When you hit them and they smile, you know you did something right

I love to watch boxing. Big. Fan.  That's why when I read Sacha's post on open source business models - which questioned Sun's business model around GlassFish -  the first thing that came to mind was a boxing analogy. When you hit someone hard and they smile as if to say "You didn't hurt me", well, you've hurt them.

Sticking with the boxing analogy, Sacha's watched one fight tape in a GlassFish career that is racking up many wins. His post reflects having incomplete information. It's true, by the way, that Sun offers unlimited deployments of GlassFish for $25,000 - or should I say starting at $25,000 for organizations under 1000 employees.  When replaying the rest of the tapes, one can see that we have a tiered approach not all that different from the Java Enterprise System. The primary differences are that we group employees into tiers (to align with MySQL Enterprise Unlimited), and that the offering is for a single product instead of a multitude of products. Of course, GlassFish & MySQL Enterprise Unlimited makes a nice one-two punch. As for software infrastructure @ Sun, it's grown year over year.

Based on competitive intelligence, I know that JBoss offers site licenses as well, but it's unclear to me if JBoss/Red Hat has part numbers and dollar figures committed for an all-you-can-eat subscription. I can say that Sun puts a stake in the ground and assign a part number and dollar figure to an unlimited subscription - a commitment to the customer up front. How much are \*you\* paying for a JBoss Enterprise Application Platform site license?

Now to address Sacha's free training point, and to extend the boxing analogy well beyond its usefulness and probably effectiveness - Don King. One of the roles of a fight promoter is to drive attendance and revenue.  Regarding free training, it's a marketing promotion. Marketing has a budget, and we spend it as wisely as possible to drive maximum awareness and product adoption. Sporting events often take this approach to drive attendance.  When I attended a Chivas game recently, I wasn't too concerned about their long term viability when I got a free hat. Delivering free online training in a promotional context isn't going to break the bank. The content had already been created, after all. In fact, thanks Sacha for linking to our free glassfish training offer. As for any revenue "lost" to free training, we don't think quite that two-dimensionally. We're more than making it up when customers learn of the the strong value proposition of running GlassFish Enterprise Server on CoolThreads servers (a billion dollar business in-and-of-itself), and backed by the newly introduced Sun StorEdge 7000 Unified Storage system.

GlassFish adoption is through the roof, both in downloads and registrations. I personally like to take a look at the GlassFish GeoMap upon occasion as a reward for all the hard work that has been put forth by Sun and the GlassFish community.  I can emphatically say that this success is being followed up with a rapidly growing number of GlassFish Enterprise Server subscribers who value the support and service Sun provides.

To sum it up, when I see a blog post ending with "Sun being desperate" and "hail mary", I see a competitor trying to instill Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt - FUD.  That means the competition is smiling (errr, smarting) after they've been hit pretty good.  Me? I stay away from FUD and prefer to stick to the facts.


Great analogy John and well written. Go Glassfish and MySQL!


Posted by Alan Hargreaves on December 16, 2008 at 07:49 AM PST #

As a long time JBoss AS user and enthusiast, I can't agree more with your post. Where Sun is working towards open sourcing of more and more products, RedHat/JBoss is now 'closing the gates' and potentially alienating the original adopters - community.

Where's the truth? It's hard to say, but if I would be facing commercial decision right now I'd certainly prefer Sun model, as more mature and open towards community users.

BTW, team did impressive work during the release of Glassfish v3 Prelude.

Posted by Radim Marek on December 18, 2008 at 07:41 PM PST #

Radim, thanks for the comments. How, in your mind, is JBoss "closing the gates" and alienating early adopters?

Posted by John Clingan on December 19, 2008 at 07:31 AM PST #

John, there is a strong movement towards separation of community and enterprise versions, leaving a gap for early adopters. JBoss 5.0.0.GA is perfect example, hardly to be considered as a finished product. I guess EAP 5.0 is the answer, but I'm worried where the boundary is going to be, but it's not difficult to predict there's a tendency to drop quality control on the community side.

For where it counts I don't want to be forced into one or another model, so I prefer to have everything set upfront and make the decision when to go for professional support solemnly by myself. Unfortunately this is not just my opinion, and many friends/customers already expressed same worries.

Not addressing technical aspects, from this point of view Sun seems to be offering better approach (adopted from MySQL). The versions are same, and the Express editions offer very easy way how to stay up-to-date.

I guess 2009 is going to be difficult and it will help to show effectiveness of different models. Future will tell us who's right :)

Posted by Radim Marek on December 20, 2008 at 07:14 AM PST #

Radim, good data point from a non-Sun employee! Thanks.

Posted by John Clingan on December 22, 2008 at 07:02 AM PST #

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