Single life is damn fun.
You’re a swingin’ bachelor(ette), your nights are nothing but body shots and hoping that “put your number in my phone” leads to “put your thingy in my hoohoo.” But most importantly, it’s a time to know yourself – your true wants and needs. Immediate fulfillment of desire is the name of the game, and because there’s no true investment in any particular individual, you’re free to explore the next hot piece that walks in the door.
Inevitably, however, restlessness will set in. There are only so many dark. loud places serving alcohol and only so many prospects who enjoy “going out, having fun, being with friends, or just hanging around”. Somewhere inbetween the morning walks of triumph/shame and evenings of lonely discontent, the whole scene becomes a cyclic deja vu starring a predictable roll of typecast players.
And at these times, you’ll be a lucky stiff to find that one of your flames has some lasting firepower. There’s a little something more there, and as sexy as the relationship began, the real attraction lies within underlying compatibility.
Now it’s prudent to unmount your head from its swivel and focus on a longer-term plan.
A successful software startup is likely to encounter a similar experience. At the helm is A Novel Idea, and the requirements gathering process should ideally yield a well-defined business plan. Once the investors, lawyers, and analysts have exhausted the ink in their fountain-tips, it’s time for some deliverables. And the pressure is on.
Specifically, it’s on the development team to set some realistic goals, often managing expectations up the chain to bring management to reality. And discussions begin to center on the core technologies, languages, and frameworks to be used for implementation. Shopping!
I believe there are 4 categories from which to choose:
- Proprietary 3rd Party
- Proprietary In-House
- Web Two-oh-eey Open Source
- Professional Open Source
Only one of these is going to offer the benefits of the other three.
Proprietary 3rd Party
Good: These guys are backed up by blue-chip assets with proven history in various markets. They’re a household name; Jim Kramer flies about yipping their P/E ratios, and you feel secure putting your backbone in the hands of seasoned veterans backed by an established support system.
Bad: You have no idea what’s going on under the hood, and no way of fixing it on your own. This is the high-end European automobile of software; any misbehaving components must be plugged into a specialized computer for analysis, and you’re getting straight played on the maintenance costs. You’re also so far from the cutting edge that you’ve grown a beard.
Good: You know the ins-and-outs of every single byte running your application.
Bad: You must explain to the Board of Directors that they hired an individual who should be thankful to be equipped with the skills requisite for respiration. It’s impossible to do everything on your own; modern-day mathematicians take advantage of Newton’s research, they don’t redefine Physics.
Web Two-oh-eey Open Source
Good: Ease-of-use, rapid turnaround, shallow learning curve, only 4 keystrokes to a database-driven application. This category is the quickest to adopt and integrate with the latest buzzwords, generate excitement in the industry, and add an impressive “Wow” factor to developers and end-users alike.
Bad: What we have in heart here is lacking in maturity. To list: instability, ever-changing APIs, poor scalability, and ignorance of issues requiring attention for high load. Everything you’d expect from a subculture championed by 20-somethings (I’m aware of and comfortable with this hypocrisy).
Professional Open Source
I’m most familiar with JBoss, and since I’m clearly pushing an agenda (born from honest observation), will speak to our offerings.
We make available a hybrid solution stemming from approach duality. At the core of this notion is “Project vs. Product”.
Our project line is the model historically associated with JBossAS when it first launched. Motion on this front is relatively rapid for such a low-level technology, and we’re continuously releasing, componentizing, and adding featuresets as they become available via community demand or developer innovation. This is the migration path ideal for younger applications – get started easily, for free, and experiment with the wide variety of components to evaluate how they fit your needs. If you’ve got a requirement we haven’t yet supported, this is the place to collaborate, implement on your own, and get upstream for the rest of the world. To boot, there’s an active informal support system in the form of forums, IRC, and mail lists to help you stay on track.
The product concept is newer. While JBoss has long provided pay-for support and training, in this case you’re actually buying software. At first glance, this seems contrary our mission to deliver free bits and charge only for our efforts dedicated to your business specifically, but in actuality, this is a necessary and important evolution in our model.
Every commit to the codebase comes with inherent risk of introducing regression, breaking previously-intact code. So in order to provide the highest level of reliability, after a project has reached a level of stability verified by our QA teams it is branched off into its own lifecycle and granted “product” status. At first, this very closely resembles the project counterpart, but as time and development continue, the two diverge. The product receives only security, high-priority, and customer-identified patches, maintaining and enhancing the integrity of the official release. To boot, the platform is now in form where we can pledge to support each release for seven years. You’re not paying for the bits, you’re paying for our support – but we’re ensuring that you stay within code we can guarantee will remain backwards-compatible. When you upgrade, you change nothing in your application, and it still works. That’s powerful.
My focus is to the community; it’s where my interest lies. I’m assured that by providing quality software free of most restrictions (LGPL) no marketing or sales folks will need to convince you that JBoss is a generally wise partner.
So please, go out and fool around. Make and learn from some mistakes, sample the wide variety of options out there. Then come give us a real visit.
Because we’ve got the T-and-A to pique your interest, and as time goes on you’ll come to cherish that we’ll be there for you. When you do make that realization, we’ll be ready with an enthusiastic “Yes!” when you finally pop the question.