Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My History with Middleware and Management - like Peanut butter and jelly

In 1996 we started a project called the Bluestone (actually Sapphire at the time) Application Manager. Kevin Minder led the project, Larry McCay and Rich Friedman were also key guys on the project as well. We felt it was very important to have Management tightly tied to our middleware. We saw tremendous synergies where customers could go way beyond simple Systems Management and move toward Application Management. I remember Kevin talking with me about how we could actually build something that was way better than things like Tivoli. Here is a link to a snapshot of the old Bluestone site -

Fast forward to 2002 and when I first started working with Marc Fleury and JBoss. In my first presentation to Marc on my recommendations on where JBoss could go I had a slide that said we needed to create something like the Red Hat Network for middleware. It would give us value that we could bundle in our Subscription and it would allow us to go from the developer side of the house into the operations side of the house where the IBM and Bea guys got paid. It was not until late 2004 when we hired Rich Friedman to figure out how we would build the JBoss Network that we got serious about it.

While Rich was investigating what was out there, Raven Zachery sent an email to Ben Sabrin (Jan. 24, 2005) suggesting we take a look at Hyperic. Rich did and we eventually got into a series of discussions about how we could use their technology to be the foundation of the JBoss Network. We were too cheap at the time to actually acquire the company (although a number of us wanted to), but we did enter into a license deal that gave us rights to the software and the ability to modify and take our own product to market. Friedman and the JBoss Network team (including John Mazzitelli, another Bluestone alum) delivered that product by Q4 of 2005. Customers really ate it up and our sales accelerated quickly, helping to drive the valuation discussions with the various companies looking at acquiring JBoss. During those times, I recall Friedman and myself trying to pitch the idea that if we were going to stay an independent company, then we should acquire Hyperic. JBoss chose to go down the other path and combine forces with Red Hat.

Having learned so much about Hyperic and the great team there, as I left JBoss I started to work with them on their strategy moving forward. Javier asked me to be on the board and let me become an investor. The past couple of years have been great in terms of growth and new opportunities. Today, customers like Comcast, CNet, Intuit, RealNetworks, (and several I am not yet allowed to name, but you likely use some of them every day) now rely on Hyperic for their Web Infrastructure Management.

About a year ago when Spring entered into discussions with Hyperic to license the HQ technology I started dreaming again about a real combination. I saw Spring as the next generation of Middleware – designed for the new needs of the market. Faster and slimmer. More adaptable, ready for Cloud computing and a natural fit for Virtualization environments. The same things we had shifted our emphasis to at Hyperic.

As the new wave of applications are built and deployed there is an even greater need for a tight combination between middleware and management. It is entirely different than the old style – focused on operating systems and Application Servers. There is a new emerging Internet Application Infrastructure (IAI) that is made up of distributed services with a need to scale very quickly. Far more flexible and lower cost. Built on an open source paradigm to ensure that this distributed community can all interact and move forward rapidly.

The new Spring has become the default IAI. Spring has achieved this by simple market demand. Spring has huge market share, the ability to help customers integrate their old environment with the new, and the cost advantages of a simple, integrated Develop-Deploy-Manage product set.

I’m glad that after a dozen years of being a part of this to see it come to life in a meaningful way.

1 comment:

Edwin Khodabakchian said...

Congratulations. This is a smart move. Now you need to help them focus on making the stack another 10x simpler.