Sun's McNealy Questions JBoss Value; Developers Respond

Sun's CEO says Open Source may be "screwing up" Java vendors' business. Read his comments, and developer replies.

Tags: J2EE, Sun, Open Source, Developer, JBoss, Vendors, Advertising,

In one segment, McNealy told the magazine that he thinks some Open Source providers in Java, such as JBoss, may be "screwing up" the profit-making potential of the industry. IDN brings you a JBoss-related excerpt based on McNealy's comments, thanks to an arrangement with Open Enterprise Trends, an online Open Source developer news portal which has published portions of the Linux Magazine interview. IDN also brings you a sample of the more than 100+ Java developer comments posted to date at TheServerSide that to that J2EE community site.


The McNealy Interview - Excerpts
Q: JBoss has had a hard time getting J2EE certification. Do you think it's important to have a certified open source J2EE implementation?

McNealy: No, we've already got one. It's called the Sun ONE app server. It's certified. Do I think it's important? I don't know what that means.

Q: Well the JBoss guys say that their product has a lot of appeal at the low end, so they see people evaluating .Net and their product, but that there is some reluctance to go with JBoss because it's not certified.

McNealy: I think it's important to have a community process, open specs, and choice for the customer, absolutely. How that gets implemented, I don't particularly care. I actually think we need more revenue in the J2EE space, so that we can do more advertising to get the message out, because right now the world is getting blitzed with Microsoft advertising and promotion and branding and propaganda, and big lies, and that's why they're going, not because it's a better product.

So, potentially you could make an argument that the open source thing is just screwing up all the revenue models and we aren't getting the advertising, because it isn't the best technology that always wins, it's who advertises more. You could make a very strong argument that says, "No that's messing with it." And in fact Bill Gates may be sitting up there laughing his butt off because the open source community is cutting the legs out from under all the R&D and promotion efforts of all the open interface strategies -- not open implementation, but open interface strategies.

[For more on the interview, pick up a copy of the August issue of Linux Magazine, or for another small excerpt go to Open Enterprise Trends].


Developer Reaction from

The following is a sample of the more than 100 postings received at The Server Side since the interview appeared online in the August 2nd edition of Open Enterprise Trends.

On Java Vendor Revenue Models...
  • McNealy: "So, potentially you could make an argument that the open source thing is just screwing up all the revenue models and we aren't getting the advertising, because it isn't the best technology that always wins, it's who advertises more."
    Translation: We were making big bucks selling software that people don't really need. We need to advertise to convince people that they need all the bloatware."

  • ---R.V.

    On Open Specs…
  • The only way for J2EE to beat .NET is through its Open Source implementations, - JBoss today, and Jonas and OpenEJB tomorrow. My fear is that Sun will never understand this, and end up doing something really stupid, such as taking legal action against JBoss to stop its distribution. If that happens, it will be Sun, not Open Source, that will be responsible for the victory of .NET over J2EE.

  • Yes, indeed, community process and open specs are key parts of Java's success. Open specs give companies confidence to select technology from an innovative but not necessarily 'big' vendor ... you know that a spec will be supported one way or another. Open specs give small vendors a chance to compete based on merits. IMO, Sun deserves a lot of credit for establishing this environment and for making a good job of maintaining it during all these years.

  • On Using JBoss…
  • The comments have been right-on in this thread - BEA, IBM (and Oracle is making headway) to provide products that people want to buy - Sun's product (at least the last time I used it) is horrible. I don't particularly care if it's free. JBoss is good and free so I use it. When Sun produces good software I'll use it, too, if the situation warrants. To blame others on one's own bad software reflects poor knowledge of both your product and how the software industry has evolved over the past 5 years or so.

  • Yes, we need more revenue in the J2EE space, but not in terms of J2EE server sales, but rather in J2EE tools and applications sales. What's more important? 10 ads saying "Here's our great J2EE server!! Buy it!" or "Here's our great app, more functional, more secure, and faster than anything else on the market. Powered by J2EE". I'd prefer the latter, thank you very much. More substance.

