Will Red Hat Lose Powerful Friends with JBoss Buy?

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 04-11-2006 Print Email
News Analysis: Analysts weigh in on whether Oracle and IBM will now turn their backs on Red Hat, and what that might mean for HP, Novell and the open-source community.

Does Red Hat's acquisition of JBoss for $350 million conflict with the very cozy relationship that has existed between Red Hat, IBM and Oracle?

Some analysts think it does.

"IBM and Oracle now clearly see JBoss as a major competitive threat and will be less likely to favor Red Hat going forward," said Scott Donahue of analyst firm Tier 1 Research, a division of The 451 Group.

"We also predict that there will be cultural clashes between JBoss CEO Marc Fleury and Red Hat CEO Matt Szulik going forward."

But that deal is not necessarily bad news for Novell in the longer term, he said, since IBM would be "forced to move more rapidly to embrace Novell, and perhaps even acquire the company. Novell will likely benefit from the transaction in the longer-term, as it will continue to work with JBoss and will find more love from both Armonk [IBM] and Redwood Shores [Oracle]," he said.

Click here to read more about how IBM's WebSphere challenges JBoss.

But JBoss board member David Skok, who is also a general partner at venture capitalist Matrix Partners in Boston—an early investor in JBoss —told eWEEK in an interview that he did not believe the deal would have any impact on JBoss' existing good relationship with Oracle.

But he was a little less sure about IBM's reaction.

"There is some risk with IBM and they may well take offense given that JBoss competes head-on with their WebSphere products," he said.

Asked if any possible chilling of IBM's relationship with both JBoss and Red Hat concerned him, Skok said there is always a positive for every potential negative and the deal was likely to garner the combined firm more business from Hewlett-Packard.

"I believe HP is looking for a single-stack provider that can help them synchronize releases and have just one place to point to for support issues," Skok said.

"I expect HP to be very excited about this move and to put a lot more emphasis behind this stack than they would have done with the two vendors previously. They are also actually a bigger channel for Red Hat than IBM."

But the business side of the open-source community is touting the deal as indelible proof that there is a valid business model around open-source software and that customers are willing to pay for those solutions.

The deal also effectively disproves many of the comments that competitors with proprietary business models have made about Linux and open-source software, most notably that customers are not willing to pay for it, that these solutions are free and that there are no business models around them, OSDL (Open Source Development Labs) CEO Stuart Cohen told eWEEK in an interview on April 10.

OSDL is also embracing the fact that both parties to this deal are companies with long open-source histories.

Next Page: Keeping it in the open-source family.



 

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