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Java application server futures as seen by JBoss middleware leader Muzilla

Through the last decade, Java application servers solidified important design patterns, carrying enterprise integration to a new level. The Java server provided services-oriented developers with the tools needed to integrate most applications. More recently, a more modular server has come to the fore, one that is lightweight -- pared down to the essentials required for a specific job.

The shift to the lightweight server is both a threat and an opportunity for open source software powerhouse RedHat, whose JBoss middleware group, led by Craig Muzilla, has responded by introducing Java micro-container technology capable of running on a variety of small form factors.

SearchSOA.com spoke with Muzilla at the recent RedHat JBoss World Summit. He said flexible configuration has always been a JBoss mark.

''Even in its very early days, JBoss was always known as a very configurable and lightweight application server, so we didn't want to lock in a number of heavy features. We always wanted it to be configurable so it can be very lightweight,'' claimed Muzilla. ''We were the first vendor to come out with the concept of a microkernel. And then we came out with micro-containers."

Even as new traits become de rigueur, it is vital that they be modular too, Muzilla insists. "Being able to add in persistence, to add transactions, messaging, clustering, and security, but not having all of these things locked into something very heavyweight and difficult to deploy" is important, he said. Check out SearchSOA Video: Java application server futures as seen by JBoss middleware leader Craig Muzilla.

Read the full text transcript from this video below. Please note the full transcript is for reference only and may include limited inaccuracies. To suggest a transcript correction, contact editor@searchsecurity.com.    

Java application server futures as seen by JBoss middleware leader Muzilla

SearchSOA: SearchSOA.com is here at JBoss World 2011, and we are talking to Craig Muzilla, the leader of the middleware group at JBoss. How do you rate your progress as an open source company focused on enterprise computing?

Craig Muzilla: Let me talk a little bit, first, about the adoption of JBoss. We had a number of presentations this week, and we've been talking about the adoption. One measure of adoption is developer affinity; how well developers like your technology, do they accept it, do they think it's relevant.

If you look at the past five years, one measure of developer affinity is, how much dothey download your software. On an open source basis we can do that, because we hang our software out in the marketplace, on jboss.org, on community projects that are in process. Developers can download those things and use them.

We have, over the past five years, the number of downloads has been increasing over 100% every year, doubling the number that we had the prior year. I think that's one measure that JBoss is still very healthy. Our open source concept is healthy. Our middleware is healthy, and developers find it useful. Because if they didn't find it useful, they wouldn't download, and they wouldn't use it.

We think that's a very, very good sign. A couple of other signs, in terms of uptake of open source and JBoss products in general—a number of surveys have been conducted, and JBoss is being used in 30 to 35 or 40 percent of companies today. It's still very relevant.

Our customer base, when you look at the Standard and Poor's 500, we have over 35% of the S&P 500 are actually paying customers taking JBoss into production and paying us a subscription for the support for the SLA associated with that. So it's very, very healthy.

We even talked today. We've had a number of briefings with the Wall Street analysts here at the show. We talked about the adoption level of JBoss inside, how relevant it is inside of Red Hat. Two years ago, we generally talked about our top deals every single quarter, top 30 deals. So 120 deals per year. Two years ago, of the top 30, the top yield, we were about 25% of those.

This year we're over 36% of the top deals included in JBoss components. What's happening is that companies that are getting more comfortable with open source up the stack into middleware, and now they're starting to do more standardization across the organization. First, they're moving all their apps to JBoss. They're putting more strategic applications on JBoss.

New York Stock Exchange is one of the customers that we cited, and they went from some really basic Web applications to highly mission-critical applications doing trade capture, doing regulatory compliance and all their externally facing customer applications.

I think the adoption rate is still very high and still very relevant.

SearchSOA: What's been the effect with monolithic application servers? They're joined in the market by lightweight application servers and frameworks.

Craig Muzilla: Even in the very, very early days, JBoss was always known as a very configurable, lighter footprint application server. We didn't lock in a number of services into some big monolith. You can always configure it to be very, very lightweight.

We were the first vendor to come out with the concept of the micro-kernel and then we have a micro-container. What Mark Little, our head of engineering, demonstrated yesterday was the idea of a micro-services container: Being able to take a core container technology, but being able to add services in and out when you need them, but not locking you in. So being able to add persistence or being able to add transactions or messaging, clustering, security. Not having all of these things locked into something that's very, very heavyweight and difficult to deploy.

SearchSOA: Where are these things evolving? Where's the platform headed?

Craig Muzilla: I think the application platform will be evolving into something that's much more dynamic, much more elastic, that you can fire up containers some place and scale them back. You can have a data tier. Maybe your data is sitting in memory, in cache and being able to scale more memory as more data is being loaded.

The idea where client devices are now mobile devices, you're using ARM-based devices, even the host. And being able to take the concept of a fabric in a platform and have a highly distributed application that can scale in and out and grow based on the resource requirements of that app.

That is where the platform is heading, and that's where we're starting to drive the JBoss product line, as it relates to the application servers.

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