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JBoss SOA platform offers modular options

The new JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform, available for download this week, offers a modular approach to open source tools and technology that allow developers to pick which pieces they need.

The JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform, announced at JBoss World 2008 in Orlando, FL last week, and made available for download this week, offers developers options for using the modules they need for their service-oriented architecture (SOA) project.

The platform built around the JBoss ESB offers SOA, application and business-process management (BPM) integration capabilities in an enterprise distribution. JBoss ESB, JBoss jBPM,and JBoss Rules are included in the SOA platform, which Red Hat Inc., the parent of JBoss, is marketing on a subscription-basis.

"You might look at it and think you have to download this gargantuan thing, but that's not the case," said Bradley F. Shimmin, principal analyst of application infrastructure at Current Analysis LLC. "JBoss has taken advantage of the micro-kernel they've put together over the past several years, so you can install just pieces of it. You can just install the ESB without the app server, for example. There are no real product interdependencies, which is a big deal because it's extremely modular. You can install what you want and get support for what you have installed."

Pierre Fricke, director of product line management for JBoss SOA products, said the open source platform allows businesses to more easily access SOA tools and technology without the concern of vendor lock-in with proprietary SOA products.

"This is an opportunity for our customers to expand the use of service-oriented architecture and to help come to resolve business problems more efficiently," Fricke said.

In the competitive market for open source SOA platforms, the new JBoss release puts it in the game with Sun Microsystems Inc., MuleSource Inc. and WSO2 Inc., Shimmin said. He gave the edge to Sun Microsystems as having the most comprehensive offering at this time.

The JBoss Enterprise SOA platform is based on three JBoss projects that were in the works when the company was acquired by Red Hat in 2006, explained Mark Little, SOA technical development manager and director of standards in the JBoss division of Red Hat. JBoss ESB provides an application and service integration registry. jBPM provides business process management and service orchestration which executes human and service workflow. JBoss rules applies business policy and rule management integration.

"It actually delivers multiple levels of stacks that are typically delivered in multiple levels of products in one single standard distribution," said Fricke.

The projects built around the ESB date back to when JBoss was an independent company, Little said. Once it became part of Red Hat, the decision was made to unite all the SOA projects in a platform model, he explained.

Of the modules, Shimmin rated the availability of the JBoss ESB in the platform as the most important.

"The primary thing is that they now have a platform that supports the ESB," Shimmin explained. "Previously, if you wanted the Red Hat ESB you could download it of course, but you couldn't buy it as part of a subscription program. Now, you buy the enterprise SOA platform and you get the ESB as a part of it."

The open source value of avoiding vendor lock-in is one of the main benefits being pushed by the JBoss community.

"We'd like to bring an SOA integration and process platform to a mass market in an easy to consume and affordable package," said Fricke. "The subscription-based model makes this affordable considering initial activation costs and ongoing maintaining costs as your platforms and deployments grow."

At JBoss World, the Red Hat division announced partnerships supporting the new platform including Active Endpoints Inc., AmberPoint Inc, SOA Software Inc, Information Builders Inc. and its iWay Software business unit, Vitria Technology Inc. and SeeWhy Software Ltd.

Shimmin said these partnerships are important because they provide technology, such as governance from SOA Software, that is not available in the current JBoss platform.

Red Hat has also announced a new initiative addressing the future of SOA governance through an open source environment as part of the DNA project. The open source governance project is currently underway, Little said, with further announcements on the DNA project coming later this year.

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