December 2006

Construction WorkOne more post addressing a search query that was used to hit this blog:

Search term: how to work on WASCE
Suggestion: If you want to work on the WAS CE ‘project‘ (i.e. contribute), then let’s take a step back for a second.

WebSphere Application Server Community Edition (WAS CE) is:

  • a commercial product, built on open source Apache Geronimo technology
  • an IBM product
  • licensed under a commercial IBM license (non-OSI compliant)
  • “worked on” by IBM employees (as would be typical for a commercial product)

Apache Geronimo is:

  • an open source product, built using leading open source components
  • an Apache Software Foundation product
  • licensed under the OSI-compliant ASF 2.0 license
  • “worked on” by an open community of vendors and developers (many stakeholders and no single controlling vendor)

Now, it should be clear why I put project in quotes when I said: If you want to work on the WAS CE ‘project’. Since WAS CE is an IBM commercial product, there really isn’t a way to “work on” the WAS CE project. But since WAS CE is built on Apache Geronimo, when you contribute code to the Geronimo project, you are contributing code that will likely end up in WAS CE. So, you can, and are encouraged to, work on the Apache Geronimo project. Geronimo is an open source product developed via a true open source project and community. Your efforts have a wide impact when you contribute to the Apache Geronimo project.

If you’re looking to get on the WAS CE mailing list and help answer questions that come up, then definitely check out the WAS CE developerWorks forum here.

PS: If the search query was really intended to mean “how to use WAS CE”, you’ll find the WAS CE documentation here. Get samples here (IBM ID required) or from the WAS CE zone at Sourceforge. Also, get lots of helpful articles here from the developerWorks WAS CE Zone.

Hope this helped ;-)

Another post where I’m going to address a search query that folks have used to hit this blog:

Search term: “mysql WASCE”
Suggestion: First, I’ve mailed the WAS CE product team asking for a short developerWorks article to address this configuration question. In the interim, you should know:Instructions

1. From the WAS CE docs: “Database managers are integrated with the server as J2EE resource adapters implemented from the Tranql open source project. For example, you can integrate any database manager that supplies a compliant JDBC driver in a non-XA configuration by deploying tranql-connector-1.1.rar with a properly configured deployment plan. See the EMPDemo for an example.”

2. Next, start with this developerWorks article titled “Three ways to connect a database to a Geronimo application server”. The article itself is old, and refers to older versions of files etc. But the principles and steps should still work and the article is totally focused on using MySQL. Use this article to get familiar with the concepts, but then use the sample application I mention below. It contains more recent files (i.e. deployment plan) that you can edit and use for your purposes. Also, remember that WAS CE is built with Apache Geronimo, so even though this is a Geronimo-based article, a WAS CE-based article would read the same.

3. Now, use the EMPDemo sample application to see examples of configuring JDBC drivers with WAS CE. While the sample shows how to access Derby/Cloudscape, MS SQL Server and Oracle, there is a sample MySQL plan for your use. Get the sample files from IBM here (IBM ID required) or here (from the IBM WAS CE download site at Sourceforge).

I’ll update this post when I hear back from the WAS CE product team. There may actually be a recent document on using MySQL with WAS CE, but I wasn’t able to find it quickly.

I’m going to address a few search queries that people are using to hit this blog (and for which I didn’t have an appropriate post at the time).

Search term: “DB2 xml WAS Community” //

Suggestion: Check out this article at developerWorks. DB2 9 has native support for XML, which is why I’m suggesting the article. Yes, you have to register with your IBM id to get at the article. But the IBM ID works across all IBM sites (I believe) so get it once and you’re all set. BTW, Lin, one of the authors of the article is on the WAS CE development team. She knows her stuff and was a pleasure to work with!

Also, in case you’re looking to use Geronimo with DB2 v9, then you’ll find this Geronimo wiki document helpful. Since the document was written for DB2 v8. Here’s a pointer to the “install JDBC driver for DB2 v9” help page from IBM.

Hope this helps :-)

[Image from Flickr user: onebyjude (Check out the magnifying glass)]

Matthew Aslett, Matt Asay & Alex Fletcher are all writing about the increased funding that open source companies have received in 2006. Good news indeed. (Picture from robinicus919)Money, money, money

I got to thinking about what this all means. What’s the impact of giving investors (who expect big returns) a larger say in OSS vendor operations? Is this good for the open source market, or just a step along the path towards a joint OSS & traditional software business model? So, I called up a friend in venture capital and something he said made me think. He said:

“Everyone’s hoping to either become the next Red Hat or get sold to IBM or Oracle.”

