Appistry Launches Open Distribution Initiative

Appistry, a pioneering provider of grid-inspired application servers known as "fabrics," is reaching out to developers with a free version of its flagship product, a new open licensing model and a newly launched developer portal.

Under the St. Louis, Mo.-based company's "Open Distribution Initiative," companies are free to download Appistry's new Enterprise Application Fabric (EAF) Community Edition, and use it without charge for development, testing, and production. This isn't a trial version of the product with a license that expires, insisted Sam Charrington, vice president of product management and marketing, but a "no-strings-attached," full-featured edition that is currently being used by such customers as FedEx and satellite imagery company GeoEye. Under the open license, this edition may be used on up to five servers or 10 CPU cores.

Right now, the community edition and the commercial edition are "functionally equivalent," Charrington said. "Over time, we expect that the paid product will have additional capabilities that the community edition users won't need, because they're working with smaller fabrics," he added.

As part of this initiative, Appistry also launched a new developer portal. Appistry Peer2Peer, now live, is a Web-based community organized to provide extensive support for coders and architects building applications with the company's products.

Community members will have access to a documentation wiki, forums and other resources. Community members may consult with Appistry product specialists, share code samples and examples, subscribe to RSS feeds, and take advantage of other portal-based services, Charrington explained. Quietly launched in December for existing customers, Appistry Peer2Peer launched publicly last week with more than 100 community members already onboard.

A "fabric," as Appistry defines it, is an application execution environment designed to free apps -- and, in turn, architects, developers and administrators -- from the constraints of traditional infrastructure-centric IT. The fabric accomplishes this by managing an underlying pool of servers on behalf of the app. The result is what Appistry calls "fault-tolerant" applications. The environment in which the apps run are self-healing, designed to survive and recover from infrastructure failure automatically. It might be thought of as a combination of grid computing and virtualization.

Gartner analysts have predicted that grid-based platforms, such as Appistry's, and so-called extreme transaction processing middleware, will become the norm for building new back-end, server-side software. The large volumes of "around-the-clock transactions flowing from the front ends" will put demands on even smaller businesses, for which the mainframe model simply won't be practical or affordable, the analysts wrote in a report, "Gartner Predicts 2008: The Platform and Integration Middleware Market Is Changing and Growing," which was published in January.

"Mainstream application platforms such as Java EE application servers and .NET are wearing thin when it comes to supporting the growing transactional workloads generated by modern service-oriented and event-driven architectures (SOAs and EDAs)," said Massimo Pezzini, Gartner vice president of research and distinguished analyst, in a statement.

"Just a few years ago, Gartner was talking about these technologies as something for users with specialized needs," Charrington says. "But they're now seeing broader trends -- Web 2.0, cloud computing, software as a service -- are driving grid-based platforms like ours into the mainstream."

Appistry is hosting a series of webinars to introduce the EAF Community Edition later this month and in early April. For more information about these events, and to download the community edition, click here.

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].