I attended a discussion by Peter Yared, CEO of Active Grid sponsored by SDForum tonight.
It looks like he has a pretty revolutionary vision of app servers (the java folks might be a little disappointed). Among current IT folks there is a groundswell of support for using LAMP (Linux Apache Mysql Python/Perl/Php). He called this "scaling out" (which was the same term Marten Mickos was using at MYSQLUC, instead of "scaling up" (big iron servers, with complex J2EE apis).
He cited many web "2.0" companies as leading this trend, among them Google, Yahoo, Amazon and Sabre (travelocity). These forward thinking companies have "smart" people making this technology work. Active Grid's vision is to bring this to the common programmer. To illustrate this further he gave the example of a visionary who combined google maps with craigslist housing, stating that SOA (service oriented architechtures made this possible), but then lamented that these cool applications are not being brought into the enterprise (I'm assumming his reasoning is that there is complex integration and apis to deal with).
Peter made an interesting point in saying that the lingua franca of machines today is self-describing XML over HTTP (and went so far to say that this "dumb" protocol would be the last protocol that a computer scientist would design if you told them to make two computers talk to each other). But it works. Active Grid is building ontop of this protocol using open standards (XML, XML Schema, XForms, XQuery, Xpath, BPEL and DHTML).
They have an open source editor written in wxPython that talks to dbs (or Rest, SOAP servers) and creates XML Schema for you. You then graphically create bussiness rules using BPEL (and you can drill in and write code in python, php or perl if you want to). In the future they will allow paying customers to create "adaptive applications" where one can change caching and session mechanisms on the fly at runtime based on user profiles. Sounds pretty cool.
That was the basic idea of his talk. A few other notable things that he stated were: He didn't think Open Source companies that were commoditizing current commercial were that interesting, and stated that Activegrid was a technology company. Active Grid has open sourced a few projects, and have even received community bug fixes. Peter attributed this to "making something that is good", which naturally will pull in a community. From someone who has had most of his career in Java, it was interesting to here him say that Linux is closer to the "write once run anywhere" platform than Java is. It's free and you aren't locked into a vendor, you can migrate from Redhat to Suse to Debian.... He also stated that using python and leveraging pre-existing components allowed them to build their technology very quickly.