Red Hat offers customizable app servers

Red Hat architecture focuses on flexibility

Red Hat Monday introduced an open source application server strategy called JBoss Open Choice and a trio of upgraded middleware platforms that adhere to an architecture that is customized using components.

Red Hat is trying to tear down monolithic Java application servers, such as Weblogic or WebSphere that it says can be overkill for many uses, and let users pick the technologies they want to use.

Red Hat says JBoss Open Choice will give users the ability to configure a platform with just the services they need, such as messaging and transactions, and pick from any number of frameworks, programming models, APIs and languages.

Red Hat says it will support such development frameworks as Spring, Struts and Ruby on Rails; component models like Pojo and OSG and languages such as Groovy and Ruby.

JBoss Open Choice is Red Hat's new Java platform strategy, which will focus on choice and flexibility for developers and corporate users.

Red Hat is starting with three workload configuration models: Basic Java Web Apps, which does not contain any enterprise services; Rich Java Apps, which supports simple APIs and can handle corporate scale; and Enterprise Transactional Java Apps, which supports high-transaction and enterprise scalability.

To support those configurations, the company laid out new and upgraded platforms.

JBoss Enterprise Platform 5.0 will support the most sophisticated high-transaction workloads; JBoss Enterprise Web Platform 5.0 is a new mid-level option in the Rich Java Apps model and supports clustering caching and security but not a complete Java Enterprise Edition (JEE) stack. Red Hat also is introducing JBoss Enterprise Web Server 1.0 to support the most basic Web applications.

In addition, Red Hat will offer the JBoss Web Framework Kit, which will support Spring, Struts, Hybernate, Seam, RichFaces, and the Google Web Toolkit. Red Hat plans to add support for other frameworks.

The lineup of software will be available sometime between July and September this year. Red Hat says users will have to purchase a separate subscription for each model of configuration from basic to high-transaction. The prices, based on CPU, will range from $300 to $1,500.

"Our mission is to be an open source alternative to closed-source stacks in the marketplace," said Craig Muzilla, vice president of middleware products at Red Hat.

Perhaps more important, Red Hat is betting on the future of the Java application server environment, which Muzilla says is becoming too complex to rely on a one-size-fits-all model.

"The [5.0] architecture we have today will allow us to evolve and adapt without having to re-implement everything again," says Mark Little, senior director of engineering for middleware at Red Hat. "The core services like transactions and messaging we have pretty much not touched them at all." Little says there were some modifications done "at the edges."

Key to all the application server configurations is what Red Hat calls its JBoss Microcontainer, a base platform architecture that isolates platform services from containers and frameworks and sites on top of a Java Virtual Machine.

"The Micro-Container architecture is adaptable and flexible," Little says. "Companies won't have to build a stack around every use-case they have."

The JBoss Applications Server 5.0 Framework, which has at its base a Microcontainer that includes core components of dependencies, life-cycle management and class loading to help glue disparate frameworks together.

Above the Microcontainer are core enterprise services such as transaction, messaging and caching. Users will be able to use only the services they need to support their application.

Red Hat is made its announcement at what could be a critical juncture in Java's history with Oracle in the midst of purchasing Sun. But Red Hat said it is confident that Oracle will not try to change the dynamics of the technology or the Java Community Process that has fueled its popularity.

Muzilla also added that today's announcements do not mean Red Hat is giving up its commitment to JEE and the Java Community Process.

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