Red Hat Enhances SOA/Platform Strategy

Recent deals aimed at boosting its enterprise open source software platform.

Red Hat disclosed some key actions last week. First, the open source software company plans to acquire MetaMatrix, an information-management software provider. In addition, Red Hat announced a partnership with process-integration solutions vendor Vitria Technology. But that wasn't all. Red Hat is rolling out a new enterprise subscription model called the JBoss Enterprise Platform.

All three announcements are part of the Raleigh, North Carolina-based company's "broadening middleware and service-oriented architecture strategy," explained Tim Yeaton, SVP of Red Hat's enterprise solutions group.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Yeaton called the MetaMatrix acquisition a "milestone in our overall evolution from a Linux operating system provider to a full, end-to-end infrastructure and solutions-and-services provider."

Waltham, Mass.-based MetaMatrix makes and markets software designed to make external data sources available within the context of a service-oriented architecture (SOA). The company will become part of Red Hat's JBoss middleware software division, Yeaton said. Integrating the MetaMatrix products into the JBoss Enterprise Platform will allow JBoss users to add a federated-data-services layer to decouple applications that are now tightly integrated to their data sources. The integration is intended to make it easier for users to switch from proprietary applications with isolated databases to an SOA that makes all data and all applications readily accessible.

"What Red Hat is doing right now is building another platform for enterprise software," said ZapThink senior analyst Ron Schmelzer. "And that's smart, because customers are looking for platform plays."

Schmelzer sees the MetaMatrix acquisition as a positive move for Red Hat.

"Many of the problems companies are facing today are not application-specific but data-specific," he explained. "There are lots of data out there in lots of different places. MetaMatrix came out a few years ago and started solving this problem with a solution that allows companies to make queries and get access to all that information as though it were a unified data source within an organization."

Under the new JBoss Enterprise Platform distribution model, the company's products will be offered as a single download that includes automated updates and patches and multiyear service-level agreements, explained Shaun Connolly, VP of JBoss product management. That download will include the open source JBoss Enterprise Application Server, the Hibernate framework for object and relational mapping and persistence, and the JBoss Seam framework for building rich Web 2.0 applications.

Red Hat's partnership with Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Vitria Technology will "accelerate SOA solutions to the marketplace," according to a statement issued by Red Hat. Vitria will offer the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform with its own Business Accelerator, a newly launched open SOA integration suite, which the company bills as "an open, complete, application server-agnostic platform." Both companies will provide customers with service and support.

Finally, Red Hat plans to reach out to developers "as early as possible" with a refocused portal, said JBoss VP Shaun Connolly. The company wants to give the site more of a "community appeal," he said, and to make the process of contributing code to JBoss easier. Among other things, the site will highlight JBoss's interactions with other open source communities, such as Apache and Sun's Glassfish.

Red Hat offers its expertise on SOA, Java and Linux, helping to get software development projects into production, through its Developer Support Subscriptions effort.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].