Readers of this blogsite may know that I typically don't talk too much about specific products. And I try not to talk too much about "inflection points," because it seems we've been at one every month of every year for the past 20 years. But every now and then something comes along that makes you sit up and think, "hmmm... now this could be disruptive..."
Open source, cloud, and SOA meet
The news is an enterprise-class Java application server is now available from the cloud, via Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). What we have, then, is open-source over the cloud for building and delivering SOA applications.
This week, Red Hat announced it is offering access to its JBoss Enterprise Application Platform as a solution within EC2. EC2 and other Amazon Web Services (such as storage) offer data center essentials on an on-demand basis, with fees based on metered usage. Red Hat has already offered Linux this way since November 2007.
What this means is developers and other users have on-demand access to open source technologies for building, deploying and hosting enterprise Java applications. Java EE or J2EE server middleware has always been complex to build and maintain. Thus, these kinds of environments have tended to be limited to larger enterprises with sizeable IT and operations staff. SOA up until now has been more for well-heeled corporations.
Of course, there has been pushback against Java EE itself in recent times, with many shops moving to more lightweight frameworks, and .NET of course. And Service Component Architecture may make Java EE less relevant. But that's another subject for another post.
Nevertheless, any offering that takes away the maintenance headaches and deployment costs associated with app servers makes it that much easier for companies to move to SOA-enabling their applications and infrastructure. This is especially the case with the long-ignored or underserved market that is now just starting to grasp SOA.
I asked Red Hat JBoss for more details on the announcement. Aaron Darcy, director of product line management for Red Hat JBoss, responded that users now can subscribe to beta support for JBoss Enterprise Application Platform on Amazon EC2 directly from Amazon for a fixed monthly fee and a variable per-instance hour fee, and will be billed by Amazon.
With the subscription, users receive monthly access to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (with Red Hat Enterprise Linux) on the Amazon EC2 cloud, he added.
This seems like a great deal for individual users and small-budget shops, but will enterprises bite? Darcy feels that larger enterprises may see advantages in tapping into cloud-based middleware as well. He observes that "larger enterprises are typically confined by either physical, power or cooling constraints, or just simply restricted by the time is takes to get new servers up and running in their environment; Amazon EC2 gives them another environment to quickly get their applications up and running in a more efficient way."
Darcy said customers now have two choices for using JBoss in the Amazon cloud: "They can leverage their existing JBoss EAP deployments and extend them to the cloud with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and/or, they can purchase pre-built software appliance images of JBoss and Linux directly through Amazon."
The JBoss offering is a "fully supported" beta, as is Amazon EC2. There is no target date for moving out of beta at this time, Darcy said.