Red Hats Szulik Discusses JBoss Deal

Q&A: Red Hat CEO Matt Szulik talks about the ramifications of the acquisition and the potential partner fallout.

Now that the dust has settled on Red Hats April 10 announcement that it plans to buy JBoss for $350 million, CEO Matt Szulik took time to talk to eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli about the deal, its ramifications and the potential partner fallout that may follow.

Did Red Hat initially approach JBoss about this acquisition, and when was that?

I have known [JBoss CEO] Marc [Fleury] for a long time and we have had many neutral discussions. But it was Red Hat that seriously approached Marc and the JBoss investors about the acquisition some nine months ago.

Were you concerned when you heard that JBoss was negotiating a deal with Oracle, and had that deal taken place, what would your backup move have been?

I need to be candid with you, I never had that discussion with Marc or his people as I did not find it terribly relevant because we were focused on getting Marc and his team as part of an open-source company.

From your perspective, why is this deal so important to Red Hat, and how does it position the company going forward?

It certainly broadens our product portfolio into an adjacent market, the middleware market. Over the last 18 months we heard growing requests from government and commercial accounts that had JBoss and were using Tomcat and Hibernate and wanted Red Hat to take a more direct position in that market. They also wanted the service competencies that we can deliver globally.

The commercial markets are beginning to standardize on a Linux and open-source position—financially, technically and license wise—and we in a very good position to pursue those relationships.

/zimages/5/28571.gifTo read more about Red Hats acquisition of JBoss, click here.

Also, we believe that the whole notion of component-based application development needed to have an open source influence amidst the large proprietary vendors so that the standards and interfaces, essentially at the application level, have representation in an opinion from an open source organization.

Clearly Marc has done a great job of recruiting great technologists and developers and we were really anxious to have the interactions with those teams and ultimately have them as part of our development team.

Where would you like to see Red hat positioned as a company over the next few years?

If you look at the evolution of Red Hat, we first had to legitimize an economic model of open source. In 2000 the business subsisted of selling a retail box at CompUSA and Frys, so to think that today we are running and managing some of the worlds most complicated computing architectures, whether for the production of movies or financial transactions, it is a great statement to the continued evolution of what we believe is software as a service.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about developers seeing Red Hat and JBoss as a good fit.

But the JBoss acquisition is really a strategic one, as it puts us very close to a group of developers and moves us into the next generation application development platform. And when you augment that with the work we are doing around certification and testing, and the security models we are building in and around the Linux operating system now that we can move up and through the middleware space and the inclusion of the directory technology, what you are beginning to see is Red Hat building an economic model, product portfolio and a service relationship that will position us as the next generation enterprise technology company.

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