I didn't know all the history behind JBoss until I read Shaun Connolly's blog on the topic. It turns out that JBoss has been stalking BEA for some time. Unfortunately for BEA, IBM and JBoss now appear to be poised to eclipse its once-thriving business altogether.
JBoss never should have happened, as Bob Pasker once wrote. BEA ceded the field of battle to JBoss by fixating on IBM:
While BEA was looking "up" at its biggest competitor IBM, JBoss was busily undercutting BEA at the bottom end....JBoss launched an innovator's dilemma attack against BEA, not with a revolutionary product, but with a revolutionary business model, one that BEA couldn't hope to copy without cannibalizing its existing revenue stream. BEA fell right into the trap.
The rest is history. Oracle is exceptional at integrating companies. But I think IBM (WebSphere + Geronimo) and JBoss (and Tomcat) now have too much momentum. Oracle acquired the rights to yesterday's application server. Tomorrow belongs to open source and those founded upon it.