In his Homesteading in the Noosphere essay, Eric S. Raymond likened the creation of open source projects to homesteading on a frontier, via a process of “mixing one’s labor
with the unowned land, fencing it, and defending one’s title”, in contrast to the lawful transfer of title that occurs in settled areas. While the lands of the web servers still border a few wildernesses (eg asynchronous), the surrounding urban sprawl and industrialization reveals that the frontier days are mostly gone with the wild west. So the Webtide team could have continued on in our homesteading ways, kind of like a retro Wild Bill Cody show, or we could grasp our future and settle down to some serious urban planning. With the acquisition of Webtide by Intalio, we’re all urbanites now.
To take a metaphor way way too far, my utopian ideal of the natural evolution of a landscape formed by homesteading, would be that of the Roman villa. Each homestead would grow to a villa that would attract the labour it needs to work the existing resources, but that would remain essentially rural and moderately independent, operating under the law and order created by a centralized government (apache, eclipse, etc.). These villas would form the basis of an extensive yet flexible supply chain, so that enterprises could purchase produce from a variety of villas. An enterprise might use produce from the Villas of Spring, Webtide, Hybernate, and Sonatype to produce a product, while another may use Webtide, Tapestry and Atomikos
But that utopia was not to be (as all utopias are fated to be dystopias if actually enacted). Instead, some homesteads looked towards the smoking industrial cities on the horizon and saw the productivity that could result from aggregation, mass production and industrialization. Instead of being the base of the supply chains, these homesteads became factories producing complete pre-fab homesteads for new settlers – the open source application server was born! These one-size-fits-all pre-fab enterprises come complete with everything you need including a shop front just waiting for your logo above the door and the shop window to be filled with your products. To demonstrate the viability of the pre-fab enterprise, they built a pet shop (albeit one where no actual animals, customers or transactions were involved). The JBoss, Gluecode and Spring homesteads have all gone into application server production and I wish them well.
Meanwhile, the Webtide/Jetty homestead has grown from a little house on the prairie to a self sufficient village, that supplies custom open source services to many of the new townships, as well as established cities and new homesteads created further out in the frontier. It is a prosperous and vital lifestyle in the village and there was no great need to change. But as any country boy knows… the bright lights of the big city can be very attractive. But is the only choice of city life application server production? Was the future of Jetty only going to be the creation of yet another pre-fab bungalow factory? Luckily no! In Intalio, we’ve found a growing township with a different economic model and an urban plan more to our liking.
Rather than pre-fab infrastructure, Intalio town builds real BPM and CRM solutions running on public or private clouds, which they supply to small, large and huge enterprises. Intalio is not an infrastructure vendor, but a solutions vendor. To build these solutions, Intalio needs a supply chain of components and they have chosen to use open source components and to take ownership in much of the means of production of those components. However, the most important aspect of the Intalio urban plan, is that the component providers must remain profitable and competitive producers in their own right. Intalio needs our components to build their solutions and their requirements will be certainly be a driving force for us. But we will continue to supply and support our quality components to many enterprises and new homesteads. Intalio knows that only by continued exposure to market forces, will their components continue to grow, adapt and make their solutions competative. Webtide in Intalio is not a Detroit metal works making bumper bars for GM and only GM, and there is no protectionist agenda.
Like Jetty’s move to the Eclipse Foundation, I believe that our choice of acquisition partner reflects our continued commitment to the development of quality component based software that will be accessible and suitable for many and varied consumers. Our clients and users should only see an improvement to the resources and services that we offer. Our stewardship of the Jetty/cometd projects will continue to be inclusive as it remains in our interests to see these projects used as widely and diversely as possible. Also Intalio will provide us with a comfortable urban base from which we can plan our next expeditions into the noosphere wilderness.