JBoss Java server provider Red Hat Inc. this week disclosed a controlled beta of its JBoss Enterprise Data Grid 6 at the Red Hat JBoss World event in Boston. The move was part of a general cloud computing push in evidence at the event.
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Red Hat is emphasizing some of the open source aspects of cloud computing -- Hadoop was among examples cited -- suggesting that its open source lineage positioned it uniquely among cloud players. That may be important to Red Hat JBoss' prospects, as IT shops could embrace a trend seeing monolithic application servers replaced by cloud-borne software services.
In a keynote address, Red Hat's Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO, noted that cloud computing got its initial push from big, young Web companies that used open source methods. He said the principles of open source have driven cloud.
"People like Google, Amazon, Yahoo and others were able, through open source, to put [cloud computing] together in their own way," he said.
The open source movement's style of collaboration was part of important early cloud computing developments, Whitehurst said. Google and Yahoo are rivals, but at some fundamental technology levels they are collaborating every day, according to Whitehurst. Apache Hadoop may be seen as a natural example of this.
Collaboration is a fundamental component that has gotten cloud to where it is, Whitehurst said, while admitting that non-standard APIs have become part of the cloud evolution, too.
Architecture will shift from server centric to service centric
On hand for the event was Paul Daugherty, chief technology architect, Accenture. He agreed that open source efforts had influenced cloud computing's evolution.
"If you look at where the innovation is happening in cloud computing, open source is instrumental," he said.
Behind cloud are important computing architecture changes, according to Daugherty. "Architecture will shift from server centric to service centric," he said. Software designers, he suggested will think about "new service capabilities" rather than thinking "about the boxes," he said.
Commenting on the data caching capability that Red Hat's new data grid adds to its middleware line, Daugherty said such tools will find use in certain places, rather than across the board.
"It can be an important part of architecture," he said. "The decision depends on the application. If it is a simple Web application, it may not be needed. It is a matter of finding the right tool. For many applications, it is a good architecture," he said.
Grid for the data grid
Data grids betoken both higher performance and a move away from established application server architectures, which are already undercut by lightweight application frameworks. The enhanced scalability, or elasticity, of cloud architecture may change the way systems are built; this in turn may drive Red Hat JBoss' recent moves.
The trend is discussed in a recent blog post by Mike Gualtieri, a principal analyst at Forrester, in which he claims that "applications must be architected for elasticity to take advantage of clouds."
"As more application development professionals realize this, they will begin to see the shortcomings of the existing app-server centric architecture patterns," he continued.