Java integration spec pushed

Sun Microsystems Inc. and several other vendors on Wednesday released an early draft of a specification intended to ease integration of Java-based systems, but IBM Corp. and BEA Systems Inc. have dropped out of participation in the effort.

An “Early Draft Review” of the JBI (Java Business Integration) specification was released, featuring new support from JBoss Inc., Apache Group, and Iona. Also backing the proposal are vendors such as Novell Inc., Oracle Corp., and SAP AG. IBM, no longer participating, cited a focus on other integration efforts. BEA did not respond to requests for comment other than to confirm it is no longer participating.

The subject of JSR (Java Specification Request) 208 under the JCP (Java Community Process), JBI is being considered as standard for business integration on the Java platform. Final adoption of the proposal is anticipated next year, according to Sun. Development of JBI has been going on for 18 months and is now subject to public review, said Roger Nolan, senior director of product marketing for Sun’s integration products.

“It’s an industry-wide effort to standardize business integration technologies and deliver them on the Java platform,” Nolan said. No standard format for integrating higher level services into Java-based platforms has existed prior to JBI, he said.

JSR-208 defines an architecture and interfaces for plugging components such as business process engines and workflow or document transformation engines into the Java platform. BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) engines could be part of the mix. Through JBI, users also can wrapper and expose legacy, back-end systems as Web services and utilize them in Java environments.

“This is how you plug BPEL and all these other things together so you have a usable, working integration solution,” Nolan said.

The technology is an enabler of SOAs (service-oriented architectures) through its ability to integrate multiple systems, he stressed. JSR-208 features a shared SOA messaging facility. By combining pluggable SOA integration components with an SOA infrastructure layer, JSR-208 provides an important building block for implementing an ESB, according to Sun. Sun plans to produce a product based on JSR-208, with availability expected in the summer of 2005, said Nolan.

He had harsh words for IBM and BEA. “The question is, do they want to build their integration solutions in an open and standard way or do they want to continue to build proprietary extensions to try to lock in customers?” Nolan said. IBM has its WebSphere offerings and BEA its WebLogic Integration product in the integration space, said Nolan.

An IBM representative released this prepared statement in response:

“At this time, IBM is not supporting JSR-208. However, this decision does not impact the role IBM plays in the JCP process. IBM continues to participate as a leader in the JCP process and IBM continues to participate either as spec lead or as expert group member on many JSRs. IBM is focusing efforts for business integration around other specs that are further along such as BPEL.”

Responding to Sun’s charge that IBM wants to offer its own proprietary solution, IBM responded that BPEL is an industry standard.

An official with new participant JBoss described JSR-208 as a perfect fit for his company. The technology deals with an infrastructure component for passing messages and what happens when a message reaches a node, said Marc Fleury, founder and CEO of JBoss. “There’s a one-to-one mapping between what we built and the infrastructure part of JSR-208, so we’re very interested in participating,” Fleury said.

Despite Microsoft Corp.’s and Sun’s recent burying of the hatchet and agreeing to work together, Microsoft is not participating in the JSR-208 effort, Sun acknowledged. Microsoft is not a member of the JCP, although it has been invited to participate, according to Sun.

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