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Red Hat's OpenShift PaaS Tools Aimed at Enterprise App Developers

Red Hat this week announced an expansion to its OpenShift Platform as a Service (PaaS) portfolio. The tools are targeted at letting developers build modern, composite and mobile apps to public, private and hybrid cloud environments

The company outlined its new JBoss xPaaS services for OpenShift suite, based on its development environment for enterprise Java and middleware. In addition to providing new tooling for developers to build modern and mobile apps for PaaS clouds, Red Hat officials said the new suite will help developers connect existing legacy apps to cloud environments without recoding them. 

During a webcast Tuesday, Red Hat's president of products and technologies, Paul Cormier, described the release as a key step forward in its long-stated plan to deliver on its OpenShift strategy. OpenShift is a key open source cloud PaaS effort championed by Red Hat. Cormier described JBoss xPaaS services for OpenShift as "the first comprehensive set of the services needed to build modern, complex, enterprise applications on enterprise-grade PaaS platforms."

The tooling is aimed at helping JBoss developers build apps for PaaS clouds without having to learn new development techniques, Cormier said, describing xPaaS as "a developer interface to the operating system of the cloud." He added, "There is a real, real gap between low-level services provided by existing PaaSes and what is needed for composite enterprise apps of today."

While IDC analyst Al Hilwa said there are 40 various PaaS offerings the research firm is aware of, and none are complete, xPaaS is a key step toward addressing enterprise requirements. "Part of the issue with the PaaS market is that big players like Red Hat, IBM and Oracle are only now beginning to address the market for Java PaaS in the cloud effectively," Hilwa said.

Middleware fills a key gap in the offerings available, according to Cormier, because it allows application developers to "build at a higher level of abstraction and not have to constantly re-invent the wheel." It also lets datacenter administrators manage applications, as well as debug, scale, update and accelerate them more efficiently, he added. Red Hat is delivering components of the suite in what it calls cartridges.

The first cartridge is designed to push notification services to mobile devices via the AeroGear Unified Push Server, which Red Hat calls mPaaS. That will be followed by iPaaS, a middleware integration service, enabled by its acquisition of Fuse, which provides the Apache Camel integration suite. Also in the pipeline is a business process and rule management cartridge called bpmPaaS.

Red Hat plans to offer these xPaaS  components, which it will  incorporate into its JBoss middleware, into both its public PaaS offering called OpenShift Online and its OpenShift Enterprise private cloud suite, said Craig Muzilla, Red Hat's vice president and general manager for middleware, in a blog post.

"All of these xPaaS services, including aPaaS with JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, iPaaS with JBoss Fuse, bpmPaaS with JBoss BPM technologies and JBoss BRMS and mobile services, will be provided under a single PaaS environment," Muzilla noted. "No longer will enterprises be forced to go to many different PaaS environments in order to obtain what is necessary to build a true, n-tiered enterprise application."

But OpenShift is also competing for developer mindshare with the VMware-led CloudFoundry effort, which the company recently spun off as Pivotal, led by Paul Maritz, as well as Salesforce.com's Heroku. Microsoft is also an early leader in PaaS with its Windows Azure service, which launched as a PaaS in 2010.

It's too early to predict which has an edge, said IDC's Hilwa. "In the end it will be an ecosystem battle," he said.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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