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JBoss expands SOA product set with new ESB

The JBoss division of Red Hat Inc. will have its new ESB available for download in December, adding its weight to the growing number of open source ESBs.

After eighteen months of promising to enter the enterprise service bus arena, the JBoss division of Red Hat Inc. has announced it will have an open source ESB available for download before the end of the year.

 We're seeing a large demand for business process execution in an ESB release.
Pierre Fricke
Director of Product Marketing JBoss

Dubbed JBoss ESB 4.0, it will join Apache's ServiceMix, MuleSource's Mule, ObjectWeb's Celtix and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Project Open ESB in the open source ESB field. The 4.0 designation gives the JBoss ESB the same numerical nomenclature as the JBoss Application Server 4.0 even though it's the company's initial release of the product. It features support for multiple messaging services, a transformation engine for disparate data formats, event notification capabilities and registry/repository functionality.

According to JBoss director of product marketing Pierre Fricke, the initial community release of the ESB will come before the end of December. At that time, users will be able to experiment with the software free of charge, but subscription support for IT shops wishing to put it into production won't be available until some time in 2007. JBoss also announced that it will have the beta release of its Java EE 5 compliant Application Server 5.0 before the end of the year. The final release of the application server -- which will feature beefed up Web services support, new messaging capabilities and added support for Ajax and REST – is slated for early 2007.

Fricke said JBoss is hoping to duplicate the open source success it had with its Java application server with the new ESB.

"We're looking to expand the market for this technology dramatically to those who have been blocked out by complexity and cost," he said.

Certainly the growing number of open source ESBs has created pressure on traditionally-licensed commercial ESBs to differentiate themselves, something Fricke doesn't believe they can do over the long haul.

"Our intention is to be better than the commercial offerings," he said.

Though ZapThink LLC analyst Ron Schmelzer noted that claims of who has the better ESB will be hard to verify.

"The ESB craze has entered the final phase with JBoss entering the fray," he said. "The real problem is that despite all these vendors entering the market, there is even more confusion about what specific features an ESB must have. Does it provide messaging? How about service composition? What about a security framework or a governance runtime? Does the ESB provide a service container in a hub-and-spoke manner or as a distributed intermediary? Or how about as a managed endpoint, no stuff in the middle required?"

What this makes for in many cases, according to Schmelzer, is confused end users.

"I'm hoping that firms like JBoss can at some point reduce the noise factor by focusing on specific SOA infrastructure capabilities and not on playing the game of buzzword bingo," he said.

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Business process composition and support may be an area where JBoss attempts to plant its flag. Fricke noted that the ESB leverages the JBoss business rules engine and that integration with JBoss' business process management software is in store for 2007.

"We're seeing a large demand for business process execution in an ESB release," he said. "End users want to move beyond RPC Web services into full business processes. That's where the businesses are really going to start seeing the value in these things."

The specific capabilities inside JBoss ESB 4.0 will be:

  • Messaging support for FTP, HTTP, e-mail, Java Messaging Service and the JBoss, IBM and Active MQ offerings
  • A transformation engine that supports XSLT and Smooks
  • A service registry using JAX-R and UDDI
  • A persisted event repository
  • A notification service for events handling
  • Content-based routing using XPath and the JBoss Rules engine

Fricke added that support for JBoss Web Services, a JAX-RPC 1.1 complaint SOAP stack that is part of the Application Server 5.0 beta release, will be added to the ESB at some point in mid 2007.

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