JBoss takeover 'good for customers'

Analysts are in favour of Red Hat's acquisition, but some warn it may damage the Linux vendor's relationship with IBM

Customers are likely to benefit from Red Hat's takeover of JBoss, according to analysts, who have also warned that the acquisition does carry several risk factors.

Linux vendor Red Hat announced on Monday that it had agreed to buy open source application server vendor JBoss for at least $350m (£200m). This move came after months of speculation that JBoss was a likely takeover candidate, with potential buyers including IBM and Oracle.

Michael Goulde, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, said on Monday that customers were likely to benefit from this deal.

"This is a better deal for JBoss customers than the earlier rumoured Oracle acquisition would have been. Red Hat is a strong brand in open source and extending that to JBoss will only help the company maintain its leadership position," Goulde said.

Laurent Lachal, a senior analyst at Ovum, and James Governor, an analyst at RedMonk, both agreed that the two companies were a good fit.

"The deal makes sense — bringing together the leading Linux and open source JEE platforms. JBoss and RedHat already have similar business models, far more than other rumoured acquisitions, such as JBoss and Oracle. So the fit is fairly clear," said Governor.

But Governor warned that the takeover could damage Red Hat's relationship with IBM, as it will now be competing with IBM in the application server space.

"Red Hat just took aim and shot its partner IBM in the foot," said Governor. "For [IBM's] software group, the deal serves to increase pressure on IBM margins. JBoss was already being used as a bargaining lever by BEA and IBM customers to lower their WebSphere and WebLogic licence fees. The RedHat deal will dramatically increase the trend, and puts RedHat in a very interesting position with respect to IBM customer relations," Governor predicted.

At present, much of IBM's hardware supports both Red Hat and SuSE Linux, but the JBoss takeover could push the hardware vendor towards working more with Novell, according to Governor. "The news is good for Novell SuSE, in light of its relationship with IBM," he said.

Other potential stumbling blocks for the acquisition include JBoss' relationship with other operating system vendors, such as Microsoft, according to Goulde.

The deal could also impact Red Hat's relationship with Jonas, another open source application server project. But Jonas project manager François Exertier said it is too early to make a comment on how this will affect the Jonas project.

"This is a obviously a decision that changes the Open Source landscape, [but] it is a bit early to fully assess the impact and to understand the new opportunities. As Jonas Project Manager, I can just say that from the technical point of view, this will not affect the Jonas project — the roadmap will not change," Exertier said.