Craig Muzilla Red Hat JBoss Middleware VPThe VAR Guy spoke earlier today with Craig Muzilla (pictured), Red Hat's VP of middleware. Our resident blogger asked Muzilla the same question multiple times: When will Red Hat's fast-growing JBoss middleware business be larger than Red Hat's Linux business? Muzilla politely danced around the question but offered these  anecdotes.

First, Muzilla re-confirmed an earlier blog from The VAR Guy: Yes, the JBoss business is growing twice as fast as Red Hat's platform (a.k.a. Linux) business.

Creative Math

Red Hat doesn't break out actual sales numbers for JBoss vs. Linux. But let's speculate and do some quick, reckless math: The Linux market as a whole is growing roughly 15 to 30 percent annually, The VAR Guy believes. So it's somewhat safe to estimate Red Hat's JBoss business is growing 30 to 60 percent annually.

The VAR Guy's best guess: The JBoss business will surpass Red Hat's Linux business in three to five years. Why? Because Linux (like Windows) is a base platform. The real money (as Microsoft proved in the 199os) is building applications on top of a platform.

The Shape of Things to Come

Remember: JBoss isn't a single application. It's software clay that partners can mold into multiple applications, creating multiple revenue streams for Red Hat.

Again, Muzilla won't discuss specific financial numbers, but he notes that the middleware business is a $10 billion to $12 billion annual opportunity. And, the number of JBoss named customers has grown more than 400 percent in the past two years, Muzilla adds.

Integrators/VARs are playing a big role in that momentum. A prime example: Red Hat is working with roughly 10 integrators to develop software migration tools. The tools aim to speed customer migrations from Oracle, BEA, IBM Websphere and other middleware systems to JBoss, notes Muzilla.

Oh, and a closing note. Here's The VAR Guy's favorite JBoss stat: Integrators typically earn $10 to $12 in consulting fees for every dollar of JBoss they sell. Impressive.

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