Adding data integration tools to its JBoss SOA development infrastructure, Red Hat Inc. today announced the acquisition of MetaMatrix Inc., a pure play data management company with technology for accessing data from disparate data sources.
When the deal for an undisclosed price closes in approximately two months, the MetaMatrix human and technological resources will become part of Red Hat's JBoss organization, said Tim Yeaton, senior vice president of enterprise solutions at Red Hat. The purchase was announced in the larger context of providing a comprehensive open source product offering for development and deployment that moves Red Hat beyond its Linux roots, he said.
"The intent is to give a complete solution from development through to deployment for SOA designers and developers," Yeaton said, "So we've really moved from an operating system focused company a couple years ago to a full line end-to-end infrastructure provider from development to test to deploy and support. We do that all using open source technologies and open source business models."
Red Hat had been looking for data management technology since it acquired JBoss a year ago, Yeaton said. "We've been thinking about the data management problem associated with SOA from the time that we were contemplating the JBoss acquisition. We said way back in June that we think federation is the first answer to be solved for data in SOA."
Yeaton characterized the data management space as having relatively few pure play vendors. "MetaMatrix is the one that's been around the longest. They do a couple things we thought were incredibly powerful. For example, they are the only pure play that has a powerful metadata modeling and management capability."
As SOA becomes more complex so do the needs for data management, Yeaton said.
"It the business logic is relatively simple you can use XSLT for data federation," he explained. "But if you have a lot data sources that are complex and fairly different in structure and semantics, MetaMatrix has this full-on data modeling technology to model those data sources, collect all the information in a meta model. That's what the developer then uses to construct in a very simple powerful way the business logic associated with integration and transformation of data sources to service application needs."
Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC., said the Red Hat acquisition of MetaMatrix is a positive move as a Enterprise Information Integration (EII) play. "MetaMatrix has a very interesting and compelling tool for dealing with information integration and heterogeneity in the IT environment," the analyst said. "The acquisition by Red Hat really boosts their overall integration and SOA offerings in the same way that BEA has bolstered their stack through LiquidData (now AquaLogic Data Services). So, I think it's net positive."
Red Hat's focus on data management in the MetaMatrix acquisition may be a "wake up call" for other vendors in the SOA space, said Bradley F. Shimmin, principal analyst for application infrastructure at Current Analysis LLC.
"Owing perhaps to SOA's historical interest in integration, SOA vendors have focused primarily on the data that exists within services, leaving database and business intelligence vendors to manage the underlying data," he said. "Red Hat's announced plans of acquiring MetaMatrix brings into sharp relief this gap and should serve as a wake up call for the SOA market, which is just beginning to address this important need now that governance has become a hot button."
Along with the MetaMatrix acquisition, Red Hat announced that it is changing its subscription model to be more open source. Yeaton said the intention will be to make all of the MetaMatrix tools open source eventually, but it will be subscription based for a while after the deal closes.
"Everything that we're doing will be open source collaborative development," he promised. This also includes enhancements to the JBoss.org Web site to help foster greater community involvement.
While Red Hat describes its product offerings as a "complete end-to-end infrastructure," its commitment to open source and open standards allows developers to take a best of breed approach, avoiding vendor lock-in, said Sacha Labourey, JBoss CTO.
"Open source is often seen as a nice-to-have, but it has side effects that are very important," Labourey said. "For example, open source software is usually one of the first users of open standards. So open source tends to implement a lot of open standards because it has no interest to lock into some kind of proprietary protocol or API because by definition it's already open. When you look at the cost of implementation most of the time people look at the price of licenses, the price of implementation and subscription. But one aspect that is frequently missed in that equation is the cost of exit. How much will it cost to move away if your vendor stops providing what you need? With open source and open standards, the cost of exit is going to be as low as possible."
Red Hat has introduced new Red Hat Developer Support Subscriptions that offer guaranteed service levels that support developers from development to production, the company said. Red Hat Developer Support Subscriptions are available with two different SLA options, offer unlimited support inquiries and cover all JBoss Enterprise and Red Hat Enterprise Linux offerings. Later in 2007, Red Hat will release Red Hat Developer Studio, an open source development environment that integrates Eclipse-based tooling with JBoss and Red Hat Enterprise solutions.
Shimmin said this represents a major change in the way Red Hat sells its software products, but it may spur IT organizations to adopt them. "By severing its subscription-based software from its JBoss.org community software, the company has in essence rebooted its software philosophy creating an appeal for both experimenters and risk averse enterprises."
"This bifurcated effort, which will see radically different release cycles for JBoss.org and subscription product lines will undoubtedly spur the adoption of new Red Hat products like the company's Web 2.0 framework, JBoss Seam, through faster release cycles that are able to incorporate greater community feedback," Shimmin said. "Conversely, Red Hat's new, slower approach to subscription-based JBoss middleware -- which will now be sold as a series of integrated, tested and certified software stacks -- will also increase the adoption rate within staid enterprises that were leery of the company's previous hodgepodge of interrelated, but ultimately isolated products."