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Red Hat throws business rules at IBM and Oracle

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Red Hat's going up against business-rules giants IBM and Oracle with a management system that builds on its popular JBoss application server.

The company is today expected to announce the JBoss Enterprise Business Rules Management System to separate code from business rules in a system. The idea is to let you build and maintain business processes without needing to re-code the applications.

Red Hat hopes to build on the bridgehead it has established in many organizations through the JBoss application server by offering a BRMS that's more affordable than IBM and Oracle and that comes with open code. A Red Hat subscription starts at $20,000.

Craig Muzilla, vice president of Red Hat's middleware business unit, told The Reg that customers who'd started out on the JBoss application server are starting to standardize on this at an organization-wide level. This is opening the door for more of Red Hat's middleware.

Recent developments that have assisted include Oracle's purchase of middleware rival BEA Systems, which gave the database giant BEA's application server and SOA suite.

Now, with Oracle's purchase of Sun Microsystems a very real possibility, Red Hat expects another wave of organizations will use this as an opportunity to evaluate their middleware and make strategic decisions that favor JBoss.

Currently, the application server is a good portion of Red Hat's whole middleware business, which includes the JBoss Business Process Manager, SOA Suite, and portal. Muzilla did not break down the figures but said middleware growing at twice the rate of Red Hat's Linux business.

Reading between the lines, that means the application server is not just driving growth but it also accounts for much Red Hat's middleware-associated income. By extension, that means the application server is growing faster than Red Hat's bread-and-butter Linux business too.

"Everyone is using an application server somewhere...a lot are using some SOA or portal," Muzilla said. "What we've seen over the last 18 months or so is the number of companies starting to step up and standardize on JBoss, usually staring with JBoss [application server] as the standard and putting some of the other components in."

The application server is important because it's already in the hands of developers, so Red Hat believes they will be comfortable with other parts of the JBoss stack. This also makes the choice easier for CIOs.

Muzilla claimed growth in financial services, the government, military, retail, and telecoms. One major East-coast telco running BEA's WebLogic decided to standardize on JBoss after the Oracle purchase, he said.

JBoss Enterprise BRMS builds on the existing JBoss rules engine by adding a console that lets you manage and define business process logic and to generate code from the rules - so there's no hard coding. Rules can also be shared across an organization. The system features a repository for the version control of artifacts such as models, domain specific language (DSL) definitions, rules, and tests. ®

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