With its Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) 5.0, released at is yearly user conference, RedHat's JBoss group its centering efforts on a core JBoss Microcontainer that can interface with a wide variety of programming models.
The microcontainer lets developers work on Java EE applications without being locked into any particular programming language or component model. Users will find support for POJO, Spring Framework, OSGi, Google Web Toolkit and others. It also makes it possible to separate enterprise services from the core run-time engine, which simplifies configuration.
"We wanted to really reduce any dependencies and make the modularity more profound," said Craig Muzilla,VP of the middleware business unit at Red Hat. "This microcontainer is a thin layer that sits right on top of the JVM. Because it's so thin everything is decoupled."
With the microcontainer sitting on the JVM, , developers will not have to tear down their infrastructures to keep up as the programming language or component models of the times change.
The JBoss EAP comprises several components. At its core is the JBoss Application Server, which is supported by the Hibernate open source Java persistence framework, JBoss's Seam enterprise Web application framework, JBoss Cache, and JBoss Web Services.
Forrester Analyst John Rymer said enterprises have been looking more closely at JBoss over the past year as IT budgets have struggled to maintain even level funding. He said application servers have grown very bulky in code and mechanism through the years, but with EAP, developers can throw out all the components they don't need.
"The other players in the market are pursuing the same goal by adopting OSGi," said Rymer. "With JBoss, you've got a very substantial rebuild and one that's likely to be much more modular."
But the microcontainer is not what will make or break this latest release. The three big pieces enterprises want to be reassured about with open-source application servers are still scalability, stability and the ability to handle large-scale enterprise applications.
Rymer said there has been a sizeable upsurge in the use open-source application servers through the shaky economic conditions.
"If they can execute well, they can really take a lot of business away from IBM and oracle," said Rymer.