Red Hat  has announced JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) 5.0, the foundation for the vendor's new Java-based middleware strategy and a core element of its emerging cloud plans.

The company hopes the combination of JBoss EAP, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and its virtualisation features will form the core pieces of a cloud computing infrastructure that can be built internally within a company or hosted by an external provider.

The current JBoss EAP version has been available on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud infrastructure.

The 5.0 release is designed to provide flexibility through support for multiple Java programming and component models including Plain Old Java Objects, Java EE 5 and various upcoming standards in the 6 version, Spring Framework, OSGi, and Google Web Toolkit. The platform also supports a number of Rich Internet Application frameworks and dynamic languages such as Ruby and Groovy.

The platform provides a number of core services, such as transactions, to accommodate lightweight applications developed in the component model.

Red Hat is giving developers the ability to choose the framework, language and programming technologies, while choosing a single platform - JBoss EAP 5.0 - where it can all run.

"I think Red Hat is at this moment where, especially with the JBoss stuff, they are ready to really pop in the enterprise," said John Rymer, an analyst with Forrester. "I am seeing evidence that a lot of enterprises are looking seriously at JBoss."

Rymer said that was significant because the attention is coming at the expense of traditional powerhouses Oracle/BEA and IBM.

"It looks to me like JBoss is making serious inroads into the core Java platform businesses of those companies. Red Hat could overwhelm the market," said Rymer.

Red Hat announced in June a strategy to create a single platform for deploying a multitude of programming models. The initiative, dubbed the JBoss Open Choice application platform strategy, was a response to the exploding options available under the Java banner.

The core of JBoss EAP 5.0 is the JBoss Microcontainer, an architecture that separates core enterprise class platform services, such as clustering, caching, transactions and security, from the variety of containers and frameworks developers may choose.

"In terms of workloads there is a lot of emphasis now on having a lightweight Java footprint with a number of enterprise services around that," said Craig Muzilla, vice president of middleware for Red Hat. "People need transactions, caching, messaging, clustering and we're making sure the platform offering still comes with enterprise services that would support a lighter weight footprint or a fully traditional transactional footprint, which is often considered part of an [Java] EE configuration."

Red Hat also has integrated a number of tools including an administrative console for configuring application grids, along with existing tools such as JBoss Operations Network 2.3 for configuring clusters and managing availability and performance.

JBoss EAP 5.0 also includes JBoss Developer Studio, which features support for such technologies as Seam, Java EE, Spring, Hibernate, AJAX, and RichFaces.

Red Hat also tweaked performance, availability and load balancing by including versions of Hibernate, Seam, JBoss Cache and JBoss Web Services.

Subscription pricing for the platform begins at $1,600 (£980).

In addition to JBoss EAP 5.0, Red Hat also unveiled a new channel programme called the Red Hat Catalyst Program, which is designed to bring together partners, value-added resellers, system integrators, independent software vendors and hardware vendors.

This is the first comprehensive channel programme for Red Hat, which derives roughly 61 percent of its revenue through the channel, according to its most recent earnings statement. The company hopes the new Catalyst programs will steadily increase that number.

Alfresco, Ingres, EnterpriseDB, Jaspersoft and Pentaho are the initial members of the Catalyst programme.