I purposely didn’t write about the Exadel partnership when it was announced as I wanted to get some more details on it. A week has passed and little has been written that furthers my understanding. And I must apologize for not emailing someone at JBoss to get some clarification (it’s been busy here). As such, I ask you to read the comments before finishing this post, in case one of my JBoss readers writes in to correct my take on the deal.

Here is the quote from the TSS discussion on this deal:

Sacha Labourey: “The Red Hat and Exadel partnership is twofold. First, Exadel will open source its commercial products — Exadel Studio Pro and RichFaces — at JBoss.org as Red Hat Studio Developer and JBoss RichFaces, respectively. Exadel is also moving its popular Ajax4jsf project, currently hosted on java.net, to JBoss.org, where it will become JBoss Ajax4jsf. Second, Red Hat and Exadel will continue developing the three projects going forward, including integration with existing JBoss platform technologies such as JBoss Seam. This ongoing development will be done under JBoss’s leadership.”

Then, JBoss/RH’s Gavin King comments:

“….. Seems like their (i.e. Exadel – added for clarity by Savio) business has actually worked out pretty damn well, given that we just paid them a whole bundle of money to get this deal done. ;-) This is not a typical case of a commercial vendor deciding to give away a product they couldn’t sell, in a last-ditch attempt to get users. Rather, this is an acquisition of successful technology, for money. It follows the model of JBoss Transactions, which was acquired from Arjuna, and JBoss ESB, which was acquired from Aviva. …..”

Am I off in left field when I think that this is little more than JBoss/RH acquiring technology from Exadel for a price? That the “….decided to open source the products at jboss.org” parts of the announcement are more about the cash that changed hands and less about validation of any community site? Reading Gavin’s comments leads me to think as much.

Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, acquisitions are a way of life in the software industry.

What doesn’t sit well with me is that the TSS Q&A with Sacha and the JBoss/RH Q&A about the deal don’t really clarify if:

  • (A) Exadel decided to open source their products and choose the JBoss/RH community because of its strategic fit with Exadel goals or for whatever reason that Exadel would feel that one ‘community’ is better than another ‘community’
  • (B) Exadel was paid to transfer their copyrights to JBoss/RH, and the open sourcing of Exadel products at JBoss/RH was part of the deal

I’m not the expert, but I don’t think that the Apache Software Foundation or Eclipse ever paid a 3rd party to decide to open source a product into the Apache or Eclipse community. When IBM acquired Gluecode, (which was building products on top of Apache Geronimo), we positioned the deal as what it was, an acquisition. Nice and clear.

Can anyone at JBoss/RH shed some light on who owns the copyrights to the code going forward? Because that should be a simple way of knowing if this was a 3rd party endorsing the JBoss/RH community or a 3rd party selling their IP to JBoss/RH.

Either way, it’s a business decision. But I don’t think it’s cool to paint an acquisition of technology as a partnership that endorses a community/external development site.