JBoss ups SOA play with BPEL, ESB beta

Raising its profile in the SOA space, JBoss is readying upgrades to its jBPM (Java Business Process Management) software to support the 1.1 and 2.0 versions of BPEL (Business Process Execution Language). The open source software vendor also released a beta version of its ESB (enterprise service bus) last month.

The jBPM platform tackles workflow, business process management and process orchestration. BPM is critical to SOA because SOA is all about integrating business processes and publishing services, said Pierre Fricke, JBoss director of product management.

Also supporting jPDL (Java Process Definition Language), jBPM has become a popular item, according to Fricke. “The download rates of jBPM have tripled in the past year. We’re now north of 20,000 downloads per month,” Fricke said.

“Up until jBPM was available, the Java programmer that wanted to do workflow, that wanted to do BPM-type of work within a Java program, had to buy very expensive packages,” he said.

BPEL 1.1 will be added to jBPM in September, with BPEL 2.0 due sometime afterward. The 2.0 version is expected to become the OASIS-approved version of the specification. “The spec’s being finalized right now,” and will feature improved process constructs, Fricke said. JBoss is participating in development at BPEL at OASIS, he added. “BPEL will be more flexible and more extensible,” Fricke said.

BPEL support and release of an ESB are vital to JBoss, said analyst Shawn Willett of Current Analysis.

“It’s extremely important if they are to have any credibility as an enabler of an SOA. Just having an application server is not enough,” Willett said in an e-mail.

“They need an infrastructure to make services practical in a corporate environment. JBoss is also falling behind others in the open source world, as Apache now has ServiceMix, and of course Sun is moving to open-source its ESB. So they needed to act. Adding BPEL support is a no-brainer but was complicated by the fact that the BPM engine they purchased did not originally natively support BPEL. So they had to go back and retrofit it,” Willett said.

BEA’s beta release of JBoss ESB serves as a prelude to a final version due later this year. Acting as the glue for enterprises to deploy an SOA, the ESB hosts and integrates services and processes.

The ESB beta release is downloadable at this Web site .

JBoss parent company Red Hat, meanwhile, plans in a few weeks to offer a beta version of release 5 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. “The big driver behind that OS platform is that we’ve integrated virtualization capabilities,” enabling multiple OS instances to be run on a single piece of hardware, said Brian Stevens, vice-president of engineering and CTO at Red Hat.

The Red Hat and JBoss officials were interviewed during the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco last month. Although the two companies might seem like a natural fit for such a show, they are not exhibiting at it.

JBoss has not exhibited in the past and continues with this stance, according to a company representative. Red Hat has released a statement that the company prefers more direct contact with the open source community.

“Red Hat values our long-standing and vibrant collaboration with the open source community. As a company, we have found that more direct methods of communication and engagement beyond LinuxWorld, including seminars and the Red Hat Summit,” the company said.

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