Red Hat: JBoss to Capture Half of Middleware Market

Red Hat officials have big business plans for it's underperforming JBoss middleware server.

Whatever else you can say about new Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, you can't say he thinks small.

At the JBoss World 2008 tradeshow Feb. 13 in Orlando, Fla., Whitehurst said Red Hat plans not only for JBoss Enterprise Middleware to take 50 percent of the enterprise middleware market by 2015, but for JBoss' revenue to grow twice as fast as Red Hat's flagship Linux operating system during the next three years.

During Red Hat's second fiscal quarter 2007, which ended Aug. 31, then-CEO Matthew Szulik said that the "rate of JBoss bookings and revenue to date has not met our expectations. The company expected it to grow at twice the rate its core RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux] business has, but so far, it's about the same. We know we can do much better."

Under Whitehurst, that hope is firmly established as a goal.

Red Hat plans to accomplish this with its new "JBoss Enterprise Acceleration." The goal is to add to JBoss Enterprise Middleware portfolio, improve JBoss' performance, continue to expand its number of partners, and sponsor new and additional open-source projects.

Starting with JBoss' software offerings, Red Hat will add the JBoss Enterprise SOA (service-oriented architecture) Platform to the JBoss family. The company also announced that it will introduce "new community projects that are expected to become future JBoss Enterprise Middleware platforms or platform components." However, it was unclear which of JBoss' open-source projects, which aren't being used in the commercial product, are being considered for adoption.

Red Hat also will establish an Enterprise Acceleration Center to help accelerate JBoss' development. This center will feature a Performance Tuning Lab and a Live Certification Center. At the latter, ISVs and customers will be able to test their applications with both current and beta JBoss Enterprise Middleware software. The Enterprise Acceleration Center will also include a Migration Lab. There, Red Hat will work with customers to provide them with the best processes, partners, services and practices to help them transition from other middleware stacks to JBoss.

What all this means is that while "JBoss is already well-established in the developer community and has gained significant corporate adoption, we are now focused on expanding further into the enterprise with a comprehensive, open source middleware portfolio and programs to ensure confidence and success of mission-critical applications," Craig Muzilla, Red Hat vice president of middleware, said in a statement.

While Red Hat is focusing on improving the business side of JBoss as well as its technical side, it won't be doing that on its own. On Feb. 12, Appcelerator, an open-source Web 2.0 platform company, announced that Larry Augustin, a open-source venture capitalist, had had joined the company's advisory board. In announcing the appointment, Appcelerator officials said in a statement that Augustin and JBoss founder Marc Fleury, who is already on Appcelerator's board, will strengthen "Appcelerator's ties to JBoss."