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RedHat Releases Latest Version of OpenShift Enterprise, Enhances xPaaS Offerings

November 14, 2014

Red Hat announced recently that it had released OpenShift Enterprise 2.2 (OS 2.2), a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution that facilitates application development in the cloud. With this new release, developers will be better equipped to deploy applications in more complex cloud environments.

Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat, Inc. claims to be the world’s leading provider of open source software. In the 1990s, the company became well-known for developing its own flavor of Linux. This later evolved to enterprise-level Linux, middleware and their present-day focus on hybrid IT environments and its PaaS products, including xPaaS, a type of middleware designed to run in more complex environments like the cloud.

To better understand the purpose of xPaaS, it may be helpful to look at the simplest application environment, one where data and applications reside on the same machine, like old days of a PC using Microsoft Access or dBASE in isolation.

All the data requests like create, read, update and delete (CRUD) that one would perform in this environment are relatively simple. They don’t have to deal with multiple users accessing the data and they don’t have to go over the network. The application can have an open connection to the data source until the user exits the application. It’s about as direct as you can get.

In a complex environment where applications could be anywhere and data could be anywhere, the direct approach does not work. One of the main reasons for this is that if an application had an open connection for an extended period of time to the server where the data resides, performance would suffer.

What works better is for the application to make a CRUD request to a middleware program, which in turn relays the request to the data source and can send it back without tying up resources.

It’s a little counterintuitive, but in this case, the shortest distance between two points is through a middle man. More complex environments, known as n-tier, can have additional levels of middleware between application and data source. Each level of middleware passes requests off to the next level before reaching an endpoint like the data source or an application.

What RedHat has done is given application developers tools to develop solutions that run in a cloud environment. What the company found is that most PaaS development was done in very simple environments known as application PaaS (aPaaS) that amounted to nothing more complex than Web apps that ran in a browser.

Architecturally, this is maybe a step or two above the isolated PC environment mentioned earlier. It’s a simplistic environment that does not maximize use of many PaaS concepts.

By offering better support for xPaaS environments like OS 2.2, RedHat is freeing developers from the limitations of aPaaS while at the same time shielding them from some of the complexities of the cloud. It’s a badly needed upgrade in technology in a world where more and more enterprises are moving their IT to cloud servers. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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