What is it?
The JBoss application server is a J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) platform for developing and deploying enterprise Java applications and web applications. It has its roots in the open source community.
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To use an older and less glamorous phrase, it is a middleware stack - the plumbing that enables applications to intercommunicate.
JBoss competes with Weblogic from BEA, Websphere from IBM, and Oracle Application Server.
JBoss, the company behind the JBoss application server, was acquired last year by the Linux distributor Red Hat. Like many other such products, JBoss continues as a free-to-download, community-developed and supported product.
Robin Bloor, chief research officer at Bloor Research, said, "A phenomenon of open source has been that a single product normally emerges in any given category. Firefox, Linux, Apache and JBoss are all examples."
In March, Red Hat formed an alliance with Ajax tools supplier Exadel to offer open source, Eclipse-based developer tools for building applications with JBoss and Red Hat Linux. Red Hat explained that it wanted to focus on developing new applications rather than migrating existing installations to enterprise Linux.
Where did it originate?
The founders of JBoss came from, among others, J2EE creator Sun and application server specialist BEA.
The JBoss application server was released in 1999, and the commercial JBoss organisation was founded in 2001 to provide sales and technical support services to users who prefer to deal with a traditional supplier.
What's it for?
As the name suggests, application servers provide applications for client computers and the web.
In addition to the full range of J2EE features, JBoss supports Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) 3.0 and has "extended enterprise services" such as clustering, caching and persistence, non-repudiation and other features that support secure transactions.
The addition of the Exadel products will enable developers to assemble service oriented architecture components and Web 2.0 applications with less coding.
What makes it special?
The full JBoss Enterprise Middleware Suite (Jems) also includes Tomcat, JBoss Rules, JBoss Cache, JGroups, JBoss Portal, the JBoss Seam application framework, JBoss Transactions and JBoss Messaging.
How difficult is it to master?
JBoss for Java developers with EJB3 involves a five-day course. JBoss for administrators takes two days, and requires a basic knowledge of Windows or Linux, though not of J2EE.
Where is it used?
JBoss partners and resellers include Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Unisys, Novell and Microsoft. Users include many telecoms providers, banks, governments, retailers and BBC Technology.
What systems does it run on?
Windows and Linux.
What's coming up?
Exadel Studio Pro, which is based on the Eclipse platform, will be renamed Red Hat Developer Studio. Red Hat will work with Exadel to integrate Exadel products such as Richfaces and Ajax4jsf with technologies such as the JBoss Seam, and release the results as an updated Red Hat Developer Studio in the summer.
The JBoss certified training partner in the UK is BSG, which offers courses in London. You should also look at JBoss Developer Resources. There are also several introductory books available from companies such as Prentice Hall and O'Reilly & Associates.
Rates of pay
Java/J2EE developers with JBoss skills can earn £30,000 to £50,000 a year. Contractors can earn £300 to £500 a day.
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