Red Hat-empowered JBoss seeks to bridge Web 2.0-SOA divide

As it did in the Enterprise Java application server market, JBoss aims to provide a mean, lean, community-backed ESB machine that forms a compelling balance between features and performance.
Written by Dana Gardner, Contributor on

Backed with global reach, broader channels, and a much larger sales force, the newly acquired JBoss division of Red Hat is entering the ESB market aggressively, seeking to jump-start an open source Web 2.0 management community, staking out a best-of-breed stance on .NET-to-Java interoperability, and working to establish JBoss Seam 1.0 as a killer general Web application framework.

JBoss made these announcements this week at the second JBoss World in Las Vegas to energize the 850 developers, architects, and partners in attendence. I must have heard the words 'unifying effect' about 70 times during briefings. That’s up from just over 500 attendees at last year’s inaugural JBoss user conference.

Armed with Red Hat's channel and financial resources, JBoss is clearly looking to establish end-to-end SOA stacks and multiple code component bundles with its new parent, the Linux distribution leader. But what’s more compelling beneath the individual news bits is the on-going strategy for JBoss to establish and leverage a burgeoning roster of de facto industry standards for best-of-breed, open source enterprise infrastructure components that bridge SOA and Web 2.0 development.

That strategy is evident in the news that JBoss is entering the ESB market. “A large insurance company” has “donated” the code for an ESB that has been in full production for three years, under mission-critical transactional loads. JBoss will use this base to broaden the ESB’s capabilities, and make a go at overtaking other open source ESB projects, such as Celtix, Mule, and Service Mix.

As it did in the Enterprise Java application server market, JBoss aims to provide a mean, lean, community-backed ESB machine that forms a compelling balance between features and performance – at open-source low cost -- that dissuades commercial alternatives and which becomes a foundation of choice for other vendors, enterprises, and consultants in their SOA implementations … in effect a de facto industry standard.

While late to the ESB race, JBoss sees this as an advantage. Its ESB is not tied to any one JMS proprietary engine, say JBoss engineers. JBoss also expects to make its application server embedded in the ESB over time, and is set on making automated interoperability with Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation, nee Indigo, a high priority.

In other news, JBoss announced an integrated bundle of JBoss, Red Hat and Hibernate, with unified subscription prices and support, via download from Red Hat, designed to appeal to channel partners who enjoy pre-configured integration of application deployment infrastructure.

JBoss is also spurring more operational management via the open sourcing of agents, hoping to generate community development energy behind a better open source management initiative. T>he Red Hat team will also combine JBoss management, Apache portable runtime and Apache Tomcat to provide a high-performance Web server, and manageability using a Java management console. Indeed, JBoss will try and open up the systems management field, and “make sense of the Web 2.0 infrastructure,” said Marc Fleury, SVP and GM of the JBoss division of Red Hat.>

JBoss also released JBoss Seam 1.0, a Web development framework built on JSR 299, Web Beans. Look for Seam to gain a rich client capability in the future via Eclipse RCP. The goal is to form a compelling alternative (there’s that de factor industry standard thing again) for Ruby, PHP, and other data-driven application approaches.

This should make sense for AJAX developers who need back-end automation. Also look for Flex support. As stated earlier, Seam is also enjoying support from Sun Microsystems, which may soon provide NetBeans-EE 5 tools, as well as inclusion in Enterprise Java itself. Seam aims to form a unifying Web 2.0 framework, built on ESB 3.0, allowing for general application orchestration benefits, and strong state management for Web-based applications, says JBoss.

More grandly, JBoss ambitiously aims to support SOA from the data on up, and Web 2.0 from the user on down, prodding the two to make sweet music together. I must have heard the words "unifying effect" about 70 times during briefings.

By being more fleet in the market than larger "private code" vendors, the Red Hat-enabled JBoss will make a serious go at bridging .NET and Java, Java and open source, Web 2.0 and SOA, and do it via low up-front acquisition costs and its commercial open source business model. This should be a fun ride.

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