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Red Hat's JBoss unloaded a spate of announcements this week. It announced its intention to buy Metamatrix to plug a key gap in its SOA strategy to provide data integration. That was the headline.

But it was the back story that snagged our attention. Namely that JBoss would now separate update schedules of its commercial product from the almost continual updates on its open source JBoss.org site. That indicated to us that the company was taking the last step to metamorphose from its early identity as rebel or threat to the established order.

Of course it was all a figment of founder Marc Fleury's imagination. Playing the role of enfant terrible-in-chief, he would often bait giants like IBM or Oracle (which was rumored to acquire JBoss before Red Hat swooped in).

But JBoss, and Fleury, has always had method to their madness. Make no mistake, Fleury's ramblings about being a band of a couple dozen developers taking on the Java industry was theatre (maybe not great theatre, but entertaining enough). Behind all that, JBoss was a business, not a social cause. And Fleury was intent on carving a sphere of influence, if not an all-out empire.

In that sense, there was a cultural similarity to Red Hat, minus the cult of personality.

Consequently, we have always viewed JBoss.org as having a different open source model than, say, the informal community that spawned Linux, or the foundation model of Apache. Although no vendor will admit it, vendor-sponsored communities like JBoss.org are created not out of altruism, but for mercenary purposes such as market development and adjunct R&D. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, not that there's anything wrong with that.

But this week's announcement of JBoss separating the .com and .org sides of its business indicated to us that the company was formally shedding its renegade identity in favor of something more ambitious: becoming claimant of the next enterprise development stack. Yes, contributions to .org will be encouraged, but the real business is providing enterprises stable releases on the .com side. Time to ratchet things down and gain sanity there.

And, although their technology is (or in the case of the proposed acquisition of Metamatrix, will be) open source, make no mistake, JBoss views Microsoft as its model. Microsoft may not have the best known partners in the universe (exhibit floors at the TechEd and Professional Developer conferences pale compared to JavaOne), but it has a huge devoted developer base that's not going away anytime soon.


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