Spent a couple of hours at the BEA World event in Paris today. The Open Source “debate” was what brought me there. Rod Johnson (Spring) was the attraction (for those who knew him). Other participants were Ken Tam and Eddie O’Neil from BEA working on Beehive (which hit 1.0 recently), Mathieu Poujol (a local consultant), and Cédric Dumoulin of Struts/Tiles fame.
The point that BEA clearly wanted to get across was that OSS and commercial software can get along just fine. In fact the recent BEA/Spring announcements was pretty much used as an illustration in all Rod and BEA’s answers. Basically, if you as a developer want to use Spring while not scaring your boss away, BEA now lets you do that. BEA can use that as a “Look, We love Open Source” argument, and Rod gets the support $$.
There was an interesting debate on how to find the quality of Open Source projects and the spikesource OSS approach. After initially acknowledging that this was a good initiative, the conclusion was the same as for other questions/topics: use Weblogic, BEA does the work for you ;-). Rod and Cédric were good at making clear that the OSS communities were also providing innovation, not just commoditization.
I must say that Rod has always some very good quotes almost every time I hear him speak. This time, my favorite was: (you can trust BEA because) “If BEA was to support a flaky product (i.e. Spring), they’d loose money and they’re not into the business of loosing money”. Better than code reuse, maybe I can do quote reuse (oh wait, was Rod speaking under Creative Commons license? ;-). Of course, Rod did also a bit of JBoss bashing saying it was still lacking transaction logging (such a basic feature).
There were a few questions from the audience. The one I like best was around the short technology cycles of Open Source that most large companies were totally unable to follow. By now, I’m sure you know the answer was simply: trust BEA and use Weblogic/Spring! ;-) My answer would have been slightly different and would certainly have mentioned the JCP which is both reasonably fast and very stable (see Onno Kluyt’s recent interview).
On Beehive, the message was BEA had to do it in open source because customers were not going to buy Workshop, an IDE out of the blue. I wish they had talked more about what the community did with Beehive. I wish they would have made comments on their work on Eclipse WTP. I wish they had talked about AspectJ. I have to say I was disappointed, but BEA seems to be very keen on mastering the outgoing marketing message, leaving little room to spontaneous voices.