JBoss unveils Web 2.0 framework

At its third annual user conference, open-source middleware vendor JBoss Tuesday unveiled its first-ever Seam 1.0 application framework for Web 2.0 and announced the broadening of its vendor certification program to “software as a service” providers as it continues to build a support base for its enterprise open-source offerings.

The company also said at JBoss World 2006 that it will open-source the core systems-management agent in its JBoss Operations Network to encourage adoption of its open management platform by independent software developers.

Shaun Connolly, vice president of product management for JBoss, said the three announcements are aimed at helping the company continue its push into business computing by making its software easier to administer, modify, configure and use with Red Hat software and other products.

JBoss hopes that by releasing the source code for the JBoss Operations Network, it can build an open-source community around the code to spark development of software agents that link the JBoss environment to a wide range of other management applications and appliances. “By really opening it up and encouraging people to develop agents … for databases and other parts of the stack, it will help extend it out” into wider use, Connolly said. “It will enable an open-source community to extend all the agents so you’re able to plug things in.”

The changes follow requests from users who want new ways of tying systems and software together, he said. “Customers asked for this to help them with the end-to-end manageability. This is going to help them as a major first step,” Connolly said.

By expanding the code into open-source, JBoss expects to gain better manageability of applications that run on its flagship JBoss Enterprise Middleware Suite (JEMS) and the Operations Network software. JBoss already uses its agent technology to manage a variety of operating systems, including Linux, Windows and some versions of Unix, as well as JBoss middleware and Apache Web Server and Apache Tomcat.

The vendor will look to the open-source developer community to create management agents for other middleware products and for database software, Connolly said.

JBoss intends to release blueprints, certification toolkits and methodologies that third-party developers can use to validate their extensions and plug into the Operations Network for JEMS.

JBoss has yet to determine the specific open-source licenses it will use for the agent technology.

The built-in software agents now in JBoss Operations Network allow users to manage, monitor and patch their systems. But with additional agents created by open-source developers, those capabilities will be vastly expanded, Connolly said.

The general availability of the Seam 1.0 application framework will also provide a seamless development platform that makes it easier to bring together a wide range of service-oriented architecture technologies such as AJAX, JavaServer Faces, Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) 3.0, Java portlets, business process management and workflow.

Designed to eliminate complexity at the architecture and API level, Seam 1.0 enables developers to assemble complex Web applications with simple Java objects, XML and other means using EJB 3.0 through the entire Web application stack.

“Historically, J2EE and Web 2.0 APIs have been very complex,” Connolly said. “This helps reduce the coding that’s needed and factors in portal integration and business process management.”

By moving to provide vendor certification to software-as-a-service vendors, JBoss is hoping to make it easier for their customers to use the company’s products in whatever form works best for them, Connolly said.

Independent software vendors and platform vendors have had access to JBoss vendor certification programs in the past. Now companies that host the applications for customers will also be eligible for certification to strengthen their service and support offerings. “This is about making it possible for them to improve quality and availability,” Connolly said.

Atlanta-based JBoss, now a division of Linux vendor Red Hat Inc., is holding its user conference in Las Vegas, with about 900 attendees expected, according to the company.

–China Martens of IDG News Service contributed to this story.

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