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TechWeek: JBoss Boss Puts on the Red Hat

By the end of the month, JBoss, the open-source application company that made Wall Street sit up and take notice, will be nestled in the arms of Red Hat (RHAT).

JBoss CEO Marc Fleury, who will play a key role in the combined operation, has been known as something of a hard-charging, enfant terrible. But as befits someone who'll be the No. 2 executive of a $5 billion software company (and a man on the verge of becoming a father for the fourth time), Fleury has been striking a more statesmanlike pose recently, with good words for even once-bitter enemies, including Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report).

But he has yet to rein in his ambition, and he makes little effort to hide his disdain for Oracle (ORCL - Get Report) CEO Larry Ellison, who made an unsuccessful bid for JBoss. Fleury's next goal: Make Red Hat the first pure-play open source provider to hit the $1 billion mark in annual revenue. In an interview this week, Fleury talked about Oracle's open source ambitions, Red Hat's strategic direction and why he ditched plans for an IPO. Here are some excerpts: When the merger was announced, there was a lot of talk that Red Hat and JBoss would lose the support of former allies -- particularly IBM(IBM) -- who are now worried that the combined company will become too powerful -- the Microsoft of the open source world. Is this a concern?

Marc Fleury: Obviously, that was something we worried about even prior to the announcement. None of the big vendors wanted to see another big vendor on the scene. But it's IBM's silence that is the most worrisome. The only communication we've heard is from IBM's [hardware group], saying this is not changing the relationship, whatsoever.

What about the software folks at Big Blue, not to mention your current partners, like Novell(NOVL)?

Nothing. We heard that when Steve Mills [IBM's software czar] got the news he sat silent for a full two minutes and then said, "Well, that comes as a surprise." We've heard that the words flying around inside IBM are "Microsoft and 1985." They are very paranoid. But open source is a very different thing; it's not a monopoly.
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