Iona and SOA

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-12-07 Print this article Print

What do you mean?

At the HPTS [High Performance Transaction Systems] conference this year, it became pretty clear that the current designs for enterprise software are not meeting the requirements of the large or even some of the small Internet businesses. There were presentations from Google, Yahoo, eBay, PayPal, Salesforce, KnowNow, Second Life, and others, and folks from were there as well.

The way I characterize it, and this is probably an oversimplification, is that the traditional designs for middleware and database management systems were based on a kind of mainframe-centric set of requirements. People were thinking about centralized systems with centralized control structures and centralized guarantees of consistency. But if you think about how these things have evolved, the need for different solutions is obvious. You can only scale up to the biggest computer system, but with the new scale-up architectures, you can scale without limit. And you can use the cheapest hardware and disk systems. Once you get past the idea that failure is inevitable, you can accept the idea that failure is common and potentially frequent. You have to deal with it anyway, why not save yourself a lot of money and plan to deal with failure as often as possible?

How do you see the open-source ESB [enterprise service bus] world shaking out? What about open-source SOA in general?

Open source is a growing trend in general, and the ESB category is no exception. We are seeing a growing interest in ServiceMix, and although Mule has achieved some initial success, we expect significant competition to emerge from Apache Camel.

I have no doubt open source is the wave of the future. Its hard for me to explain exactly why I believe it, but it has to do with the significant change in the software industry. The software industry has reached a turning point. Twenty or 30 years ago, all we thought about was the next process to automate. Should it be inventory management, order entry, office automation, packaging and shipping?

Today we are really reaching the edge cases of automation, most everything has been done.

The industry has to shift between developing new features and functions to enable more processes to be automated, to improving that automation. One of the ways to improve it is to lower the cost, to commoditize the features and functions, so that you pay for the value of the work-how well the feature has been implemented-rather than for the value of the idea, whether you are the only one using the feature or function. Thats kind of a long way of saying that I think open source is here to stay, including for SOA.

Regarding the open-source ESB question in particular, I think the jury is still out. But I also think its getting to be a kind of two-way race between ServiceMix and Camel and Mule. I think Mule definitely started out with a great idea, that took a while to recognize-and I can definitely speak for myself here, it took me a while to catch on, longer than it should have, to be honest-but now that its out there, I think things like Camel will catch up and do well, especially because its Apache-licensed and Mule isnt.

Its been some time since Iona moved to spin out Celtix as an open-source effort. What has that experience shown you?

Well, its definitely taught us a lot, including the fact that we didnt know as much about open source as we thought we did. Thats why we acquired LogicBlaze, and that has worked out very well, so much so that we have retired the Celtix brand and are going forward with the Fuse brand that LogicBlaze was using.

The history is that we started Celtix at ObjectWeb and after V1 moved it to Apache, where we worked with the XFire guys to create Apache CXF. Initially we released this under the Celtix brand.

With ServiceMix, we brought into the company some of the leading committers on Apache ActiveMQ-the leading open source JMS [Java Message Service]-Apache ServiceMix-the leading open-source ESB-and Apache Camel, a fast rising star in the field of integration patterns.

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Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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