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Red Hat Aims For 50% Of Middleware Market With JBoss SOA

Red Hat used its JBoss World show to launch the JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform, a suite centered on its open source ESB. It has also unveiled what it calls the Enterprise Acceleration initiative, a road map that aims at getting JBoss used in 50% of enterprise middleware workloads by 2015.

There's a sense of déjà-vu around Red Hat's launching an ESB, as this was first announced back in 2006 and has been available for download at the site since then. But although some early adopters already use the software in production environments, Red Hat hasn't officially supported it. The new SOA Platform changes that, making the ESB into a commercial product that Red Hat believes will initially appeal to users in financial services companies, telcos, and government agencies -- the same kind of customers that SOA competitors target.

The SOA Platform is more than just the ESB, and Red Hat's ambitions go much further. The first version also includes the JBoss Java application server, plus two other projects from jBPM and Rules, which implement higher-level orchestration and business process management. itself hosts at least 30 more open source middleware projects at various stages of maturity, any of which could eventually become part of the SOA Platform. This is similar to the development model that Red Hat applies to its OS, in which the free Fedora serves as a testing ground for technologies eventually rolled into the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Along with the SOA Platform, Red Hat is unveiling three new JBoss projects. The most important looks like JBoss DNA, an open source registry and repository based on products it acquired with MetaMatrix. This could eventually have a big impact on the SOA governance market, putting pressure on vendors like HP Systinet and Software AG. JBoss BlackTie is a competitor of BEA Tuxedo, aimed at integrating Java with systems running C and C++. JBoss RHQ is a management platform jointly developed by Red Hat and Hyperic.

Red Hat's goal of getting JBoss used in half of all middleware installations looks somewhat arbitrary and so long-term that people are unlikely to hold the company to it. The target is also slightly less ambitious than it seems, as JBoss users aren't necessarily Red Hat customers. The GPL means that anyone can download it for free and that other vendors can also sell support -- and likely will if the product is anything like as successful as Red Hat hopes.

Open source is likely to grab significant market share in middleware: The whole point of middleware is to interconnect disparate systems, so the infinite customizability of open source makes a lot of sense. However, JBoss isn't the only vendor pursuing the idea. Sun has committed to making all its software open source, and the popularity of projects like the JBoss ESB has already persuaded major SOA players like IBM and Iona to release open source ESBs of their own. It's likely that other JBoss projects will have a similar effect on the rest of the SOA market, all of which will be good for users.

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