Red Hat’s Acquisition of FeedHenry Critical to Success of OpenShift PaaS

Charlotte Dunlap
Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Red Hat’s acquisition of FeedHenry is vital to strengthen its PaaS offering with best-of-breed MBaaS.
  • Red Hat’s greatest challenge is integrating proprietary technology with its open source products and services.

After my recommending for quite some time that Red Hat acquire FeedHenry in order to kick start its mobile services offering with its OpenShift PaaS, the company announced the acquisition today (September 18; for $81 million). I had a chance to speak with execs during airport layovers on their way home from Ireland (where FeedHenry is based).

First and foremost, the move indicates that the AeroGear project failed to reach its full potential and provide Red Hat with the backend integration capabilities its enterprise developers desperately needed as part of its platform service to tackle the mobile projects they face. It also shows that Red Hat is under extreme pressure to be competitive in the fast-emerging PaaS space, and having a strong mobile story as part of its cloud strategy is critical. The AeroGear project has been underway since 2012, and has still not achieved xPaaS status as a service of OpenShift. (xPaaS is the official service offering stemming from Red Hat JBoss middleware technology which is being offered on OpenShift). Nor is AeroGear a generally recognized name in the industry’s middleware and cloud circles, whereas FeedHenry is one of the hardest working startups I have seen in the MEAP/MBaaS industry, attending every mobile-related conference and building out an ecosystem of partners that includes VMware, HP, and Rackspace.

Of course, the greatest challenge Red Hat faces is integrating the proprietary code base from FeedHenry with its open source technology. Red Hat is under tremendous pressure to begin offering mobile services via its PaaS by year-end, to stay aligned with competitors’ mobile services such as Pivotal Cloud Foundry (please see Pivotal vs Red Hat: Open Source PaaS Leaders to Duke it Out Over Mobile Services, September 15, 2014).

What FeedHenry brings to the party is server-side code based on Node.js, a library and platform for the JavaScript language which has a following of millions of developers for its characteristics of being flexible, lightweight, and easy-to-learn. Node.js also supports high-performance capabilities, making it increasingly appropriate for mission-critical systems. FeedHenry, whose whole genesis is based on the cloud, provides a flexible development option which allows developers to use their own frontend application platforms. Its mobile application platform includes app development, integration to backend systems, deployment to multiple devices, and app management and reporting.

MBaaS players such as FeedHenry have done a pretty good job emphasizing their main differentiation from traditional MEAP solutions, which is to place less emphases on the building of the app and more on how those apps connect securely to backend systems. FeedHenry’s support of JavaScript for server-side programming means that if there is not a RESTful API for a particular backend system, the developer can create one more easily. The company sees this approach as a primary differentiator from MBaaS pioneers focused on social media developer audiences, but its enterprise-focused market is quickly becoming more crowded as competitors offer similar services.

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