Wednesday, December 12, 2007

ELC Technologies and FiveRuns join forces for Rails development

ELC Technologies and FiveRuns Corp. are joining forces in a strategic partnership designed to offer enterprises a broad scope of resources for Ruby on Rails, the Web application framework.

Both ELC Technologies, Santa Barbara, CA, and FiveRuns, Austin, TX, already have a strong presence in the Rails market. We're also glad to see RESTful Ruby.

ELC Technologies specializes in Rails-based business applications and agile software development practices. It counts such companies as, Cisco, Live Nation, MediaTrust and TuneCore among its client base.

FiveRuns delivers tools that allow IT managers to monitor the performance of Rails applications and their underlying infrastructure in production environments.

The two companies are collaborating on enterprise Rails deployments, which will be announced at a later date.

Jonathan Siegel, founder and president of ELC Technologies, explained the rationale for the new partnership.

We have repeatedly demonstrated the value of Rails for business-critical applications to the global companies we have as clients. However, one of the greatest challenges our clients face is monitoring and maintaining Rails within large-scale enterprise environments. Working with FiveRuns will allow our clients to easily manage their Rails deployments using FiveRuns' tools--and to demonstrate for themselves that Rails can deliver enterprise performance as well as shortening time to deployment.
I'm seeing a lot of enthusiasm for Ruby on Rails in the enterprise, and it's beginning to pull out of the exotic niche category into more mainstream RAD use, as fellow ZDNet bogger Joe McKendrick points out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wind River's John Bruggeman on Google Android and the advent of mobile internet devices

Listen to the podcast. Or read a full transcript.

The Android open source mobile platform made a splash in October when Google announced it, along with the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). An Android software development kit (SDK) came on Nov. 12, and the first Android-based open source platform mobile phones are expected in mid-2008.

The impact of such a platform on mobile phones and carriers has been roundly debated, yet the implications for an entirely new class of mobile internet devices has received less attention.

In this podcast, John Bruggeman, chief marketing officer of Linux software provider Wind River Systems, digs in to the technical, business model and open source implications of Android and OHA -- but he goes a step further.

Android will lead, he says, to a new class of potentially free mobile internet devices (MIDs) that do everything a PC does, only smaller, cheaper and in tune with global mobile markets that favor phones over PCs for web connectivity. [Disclosure: Wind River has been a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Listen as I interview Bruggeman on the long-term disruptions that may emerge from the advent of Android.

Here are some excerpts from our discussion:
What’s new [in Android] is the business models that open up, and the new opportunities. That’s going to fundamentally change the underlying fabric of the mobile phone space and it’s going to challenge the traditional operators' or carriers' positions in the market. It’s going to force them, as the supply chain, to address this. ... Carriers potentially are going to have to embrace completely new revenue and service models in order to survive or prosper.

Clearly, the great promise of the Google phone platform is aimed more at an ISP mentality, where they make money on how we provision or enable new services or applications. ... the traditional carrier is a more connection-based business model. You pay for connection. This model will clearly evolve to be some sort of internet model, which today is typically an ad revenue-share model. That’s how I see OHA will play out over time. We’re going to have to adopt or embrace an ad revenue-share model.

There might be revenue that’s derived through connectivity, but increasingly we're seeing the big money around the monetization of advertising attached to search, advertising attached to specific content, and advertising attached increasingly to mobile location and presence.

I don’t think that the extreme is that improbable, that the actual connection price would go down to zero. I could have a mobile phone and pay a $0 monthly fee. ... The ad revenue is where the real dollars are here, as well as all the location-based value that you can do. This is the true delivery on the promise of the one-to-one marketer's dream. You’ve got your phone. I know exactly where you are.

It would be naïve to say the technology issues are completely solved, but I think a lot of the hard problems are understood, and there is a path to solution. Those will play out over the next 12 months. I see a clear road to success on the technology side. It will be easier for the technologists to overcome the obstacles than it will be for the business people to overcome the new models in an open source world.

There’s going to be a lot of pressure to drive down that connectivity price really quickly. I say that because I think you can’t ignore the overtones of Google being willing to buy their own bandwidth and become their own carrier. That threat is out there. As a carrier, I've either got to embrace or fight -- and embrace seems most logical to me.

These devices, the converged mobile device in particular -- something like an iPhone -- strikes me as a stepping stone between a traditional PC, as we know it, and some of these mobile devices.

If I can get a lot of what I get through the PC free or low-cost through one of these mobile devices, the only real difference is the size of the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Isn’t there an opportunity in two, three, or four years that I might say, “I don’t need that PC and all that complexity, cost and so forth. I might just use my mobile device for almost all of the things I do online?"

