JBoss Looks To Partner With Government Integrators

Recognizing the big potential of open-source technology in the public sector, JBoss will look to integrators to help forward along the company's drive into government and assist federal agencies in the adoption of its open-source middleware system.

Last week, JBoss announced its Government Group, which will provide enhanced training and support to public-sector users. Drew Ladner, former chief information officer (CIO) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, joins as the group's general manager.

"As groups of users constitute discreet vertical markets, JBoss allocates resources to serve those user bases more effectively," Ladner says. "One of the first ones that the company decided to commit to and serve more directly is government. There's no doubt that market is gaining momentum."

Already, JBoss software is used in the Defense Department, NASA and the State Department, as well as in state government initiatives in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri and New York.

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In the wake of announcing the Government Group, JBoss has started to talk with systems integrators that see potential in taking open-source solution stacks into agencies. A number of public-sector partners will be announced in the coming months.

"Systems integrators, to be blunt, are tired of the product guys having the power," Ladner says. "Not that everything they bring to customers will be open-source, but they want to be able to say 'Hey, we have additional arrows in our quiver that we can help you with -- whether it's Linux at the operating system, JBoss at the middleware level, or some other open-source offering at the database level.' It's a new way to lower the cost of ownership and, more importantly, help agencies avoid proprietary lock-in."

That said, the role of partners isn't necessarily to provide open-source product expertise. Instead, VARs can provide professional support and services beyond those required with proprietary technologies.

"The myth in the federal community is that there's a need for so much talent," Ladner says. "But actually, the JBoss application server is a product just like WebSphere or WebLogic, requiring the same talent for implementation and maintenance. VARs will make more money if they view open source as a major service play. That appeals to the large players that want higher margins, as well as the small players that want to differentiate themselves by offering services up the stack above the operating-system layer."