Red Hat and JBoss must bridge business gap

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After setting out its technology roadmap, Red Hat Summit attendees call on the open source vendor to address the business issues it can help to solve

Given some time to digest a number of announcements made by Red Hat and its subsidiary, JBoss late yesterday, both analysts and partners have called for more business-focused communication.

The consensus among delegates attending the first joint conference held by the open source vendor and its middleware subsidiary was that the technologies unveiled, along with the underlying roadmap and vision, were strong – particularly with the long-awaited launch of JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 5.0.

“You can buy into Larry Ellison’s vision of your IT infrastructure or your customers’ vision of how they think your IT infrastructure should work for them,” stated Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat chief executive in his opening keynote, referencing the company’s open source community heritage.

He suggested that customers no longer wanted to be held ransom to upgrade and licence renewal cycles, but instead wanted to have a “transparent view of the code”. “If we all had to walk around naked,” he added, “we’d all spend more time in the gym.”

Laurent Lachal, open source research director for Ovum said Red Hat had given a very articulate explanation of how Red Hat’s open source background would allow customer’s to create their own enterprise IT ‘visions’.

“My only issue is that Red Hat has a bottom-up approach to the issues its customers are looking to use its technologies to solve,” added Lachal. “The open source vision is no longer enough, and reveals a lack of business context, which just isn’t going to be good enough for a company pitching against Microsoft , who has a top-down approach.

The analyst also said Red Hat needed to make the link between how the middleware products of JBoss impacts the virtualisation capabilities so heavily touted in yesterday’s release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4 including the KVM hypervisor.

“Especially given the uncertainty in the market over VMware’s acquisition of SpringSource, JBoss needs to adapt to the way this competitor, as well as IBM and Microsoft, are going to use such technologies because it’s not just all about the cloud,” he said.

It was no surprise then that many hardware and independent software vendors (ISVs) who innovate on top of the Red Hat stack welcomed its introduction of a formal collaboration programme in the guise of its Catalyst programme.

“More and more customers are looking for solutions built on RHEL and JBoss middleware,” said Steve Giovannetti, principal and founder of software integrator, Hub City Media. “We see the Catalyst programme recognising a community of partners with the skills and experience to not only promote but implement open source solutions for customers.”