PC manufacturers and those that are the traditional part of that supply chain are threatened by that every day now. You've hit it on the head. There’s an emerging market. Maybe the most important technology market to observe right now is the mobile Internet device (MID).

Many analysts are starting to pick up on it, and it could be viewed as the next generation of the mobile phone. But I think that’s underselling the real opportunity. If you look on the dashboard of your automobile, the back of your airplane seat, everywhere you go and everything you touch, it is a potential resting place for a MID with a 4x6 screen or a 3x5 screen, or all different kinds of form factors. That kind og use gives you the experience that is the eventual promise of the Android platform.

We all should start thinking about and talking about the MID market pretty quickly. ... The pie that we're defining isn’t really just mobile internet or voice, presence, and mobile commerce. It’s really the whole internet.

The first thing is we need to get some Android-based phones out there. Some time next year, you're going to see the first phones and that’s when we're actually going to have to see the operators who offer those phones address all the business model issues that you and I've have been talking about today.

So the next big step is that it’s got to move from the talk about to the reality of "here are the phones," and now we're going to have to resolve all these issues that are out there. That's not years away -- that’s next year.
Listen to the podcast. Or read a full transcript.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Red Hat unveils JBoss Developer Studio -- is it destined for an Amazon or IBM cloud?

Red Hat, Inc., Raleigh, NC, has finally released JBoss Developer Studio, an open-source Eclipse -based integrated development environment (IDE) that combines tooling with runtime.

Red Hat released the beta version for free download on last August and said that the final subscription version would be available "later this summer." Since the beta was made available, according to Red Hat, there have been over 50,000 downloads.

Designed to allow enterprises to be more agile and to respond more quickly to changing business requirements, Developer Studio eliminates the need to assemble IDEs. It's built on the Eclipse-based developer tools contributed to Red Hat by Exadel in March and introduced under open source in June, The Exadel products contributed to the project included Exadel Studio Pro, RichFaces, and Ajax4jsf.

JBoss Developer Studio incorporates Eclipse tooling, integrated JBoss Entrperise Application Platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux for development use and full access to Red Hat Network. Also included are tooling for technologies, including JavaEE, JBoss Seam, Ajax, Hibernate, Persistence, JBoss jPBM, Struts, and Spring IDE.

Developer studio is available by subscription for $99.

On a modestly related note ...

You'll recall that Red Hat also made news when it announced its runtime-as-a-service on the Amazon EC2 cloud. Now ... I wonder, perhaps these tools could emerge as an IDE as a service placed up on Amazon, to deploy to RHEL runtime instances. Wow, could make a very cool combo.

Folks like Coghead and Bungee Labs are already making waves with development and deployment as a service. And Amazon ought to bringing tools -- not just platform -- through it's pay-as-you-drink hosting offerings sometime soon. Genuitec certainly has its eyes on this model, and is well-placed for it with MyEclipse.

So who will be the one to move their tools environment to the Amazon cloud first? Perhaps Amazon will offer several tools options, such as one for web apps and mashups, and another (or two) for Java development? You know you want to, Jeff.

I'd like to see a way for .NET developers to get such a Visual Studio-as-a-service (or open source Mono thing equivalent) up on Amazon EC2, to then force Microsoft Live to follow suit. Who needs tools licenses anymore then?

How about the IBM cloud? What tools might go well there? Can Sun Microsystems resist following suit with NetBeans-as-a-service? A New Hope.

Tools in the clouds. Luke, it is your destiny!

Federated ESBs come to fore as natural outcome of guerrilla SOA practices

Some IONA Technologies announcements today point up the growing practice of multiple ESBs within enterprises, often associated in a federated manner, and sometimes using ESBs tasked with specific types of integration duties.

IONA is taking a "hybrid" approach to ESB offerings, with a coordinated open source and commercial strategy. [Disclosure: IONA has been a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.] IONA Technical Director Jim Strachan addresses some of the open source issues here. And IONA has also upgraded its Artix ESB, and has partnered to bring a management dashboard benefit to the mix.

These moves reflect how enterprises and service providers are using ESBs in innovative ways, in effect creating distributed ESBs to support SOA, SaaS and guerrilla SOA -- while building a path to holistic SOA that follows a crawl, walk run ramp-up.

Indeed, some new use traits are emerging on how ESBs are actually being used in the market. One is that multiple ESBs are often used, or come into play, rather than one honking ESB swallowing everything up. Sometimes such varied ESB use comes from different SOA projects that evolved using different means to access and integrate resources. Sometimes it's from separate organizations or departments that merged or became partners. SaaS also encourages ESBs at the edge and internally, so there's likely a mix there too.

