Red Hat Looks to Blend Java With Linux

Red Hat, the leading seller of Linux distributions, has partnered with
BEA Systems, the supplier of the leading application server on the market,
to add a Java Virtual Machine to the enterprise-version of its
open-source operating system.

BEA announced it will certify Red Hat’s Advanced Server
enterprise platform with the WebLogic framework — a scalable
software infrastructure that includes BEA’s market-leading WebLogic
application server, which deploys mission-critical applications on an
enterprise scale.

Tying Linux into the app server is further evidence the open-source
operating environment is enterprise-read
y
. More importantly for Red Hat, though, is the new alliance serves to
bolster in its software offering amid its escalating war with Sun
Microsystems.

By partnering with BEA, Red Hat is trying to lure customers that rely on
the WebLogic platform, which in the past commonly ran on top of Solaris
using Sun’s machine based on a high-end Sparc (RISC) processors. Linux
allows those customers to save money because WebLogic can now run on cheaper
Intel-based machines.

But Sun apparently isn’t ready to throw in the towel. On Monday, it
introduced its first low-end Intel-based (x86) machines that run on a
proprietary version of Linux.

In an interview with internetnews.com, Mark de Visser, Red Hat’s vice
president of marketing, characterized Sun’s announcement as “too little, too
late.”

Under its alliance, Red Hat will distribute BEA’s proprietary server-side
JVM, called “JRockit,” through its Red Hat Network, making BEA the only
third-party solution on the open-source support network.

“The additional benefit of Java is it makes transparent the platform it
runs on,” de Visser said.

BEA said the move comes as a result of the growing importance that Linux
displays in the workplace.

“In general, the rise of interest [in Linux] in our customer base is
dramatic. The demand is increasingly large. And that is not unique to our
customer base,” said Bob Griswold, general manager of Java Runtime Products
Group at BEA. “With the economy the way it is right now, they are even more
interested in findning the lowest cost system available.”

The alliance melds the open nature of Linux with the highly portable Java
. Red Hat first unveiled its Advanced
Server
in late March in hopes of extending its reach beyond the
individual with distributions of its Red Hat Linux, version 7.x (latest
7.3). Prior to that, Red Hat’s push into the enterprise rarely went beyond
the firewall with the Linux environment supporting file, email or web
servers but rarely the application server or database.

“Now it is an application server or a database server,”
de Visser said. “It now is an enterprise platform and we’re proving it.”

Coincidentally, Java has followed a similar migration path throughout the
enterprise. It was initially developed as a client software tool. But
without an overly cumbersome graphical user interface to slow
down data transfers, Java quickly became accepted as server-side technology
and spread from the web throughout an enterprise database.

That server-side competitive advantage has helped one Web services
vendor after another embrace Java 2 Enterprise
Edition (J2EE) as the primary means for programs to communicate at the
expense of Microsoft and its .NET framework.

But de Visser explained that Red Hat’s intentions with the BEA
partnership isn’t to target Microsoft.

“The UNIX platforms are being replaced by Linux…our focus is not to
convert Microsoft customers to Linux customers,” he said.

Separately, Red Hat announced it will offer global support for the upcoming AMD Opteron and AMD Athlon processors based on AMD’s Hammer technology in Advanced Server and all future enterprise Linux offerings from Red Hat. Under the deal, Red Hat will provide native 64-bit support for processors based on AMD’s x86-64 technology, while providing support for existing 32-bit Linux-based applications.

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