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After a much publicized courting, JBoss has become engaged, but to someone else. Nonetheless the chase was a bit fun while it lasted. In fact, just about anything about JBoss president Marc Fleury is amusing because of the way he has personalized his venture's David and Goliath saga.

But make no doubt about it, this is serious business. As we noted several months back, although sentiment is hardly unanimous, open source is a business, not a Robin Hood crusade.

While Fleury went on baiting folks like IBM in public, his quest to make JBoss the next dominant Java platform was deadly serious. A couple months back, the rumored suitor was Oracle, which has started its own open (or to borrow a term from BEA, blended) source strategy. While we could imagine Fleury et al wanting to cash out, we had a hard time imagining how JBoss would have stayed relevant inside Oracle, where it would have been another side show.

Although JBoss and Red Hat follow different open source business models (see onStrategies Perspectives, http://www.ebizq.net/topics/real_time_enterprise/features/6788.html), we think this one's a much better fit because JBoss becomes Red Hat's de facto middleware stack, rather than just another piece.

For JBoss, this is of course the natural exit strategy for any up and coming startup that's hitting the wall. For Red Hat, it's another piece in the puzzle to become the de facto platform alternative to Microsoft. We wouldn't be surprised if database was next on Red Hat's list, as analyst Brenda M. Michelson of Patricia Seybold Group ventured.

Or as fellow analyst Keith Harrison-Broninski (http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/it_directions/) suggested, it's another step in the Microsoft alternative building itself into another Microsoft. He suggested that in the short run, developers would embrace this deal, but he's worried about the implications for the long run. We agree with part of his sentiments.

As we've noted previously, the popularity of open source isn't because it's open source, but because it's a way for customers to acquire commodity technology for a commodity price. Admittedly, as open source powers like Red Hat bulk up their spread and penetration, there's always the question of vendor lock-in, which in turn leads to price escalation.


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