Marry open source and commercial services with JBoss

For most of us, JBoss still means the open source J2EE application server,...

What is it?

For most of us, JBoss still means the open source J2EE application server, which came from nowhere to challenge incumbents like BEA, IBM and Oracle with its freely downloadable, community-supported platform for developing and deploying Java software. JBoss was one of the pioneers of the "professional open source" model, combining community-developed software ( with commercial services and tools (

Two years ago, JBoss was acquired by Linux distributor Red Hat two years ago. Though the JBoss Application Server can still be downloaded, Red Hat now emphasises that "projects on are supported only by the community, with no SLA, and have changes or features that may not ultimately make it into the JBoss Enterprise releases".

Instead, Red Hat pushes the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, which integrates specific versions of JBoss Application Server, clustering, cache, messaging and other JBoss technologies such as hibernate and seam into a certified and supported Java applications platform, with a promised five-year lifecycle. RedHat argues that these technologies are released independently of one another on, leaving customers to decide what to use, and then make them work together.

References on to use phrases like "bleeding-edge" technology, which is likely to scare off all but the dedicated open sourcer. At the same time, Red Hat is leading the chorus of complaints that big corporate users of open source software are giving nothing back.

Where did it originate?

The founders of JBoss included people from J2EE creator Sun and application server specialist BEA. JBoss Application Server was first released in 1999, and the commercial JBoss organisation was founded in 2001.

What's it for?

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform is built around a service oriented architecture microkernel, which uses Java Management Extensions to assemble and manage services such as messaging or transactions. JBoss developers can customise and package their own services.

Last year, Red Hat brought out the JBoss Developer Studio, which includes open source tools from the Eclipse project with others from the Ajax tools supplier Exadel. Red Hat uses the same arguments - the tools have been integrated and certified to work together - to justify a charge for these tools, which it describes as "the first Eclipse-based development environment combining open source tooling and runtime for complete application lifecycles".

Red Hat also supplies its own application stack, which combines Lamp components like Linux, Apache, Postgres, MySQL, PHP and Perl with the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform.

What makes it special?

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform combines open source advantages such as low cost and rapid development of new features with commercial services such as support, integration and guarantees.

How difficult is it to master?

Those with access to a training budget can take a four-day course, JBoss and EJB3 for Java Developers (£2,180) systems administrators can take a three-day course for £1,710. Developers will need experience of Java and object-oriented development, but administrators need no prior knowledge of J2EE.

Otherwise it's still possible to build your own training course for nothing by downloading software and documentation from, and using other community sites, and books from O'Reilly and others.

Where is it used?

JBoss users include retailers, telcos, government agencies, universities, broadcasters and transport organisations.

What systems does it run on?

Windows and Linux.

Rates of pay

J2EE developers with JBoss earn between £30,000 and 40,000.


JBoss adds Ajax >>

Enterprise users demand JBoss >>

Red Hat targets enterprise middleware >>

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