Welcome to the world of xPaaS

September 24, 2013

Craig Muzilla, vice president and general manager, Middleware

Today, Red Hat announced JBoss xPaaS services for OpenShift, the industry’s first comprehensive, open and unified Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering for enterprises. With the advent of xPaaS, users can move beyond the limits of simple application development of today’s PaaS offerings to the next generation of PaaS technologies and capabilities. xPaaS is a rich set of application development and integration capabilities that will enable users to build and deploy complex enterprise-scale applications.

Gartner uses the term xPaaS to describe the whole spectrum of specialized middleware services that can be offered as PaaS. Red Hat is in a unique position in the industry to deliver xPaaS, having both a comprehensive portfolio of middleware technologies and the supporting PaaS infrastructure together under one roof.

Developers and enterprises alike are extremely excited about the potential of cloud, especially PaaS. For the software developer, PaaS offers a means for simplifying the application development and deployment process. No longer do developers need to wait to provision and configure application development or deployment environments. They can concentrate on writing their applications and the environment set up, provisioning, and deployment tasks are automated for them. Enterprises like PaaS because it saves them time and cost in provisioning or acquiring new environments, while establishing consistency and best-practice application development standards that are used by all of their developers. This helps all parties be more efficient and effective while saving money.

At Red Hat, we are building infrastructure software and services to help companies build and use open hybrid clouds. Our Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and PaaS solutions span the heterogeneous environments of public clouds, private clouds and physical systems. Built on a trusted foundation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, OpenStack, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat CloudForms products and technologies, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform and Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure help organizations build and manage public, private and hybrid cloud environments. Our OpenShift by Red Hat and Red Hat JBoss Middleware products help developers and companies build applications in public and private PaaS environments. Now xPaaS helps move clouds to the next step.

The state of PaaS today, while very exciting, is a fairly simple affair. Most public and private PaaS offerings today are merely simple application containers, for writing and deploying fairly simple, stand-alone Web applications. This type of PaaS is often called an aPaaS, or application Platform as a Service. A few PaaS offerings provide integrated application life cycle management tooling, but the nature of the applications being built with these tools is still quite limited. Although PaaS offerings today support a variety of languages and framework types – Java, JavaScript, Ruby, and PHP – most lack any sophisticated transaction, integration or orchestration capabilities. As a result, PaaS offerings today often are not a good fit for connecting applications to disparate data and processes used by the rest of the business.

The result of these simple aPaaS offerings is that many enterprises have been reluctant to use PaaS for anything other than very simple, non- mission critical Web applications.

For PaaS to become truly useful to the enterprise, it will need to be able to support highly complex, multi-tiered, or “n-tier,” applications. The most sophisticated applications are likely to consist of data, processes and services that are highly distributed. These data and processes will reside in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, running on private PaaS, located in a variety of public PaaS, and housed within legacy and physical systems. Cloud actually exacerbates the challenge, making the building blocks for the application even more “tiered” and distributed. The simple capabilities of the aPaaS offerings of today are just not equipped to address this challenge.

In response to some specialized needs, we have witnessed the arrival of specialized PaaS offerings. Some purveyors have developed integration PaaS (iPaaS) services. Others have offered business process management PaaS (bpmPaaS) services. While other, even more specialized, firms (mostly start-ups) have offered mobile PaaS, portal PaaS, and a plethora of other highly narrow and specialized services. The problem now is that no one is providing all of these tools under a single, unified PaaS environment. Few, if any, enterprises will be willing to subscribe to 8 different public PaaS services just to be able to build a single application.

For PaaS to be truly useful to the enterprise, it will need to move beyond aPaaS and simple container services. PaaS will need to offer a comprehensive set of sophisticated middleware services for building n-tiered, composite applications. PaaS will need to offer messaging, mediation, routing, transformation and governance solutions for connecting disparate processes and data across cloud environments. It will need to offer sophisticated process modeling, workflow, execution, activity monitoring, and analytics. And, PaaS must offer the mobile, social and engagement environments for the new types of applications being built.

To address this challenge, Red Hat has a vision of next-generation PaaS called xPaaS. We see PaaS not only as a simple container or aPaaS, but also as a rich set of middleware services for building highly complex and sophisticated applications, all working seamlessly together. We believe these will be the defining factors of the next generation of PaaS capabilities. We envision xPaaS incorporating integration software to create iPaaS, process management and rules management software as bpmPaaS, mobile capabilities as mPaaS and MBaas – all in one unified environment.

xPaaS capabilities play several roles for developers. They help software developers connect and orchestrate disparate data and processes among applications and services within a single PaaS environment. More importantly, xPaaS helps software developers connect and orchestrate processes among different public PaaS, private PaaS, SaaS-based applications and physical enterprise systems behind the firewall. It helps enterprises achieve the goal of building open hybrid clouds.

Our strategy for xPaaS is to leverage our rich portfolio of Red Hat JBoss Middleware and offer these capabilities as services within our public PaaS offering, OpenShift Online, and our private PaaS offering, OpenShift Enterprise. All of these xPaaS services, including aPaaS with JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, iPaaS with JBoss Fuse, bpmPaaS with JBoss BPM technologies and JBoss BRMS, and mobile services, will be provided under a single PaaS environment. No longer will enterprises be forced to go to many different PaaS environments in order to obtain what is necessary to build a true, n-tiered enterprise application.

With the advent xPaaS in OpenShift, we believe Red Hat is setting the stage for the next phase of growth of PaaS. Now, for the first time, enterprises will have the tools they need to build the types of applications they want.

Welcome to the world of xPaaS.

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