Open-Source Excitement - InformationWeek

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4/12/2006
08:27 PM
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Open-Source Excitement

Some are getting all hysterical over Red Hat's entry into the middleware market, like it's going to change the IT landscape as we know it. But I don't think so.

Things have certainly been hopping in the open-source world lately. Last week Microsoft announced that Windows will be able to host Linux applications by means of its virtual server software, then followed up with a new site devoted to explaining its Linux moves to its customers.More recently, Red Hat, one of the top-two distributors of Linux to the corporate crowd, said it's going to buy JBoss, which makes open-source middleware. Some say Red Hat and JBoss, whose products also run on Windows and has had a sweet deal going with Microsoft, are going to hoist themselves on their own petard, and as a result Novell and its Suse Linux will win the day. That could well happen, but a lot depends on how Red Hat and JBoss handle that business and how Microsoft responds in turn. We'll see.

Other observers are saying the Red Hat-JBoss linkup will squeeze IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, and others trying to do the open-source dance with corporate America. Thing is, Red Hat has been selling and certifying open-source development tools for around five months now, and the market hasn't changed dramatically in that time. I doubt it will do so because of this acquisition.

Some are getting all hysterical over Red Hat's entry into the middleware market, like it's going to change the IT landscape as we know it. But I don't think so. While it's certainly true that Red Hat and JBoss have a much more prestigious open-source pedigree than do almost any of the traditional IT vendors--including, or perhaps especially, IBM and Microsoft--that's so not the point.

Like it or not, the Linux faithful are, by and large, not the same people who make corporate IT buying decisions. They may have some say if the boss asks what software to buy, but can you imagine a CIO saying to herself, "Oh, I think I'll ditch my .Net development environment (or WebSphere or enter corporate app-dev tool of your choice here...) because Red Hat and JBoss are now the same company"? Nah, me neither.

Instead, the linkup will allow Red Hat to go deeper within those organizations that have already committed to open source as their philosophy. It will give one more viable choice to developers who want a true open-source means of creating applications. But it's not going to change those who are afraid of, or opposed to, doing business the open-source way because of competitive, political, or other pressures.

What do you think? Comment below.Some are getting all hysterical over Red Hat's entry into the middleware market, like it's going to change the IT landscape as we know it. But I don't think so.

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