JBoss Unveils Profit Sharing

By Thor Olavsrud

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Who says there's no money in open source? Not JBoss Group, maker of one of the world's leading J2EE-based application servers, which Tuesday unveiled its first annual distribution of company profit sharing and economic interest options.

JBoss Server, which boasts more than 150,000 downloads per month, is free and many companies are beginning to embed the application server in their products. JBoss Group subsidizes the development of the application server with commercial activities which include training, support, consulting and documentation, and management of the JBoss software affiliates program.

JBoss said those commercial activities have allowed it to offer economic interest options to 37 developers, and even cash bonuses to many of them. The options and bonuses were based on contributions to the JBoss application server in 2002 and earlier.

"The Compensation Plan is our way of rewarding the open source JBoss developers, whether or not they work for JBoss Group, giving them a stake in the company's future, as well as offering them cash awards based on annual profit-sharing," said Marc Fleury, president of JBoss Group and founding developer of the JBoss application server.

The company said thousands of developers have contributed patches and bug fixes to JBoss, and 82 developers currently have a read-write password to JBoss, allowing them to contribute directly to the codebase. Of that number, an average of 10 core developers work full-time for JBoss at any given time.

"Working with JBoss is a unique opportunity to develop the cutting-edge infrastructure that most programmers only dream about," said Bill Burke, chief architect of JBoss 4.0 and formerly a member of the Iona Orbix2000 development team at IONA. "There are no amateurs here. The compensation plan is part of the services equation that makes it financially rewarding to work full-time in open source."

JBoss 4.0 is scheduled for release early this summer.

The company said developers like Francisco Reverbel, professor of computer science at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, represents another driving force in the development of JBoss: the academic research community. Reverbel, who is in charge of the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) implementation for JBoss, recently co-authored a paper on JBoss with Fleury which was accepted at the ACM/IFIP/USENIX International Middleware Conference 2003 in Rio de Janeiro. The two will present their paper at the conference from June 16-20.

"JBoss is a really good example of how open source can marry leading-edge academic research with the practical needs of the professional software community," Reverbel said. "The compensation plan is one way JBoss Group ties together a geographically and professionally diverse JBoss contributor base and rewards their association with the project on an ongoing basis."