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Red Hat leans on JBoss for middleware

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Red Hat is to junk its application server in favour of a competing offering from its latest acquisition, JBoss.

According to Red Hat, it was important to own an application server because it "gives you the footprint to radiate out from". And JBoss gives Red Hat an application server with immediate brand recognition among users.

Brian Stevens, Red Hat's chief technology officer and vice president of engineering, told The Register Red Hat's previous efforts in this area had been less than successful - Red Hat licensed the JOnAS application server some time back, but the effort failed to mature thanks to Red Hat's core focus on Linux.

"Our foray into application servers has been largely unsuccessful - to put it bluntly," he said, ahead of next week's Red Hat Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.

That's been a problem for Red Hat. "The application server container will determine quality of service in terms of how you provide high availability, migration, security, isolation, and changes in resource - everything we've been doing," Stevens said.

Management seems to be a core focus for Red Hat's thinking on JBoss, and something beyond the Red Hat Network appears to be cooking - although neither Red Hat or JBoss are giving too much away.

"Most management platforms are built around JBoss and [another] application server already...management is providing application level guarantees as opposed to [only] monitoring," Stevens said.

"Right now we haven't put a toe in the water on management. The Red Hat Network is about how do we provide secure signed content to customers globally. It's not a complete systems management offering...that's a growth area if we decided to go down that path."

JBoss chief executive Marc Fleury sees his company's role as the application and middleware wing of Red Hat. Ownership by Red Hat gives him the cash to fund JBoss's pre-existing product plans. "From 1 June, we have the financial backing to go out and accelerate," he told The Register. "This is a clear mandate from Red Hat to us to articulate the product and market vision.

He added that Red Hat would not continue development on JOnAS, but the company is likely to work with other projects run by ObjectWeb - the consortium co-ordinating JOnAS.

"We are looking at messaging, the ESB effort, the management space...the sky's the limit for what's next. Some of the dimensions we are talking about include verticalization of the offering - into telco. Why not have SIP [session internet protocol] server? We are looking at that."

That should be good news for BEA Systems, which has been trying to overlook the JBoss thorn in its side for some time. BEA launched the WebLogic SIP Server last February but admitted this week business has been below initial expectations. The server was launched to help telcos provide converged voice and IP services.

An open source, free-to-download, product would only serve to challenge the argument further for paying thousands of dollars per CPU for a BEA product - especially if Red Hat succeeds in beefing-up the real-time capabilities of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) it licenses from Sun Microsystems to suit carriers. ®

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