Most complete customer application infrastructures have long been built on middleware products Oracle Weblogic and IBM Websphere, and many think that application renewal needs to stem from these products.
Solution providers can help their customers save a lot of money, however, by moving some of their middleware services to
JBoss started out as open source software, but since Red Hat purchased it in 2006, the application server has become enterprise ready. JBoss performs as well in the enterprise as WebLogic or WebSphere for a fraction of the price. The exact pricing depends on what exactly the customer wants, but in some cases the software license costs are 80% less than competing products. That is one reason why major companies worldwide have started to move over parts of their middleware solutions to JBoss.
An example of a company taking advantage of this trend is Dutch airline company KLM, a member of the Sky Alliance, which has migrated parts of their application infrastructure to JBoss. By doing this, KLM saved large amounts of money, said Gertjan Vaessen, Sales Manager with Red Hat in the Benelux.
"They didn't move over their complete infrastructure and it isn't necessary to move over everything to get a huge cost benefit,” Vasessen said. “In fact, migrating everything to a new platform often is too much hassle, but by implementing new parts on a JBoss infrastrucure, I see companies saving lots of money."
JBoss’s popularity rose when, because of its open source nature, developers started using it to create software solutions. Often they started using the free version in development, but then purchased the enterprise version upon moving to a production environment. Many software developers also included the free version of JBoss in their products.
Independent software vendors (ISVs) selling solutions also helped JBoss managed solutions’ popularity grow. Red Hat partners five years ago were, for the most part ISVs, mainly resellers that worked through the channel, and the product was often driven by the technology department. The open source advantage of JBoss is that it is inviting for a developer to start using for new applications.
Once the application has proved successful, the company moves over to the enterprise version and everyone is happy. The customer is satisfied because JBoss pricing is competitive when stacked up against other companies, and the partner gains revenue because he can sell the enterprise version of JBoss.
JBoss’s success in ISV environments has now shifted to VARs and systems integrators. JBoss is really interesting for VARs because plays into their business of building solutions for customers and providing additional value. VARs can help customers develop solutions based on JBoss and, because of the beneficial pricing, gain better margin. This motivates VAR and systems integrators to sell JBoss solutions. But it also works the other way around in that customers are smart enough to realize that JBoss is a lot cheaper and will ask for JBoss products themselves.
The risks and benefits of open source
Vaessen says that JBoss, as an open source product, doesn’t provide additional security challenges and actually helps customers avoid problems.
"With the large scale of adoption of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), companies have learned that open source software is ready for the enterprise and, in fact, it provides some additional benefits,” Vaessen said. “Because the software is open, errors are more likely to be discovered. And, maybe more important, the openness of the software guarantees that the sources will always remain available, in contradiction to how it works in proprietary environments."
Also, JBoss being open source software has helped the product become successful because developers can download it for free and build their applications on top of it. "This shows by the amount of annual JBoss downloads, 100 million this year with this amount doubling every year since we've bought JBoss,"Vaessen said.
VARs and systems integrators can use JBoss to help their customers develop and move applications to the JBoss middleware platform. Because JBoss is open source, it can be more secure than some other products and customers will be drawn to its low price tag.
About the expert
Sander van Vugt is an independent trainer and consultant living in the Netherlands. Van Vugt is an expert in Linux high availability, virtualization and performance and has completed several projects that implement all three. He is also the writer of various Linux-related books, such as Beginning the Linux Command Line, Beginning Ubuntu Server Administrationand Pro Ubuntu Server Administration.
This was first published in September 2011