Red Hat: From Cuddly Penguin to Public Enemy No. 1

Q&A: Marc Fleury, senior vice president of Red Hat's JBoss division, sounds off on the Red Hat-JBoss integration, including his frustration with the lack of investment in JBoss R&D, plans to evolve the JBoss code base and governance model, and how


BERLIN—Marc Fleury, senior vice president of Red Hats JBoss division, sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft at the JBoss World conference here Nov. 20-22 and discussed a variety of subjects including increasing the Red Hat investment in JBoss R&D, evolving the JBoss code base and governance model, hiring, technology, and the Red Hat "cuddly penguin" growing some teeth.

Whats been going on with the JBoss folks for the last six months? Its been quiet.

Its been quiet. Its been a little bit too quiet for my tastes. So weve been working on the integration with Red Hat. Sales has been integrated. R&D hasnt been impacted, and were trying to grow this operation.

The integration was difficult work so far.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about Red Hats acquisition of JBoss.

Yeah, well, you know what your haters are saying …

What are they saying?

Theyre saying you guys just went to ground, that you just took the money and ran.

Well, the products that were putting out right now just prove this wrong. Theres been tremendous work on the AS [application server] 5 release in terms of clustering, the microcontainer being completely revamped to a POJO [Plain Old Java Objects] microcontainer that is state of the art and works on other platforms. Theres been a lot of work around the ESB [Enterprise Service Bus] effort and jBPM [Java Business Process Management]. Tom Baeyens [a JBoss core developer] is on fire with jBPM. And Gavin [King, a JBoss core developer] is on fire with Seam. This whole team is putting out some of the most exciting technologies in the Web landscape period, not just Java.

On the flip side, Ill say I went to Red Hat to get an investment in the JBoss R&D division to grow it quickly. That still really hasnt happened. Thats a bit of a point of frustration for me personally. But thats going to happen, because now we have to grow our stack and we have to grow it fast in light of the competition at the Linux level. And theyre all competing with us because they want to slow down our momentum in middleware.

So thats maybe where people are spreading rumors that the middleware has ground to a halt. But clearly what we should do as Red Hat is in fact accelerate this middleware movement. So were working on that.

JBoss has been a part of Red Hat for six months now. How are things working? Are you being given marching orders by the operating system folks, or vice versa? Who is wagging the dog?

I have no power. This is not my company. I have sold my company. So me personally, I am not wagging the dog. But Im irrelevant in this equation. The important thing is that the developers are continuing their work unencumbered. And I hope it continues this way, because when all is said and done, Red Hat management is all about OS, not about middleware. And I would hate for them to get in their own way with respect to development.

I mentioned earlier that Im a little bit disappointed that there is still no significant investment in the R&D division. We invested in sales, support and marketing, but this is really the operational side. The R&D really hasnt benefited from a huge investment for which I was hoping and was the main reason I went to Red Hat.

The flip side of that is they havent really gotten in the way yet. There have been some rumblings and sometimes we clash because there are different cultures and different approaches to open source. So its not the huge positive I was hoping for; its not the negative that it could be if they really got in the way. Right now its neutral and I think an investment is whats needed, and were still waiting for that.

Next Page: The JBossian attitude.