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Red Hat buys FuseSource to gain added application integration skills and tools

Open source software leader Red Hat said it will purchase FuseSource to further its application integration efforts. Also an open source zealot, FuseSource has expertise in messaging middleware and services orchestration.

Open source software leader Red Hat said it will purchase integration and messaging middleware provider FuseSource. With the move, Red Hat furthers its efforts to fill out significant parts of the application integration software stack, as it looks to compete with enterprise software mainstays like IBM and Oracle.

Red Hat said it signed a definitive agreement to acquire FuseSource from application software house Progress Software, which earlier this year began trying to divest several of its boutique software businesses. Among those was FuseSource.

Like Red Hat, FuseSource focuses on subscription - open source software accompanied by services. FuseSource has become a prime player in Apache Camel and ActiveMQ. The former is used for creating routing and mediation rules for messaging and the latter is a message queuing software engine.

FuseSource supports such open source distributions as Apache ServiceMix and CXF as well. For Red Hat, which has disclosed plans to update its own enterprise service bus (ESB), Camel and CXF look to be lynchpins for its middleware going forward. The existing Red Hat ESB is expected to give way to an implementation based on Switchyard open source software.

 “We are accelerating our integration platform side of the business,” Craig Muzilla, vice president and general manager of Red Hat’s Middleware Business Unit told “What FuseSource has is some very complementary technology.”

Writing in an email message, Larry Alston, president, FuseSource said the FuseSource team “will continue to offer the highest qualities of service, and to invest heavily in the technology -but now with access to additional expertise and a broader portfolio of technology.”

The purchase is seen as a way to buttress Red Hat’s efforts in the important middleware areas of messaging and orchestration. These advanced integration tools would join BPM, data grid and other “up-stack” tools riding on top of Red Hat’s JBoss Java application server.

While Red Hat has fielded Web services development frameworks, ESBs and the like, FuseSource would seem to offer an infusion of tools that have proved increasingly popular in open source circles. Some FuseSource principals have been instrumental in open source middleware.

“They have the leaders, the originators in Camel,” said Red Hat’s Muzilla. “We were doing Camel already. They also bring expertise in messaging with ActiveMQ. This helps us. The architecture fits well. The team fits well.”

“What we bring is the ability to take the FuseSource assets and grow them faster and further,” he said.

“It’s great for JBoss,” said Mark Addy, senior consultant at C2B2 Consulting Limited, which is a JBoss Partner. “If you look at Switchyard, the next ESB, it’s already hooked in with the Camel router (or orchestrator).”

Addy has worked on projects using ActiveMQ. “In terms of open source messaging systems it’s the most stable, in my opinion. It is also developer friendly,” he said.

Open source tango: It takes two?

This proposed open source pairing also expands Red Hat capabilities in the realm of lightweight integration alternatives, says Dana Gardner, principal analyst, Interarbor Solutions. With its Java-language-based flagship JBoss app server, Red Hat has a strong position “on the JEE side the universe,” according to Gardner. FuseSource, he indicated, adds other, dynamic language support to the arsenal.

On the overall move, Gardner said, “it makes a great deal of sense.”

“We are seeing more moves around cloud and integration as a service. We expect more people to do integration between clouds, and those integrations tend to be lightweight.”

Open source commercial software makers are closely watched for commitment to the egalitarian open source credo. This is especially true in open source middleware. The actions of buyer Red Hat and acquisition FuseSource will be closely watched in months to come.

“Red  Hat has had a difficult time with integration technologies with some being ‘lame ducks,’” said technologist Jeff Genender, member at The Apache Software Foundation and principal at Savoir Technologies, a FuseSource partner.

“The acquisition can be very prosperous if Red Hat leverages the technology properly. Then, it will potentially round out their integration portfolio in a very positive manner. At this stage, it will depend on if they play nice in the open source community by playing as community persona in the Apache landscape as opposed to attempting to ‘own’ it as a JBoss product,” continued Genender, who was interviewed via email.

“FuseSource was exceptional at playing nicely in the open source community. If Red Hat plays nice, it can make this stack a bigger standard than it already is. If they try to call it their own, well, I'll let past experiences be the judge,” said Genender, who emphasized that he was speaking as an individual and not as an Apache Foundation member.

“This acquisition is a great example of how open source software is not only a superior product in a lot of cases, but is also a business model that is proving to be alive and well,” said FuseSource user Rob Terpilowski, also responding to questions by email.

Terpilowski, a senior software engineer for transportation concern Lynden Inc., added that he is "very interested to see how much more quickly usage of the FuseMQ (Apache ActiveMQ) and Fuse Mediation Router (Apache Camel) will grow with the weight of Red Hat now behind it."

Over the years FuseSource has gained notable customers including Sabre Holdings, the FAA and the CERN physics lab. For FuseSource, which has spent the last few months with a “for-sale” sign on its window, the proposed purchase by the biggest open source player is welcome.

“We've been talking to Red Hat for a while, and it is very apparent that combining our technologies would enable FuseSource to deliver a complete integration solution for our customers,” wrote FuseSource CTO Rob Davies in a blog entry. “There are many complimentary technologies (JBoss Enterprise BRMS) but also many overlaps. However, it is our aim to produce consolidated integration solutions that will dominate the integration space,” wrote Davies, who co-founded LogicBlaze, a forerunner to FuseSource.

Cornered at the Red Hat Summit/JBoss World in Boston, James Strachan, FuseSource software fellow and co-founder of  Apache ActiveMQ, said of the acquisition plan: “It’s awesome!”

Some elation could be expected. At the time of the Red Hat agreement, FuseSource was operating as an independent company in the Progress family. The price of acquisition was not disclosed. The deal is expected to close this summer.

In terms of cost, analyst Gardner adjudged that Red Hat “probably got a good value” in the FuseSource acquisition "given the way Progress is divesting."

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