I think his view of “everyone” is more indicative of OSS (open source software) investors, rather than OSS company founders. Although, founders probably do want to become the next Red Hat.

Now, if we believe that the world only needs 5 computers, then does the world only need 10 software companies? Okay, maybe 10 is a ridiculous number. But the software market is definitely consolidating.

How long can the Red Hats of the world remain independent? Up until now, the traditional software vendors have all benefited from an independent Red Hat. Let Red Hat make its money on Linux with “our” help in driving the acceptance of Linux. Along the way we’ll sell a lot more hardware and related software and services. Everyone wins. But as Red Hat and others begin to expand up and across the software stack, there’s more talk about traditional software vendors acquiring pure play OSS vendors. For instance, there have been rumours of Red Hat & Zend being acquired by Oracle, and Oracle did try to buy JBoss.

Next, several OSS vendors out there today are really developing features, not stand-alone products. For the most part, these vendors will either be acquired by pure play OSS software vendors (a la Red Hat), acquired by a traditional software vendor or go under.

I’m beginning to think:

  1. Consolidation in the traditional software market is in full swing and will only continue.
  2. The pure play OSS vendor market will face a similar degree of consolidation.
  3. As #2 happens, investors in OSS vendors will (strongly) direct OSS vendors to seek a buyout from a traditional software vendor. Just think about how many traditional software companies have been able to make it on their own vs. how many have been acquired.
  4. A large portion of pure play OSS vendors will find new homes within a traditional software vendor.
  5. As #4 happens, traditional software vendors will have to adjust their business models to include the OSS business model as another choice, or in some cases, the only choice, for delivering high quality software at the lowest total cost of ownership.

When this happens, will we say that open source won or that the traditional software model won? Ummm. Yes? As I’ve mentioned before, this is why I’m not a big fan of the “us vs. them” approach. The open source business model is great, and I support it. But it won’t replace the traditional software business model anytime soon or wholesale. An evolution as the two models blur together is much more likely. So, let’s focus on “us and them”.

A JBoss employee took exception to a recent post and left me a comment. I’m reply to him here as this would make for a really long comment reply to him ;-)


I do not consider you, or your colleagues at JBoss “evil sell-outs”. This is actually one point that I’m in 100% agreement with Marc Fleury. We all need to eat, so at some point, we’re going look for a company to fund our 9-5 work. Community holding hands, but not dancing

My point is that you can’t use JBoss projects or Sun Java projects (openJDK, Glassfish) as a test of the open source development model. They are all lacking an important component of open source, namely, community. (As seen by the image of “holding hands = good” from a Flickr user)

Let me address a few of your points:

[1] <paraphrase> “JBoss app server was developed largely by the community, and then these developers were hired by JBoss”. </paraphrase>

The difference between what you describe and what we have seen in the Linux community is that these early (and key) developers got hired by one of many Linux distros. Also, some developers already worked at large IT vendors. The result was a healthy tension between doing what’s right for the community and what’s right for “my employer”. Maximizing the former is obviously good, but the debates that result from the latter often lead to better ideas which in turn help the former. The fact that no one company dominated the community is what has led to success of the community, and the Linux product as a result.

True community requires that there are people with different motivations along with a joint community motivation. Once a company starts hiring, and as a result, controlling, the majority of developers who were contributing to the project, the community starts to disappear. If you disagree, then I’d say that every software company in the world has a ‘community development model’. For example, you were interested in JBoss products and then got hired by JBoss and I was interested in WebSphere and then got hired by IBM. What is the difference?

I don’t think your description of the history of JBoss and my definition of true community differs on semantics alone. We’re really talking about two very different approaches to development, and only can be called community development.

[2] “there is still a considerable amount of contribution from people getting paychecks from outside of JBoss.”

Can you provide a list of people who have commit access to JBoss products and add a column to indicate which company they work for? In fact, Fleury spoke about “opening our governance” in a recent eWeek article. He can say that JBoss has a restrictive governance model because JBoss cares about the resulting code. But that is quite disingenuous. You don’t need a restrictive governance model to get high quality code. See: Apache, Linux or Eclipse as examples of open governance models, great products and true open source community.

[3] “Hibernate, Tomcat, the portal, Seam, Drools, etc… All of the projects that make up the entire JBoss “product” are done with considerable “community”. ”

There is a difference between a community project that JBoss is involved in versus a JBoss project that is open to the (wink, wink) community.

Let’s start with Tomcat, which falls into the former category. To indicate that Tomcat is related to the JBoss organization is what I find “evil” about JBoss. The Tomcat community existed well before JBoss decided to hire one of the contributors. And unlike JBoss projects, the Tomcat (Jakarta) project is a true open source community project with committers from several competing companies. So, if you want to argue that JBoss, at times, contributes to true open source community projects, then I’ll buy that.

