-on experience with JBoss Seam, ESB and Rules. This show was evidence of the rapidly expanding enterprise open source user community, which seems to be immune to the recent threats to Red Hat's business model from Oracle and Microsoft, and is eager to explore the new found benefits of free software.
As a middleware platform, JBoss is not specific to any vertical sector of industry. Nonetheless, JBoss has typically found particular success among "the fast moving financial institutions," according to Michel Goossens, the vice president of EMEA sales and marketing for JBoss, "and among the telcos, which have a need to develop new applications every day. We play well with the Ericcsons, the Nokias and Siemens of the world," which are organizations that need to differentiate their products on an ongoing basis by creating in-house applications for a specialized market. "They have to move quickly," and the flexibility of JBoss, and the fact that the software is available with no-cost licenses, is "irresistible to such enterprises," he said.
There has also been rapid uptake of JBoss in the logistics and travel sectors, and among start-up companies in new sectors, such as the online gaming industry, where the cost advantages of open source are at a premium.
JBoss was founded in 1999, and already claims 37 percent of the Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition applications server market. According to a recent BZ Research survey, the JBoss Enterprise Middleware Suite (JEMS) has overtaken both its proprietary rivals, BEA Weblogic and IBM Websphere in the enterprise market.
Goossens was keen to emphasize that, despite the obvious cost advantages, "the No. 1 reason for the take up of JBoss is quality, because quality gets the job done faster," and JBoss code was better than the code of its rivals "because the open source software factory is a better factory. It's all about transparency, peer-to-peer review and eyeballs. We have thousands of people looking at the code all the time, and the code that comes out of that is better code."
"That is true of open source, and not just JBoss," he said. "But at JBoss, we employ the lead developers in all our projects, and we drive the community, and the code that comes out of that is better code." It also follows that feedback is much quicker. Customers who find a bug or desire an additional feature have a direct line back to the developers through the JBoss User Groups.
"The second biggest reason for enterprise adoption of JBoss," according to Goossens, "is that we are much closer to standards and openness than our competitors, and the third reason is that JBoss is a better value proposition. It is cheaper and has better code."