JBoss expands open-source reach

The open-source software company says it will provide consulting services for other Java-related open-source projects and hire their lead programmers.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
3 min read
Open-source software company JBoss Group said Monday that it will provide consulting services for other Java-related open-source projects and will hire their lead programmers.

The move is designed to boost the company's revenue by expanding the number of open-source products for which it provides support services. In a model the company calls "professional open source," JBoss Group gives away its namesake Java server software for free and makes money by providing support services for it.

With the deals announced Monday, JBoss Group will now sell services for software from the Tomcat, JGroups, Hibernate, Javassist and Nukes projects. As part of the arrangement, the lead developers from Tomcat, JGroups and Hibernate will become JBoss employees, and the project heads of Javassist and Nukes will work with JBoss Group on a consulting basis.

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These open-source projects will remain independent in that development on each product will continue under the auspices of their respective leaders.

The move will allow JBoss to ensure that each open-source product works well with the JBoss software and expand the potential revenue the company generates from services, said Marc Fleury, the company's president and founder.

"We go out and hire these guys and turn them into professionals, as opposed to an amateur or a hobbyist," said Fleury. "Other (companies) expand by acquisition or by deepening their (software) stack. We expand by recruiting those projects."

In adding the Hibernate project to its fold, JBoss will replace its existing "persistence engine," or software for performing database queries, with Hibernate in the JBoss server software. JBoss will also adopt some of the JGroups clustering software. Similarly, the Tomcat software, which is a widely used Java program for serving up Web pages, will become the default Web software in JBoss.

JBoss Group relies on about 25 "core" programmers to update its software and provide consulting to customers. The company lost some from its ranks in June when a few JBoss contributors defected to form their own open-source Java server alternative called the Core Developers Network.

JBoss also announced on Monday a partnership program designed to recruit packaged-software providers and consultants to resell JBoss software. Under the partnership program, JBoss partners offer support for initial queries or problems. JBoss Group itself will provide round-the-clock support for issues that escalate beyond basic implementation and development, the company said.

The more structured partnership program is another move by JBoss to make its software more attractive to corporate customers. The company is also negotiating with Sun Microsystems to attain certification that the JBoss software adheres to the Java 2 Enterprise Edition standard, which is important to businesses. JBoss has also joined the Java Community Process, the mechanism for updating and standardizing Java.

Use of JBoss Group's software, which is popular with Java programmers for building business applications, has grown largely through word of mouth with developers since its founding in 1999. The company has managed to garner a number of corporate accounts and partnerships with other software providers, including Apple Computer and WebMethods, which resell the JBoss software.