The best open source platforms and middleware: 2010

InfoWorld's Test Center picks the top open source operating platforms and middleware of 2010

Bossie 2010 winner: Android

Google's Android is a multitouch-enabled, Linux-based operating system for mobile computing. Oh, have you heard of it? With the fastest-growing share of the smartphone market, as well as tablets or "slates" on the way, Android has emerged as the most formidable competitor to the iPhone and iPad. Google's well-developed Java libraries and Eclipse plug-in make the platform accessible to Java developers. Native audio/video support is extensive, hardware hooks are plentiful, and performance of both native apps and Web apps is strong. Android 2.2 platform additions include backup/restore APIs, a device policy management API, the beginnings of Exchange support, and a cloud-to-device and push messaging framework that will be essential to corporate deployments. For business users, the potential of Android has only begun to be tapped.

License: Apache License 2.0

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The Bossies 2010 index:

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source applications

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source application development software

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source platforms and middleware

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source networking software

Bossie 2010 winner: Nginx

Nginx is a fast and lightweight Web server and reverse proxy. It can also serve as an IMAP/POP3 proxy server. Simpler and less resource-intensive than Apache, Nginx was born for high-speed serving of static Web pages, proxying dynamic requests to other handlers, and providing caching and load balancing. If you're willing to roll up your sleeves, you can configure Nginx to handle more advanced tasks, including URL rewriting and CGI, but its natural role is static server, proxy, and cache. If you're looking to squeeze more performance out of your Web server, take a close look at Nginx.

License: "2-clause" BSD-like License

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The Bossies 2010 index:

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source applications

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source application development software

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source platforms and middleware

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source networking software

Bossie 2010 winner: VirtualBox

VirtualBox, a project acquired by Sun and now managed by Oracle, is an x86-64 host-based virtualization product that runs on a Windows, Linux, Mac OS X (Intel), and Solaris. Its wide range of supported guests, superb hardware support (including systems with or without Intel VT-x and AMD-V), USB support, OpenGL 2.0 graphics support, and zippy speed make it a standout. Windows 7 users might prefer Windows Virtual PC's tighter integration with the Windows desktop, which allows it to launch virtualized apps directly from the host. But for technical users on any platform, VirtualBox is a serious alternative to VMware Workstation and Parallels Desktop.

License: Dual Personal Use and Evaluation License/GPL v2

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The Bossies 2010 index:

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source applications

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source application development software

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source platforms and middleware

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source networking software

Bossie 2010 winner: KVM

KVM is a free, open source, bare-metal virtualization platform for Linux on x86-64 hardware with Intel VT or AMD-V virtualization extensions. KVM combines a slim footprint and support for a ridiculous number of guest operating systems. Because the KVM module resides natively in the Linux kernel, no mods or patches are required, as with Xen. Plus, KVM reaps the benefits of the underlying Linux platform's APIs, allowing developers to build out custom monitoring and management tools. Add to KVM the SPICE-driven VDI components available from Fedora (and commercially from Red Hat), and you have a scalable virtual desktop experience that's darn near indistinguishable from an actual PC. Meanwhile, the oVirt project is just getting to work on the tools needed to manage large virtual server environments...

License: Parts under GPL v2, LGPL v2, GPL, and LGPL

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The Bossies 2010 index:

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source applications

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source application development software

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source platforms and middleware

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source networking software

Bossie 2010 winner: OpenVZ

OpenVZ is one of the many open source virtualization projects available these days. It is container-based virtualization, which has advantages and disadvantages. Unlike KVM and Xen, OpenVZ cannot run different operating systems as guests, but it offers better performance than hypervisor-based virtual machines or paravirtualization. OpenVZ is specific to Linux (both for the host and the guests) but provides the flexibility to run different Linux distributions in each container. The best thing about OpenVZ? You can do a live migration of a guest container from one server to another superfast and with almost no perceptible delay in the container's network response.

