JBoss seeks more flexible Java development

Microcontainer architecture gives developers choices, company official argues

Red Hat, through its JBoss business unit, will deliver Tuesday on its plan to offer a microcontainer architecture for its Java-based JBoss Application Server middleware, in an effort to allow for more flexibility in application development.

The company at the Red Hat Summit & JBoss World conference in Chicago will release JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 5.0, positioned as core to the JBoss Open Choice strategy originally detailed in June.

[ In other Java news on InfoWorld, SpringSource has been eyeing Java for the cloud. ]

"That's our strategy for our next generation of application platforms, our Java application platforms," said Craig Muzilla, vice president of the JBoss middleware business unit at Red Hat.

With the microcontainer strategy, services like security, messaging, caching, and transactions are separated from the application server, allowing more development options, such as the ability to use an OSGi model or SpringSource-based development. Different programming models, configurations, and profiles are enabled. The new paradigm "gives us a lot more flexibility to support developer choice," said Muzilla.

"Architecturally, we've separated the services, and this microcontainer is extremely lightweight and can take on different characteristics," he said. An embedded version of JBoss Operations Network administrative console provides an interface for managing and configuring applications.

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 5.0, which has been in a beta release stage, implements enterprise Java and includes the open source JBoss application server and services such as clustering, caching, and messaging. Also included are the Seam and Hibernate development frameworks and support for Google Web Toolkit and Spring Framework. Spring and OSGi will be directly supported by JBoss.

The application platform makes the application server more modular, analyst John Rymer, of Forrester Research, said. Developers will be able to specify which Java services are deployed with applications, he said.

The microcontainer architecture is "a great idea," said Rymer.

"It enables something many clients have told me they want: one server to manage, many languages to develop apps. One server to manage many application configurations," Rymer said.

"The only comparable product I know of is Microsoft's CLR (Common Language Runtime)," said Rymer. "Clients have told us that CLR works better for some languages (Java, VB, C#, C++ for example) than for others (Cobol, for example). "

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 5.0 also serves as the company's foundation for cloud computing, Muzilla said. Already supporting its application server on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud service, JBoss plans additional endeavors for its application server on different clouds, he said. Users get more flexibility with the application server when deploying it on clouds, which offer dynamic provisioning, said Muzilla.

Red Hat also is launching on Tuesday its Red Hat Catalyst Program, a marketing effort intended to boost communication amongst the company's value-added resellers, independent software vendors, systems integrators and hardware vendors.

The goal of the program is to facilitate development of open source solutions based on Red Hat technology. A Web portal will enable more interaction between these parties, according to a Red Hat representative.

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