I’ve been unemployed for just over 9 weeks now, but as of today, that comes to an end as I start a new job. While I did spend a significant part of that time NOT thinking about working at all, I have spent the last few weeks chatting with several people about opportunities. In the end, it really came down to one of three options:
- Independent contracting – the day I was layed off, I had SEVERAL people contacting me about possible contracts and projects needing help and such. Being one of the primary developers on the leading Java Web Services stacks, there are a LOT of opportunities with companies using CXF that would like an expert to come in an help out. I really did consider this option fairly extensively. Bunches of pros (money, hours, tax deductions for new computer, etc..) and few cons (likely some travel).
- JBoss/RedHat – RedHat is a gigantic company and there are PLENTY of opportunities for someone with my skills. Actually finding the “right” position can sometimes be a challenge due to the size. I talked to a couple people and I know some of the other folks that Progress let go also talked to a bunch of people in RedHat before finding appropriate spots. You can literally interview for weeks before finding your one true spot. That’s good and bad. Good that there are a lot of opportunities, but kind of frustrating the sheer number of people you may need to talk to. That said, there are a LOT of good people that work for RedHat/JBoss. Joining a team there would really mean working with some good people. RedHat has also hired a bunch of the other engineers that Progress let go so I already would know a bunch of folks. With RedHat’s engineering HQ in Mass., they would also be able to easily offer benefits such as insurance and such, which is another positive.
- Sopera – pretty much on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum from JBoss is Sopera. Sopera is a MUCH MUCH smaller, private company based in Germany that specializes in SOA expertise. Their stack is very similar to what I worked on at Progress, with projects like CXF and ServiceMix being building blocks for a more complete SOA platform. They provide a lot of value add on top of the Apache projects. However, they also understand and promote open source concepts very well. For example, they are a major driving force behind the Swordfish project at Eclipse. In a lot of ways, the stack at Sopera is much more complete than what we were able to provide at FUSE and that provides a bunch of new and exciting opportunities to expand my knowledge, yet also apply my expertise in new and exciting ways.
So, which direction did I chose? I ended up going with option #3, Sopera. At this point in time, I REALLY feel this was the best fit for me.
My wife kind of vetoed the independent contractor thing. With two small children (one entering his terrible twos), she wasn’t comfortable with some of the uncertainty around that option. I definitely thought it would be a fun challenge getting out to see real world scenarios and such, but the concern around the uncertainty and such is somewhat justified.
JBoss definitely had a bunch of positives, but there were a couple things that kind of bothered me. The number one issue is the size. After dealing with “large company politics” at Progress for a year and a half, and the “we wish we were a large company” politics at IONA for 8 years, I really wanted a break from that. Also, with the size of JBoss/RedHat and the sheer number and breadth of projects, it was kind of hard to feel “super excited” about any individual opportunity. In the end, I really felt that, at this point in time, a smaller company where the entire company is focused around doing one thing and doing it right was more what I was looking for. That said, I could just be repressing all the bad parts about working for smaller companies. Time will tell. Oh, and to the other IONA/Progress people that are now working for RedHat, I definitely wish them the best of luck and a big thanks to RedHat for stepping up and offering them positions that they are now excited about.
So, in the end, the Sopera opportunity really feels right for me. I get to continue to be highly involved with Apache CXF and continue to drive direction there. I’ll probably have to get more involved with ServiceMix, which is something I should have been doing anyway. I may also have to get more involved with the communities at Eclipse, which will be completely new for me. Being a smaller company, I’m also going to have to be highly involved in solving specific customer problems. That’s NOT a bad thing. Getting to see and participate in real world use cases is kind of exciting. Of course, there is certainly going to be new issues and challenges. Even negotiating terms was “interesting” due to language differences and the 6 hour time zone between myself and them. Nothing insurmountable though. Dublin was 5 hours off (most of the year) so I’m kind of used to at least that part.
I’m quite excited to see how this new chapter of my life unfolds.