License: GPL

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The Bossies 2010 index:

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source applications

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source application development software

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source platforms and middleware

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source networking software

Bossie 2010 winner: WSO2 Carbon

WSO2 Carbon is a free, open source, turnkey middleware stack based on the Java Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi). Carbon is completely componentized, making it easy to deploy only the service components you need, without skimping on services management, security, or scaling. Available components range from ESB, BAM, and BPM to mashups, data services, and gadgets. 2010's version 3.0 brought human-based workflow to BPM, extended BAM and governance to Oracle Database, made it easier to expose enterprise data over Web services, and eased component setup and customization (among the simplest you'll find). An alpha version of a cloud-based edition of Carbon, called WSO2 Stratos, is available for free trial.

License: Apache License 2.0

34SS-bossies-2010-wso2.jpg
The Bossies 2010 index:

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source applications

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source application development software

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source platforms and middleware

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source networking software

Bossie 2010 winner: Intalio BPM

Intalio leads in open source BPM (business process management) with an uncomplicated BPMN designer, a solid BPEL engine, and services for human workflow, though enterprise-grade security, activity monitoring, and business rule management will require a commercial license (you'll also get full access to the source). Version 6 adds important components to business rules, process templates, an easy-to-customize widget-driven AJAX UI, and enriched workflow options. Intalio also has its head in the clouds with a new vertically integrated private cloud offering, now in private beta. Intalio Cloud builds on the BPM foundation with Web-based process modeling, a collaboration portal, and even CRM functionality that takes aim at Salesforce.com.

License: Apache and Eclipse Licenses

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The Bossies 2010 index:

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source applications

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source application development software

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source platforms and middleware

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source networking software

Bossie 2010 winner: Talend

Talend is a suite of open source data integration tools capable of scaling from small file migrations to large data warehousing projects. It has strong tools for ETL, business and job modeling, and impact analysis, as well as a fleet of wizards that minimize complexity. This year Talend 4 raised the bar with the addition of master data management tools and native support for the Apache Hadoop Distributed File System, laying the groundwork for large-scale, "big data" analysis. Unlocking all of the enterprise-grade goodies requires a commercial subscription license, but the free open source Talend Open Studio, Talend Open Profiler, and Talend MDM go well beyond bare bones.

License: GPL v2

34SS-bossies-2010-talend.jpg
The Bossies 2010 index:

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source applications

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source application development software

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source platforms and middleware

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source networking software

Bossie 2010 winner: Cassandra

Cassandra was open sourced by Facebook in 2008, but already the distributed database is being used by a number of major websites including Digg, Reddit, and Twitter. What began as a simple, lightweight database to store the tidbits of information sent to Facebook is now one of the first projects that architects consider. The system offers greater speed and automatic replication across nodes but only delivers "eventual consistency," something that would give a traditional DBA heart palpitations. Most of the latest websites trafficking in the social ephemera, though, happily accept the trade off because they don't require the accuracy of banks or airlines. And removing the need to be always accurate produces faster results.

License: Apache License 2.0

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The Bossies 2010 index:

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source applications

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source application development software

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source platforms and middleware

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source networking software

Bossie 2010 winner: Infobright

Infobright Community Edition (ICE) is a self-tuning, columnar database based on MySQL that is easy to use, offers superfast data loading, high levels of data compression, and excellent query performance. In lieu of indexing, Infobright populates a "Knowledge Grid" of metadata at load time to speed query responses. To take advantage of advanced features -- including multicore processing, high availability, faster DML and data loading -- and commercial support, you'll need to spring for the Infobright Enterprise Edition. Infobright's command-line interface might put off some users. But availability for Windows and Linux, 32- and 64-bit flavors, as well as a VMware VM image offer broad deployment options. You'll also find a number of new, preconfigured VMs available that bundle ICE with Jaspersoft, Pentaho, BIRT, or Talend tools.

License: GPL

34SS-bossies-2010-infobrigh.jpg
The Bossies 2010 index:

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source applications

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source application development software

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source platforms and middleware

Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source networking software

This story, "The best open source platforms and middleware: 2010" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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