For about eight years, MetaMatrix was an exciting startup company that, like all startup companies do, set out to change the world as we knew it. In fact, in one little corner of the world, we did. The phrase Enterprise Information Integration didn't exist before we created it, and technology consultants like Gartner jumped on board. Soon we had some sales, which was good. Later we had competition, which was inevitable. Eventually our investors put our company on the market -- which, for a company of our small size trying to cut it in the enterprise software market, was pretty much also inevitable.
On April 24th, Red Hat, who had purchased JBoss the previous year, announced the pending acquisition of MetaMatrix to provide a data services layer to the JBoss application server and bolster the JBoss service-oriented architecture story. As the key paragraph from the press release explained it,
While SOA offers a cost-effective opportunity to modernize legacy infrastructures and provide true interoperability across applications and software components, it alone does not resolve data access challenges and the physical and semantic differences among disparate, physical data sources. MetaMatrix eliminates these challenges with a data services layer that decouples applications from their data sources and makes valuable data assets available as services in an SOA, freeing data from single application silos. It does this while simultaneously providing mechanisms for data consistency, security and compliance.
One of the Gartner analysts had a more pithy encapsulation of those "data access challenges" that MetaMatrix used to quote all the time:
A service-oriented architecture does not solve your data problems, it exposes them.
Red Hat clearly agrees and has invested in a proven data services solution by acquiring the technologies developed by MetaMatrix.
So there is the value proposition for Red Hat. Keep reading further down the press release, however, and we get to the following statement:
Following the close of the MetaMatrix acquisition, its data management software will be prepared for release under an open source license at JBoss.org.
I lead the MetaMatrix development team, now of JBoss, now of Red Hat. For me and my team of Java developers and testers, that sentence is the most exciting part of the announcement. We have been watching the open-source community from the outside for years. Like most software companies, we have been leveraging open-source tools and components to develop proprietary closed-source software. Now the plans are to push our code base out into the open and build communities around the key technologies.
During this process I will be blogging my development team's experiences as we move from proprietary to open-source. I already know some of the challenges ahead, like the sheer volume of code, the accessibility of the design, the interests of existing enterprise customers who may or may not care about open-source software, and the need to show a return on Red Hat's investment. I also know there are lots of challenges I don't know yet. But I am sold on going open. So blogging the experience as we go and asking for comments from the community along the way seems completely appropriate. Let's go.