LeapFrogs Requirements

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2007-08-28 Print this article Print

Based on LeapFrogs requirements, one of the proprietary contenders emerged as the best tool for the task at hand. (Ciurana declined to name the chosen application.) Despite the closed-source nature of LeapFrogs selection, however, openness remained a priority. "The commercial application was clearly better than the others," Ciurana said. "All that we were concerned about was that the interfaces between the commercial software and any other portion of the [infrastructure] did not become proprietary—did not become a way for the vendor to lock us into something we would not like to have there in the long term."
To ensure that the proprietary CMS would play well with the rest of LeapFrogs infrastructure, Ciurana and his team turned to another open-source project: the Mule ESB (Enterprise Service Bus).
"Mule is a piece of software that lets you take different systems and different services and use them as they exist already on the corporate network or on the real-world networks, without you having to do a lot of point-to-point customization," Ciurana explained. "Normally, if you need two systems to talk to each other, you end up having to write a lot of custom code or a custom transport. Mule lets you interconnect these systems with very, very little fuss." As with Wicket, one of the primary benefits of adopting Mule at LeapFrog is reducing time to market. "If integrating two systems would normally take a month, between coding and testing and so on, the same two systems can be interconnected with Mule in less than a week because youre not changing the way the systems work," Ciurana said. "You only add a layer of communication between the two—thats the only thing that needs to be developed and tested and otherwise ironed out." In selecting a CMS, the ability of the application to talk to Mule—and, by extension, to Wicket, to the open-source Apache Lucene search engine and to LeapFrogs other infrastructure components—was paramount. "If for whatever reason a system doesnt work," Ciurana said, "we can completely remove it, put something else in instead, and just worry about doing the transformations and the interfaces between Mule and that new system without having to change all the other stuff around." Committing to open source While open-source and proprietary software are judged by the same standards at LeapFrog, the company recognizes that open-source projects present unique challenges, as well as unique opportunities to help address these challenges. For instance, for Ciurana and his team at LeapFrog to feel confident about committing to an open-source software component, the project under consideration must enjoy a vital development and services ecosystem. "At LeapFrog, we need to have a support organization and level of indemnification associated with the software," said Ciurana. Fortunately, as Ciurana has learned through his experiences in the Mule community, its possible for companies to help vitalize the open-source projects on which they depend through their own participation. "In the process of learning about Mule, I became involved with the community," Ciurana said. "I host one of the ESB channels in the IRC [Internet Relay Chat] networks; Ive spoken at several conferences on ESBs in general, and on Mule in particular, in the last year. By creating awareness of it, we invite more people to participate in the project, and that participation in turn creates more synergy and more participation from others and better adoption." Page 3: LeapFrog Jumps into Open Source

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.

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