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By Richard Smith

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Posted: 18 May 2005

Richard Smith
Developer Content Manager
Novell, Inc.

Professional Open Source from JBoss, Inc.

An issue that most often arises when the talk of implementing Open Source Software (OSS) in an Enterprise is of support. Enterprises do not like to have to worry about outages, be they hardware or software, and given the basic nature of OSS, anyone using it is basically expected to support themselves. After all, that's why you get the source code; if it's broken fix it yourself (and give the fixes back to the community.) This works well in an organization that maintains a development and support staff, but increasingly these activities are being outsourced as a cost savings measure.

JBoss, Inc has long been a champion of OSS being a viable replacement for expensive, closed source applications. The JBoss Enterprise Middleware System (JEMS) is a very complete and flexible middleware solution that allows enterprises to replace existing commercial middleware solutions with a system that encourages growth and openness. JEMS is a integral part of Novell's enterprise strategy and Novell actively supports the JBoss efforts with contributions to both the code base and development resources to bring JEMS to its fullest potential.

JEMS includes everything needed to complete the middleware development cycle from the Eclipse IDE with JBoss plug-ins to the highly regarded JBoss Application Server. Look for a number of articles here on Cool Solutions for Developers that will focus on JBoss and how to best make use of its capabilities. If your organization is considering a move to OSS but some of the concerns raised are around support, take a look at what JBoss has to offer.

Open Source Java Runtime from Apache Software Foundation

The announcement of the Apache Software Foundation's project, named Harmony, to build an open source alternative to Sun's Java Virtual Machine, has met with mixed reactions within the developer community. At first glance one might tend to say 'Just what the world needs, yet another JVM to support.' On the other hand we are hearing that this is just what the industry needs, an open source version of the Java 2 Standard Edition runtime. This also touches upon a few other areas that typically arise when an open source project is created in response to a high profile commercial offering.

What are the pro's and/or con's based on your point of view?

The first argument that typically comes up regarding open sourcing, is that with the source code you can make certain that the software does what you want, the way you want it done. This is a very good argument, but in reality, how many developers really want to spend their time (or more accurately, how many employers will allow the use of the developer's time) playing with the source code for some infrastructure piece of software. But this is an option, and under the right set of circumstances, it could prove to be a really valuable option at that. After all, this availability of source is the most compelling thing about the Open Source Software movement.

Another positive would be that having ASF behind a JVM, given their track record of creating solid applications, would mean that developers would have choices when deploying Java applications. This creation of a choice should lead to better JVMs through the competition and innovation that it will create. No doubt Sun will push the Java envelope and naturally ASF will follow, as will other non-Sun virtual machines. The issue this raises is that releases from sources other than Sun typically lag behind when it comes to compatibility with Sun's Java implementation.

Perhaps the biggest concern regarding the project is the inadvertent inclusion of code from some other source that would violate another company's Intellectual Property rights. Apache appears to be prepared to deal with this concern from the start, so it will likely not become an issue in the future.

Overall, the Harmony project seems to be a very good thing for the industry, providing another option for developers when they are developing and deploying Java applications. You can read the up-to-date FAQ on Harmony here.

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