Monday, April 10, 2006

Open source consolidation: Red Hat bids for JBoss

The software vendor consolidation trend is spreading to the open source sector, with Linux distribution and services provider Red Hat announcing its intent to acquire the popular open source application server vendor JBoss for at least $350 million. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close by the end of May.

The deal allows Red Hat, which sits squarely at the OS-level of the technology stack, the opportunity to move up into the middleware layer. It also gives Red Hat expertise and offerings for customers that are want to deploy a service-oriented architecture (SOA).

On JBoss's side, the deal gives the company access to Red Hat's worldwide distribution network. JBoss so far has been primarily selling into North America and European markets.

There are some interesting complications, however, in what the deal means for Microsoft. Although both providers are squarely in the open source market, it hasn't prevented JBoss from cooperating with Microsoft in allowing its middleware to run on top of Microsoft's Windows Server operating system. Combine this with Microsoft's recent announcement that it will support Linux running as a guest operating system under its Virtual Server product, which Microsoft is now offering as a free download.

The bedfellows keep getting stranger.

What does this mean for enterprise system buyers? It means more choices and options for deploying service oriented architectures over a low cost platform. SAP, Oracle, Lawson, and other major vendors are in the midst of a technology change to transition their systems to SOA, which allows easier mixing and matching of software components and the ability to build composite applications using pieces of existing applications. The Red Hat/JBoss combination provides a low cost OS and middleware platform that most if not all of these application vendors will want to support.

Computerworld has more on the Red Hat/JBoss deal.

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