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New Red Hat PaaS strategy marries middleware and cloud app development

Red Hat PaaS strategy moves into its next phase as the company announces new 'xPaaS' offerings for cloud application development.

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Red Hat Inc. has announced plans for what it described as a next-generation set of Platform as a Service offerings for advanced development of enterprise applications and business processes in the cloud.

Red Hat executives unveiled their strategy for Red Hat JBoss xPaaS services for OpenShift on Tuesday at the JavaOne and Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

As developers move to the cloud, they often expect the same sophisticated capabilities they had in traditional development environments.

Paul Cormier,
president of products and technologies, Red Hat Inc.

"It's the first comprehensive set of offerings of the services needed to build modern, complex enterprise apps on an enterprise-grade Platform as a Service (PaaS) platform," Paul Cormier, president of products and technologies for the Raleigh, N.C.-based open source software provider, said in updating the Red Hat PaaS strategy.

Part of a 'natural progression'

JBoss xPaaS is just the latest step in the Red Hat PaaS strategy. In May 2011, Red Hat made OpenShift Online, its public-cloud PaaS offering, available for developer preview. "Today, more than 1 million applications are up and running in OpenShift Online," Mike Piech, senior director in Red Hat's Middleware Business Unit, said in an interview. In November 2012, the company released OpenShift Enterprise, an open hybrid cloud application platform designed for use both on-premises and in private, public and hybrid clouds. In June 2013, Red Hat announced general commercial availability of OpenShift Online.

The next phase of the Red Hat PaaS strategy involves delivering key JBoss middleware technologies in the cloud as OpenShift-powered services. "Bringing more technologies from our middleware stack into the cloud and making them available as easy-to-consume services is a natural progression for us," Cormier said. One such technology, mobile-push notification, is available now in developer preview. Two other technologies, integration PaaS and business process management PaaS, are scheduled for developer release within the next few months, the company said.

Users can start developing for xPaaS now using JBoss Fuse and JBoss BRMS, both designed for cloud development and deployment, the company said.

The reasons behind xPaaS

What's driving the Red Hat PaaS strategy? In a 2012 report, Gartner Inc. -- which estimated the PaaS market will reach nearly $3 billion by 2016 -- identified nearly a dozen separate segments of that market. Currently, those segments are largely isolated from each other, and individually, don't offer much, according to Craig Muzilla, vice president of Red Hat's middleware unit. "Most public and private PaaS offerings today are merely simple application containers for writing and deploying fairly simple, stand-alone Web applications," Muzilla wrote in a blog post accompanying the announcement. For that reason, many companies have been reluctant to use PaaS for anything more than simple, non-critical applications, he continued. "For PaaS to become truly useful to the enterprise, it will need to be able to support highly complex, multi-tiered or n-tier applications," he wrote.

As developers move to the cloud, they increasingly expect the same sophisticated capabilities they had in traditional development environments, Cormier said. "They don't want multiple PaaS platforms to get the features and functions they need," he said. "They want to go to one platform and have everything available as an integrated suite of capabilities. This is one reason the Java stack has become so functional and rich in the non-cloud world."

IDC researcher Al Hilwa echoed that sentiment. "Historically, enterprises have been reluctant to migrate existing workloads into a PaaS because of the limitations of some of the offerings on the market today," Hilwa, program director for application development software at IDC, said in a statement released by Red Hat. "Red Hat's approach, which integrates multiple services, makes PaaS more attractive for existing and new workloads."

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