  • On the State of J2EE Tools…
  • The tools market is still wide open. Even though no one I know is going to trade in Eclipse or Idea, a good tool for EJB content generation that has an intuitive interface and can work well with existing database structures (automatically generating Entities) would be great. I've tried a few of them out there, and I can still code it quicker than those tools can produce it, if they even produce it properly. I'm sure there is a tool out there I haven't tried that might be good, but if SUN had it, I would know about it and probably purchase it if it could generate my entity beans and some skeleton Session beans.
    Java is robust, but honestly, should you have to tell the computer 4 times in XML, the interface, the bean, and in the security descriptors what functions are available remotely and locally? Wouldn't a bean declaration itself and another simple XML file generated by a wizard be enough?

  • It's about time Sun produced some intuitive development tools for creating J2EE enabled application. We are developing J2EE application for two years and we are still looking for something like VC++ that doesn't cost a fortune and eat up all the memory of the PC.

  • In my opinion the success of Java is more due to the myriad of free tools (all the Jakarta stuff, JUnit, JBoss, jEdit etc. etc.) - sorry the list is too long to complete) than to SUN.

  • On What Hurts Comercial Java Sales...
  • The only thing hurting the sales of application servers like iPlanet is that many of them suck. Everyone needs to understand the purchase process and apparently even Scott McNealy doesn't. Customers make a purchase when the value of an item exceeds the price of that item. That seems simple right? People forget it all the time....
    JBoss being free indeed means that it is easier for value to exceed price. Welcome to the real world Scott. Put value in your product worth paying for, and people will pay. The laws of economics haven't changed.
    First attack MS as evil. Next attack Open Source? Scott, get back in the boardroom and not the soap box and write some code that doesn't suck will you.

  • On Complex J2EE Specs…
  • Some would contend that the problem isn't with the application servers; it's with the J2EE specifications. The complexity of J2EE has violated Wiseman's law. Wiseman's law unequivocally states: A successful technology will saturate an 80% sampling of programmer/analysts only if 80% of the technology can be understood by those same programmer/analysts without forcing them to work beyond their regular 45 hour work week.
    I love Java programming. However, EJB's are far too complicated for the mere mortal to learn AND be productive with without a serious investment in time outside of the regular 40 hour work week.
    While my love for Java has never been stronger, I believe the sun is setting, pun intended. Until our community can figure out how to de-mystify J2EE's complexity so that the mere mortals out there can learn it AND be productive, the step-by-step wizards in .NET that are make writing distributed applications a breeze will continue to gain ground on J2EE. At the end of the day, Open Source isn't hurting J2EE. Complexity is hurting J2EE.

  • On SunONE v .NET...
  • Point #1. Dot Net is better than J2EE the way Sun sells J2EE (read the next point)
    [Point #2] as a software engineer, we are to pick best: Simpler; Cheaper; Faster; Easier to develop; Easier to deploy; More flexible (any SQL statement {self join, correlated, outer} and multi row support).
    J2EE as sold must have EJB for DAO. EJB is very expensive ($15K per license and up) and has bad phone support by vendors. Companies that did try to deploy EJB in production or maintain it get disgusted. Then comes a 3rd party solution vendor and says....
    If you use the cheaper IIS and cheaper SQL ADO, you will develop faster and save money, here let me show you. Any version of EJB fairly quickly leads a customer to use .NET and WebForm and ADO on their next project! I have lost many clients to .NET and I am flaming. Objectively, .NET is better and cheaper if you look at it from a software engineering point of view. Also C# and byte code is ECMA open standard.

  • I hate raising the issue of .Net, because this forum has a tendency to get all evangelical about it, but Microsoft always pushes for the volume market, and if you look at .Net this is no different from their strategies in other areas. MS is really pushing .Net to a much 'lower-end' market than traditional 'Enterprise' vendors have approached, because what is lacking in BIG$ is made up in volume. My take on it is this:
    Entry: ? (whatever is cheapest & easiest)
    Middle: .Net, Open Source J2EE, ColdFusion & JRun
    High: Big J2EE vendors .Net(?)
    Open Source J2EE provides an excellent migration path for companies to move to higher-end products and systems as their business needs require, and really provides the only real alternative to .Net in the middle space of Enterprise systems.

    For more comments from your fellow developers on the McNealy interview, go to TheServerSide.

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