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Red Hat boosts network management capabilities with JBoss release

Pam Berringer

Red Hat is launching JBoss Operations Network 2.0, a middleware management application that helps centralize network monitoring and maintenance. The new JBoss application enables

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data centers to manage, monitor and tweak application servers worldwide from a single console, saving companies the staff and expense of on-site visits for upgrades, fixes and changes.

In 2005 the first version of JBoss Operations Network was introduced, a year prior to Red Hat's acquisition of JBoss. In keeping with today's larger, Web-based enterprise applications, this 2.0 upgrade is scalable to larger networks and has more advanced monitoring and auditing capabilities, according to Katrinka McCallum, vice president of Red Hat's Management Solutions Business Unit. For example, version 2.0 not only remotely configures applications but it verifies that the configuration has been completed, she said.

Remote management capabilities

Like a dashboard, JBoss Operations Network 2.0 can display the health of the network and the applications it runs, starting from a baseline and following the trends over time, for hundreds of computers, McCallum said. And because it can both monitor and reconfigure networked applications, it can halt an individual server, upgrade or fine-tune it and then restart it again, all remotely.

In data centers, the JBoss management tool enables administrators to achieve more consistent results and better application performance while reducing costs and greater flexibility in resource deployment, she said.

JBoss' competitors such as IBM's Websphere or BEA's WebLogic Server, also centrally distribute and configure applications, but they require additional tools for monitoring, alerting and metric analysis, she said.

Raven Zachary, open source director for 451 Group, said the functionality of JBoss, IBM WebSphere and BEA's WebLogic tends to be "indistinguishable for the vast majority of users," but the latter two have bulked up their code to add a lot of special features at the cost of performance.

Prior to his current post at the 451 Group, Zachary worked in IT for La Quinta Inn and Suites and oversaw the company's migration from WebLogic to JBoss and observed firsthand the performance improvements with JBoss. "JBoss focused on a lightweight, nimble performance," Zachary said. "It's not necessarily the same level, but its core features run very well "

"This is a big milestone in Red Hat's Enterprise Acceleration initiative to promote JBoss for mission-critical applications," McCallum said.

Brad Shimmin, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, said Operations Network 2.0 will help data centers with an improved interface, more proactive "agents," more complete application program interfaces (APIs) and more modular software components.

"They've taken some good steps to make it more scalable in deployment," Shimmin said. "JBoss appeals to developers but Red Hat's goal is to move up the food chain. This is a good step in reaching that goal."

Shimmin suggested that Red Hat would ultimately bring Red Hat Network and JBoss' Operation Network "closer together," which he said would be a "pretty big differentiator."

But McCallum said that she did not foresee the two networking systems merging because the operating systems and middleware layers tend to be administered by different specialists.

But Zachary said some sort of optimized linkage between Red Hat Network and JBoss Operations Network is probably inevitable, even if it falls short of a merger. Red Hat may not want to stress this point, however, because it doesn't want customers running other OSes to think that JBoss goes only on top of Red Hat Enterprise Linux , he said.