In order to make good on a seven-year goal to capture 50% of middleware deployments for portals, service-oriented architecture (SOA) and application servers and services, Red Hat has been advocating its "Enterprise Acceleration" initiative designed to help enterprise customers shift the center of their middleware universe to architecture based on JBoss Enterprise Middleware (JEM). Half of all enterprise middleware workloads by 2015 is a formidable goal, to say the least. However, Red Hat has pointed to a growing level of dissatisfaction with inflexible/monolithic proprietary middleware as support for this target. The stated strategy focuses on: expanding the JBoss Enterprise Middleware portfolio, stimulating the partner ecosystem, sponsoring new projects in the open source community and introducing new measures to ensure performance and interoperability.
To be realistic, one major caveat in publicizing this brand of far-reaching goal (time-wise) is the fact that, by 2012 very few will remember, let alone hold Red Hat to it. On one hand the quarterly focused, bottom line Wall-Street types could care less what Red Hat says it's going to achieve 94 months from now...short-term profitability, stock price and market share count for more (plus, this safe harbor provides a good deal of legal shelter). On the other hand, any and all viable players in the middleware market will be setting their sights high for 2015...it's a competitive necessity.
Regardless, a closer look gives reason to consider that the enthusiasm exhibited by Red Hat senior leadership and associated week's ambitious goals regarding JEM, might be more than PR wire fluff. Recent activity surrounding JBoss technology indicates that it is, indeed, at the core of a rapidly maturing middleware business for the company. There is also a noticeable fit with the expressed strategic focus associated with the Enterprise Acceleration initiative, serving as early evidence that company direction is indeed aligned with stated objectives in the near-term.
Over the past 6 days, announcements of partnerships with companies like iWay Software, Hyperic and SeeWhy have hit the wire. Obviously the timing was far from coincidental, but it sufficiently backed the commitment to expanding a partner ecosystem that will need to grow by a factor of two or three in the process of meeting the aforementioned Red Hat objectives. Both the iWay and Hyperic partnerships addressed an area that will be critical for the JBoss Enterprise SOA platform moving forward: the budding overlap of enterprise Java and the Web 2.0 generation.
The indelible effect that rich internet applications have had on web-driven application development is practically undeniable. That being said, SOA will encapsulate these realities as it evolves, meaning any and all platforms which claim to tackle this space must do the same. The iWay partnership, in addition to enabling integration with more than 400 databases and applications, strengthens the capability with regards to building rich, Web 2.0-esque apps. The jointly developed management platform project, dubbed RHQ, went live last Thursday led by Red Hat and Hyperic. RHQ will serve as the foundation for JBoss Operations Network v2.0, due in late Spring 2008 and is directed at ensuring that features like inventory, data collection, configuration management control and strong alerting and provisioning is available towards meeting the needs of an increasing array of web-driven enterprises.
Red Hat will benefit tremendously if JEM can mature into one of the key players in the middleware/SOA market, especially in light of the fact that Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) continues to make headway of its own. As it stands now, Red Hat hasn't been able to effectively cross-sell JEM to as many RHEL customers as was expected by outsiders when JBoss was acquired, despite the fact that those same customers are in the midst of building reference architectures to deliver the applications and services their businesses need. If the gap between JEM and RHEL can be closed without slowing down the latter, the open source enterprise computing stack envisioned by some will be all that much closer to reality.
The above is particularly interesting since Red Hat's progress as it relates to the above will have a significant impact on how its success story will [continue to??] play out. While the investment community is well already aware that the company has recently experienced a decline in share value, the stock is trading around $18.06 and in highly volatile times, like those today, more than a few will be undervalued. Knowing this, investors will be searching for "bottom feeder" investment opportunities characterized by consistent performance from companies that tend to fly under the radar. If Red Hat can make good by bringing forth the fruits of executing its Enterprise Acceleration strategy the company will develop into an investment opportunity during bearish times. This would arm the company with the ammunition and momentum necessary to seize a leadership position in the tech industry.