Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mark Little - JBoss CTO

It looks like Mark Little is moving into the CTO role at the JBoss division in Red Hat as Sacha Labourey departs.

This is a great move. Mark is very smart, has deep experience in enterprise level software, is very collaborative and has a quiet drive for success. Plus Mark comes from Newcastle, England - which I think is a pretty close translation from Neuchatel, Switzerland where Sacha is from.

I first met Mark when Rich Friedman and I went to Newcastle to try to convince Arjuna Labs to join forces with Bluestone about 10 years ago. Mark was the genius CTO who was one of the key guys on an amazing team that had developed a Java Transaction Processing technology. Mark was one of the leading, recognized industry experts in this field. He was the one who drilled us with questions across the board - technology, people, processes, customers, culture. Mark had an understanding far beyond the details of the code and into the whole complex set of people, customers, partners and markets that make projects and companies successful. He and the team eventually agreed and he became one of the key technical thought leaders at Bluestone and then HP.

As fate would have it, Arjuna spun out of HP and in 2005 Mark and I had the opportunity to work together again as Arjuna joined forces with JBoss. Mark went on to lead the ESB and Integration space for JBoss. I know he has enjoyed working with all of the different projects in JBoss and bringing them together to solve problems in the integration space.

Anyway, I think this is a fantastic choice by JBoss/Red Hat. I am sure Mark will come up with some new twists, but stay true to the fundamentals that has made JBoss successful. Congrats Mark!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sacha Retiring from Red Hat - JBoss

Sacha Labourey announced today that he is moving on from Red Hat - JBoss.

There were a ton of great people who helped make JBoss successful. Of course Marc Fleury, the smart and dynamic founder. Scott Stark who made JBoss a real product with excellent stability. Fantastic technical project leads like Bill Burke, Adrian Brock, Gavin King, Bela Ban, Ivelin Ivanov, Rich Friedman and so many more. And great business people like Tom Leonard, Rob Bearden, Joe McGonnell, Brad Murdoch, Shaun Connolly and of course the original JBoss Sales-Guy Ben Sabrin.

But I would say Sacha Labourey had as much impact as anyone over the years at JBoss.

Sacha started like all early people with JBoss – as a contributor. He wrote the first implementation of clustering with JBoss. That capability is what moved JBoss from a simple developer tool and low end app server to something that could seriously compete with WebLogic and WebSphere.

That early work established his technical smarts, but it also was the kick-off to demonstrating his ability to attract some of the best and brightest to JBoss. Sacha lives in Neuchatel, Switzerland – not exactly the hub of middleware technology. Yet his personality and technical leadership made it the hub of JBoss Europe with top flight talent moving from places like the US, England, and Russia to live in Neuchatel, as well as coordinate all the developers in Europe (which is where most of them lived).

Sacha also made the transition to running JBoss Europe from a business perspective. He established key customers and partnerships thru his unique technical and personal abilities. Large companies put a tremendous amount of trust in JBoss because Sacha was the person saying he would stand behind it. And these customers and partners knew that he would.

As JBoss grew, Sacha became Marc’s real trusted counselor. Perhaps it was that they both spoke French. But Sacha had the Swiss gift of diplomacy. Sacha could communicate with Marc in a unique way – and was always someone Marc could trust to give honest, non-biased feedback. Sacha provided a steady hand in the background as JBoss grew from 6 to 200 people in less than 3 years.

Sacha was always incredibly loyal to JBoss the open source project and JBoss the business. He brought balance and a long term perspective. While many people (like me) left after the Red Hat acquisition, Sacha saw the transition all the way to its’ successful completion. There were certainly many problems with the integration – but again Sacha had the patience and skills to guide JBoss forward. Much credit goes to Sacha for continuing on with great projects and getting resources for new projects. He was incredibly valuable in providing stability to the technology and had the skills to make sure the business worked well over time.

The true measure of how good Sacha was for JBoss is the good shape he has left it in. He has grown the business to the point where he is no longer needed.

I was in Europe two weeks ago and spent a day with Sacha exploring Switzerland. He was looking forward to having some more time in his life for Sophie and Eva. He was also looking forward to spending some time getting in shape (hint, hint Sacha). And I could tell he was already starting to think of new endeavors that would take him in new, fun directions. As always, Sacha had a very good plan of what would happen and how the transition would work. I don't know what is public, but I can say that the plan is great. It gives some very good people a well deserved chance to advance and contribute in new ways.

Certainly he will be missed, but I think Sacha leaves feeling he has done his job and JBoss will continue to be successful in the long term.

I certainly thank Sacha for his friendship, his guidance and all he has given to JBoss.

Onward, my friend!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I just returned from a great trip to see Allison since she is doing a semester in Toulouse, France her Junior year. It is really cool to see your daughter grow up so well.

We did a long weekend adventure to Marrakech. Allison has done a lot of studies about the French colonization of Northern Africa and some of the modern implications of that with immigrants to France. She was also supposed to be taking a course in Arabic, but alas the French are on strike so that class has met rarely.

We stayed in a Marrakech Riad - Riad Dar Najat. This is a picture of Allison relaxing on their open lounge area on the top floor.

Getting a good Riad is pretty important. Riad's are the equivalent of American Bed & Breakfasts. The streets in Marrakech are lined with walls typically without many windows. It is kind of hot and dirty. You open the door to the Riad and it is like an oasis! Open courtyard to the sky and typically three floors with a couple of bedrooms on each floor and an open area on top. Marrakech is a very different place for us Westerners. The streets are narrow and twisty and unmarked - so to have Amin or Said from the Riad Dar Najat lead us to our destinations was very nice.

The owner of the Riad, Olivier, is a very enthusiastic and friendly Frenchman who now lives in Morocco. He was the perfect host - welcoming us when we got there and providing us with the best salad we've ever tasted.

It takes a couple of days to get used to Marrakech. The markets are crowded, with many aggressive street vendors. Some of them try to put monkeys or snakes on you - we avoided them. But they did get Allison for a Henna tattoo that first day. By the time it was time to leave, we wished we had more time to explore and relax. I've put up some pictures.