RedHat's deal with Exadel is an important watershed in the history of open source business models.
A careful reading of the release shows that RedHat is not buying Exadel, nor is it interfering with its business. Exadel has found its big bucks come from building sites like Mortgage.Com and other scaled applications for the Fortunate 500 worldwide.
RedHat isn't buying Exadel's software, either. Instead it's going to run open source communities for Exadel Studio Pro and RichFaces, as well as the Ajax4jsf project, under the JBoss name.
In the past service bureaus would be acquired, or software would go open source. This is the first time I've seen software go open source under another company's name, with the aim of expanding its community.
Yet this deal could be a win-win. It's likely that RedHat will contract with Exadel to help provide support for the new tools. RedHat also gets a bump-up in its JBoss community efforts following the departure of Marc Fleury.
Exadel is likely to get more community support for its tools by open sourcing under JBoss than under its own name. Its Fortunate 500 clients will also find a safe place, a scaled site with experienced people, to take their questions as they move into the open source arena. JBoss and Exadel tools are also complementary.
Then there's the win for the rest of us. Having all these Java and middleware tools in one place, with professional back-up available to either help you build something with them or to do the building entirely, if it's managed at all well it's a very good thing.
And that's the only real risk here. Can this be managed well? When there is free scut-work to do (and there always is) who will do it, RedHat or Exadel? Fleury famously complained of a lack of RedHat support. Was that just a tactic by RedHat to get rid of him (I was once a victim of such a dodge) or is RedHat really a Tom Sawyer outfit, talking others into whitewashing its fence?
Time, as they say, will tell.