So Long, Sacha: JBoss CTO Goes Out on Top

Sacha Labourey, who shepherded JBoss through its integration into Red Hat following Marc Fleury's departure, has himself called it a day after eight years with the open-source middleware maker. Labourey leaves the company that Marc built in good shape and good hands with his replacement, Mark Little. Sacha Labourey, CTO and former right-hand man of founder Marc Fleury, has left Red Hat's JBoss division.

Sacha called to share his decision prior to announcing it, and the first thing he did was pull my leg. "I've decided it's time to go and I've accepted a position with SpringSource," he said.

You'd have to know a little more of the history -- between both the companies and between Sacha and I -- to get the exact relevance. But he has not joined SpringSource (though it would be lucky to add him to its capable team). In fact, he said he is not going to work anywhere full-time for a while -- at least three to six months.

However, "I'll remain as a consultant to Paul Cormier and I'll do some product work," he said. Cormier is Red Hat's executive vice president and president of products and technologies for the company.

"I love JBoss and I worked to make the transition successful," Labourey said of JBoss' move from an independent company to becoming part of Red Hat, which happened nearly three years ago.

Labourey came to JBoss as a contributor to the code base and quickly became a consultant and confidant to Fleury, who left JBoss in 2007. Through it all Labourey was and remains a true JBossian -- fiercely loyal to the JBoss way. He said he is most proud of what JBoss was able to do in growing from a small operation to "become a true force and to build a positive chemistry." Then, post-acquisition, Labourey says he is most proud of bringing JBoss into line with the RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) release cadence and the Red Hat platform. "It has been very successful," he said.

In a blog post about his departure, Labourey said:

""So, why am I leaving now? Well, JBoss is kicking and well alive. Sales are booming, the product pipeline is full and new talents are energizing our ranks. We are now 33 months after the acquisition of JBoss by Red Hat and it is fair to say it is a great success.""

Yet, in our conversation, Labourey also discussed some of the challenges he faced at JBoss following Fleury's departure. "JBoss used to be Marc Fleury's JBoss, Marc Fleury's personality ... And people asked if I was going to be like Marc -- very vocal. I never wanted that," he said. When Fleury left, "part of my role was to make it [JBoss] Red Hat's JBoss, not Marc Fleury's," he said.

Of his future plans after the six-month cooldown, Labourey said, "I've been at JBoss for the last eight years and I have a few projects in mind. But nothing in middleware. I would like to be at JBoss World in Chicago in September, but only if I buy my own ticket."

Red Hat announced that Labourey's replacement is Mark Little, who had been SOA (service-oriented architecture) technical development manager and director of standards for JBoss.

"I'm pleased to leave him the keys to the house," Labourey said.

Eric Newcomer, an independent consultant working in the office of the CTO at Progress Software and a chair of the enterprise expert group at the OSGi Alliance, said, "Mark can really help break some of the insular JBoss culture and improve the level of industry participation and collaboration -- something they need right now to keep pace with the rapid changes occurring in Java and Web-based computing." Newcomer has worked on several standards committees with Little.

Meanwhile, Labourey spoke on some of the issues of the day in the Java world, such as IBM's potential acquisition of Sun Microsystems. "I hope IBM acquires Sun," he said. "It's a good deal and it brings new life to the JCP [Java Community Process]. Sun's problem is they are not able to innovate fast enough for us in the ecosystem, but at the same time they are not accepting external innovation. And their fight with Apache has just gone on too long. I think IBM could bring new freedom to the JCP."

I always enjoyed meeting with Sacha -- hanging out at JavaOne and JBoss World events. I appreciated his sense of humor, his depth of knowledge, his patience at explaining some of the deeper technical details of a story and his loyalty to his JBoss crew.

So long, Sacha.