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The Rebel Alliance: Apache / ObjectWeb Join Forces

Posted by monsonhaefel on November 18, 2003 at 1:44 PM PST

Last night at an ApacheCon BOF (Birds-of-a-feather) meeting Apache and ObjectWeb agreed to collaborate on development of certain J2EE technologies. I participated in the meeting.

ObjectWeb, if you haven't heard of it, is an organization similar in purpose to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). They have a fairly large offering of their own, but until recently they have predominantly used a LGPL license, which is simply incompatible with the Apache's BSD-style license. When Geronimo was announced back in August, some of the engineers from ObjectWeb approached us (I'm a Geronimo team member) about collaborating on some projects. Their JOnAS and JOTM development teams are also working toward J2EE Certification so they are creating a lot of the same components (EJB container, Transaction Monitor, Messaging, etc.) that the Geronimo folks are working on. The ObjectWeb engineers suggested that we collaborate on facilities common to both projects. The Geronimo team was very interested and agreed to meet with ObjectWeb at ApacheCon. That meeting took place last night.

The synergy, other than licensing, between ObjectWeb JOnAS/JOTM and Apache Geronimo appears to be excellent. Our development cultures are admittedly different but the differences actually strengthen our alliance rather than weaken it. The JOnAS/JOTM folks are, on average, older and more experienced in big-iron (mainframe kind-of stuff). Their depth of knowledge is really incredible – David Egolf of ObjectWeb kept Geronimo developers mesmerized for hours after the BOF talking about mainframe transaction processing. It was, for me at least, like finding my own Obi-Wan Kenobi. Given the chance I would have spoken to him all night.

While the depth of knowledge exhibited by the JOnAS/JOTM teams is extraordinary, the ObjectWeb folks tend to be slower out the gate than Geronimo. This is because they are more methodical. They are, in essence, the old men of the sea. The Geronimo team, on the other hand, is younger. These young-upstarts tend to develop solutions quickly and redesign often. But the output form the Geronimo folks is staggering. For example, the Gerionimo team is close to having an alpha release of the J2EE Geronimo platform four months after starting development. The technical expertise of the Geronimo folks is nothing to sneeze at either – almost everyone I've been working with has developed at least one successful open source container system before Geronimo.

So how will these teams work together? We will leverage each other's unique cultures and experience to co-develop common components for our J2EE container systems. The best, and first, example of this is JOTM. JOTM is ObjectWeb's transaction processing monitor. Transaction processing monitors are notoriously tricky critters to get right, and being able to plug in an existing and – according to Dain Sundstrom – excellent implementation like JOTM is a huge win for Geronimo. In addition, the JOTM people will go on to develop journaling and recovery, which is perhaps the most difficult and most critical aspects of a enterprise transaction manager – it's what makes transaction managers truly reliable. No open source project today offers a real journaling and recovery system. JOTM will be the first. Since the JOnAS/JOTM folks have more depth in this area, the Geronimo team is happy to endorse and support their development efforts. From this point forward, Geronimo and JoNAS will co-develop, maintain, and utilize JOTM for their transaction processing monitors. Of course, this would not have been possible if the JOnAS team had not agreed to change the license of JOTM from LGPL to BSD-style at the meeting last night. That was the last barrier to collaboration between the groups, and it turned out not to be a barrier at all.

For their part, ObjectWeb is thrilled to have the support of the Geronimo team and just as importantly, they are excited about the prospect that their software will be reused outside of ObjectWeb. This is open source after all; we believe in sharing software, exchanging ideas, and cross development. Geronimo will be contributing resources and unparalleled expertise in the Java platform – no one leverages byte code complication like the Geronimo team.

It's been an interesting turn of events. Before the BOF with ObjectWeb last night, the Geronimo folks worked together 16 hours a day at ApacheCon and were inseparable. As of today all that has changed. Now it’s the Geronoimo and ObjectWeb folks that are inseparable: The old men of the sea share their decades of hard-won big-iron wisdom; the young Geronimo upstarts share their passion, container development experience, and Java platform expertise. The feeling of camaraderie is sincere and an unadulterated. This is the start of a powerful alliance and the beginning of many new friendships.

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