JBoss looking towards open source ESB

The JBoss Group LLC could be offering an open source format of an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) within the next six months as part of the company’s overall intention to increase the number of open source projects it works on within the Java/middleware segment of the marketplace, according to the company’s vice-president.

In an interview with IT World Canada, Bob Bickel said nothing is eminent as far as an open source ESB is concerned, but JBoss has started studying and working on the possibility of including parts of ESB including workflow or rules as open source arrangements.

An ESB, according to Bickel, is an integration platform that’s built around the message bus and includes the Java Messaging Service (JMS) bus, which JBoss already deploys. However the ESB includes more components such as workflow, business rules, transformation and integration into legacy systems. The ESB, acting as a message broker, also supports Web services.

“There are a bunch of different elements to an ESB and these elements lend themselves well to being open sourced and having the professional open source backing behind some of these components,” Bickel added.

To date, many of these components haven’t reached a level of standardization, and the fact that ESB is undefined is cause for JBoss to clarify what it is talking about, said Shawn Willett, principal analyst at Current Analysis in Sterling, Va.

“The concept of ESB used to imply no central integration hub, just end points that are Web services,” Willett said in an e-mail. “So what could be open source about that is a little confusing.”

Willett said that Web services already go through a number of standards committees and are “open” but not “open source.”

“There are a number of things to facilitate the exchange of transactions in an ESB, but many of them are being tackled in Web Services (WS-Security) committees…for example, WS-Reliable Messaging,” he added.

JBoss’s Bickel said it’s true, ESB is not defined, but the main issue at hand is that whether or not these individual components become standards.

“If some of these standards emerge, maybe JBoss can help push them over the edge toward being adopted,” Bickel said.

The Atlanta-based company, known for its open source Java Application Server, could approach the ESB from several different directions, Bickel explained.

He said JBoss could either create its own ESB, or might even take something that’s commercial now and move it towards an open source model — providing the services around it.

So far, the company has seen a lot of interest from its customers.

“A lot of our customers use the JMS within JBoss and so some of these pieces are a natural extension,” he said.

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