JBoss Inc. today announced it has acquired the Arjuna Transaction Service Suite, taking dead aim at the transactions market long owned by proprietary software offerings from vendors like IBM and BEA Systems Inc.
The move marks yet another step in JBoss' march toward offering an open source platform for service-oriented architecture. The Arjuna Technologies Ltd. transaction engine, which has a 20-year pedigree and has been updated to enable Web services transactions, will become a free and open source product and be branded as JBoss Transaction 4.2, available in the first quarter of 2006.
"All J2EE application servers require some level of transaction management," said Shaun Connolly, JBoss vice president of product management. "This enables us to tackle the kinds of detailed transactions that Web services haven't yet been able to get at. This is proven stuff. It's a bet-your-business technology."
The Arjuna engine comes complete with support for the proposed Web Services Transaction (WS-TX) and Web Services Composite Application Framework. It also has demonstrated interoperability with Microsoft and IBM products.
"It allows them to compete in the mission-critical transaction arena," said Burton Group Inc. analyst Richard Monson-Haefel. "It gives them that high availability, enterprise-class processing engine that they'd lacked."
JBoss transaction will become yet another freestanding product within the JBoss Enterprise System. Connolly stated his belief that the time is ripe for this move with so many companies planning to build to an SOA model. He added that JBoss made the acquisition because the technology needed to process high-volume transactions is not something easily built from scratch.
"Web services transactions are where the next wave happens," he said. "Federated security still needs to be addressed, but gives us a proven technology ready to handle those transactions out of the gate. That stuff doesn't magically integrate itself with an enterprise-class platform."
ZapThink LLC analyst Ron Schmelzer said two-phase commits and transaction processing requirements are a difficult migration going from the strictly controlled world of tightly coupled code to a loosely coupled SOA.
"One of the trickier things to accomplish is how do you make Web services reliable," he said. "You definitely need to have the transaction process part down in order to achieve that."
As part of the deal, JBoss also brought in Arjuna's chief architect Mark Little, who will become the JBoss director of standards and head up the company's enterprise service bus project. The open source vendor did something similar in October when it absorbed the Drools business rules project and hired the Drools lead developer as a full-time software architect.
"In order for us to ensure that we stay at the forefront of everything we do we want to make sure we have the folks who are the true leaders in that technology," Connolly said. "It's the developers behind the technology who make the difference."
While Schmelzer praised the current move and JBoss' steady growth in the SOA arena, he said it will feel some time pressure to round out parts of its platform.
"If they're thinking about a registry/repository, they'd better get to it in 2006," he said.