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ObjectWeb's Celtix ESB project hits the streets

Version 1.0 of the open source ESB, sponsored by Iona, features a JAX-WS 2.0 implementation and interoperability with JBI.

Iona Technologies and the ObjectWeb open source community today released version 1.0 of the Celtix open source enterprise service bus. Key features of the ESB runtime include advanced Java support, core ESB functionality such as service enablement and reliable messaging, support for Web services standards and interoperability with the Java Business Integration (JBI) and Service Component Architecture (SCA) specs. Celtix 1.0 is the culmination of nearly a year's worth of work by the ObjectWeb community, led by Dublin-based Iona.

People like open source middleware because it's agnostic.
Adam Michelson
SOA and Enterprise Architecture Practice LeadOptaros, Inc

"The key message is this is an enterprise-ready set of bits, based on Java and the latest Java standards, like JAX-WS 2.0," said Larry Alston, Iona vice president of marketing and product management. "We expect people to be able to use it in and of itself without the need for any other commercial software to make it run."

Celtix 1.0 includes a full JAX-WS 2.0 implementation as well as support for Java 1.5. With dynamic language support, Celtix applications can be composed in either JavaScript or ECMAScript for XML. Celtix also supports multiple containers (J2EE, servlet, and standalone), as well as ActiveMQ Java Message Service (JMS), WS-ReliableMessaging and WS-Addressing. It also includes a SOAP stack built-in, and an extensible plug-in API.

Celtix's distributed architecture, as well as its sponsorship by an established global company like Iona, distinguish the project, said Shawn Willett, a principal analyst for application infrastructure at Current Analysis Inc., in Washington, D.C. "Celtix has distributed end points, which arguably adhere more closely to the concept of SOA, which is supposed to be distributed, not hub based. And people will upgrade from Celtix to Artix [Iona's commercial ESB], though they don't have to."

Like many commercial software vendors today, Iona has placed a stake in the open source arena. In addition to being the project lead for Celtix, Iona is also offering a range of support services for Celtix. While Alston said Iona has not realized any significant revenue in 2006 for its open source support services, "Iona believes there are two major movements in the industry, to SOA and to open source. We believe our involvement in Celtix [and other open source efforts] are very important."

The company's strategy, he said, is to target different markets for Celtix and Artix, which have the same APIs. "Artix is targeted at those applications in the enterprise that are heterogeneous, mission critical and have a diverse set of requirements in terms of platform, performance and reliability," said.

Celtix, Alston said, is targeted more at the departmental and project level. However, he added, "Celtix as a project gives customers a way to migrate to Artix or to use Artix components." For example, he said, the orchestration component in Artix 4.0 can coordinate and orchestrate interactions between Celtix services today.

Celtix is one of several open source ESB projects. Among them are Mule, sponsored by London-based SymphonySoft; ServiceMix, sponsored by LogicBlaze; and Project Open ESB, sponsored by Sun.

"People like open source middleware because it's agnostic," said Adam Michelson, SOA and enterprise architecture practice lead for Optaros, Inc., a Boston-based open source software consulting and integration firm. "They want middleware to connect heterogeneous applications, and open source projects theoretically have no agenda."

While Celtix hasn't gotten as much publicity as some of the other open source ESB projects, Michelson said, "it's another good middleware ESB." Unlike some of the offerings, Celtix is not currently part of an SOA "stack." LogicBlaze, for example, recently started offering ServiceMix as part of the open source Fuse stack. Sun's ESB is also part of a stack, Michelson said, and although the JBoss JEMS stack does not include an ESB per say, Michelson said it does offer message transformation.

For more information

Iona stresses incremental SOA with new Artix ESB

Special Report: How much is that SOA in the window?, part 1

So for standalone open source ESBs like Mule or Celtix, users have to do their own integration work, he said. "Which message queue do I plug in? What environment? What application server? What database? The ones that don't exist in stacks have got to be integrated. Celtix has an open API and [can be] integrated, but you've got to support the stack yourself. Some people don't want to deal with the integration."

Alston said now that the 1.0 version of Celtix is available, he anticipates it will eventually become part of a SOA stack as well. He said ObjectWeb has expressed some interest in that, and Iona itself is also considering it, but no decisions have been made.

Already, according to Alston, there have been more than 6,500 Celtix downloads, and five new open source projects have started using Celtix since April: Tuscany, an Apache project to provide multiple language implementations of the SCA specs and related technologies; Geronimo, Apache's open source application server; JOnAS, ObjectWeb's application server; Petals, ObjectWeb's Java Business Integration (JBI) platform; and Yoko, a subproject of Geronimo to develop an open source Object Request Broker.

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