I'm also seeing instances of ESBs that are tuned or dedicated to specific types of integration, or integration that is "pointed," if you will, in a specific direction. By that I mean integration for data services, unstructured content, or integration for management feeds, or integration from outside partners of supply chains.

An ESB for various flavors of integration makes a ton of sense to me. Deciding later whether to consolidate ESBs, while learning what works best on a more granular level, follows how IT often evolves. It certainly aligns with open source infrastructure use adoption patterns.

Given these scenarios, rather than force an architect to pick or choose one ESB and make it dominant, we just as often now see federation of several ESBs. Due to their nature, this makes sense -- many integration points. So hybrid ESB use makes sense and is reflective of what's going on in actual use. Another aspect is that ESBs are not just federated on equal footing. An ESB can be used in master and slave configurations, where various architectural topologies are likely given the many possible ways that these SOAs emerge. Old and new can play well based on many types of integration means. Think of it as distributed integration.

In this environment, IONA is offering a logical hybrid solution set. On one hand, FUSE allows for the benefits of open source and community development to make ESBs inclusive and standards-based. And the community provides a great way for many connectors and modules to well-up to bring even more assets and resources into play with the ESB. This makes it far easier for esoteric applications and content to play in an SOA, and those connectors are made openly available.

In this open source role for an ESB, Metcalfe's Law (value of network grows with number of participants on it) applies too. The value of the ESB increases with the number and diversity of assets and resources that can attach to it. FUSE aims to exploit this, as well as provide a low-cost and simpler way for developers to enter into ESB use.

On the other hand, in legacy-rich and CORBA environments, the IONA Artix offering binds and integrates core and more traditional messaging and ORB-based assets and resources. So you have a backward-facing and legacy-compatible ESB offering, one that scales to large transactional demands in Artix. And you have the new kids on the block, Web services and SOA greenfield services that can be accessed and organized via FUSE and the Apache community.

Putting FUSE and Artix 5.1 into a federated yet managed configuration then offers the best of many worlds, and gives organizations variety of choices on how to enter and manage the expansion of SOAs, based on their specific situations. And this also mitigates future risk by making unknown scenarios -- including more SaaS use -- easier to meld into the architecture.

IONA's partnering with Hyperic for FUSE HQ broadens the management into mature consoles-based delivery, while also expanding the scope of what is managed. So that makes sense. All in all, an approach to the market that makes market adoption and inclusion more in tune with guerrilla SOA than master plan SOA based on one vendor or one product set.

In other SOA news today -- again with an open source angle -- WSO2 announced an open-source approach to help users pass consistent identity data across networks, while protecting them from such things as phishing and other identity attacks in Web applications.

Web services middleware provider WSO2, based in Colombo, Sri Lanka and Mountain View, Calif., recognizes that as SOA becomes more prevalent and more complex -- linking data, applications and service both inside and outside the enterprise -- that security and authentication become prime concerns. [Disclosure: WsO2 has been a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

The WSO2 Identity Solution (IS) is based on Microsoft's CardSpace technology, which is built on the open standards Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) and WS-Trust. WSO2 IS will operate with CardSpace components from multiple vendors.

It also works with current enterprise identity directories, such as those based on the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and Microsoft Active Directory.

WSO2 IS has two primary components: Identity Provider and Relying Party Component Set. Identity Provider allows users to issue "cards," both managed information cards and self-issued cards that allow users to log into any Web application that supports CardSpace. Web sites that rely on this authentication don't need to store any passwords or other personal details.

Key features of Identity Provider include:

  • User store support for the most common directories that offer standard LDAP or Java Database Connectivity interfaces. It also includes a built-in user store for smaller companies.
  • Claim support for standard and custom claims, so users can keep full control over what personal information is shared.
  • Statistics, reporting, and an audit trail, which let administrators monitor user accounts and issuances of information cards.
  • Revoking mechanism, which allows administrators to revoke user cards and block them from being used for authentication.

The Relying Party Component, build around the Apache HTTPD module (mod_cspace), plugs into the most common Website servers to add support for CardSpace authentication requests. The module is independent of any server-side Web framework, and it can set up CardSpace authentication with any Web framework running on Apache 2, including PHP, Python, and Perl applications.

Key features of the Relying Party Component include:

  • Access control for static content in Apache HTTPD
  • An integration interface for developers
  • Support for leading content management frameworks, such as Drupal and MediaWiki
  • A Java servlet filter to provide an integration point for J2EE-based Web applications.
WSO2 also recently upgraded its open source ESB.