A fantasy becomes reality

One To Watch: CapeDwarf, Google App Engine apps on JBoss AS

Elliot Bentley
CapeDwarf1

New Red Hat project brings GAE APIs to JBoss AS, allowing apps to be run on private servers – and could lead the way to a new standard.

The
risk of lock-in may be a major turnoff for many companies
investigating cloud platforms, but vendors often struggle to find a
sweet spot between openness and proprietary APIs.

For Java developers on Google App Engine, however,
they may find solace in a new JBoss project which allows
applications written for GAE to be deployed on JBoss AS – recently

renamed as WildFly
– without any modifications.

CapeDwarf, named after a
species of chameleon, has been in development for over six months,
with Red Hat and Google engineers cooperating to ensure
interoperability. Using CapeDwarf, apps written to run on GAE can
be easily ported away from the public cloud platform to run on
private servers.

In addition, with Java EE’s multi-tenant support
unlikely to arrive before Spring 2015, even those not currently
using GAE may find CapeDwarf’s APIs useful. A custom CapeDwarf
cartridge for OpenShift, Red Hat’s open source cloud platform, is
also in development.

Around two thirds of the API’s specs have now been
implemented, with existing JBoss APIs such as Infinispan, JGroups,
PicketLink and HornetQ powering things behind the scenes.

Importantly, Google themselves have not only given the
initiative their blessing but become directly involved. Earlier
this year, project lead Aleš Justin told InfoQ that Red
Hat was engaging with Google “quite a lot”, but it was only last
month that Google engineer Ludovic Champenois took to the official
Cloud Platform Blog to praise CapeDwarf and highlight Google’s
contributions.

Most of the collaboration between Google and Red Hat
has gone into producing an open source Test
Compatibility Kit (TCK) project
, wrote Champenois. Google is
providing tests used for the internal App Engine product, in order
to allow Red Hat engineers to verify CapeDwarf’s implementation of
its APIs.

Gartner analyst Yefim Natis has
written recently
that he sees “a great potential lurking in
this initiative”. With a proven, practical implementation, backed
by both cloud-savvy Google and enterprise-friendly Red Hat, Natis
reckons that CapeDwarf has a real chance to turn the GAE API into
“a standard programming model for cloud”.

Another cross-industry effort to develop a common API,
the Cloud Application Management for Platforms (CAMP), is
due in September
. While Google have been involved in CAMP, it
seems unlikely they will be implementing the API any time soon.

Google’s support of CapeDwarf may not be quite as open
– it’s hardly opening up its API for general adoption, after all –
but it may provide some comfort to customers unsure about moving
across.

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