SUN’s Glassfish Portfolio is a major shift to commercial open source business models.

SUN announced the Glassfish portfolio today and makes a significant move towards a commercial open source business model.

The “portfolio” subscription can be ordered like any other commercial SUN product starting today. Although the offering consists mainly out of the usual already existing suspects, the approach is new to SUNs. While many open source products has been maintained by local systems integrators in the past, the Glassfish portfolio is an official and commercial SUN product, which simply happens to be based on well know open source products. This puts SUN themselves again in the pole position for maintenance contracts. Other small but important differences are obvious on a second look: Already the first product, the Glassfish Enterprise Manager, is only available to commercial subscriber paying maintenance fees and will not be available to the open source community. SUN might branch the open source base of other products and makes high performance enterprise feature only available for the commercial subscriber.

The SUN Glassfish portfolio indicated that the market of web application platforms has reached the next step of maturity. After the consolidation of the initial vendors, the commoditization paved the way for massive open source adoption. This diversified the market again into multiple competing open source app servers from various open source communities. The final step of today introduces the consolidation of the again crowded (open source) web application platform market. These products with the best commercialized maintenance backing of large vendors will establish a strong position in enterprise software stacks.

The Glassfish portfolio in detail:

See SUNs web page: www.sun.com/software/products/glassfish_portfolio and the press release

The portfolio is basically a technology stack consisting out of:

  • GlassFish Enterprise Server
  • GlassFish ESB
  • GlassFish Web Stack
  • GlassFish Web Space Server

It includes the well known products in a pre-packages and consistent form:
mySQL, Glassfish App server, Apache Web Server, Ruby, PHP and others.

The portfolio-go-to-market is similar to a Linux distribution. Consistent maintenance and a managed distribution with sophisticated version control and update policies was the breakthrough of Linux distributions. SUN is doing the same with the full web app and integration stack right now. Forrester predicted this kind of Middleware Distribution already 12 months ago:
http://www.forrester.com/rb/teleconference/claiming_ground_against_esb_gorillas/q/id/2210/t/1

Glassfish is not yet a suite! The products can still be used independently and no customer requires installing the full stack in order to leverage certain functionality – so far.

Stefan Ried

Analyst for Vendor Strategy