Red Hat Claims AMQP

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TAGS: amqp lecture patent

Brian Che is Product Manager at Red Hat for their MRG messaging product, which includes an AMQP server.

Brian welcomed Microsoft to the AMQP working group:

Just as Red Hat has been adding native AMQP support into the Linux platform and ecosystem at Fedora and through Red Hat Enterprise MRG, Microsoft is bringing AMQP support to Windows and its ecosystem. Between Linux and Windows, AMQP will become a standard messaging facility on the vast majority of operating systems and server platforms.

And he listed the Working group members, omitting the other implementers (Rabbit Technologies and iMatix):

The AMQP working group already has a well-esteemed set of members, ranging from software vendors like Red Hat to hardware vendors like Cisco to end-users like JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Börse (see the full list of participants at http://amqp.org).

Ironically, given the later exposure of a stealth patent very close to AMQP by Red Hat, he wrote:

So, there is no threat of Microsoft holding the AMQP standard hostage via patent threats.

So much for Red Hat's public statements. But what do they say behind doors, to their clients, to journalists, and to partners? Well, Brian has been helpful in pointing us to a position paper he wrote for an Indiana University workshop on Cyberinfrastructure Software Sustainability on March 26 & 27th 2009.

In that paper, which I've copied here in case it disappears from that site, Brian explains Red Hat's true position:

Red Hat teamed up with one of its customers, JP Morgan Chase (JPMC), to create an open protocol standard around messaging, AMQP.

This is strange news. iMatix was working closely with JPMC in 2004-6 when we (iMatix and JPMC) designed AMQP, and we never saw anyone from Red Hat until they reviewed the specifications and helped create the AMQP workgroup. And to the best of my knowledge JPMC was not a Red Hat customer except for Linux licenses.

Maybe Brian just meant to type "iMatix" and wrote "Red Hat" out of habit instead. This happens. I do it all the time. But sadly there is more…

JPMC, like many other banks, had developed its own messaging software to meet its high-end messaging requirements. However, JPMC had also written down the specification of its work, and this proved to be a good starting point for creating an open messaging protocol standard. Red Hat and JPMC created a legal contract to form the AMQP working group, which would develop this new standard as AMQP in an open and IP-unencumbered manner. Then, they started bringing in many additional companies to collaborate in this working group.

I will now state this for the record. iMatix was hired by JPMC in 2004 specifically to (a) develop AMQP, (b) develop an open source implementation, and (c) migrate JPMC's largest investment bank application onto this new stack. It was a tough triple project done on brutal deadlines with a deep emotional cost. To demonstrate how much iMatix invested in this project: my wife was pregnant with our second baby, which died in utero at eight months1. While she was in hospital in Brussels, I was at JPMC in London with my team, where we had spent most of the previous months, making things work.

We took this work utterly seriously and in 2006, we were ready with a very solid specification that is essentially unchanged - many fixes, and unused parts removed - from the AMQP/0.9.1 specification that is used by most AMQP users today. Red Hat received this specification and their major contribution to it, infamous as an example of incompetent protocol 'design' pushed through by bluster and force, was the AMQP/0.9-work-in-progress specification. Read it, and weep, if you have the courage.

It is quite trivial to check that iMatix registered the AMQP IANA port (5672), and the amqp.org, amqp.com, and amqp.net domain names.

Brian's text continues to celebrate the "Linux to Windows interoperability" that seems to echo through Red Hat's approach to software patents over the years.

But back to Red Hat's mythical invention of AMQP. Maybe Brian Che is just ignorant. Let's roll with that for a second. All this specification and accuracy stuff is complex, after all. But in 2007 - yes, eighteen months ago - I pointed the AMQP work group to a Red Hat news article which said,

Indeed, Red Hat's APQM[sic] began its life as proprietary messaging software at financial services giant JP Morgan Chase, said Red Hat Chief Technology Officer Brian Stevens in an interview here during Oracle OpenWorld.

Different Brian, same set of lies. The AMQP work group asked Red Hat for an explanation for this article. "The journalist got it wrong", we were told. We were invited to speak to a Red Hat VP if we wanted clarification.

But I think Brian Che has given us all the clarification we need.

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