The leader of the open-source JBoss Java application server environment said that if the group of developers that left his organization attempts to split—or “fork” as its called in the industry—the JBoss code base, he would sue them.
Marc Fleury, president of JBoss Group LLC, Atlanta, said he is prepared to take legal action if the group of developers who left the JBoss Group to form a new company, known as Core Developers Network LLC, attempts to diverge from the JBoss code base.
“I did think about them forking,” Fleury said. “If they fork JBoss, thats another problem. If theres a new JBoss, if they fork it and call it JBoss I would sue them. There is only one version that we control.”
Fleury spoke on the eve of his companys developer conference, JBoss Two, which is being held Wednesday in San Francisco during the same time as Sun Microsystems Inc.s annual JavaOne conference, and in the same block as the Moscone Center where JavaOne is held.
A spokesman for Core Developers said he does not believe JBoss LLC has any legal claim on Core Developers Networks. “I dont think they do, but its hard to answer that 100 percent.”
The spokesman said he was not sure whether Core Developers would seek J2EE certification. Though, “it would be a logical assumption,” he said
Moreover, Fleury said he had not seriously considered any legal pursuit because “its normal if guys are not progressing in a company and if they are not satisfied to leave. I think its business as usual. New York advertising agencies were created because people kept on leaving and creating their own businesses. Its a sign that JBoss is very successful.”
Yet, “when people get greedy and impatient they leave,” Fleury said.
Although seven individuals related to the JBoss platform make up the core group of Bloomington, Minn.-based Core Developers Network, Fleury said JBoss LLC lost only two people to the new company.
“There were two guys from the JBoss Group,” that left, Fleury said. “One of the guys wanted to be partner, but hed only been there eight months.”
In effect, Fleury said he is only losing two developers—Dain Sundstrom and David Jencks. “The impact in the project is zero. We lost two out of 90 read/write guys,” he said. “And the two had six customers out of 175 to 200 we now have. And no customers are dropping their JBoss contracts.”
However, JBoss remains an interesting example of how open-source technology can be commercialized. The company has been in an ongoing skirmish with Sun Microsystems Inc. over whether it should be allowed to call the JBoss application server a Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application server when the software has not proven compliance through Suns testing process.
Fleury has said the cost of the J2EE compliance test suite is prohibitive for his company. This has been a sore point with Sun.
Yet, he said if the new Core Developers Network opts to pay to certify JBoss—which will be the source of much of the companys services revenue—he would welcome it.
“If somebody certifies JBoss and I dont have to pay for it, Im happy,” he said.
Yet, in spite of being dismissive of the new Core group, Fleurys JBoss Group LLC may have more to be concerned about than he lets on. According to its Web site, the new group has developers who are expert in 11 software skill areas including JBoss.
But Fleury said he sees little in the way of potential competition from the upstart. “They are a copy cat of our model,” he said. “But they [the defectors] were not involved in the business and they were disgruntled. They also were not the sharpest ones” in the bunch, he added.
“Its a very simple equation,” Core Developers spokesman said. “We have a skill set and they have a skill set. Competition is a good thing. We believe the more people working on JBoss the better.”
Observers said the groups departure from JBoss LLC and the formation of the new company—all last week—was timed intentionally so as to coincide with JavaOne and JBoss Two. Yet, the new companys spokesman would only say that Core Developers will be at JavaOne “launching the company and talking to people interested in working with us. Its nice that its around JavaOne.”