Hibernate, Drools & Seam: Google each one and tell me that these are not examples of the latter category (i.e. a JBoss product developed in the open). Or better yet, how about a list of committers with company affiliations.

In summary, let me just say that I’m not dismissing JBoss because you guys are competitors. I’m pointing out that there is very little that your organization has done in terms of opening your development model to the community. And hence, one cannot use JBoss as a test for open source innovation because your company lacks a key component of the open source business model, an open community. I see your efforts with Group Bull as a step in the right direction. But it’s way to early to tell the outcome.

If you’d like to reply to this as a mainline post here, (not in the comments which people may miss), please let me know. I’ll post a verbatim copy of what you send. Or if you reply on your blog, please let me know also.



Matthew Aslett at Business Review Online has a summary of two surveys relevant to Red Hat customers. Some interesting points:

Of 54 Red hat customers interviewed by First Albany:
– 31% plan to use Oracle’s offerings as negotiation leverage against Red Hat during the next sales cycle.

Of 86 Red Hat customers interviewed by Pacific Crest:
– 64% said a discount would be ‘very important’ to keep them as a Red Hat customer
– 3% said a discount was ‘not at all important’ to remain a Red Hat customer

– 27% said they would remain Red Hat customers for a discount of 1%-24%
– 37% said they would remain Red Hat customers for a discount of 25%-49%
– 31% said they would remain Red Hat customers for a discount of 50%-74%

Customers often play competing vendors against their preferred vendor in order to get healthy discounts. I have experience with customers who did this with JBoss against BEA & WebSphere. A large degree of the “we’re considering JBoss” negotiation tactic was offset when we introduced WAS CE & support for Apache Geronimo.  Customers who were “considering JBoss” are now considering and using WAS CE. We’re finding that most customers use WAS CE along with other products from the WebSphere Application Server family.  It’s not an either/or discussion. It’s more about using the right product for the right need. As a result, our WAS Family revenue has grown substantially higher than the market rate.

How Red Hat reacts will be an interesting study of their maturing business strategy.

Okay, here’s another one of Dana’s stories that I take exception to. Note that I respect Dana’s writings and I read his blog daily.

In Reputation vs. marketing in open source by ZDNet‘s Dana Blankenhorn, he says:

One of the big stories for 2007 is going to be the battle between marketing and reputation…..You don’t see a lot of high-cost advertising from companies like RedHat. It’s not necessary.

Take a look at Red Hat’s advertising spending as a percentage of total revenue. Next, compare Red Hat’s SG&A spending (you know, where their Ad budget sits) to R&D spending. Let’s not forget to look at Red Hat SG&A spending as a percentage of total revenue. Now let’s compare Red Hat’s data to similar data from traditional IT vendors like IBM, Oracle or Microsoft. What do you find? Well, I’ve posted some of this before, but I’ll cut & paste it again:

Company Ad spending
as % of
Total Rev
SG&A to
SG&A as
% of
Total Rev
R&D as
% of
Total Rev
IBM 1.4% 3.6x 23% 6*% Full year 2005
Microsoft 2.8% 2.1x 31% 15% Fiscal year 2006
Oracle 0.7% 2.0x 26% 11% Fiscal year 2006
Red Hat 4.6% 3.1x 54% 18% 6 months Fiscal 2006

[Note: To find Advertising spending, do a “CTRL-F” search for the word “advertising” in the above SEC filings. The data is included in text, and not usually in a nice table format in the filings.]
[*Note 2: IBM drives significant revenue from services.  While IBM likely does invest R&D into services research, a much lower percentage is likely required than for pure science R&D]

So, whether or not Red Hat is putting out a lot of “high-cost advertising” or not, they sure are spending their fair share (and then some) on advertising. It should also raise a few eyebrows that Red Hat SG&A spending is such a large % of their total revenue. Yes, if we looked at absolute Ad spending, Red Hat would be spending far less than the others ($4.2M vs. $1.284B for IBM) on Advertising. But it doesn’t make sense to look at absolute figures when revenues differ so much amongst the group. Hence the need for a proportional analysis.

Now, here’s what gets me. It took me 20 minutes to pull this data together when I first posted it and another 10 minutes to get the Ad spending data today. Why couldn’t Dana (or Matt in this case) do the same before repeating “obvious truths” about Red Hat or open source in general? Have we all had too much of the Kool-Aid? We (the collective open source supporters) need to present analysis based on facts rather than “obvious truths” if we are to appear credible to those who don’t gork the value of open source just yet.

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