Force of Standards

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-06-28 Print this article Print

BEA has described its Beehive open-source strategy as not being orthogonal to the JCP, but rather an additional way to get some more speed into the system while at the same time respecting the JCP. As you can see with JBoss, open source and the JCP are not orthogonal. The open-source process and the process of building a product in the community can be extremely fast or can be extremely slow. It all depends on who in the community is actually doing the evolution. Were very satisfied with the pace at which the market is evolving. The problem for some of the vendors is the open-source movement is actually causing them competition.
JBoss and Websphere and the J2EE reference implementation are three products that are built in a very different way. I see a pretty significant uptake of the J2EE reference implementation of JBoss, and I see [IBM] having an increasingly difficult time raising [Webspheres] price, and moreover theyre having a difficult time delivering new technology that the JCP has not ratified as a part of the standard.
For more collaboration coverage, check out Steve Gillmors Blogosphere. Its not so much that theyre having a problem evolving their own technology as that customers are pushing back on them saying, "Look, I really rely on having a standard so I can substitute another product for yours if I am dissatisfied with your price, licensing or support model." Thats the leveling force of standards. The standards level the playing field—which if you are a market laggard are a wonderful way of catching up—and if youre the market leader are an unfortunate threat. Its called competition. Were actually a big fan of competition and have been for a very long time. And if that competition comes from the open-source community or from a vendor that is leading the pack with having the best implementation in the marketplace, so be it. Are you aware of [BEA chief architect ] Adam Bosworths Alchemy initiative? No. Its a caching mechanism that will be open-sourced, turned into a standard that would allow a rich client … Careful with what you just said. You said open source and thus turned into a standard. Theres a difference between open source and open standards. Open standards are those that are agreed to by a broad segment of the community. Open source is simply a licensing convention. If you take a look at BEAs strategy for the Apache Beehive project, it is open-sourcing neither the Weblogic Workshop IDE nor the servers. What its open-sourcing is the framework, essentially the runtime. Theres an analogy there with what IBM is doing with the Workplace environment; theyre trying to get the Eclipse runtime on the desktop. Youve already got a runtime on the desktop. Its called the Java Virtual Machine. Exactly. Next page: Leveraging the JVM.

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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