Iona Launches Open-Source ESB Project

Iona announces a new project, known as Celtix and hosted by ObjectWeb, that will deliver an open-source enterprise service bus.

Iona Technologies plc. Monday announced a new project to deliver an open-source enterprise service bus.

Iona, with headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, and U.S. headquarters in Waltham, Mass., said its new project, known as Celtix, will be hosted by the ObjectWeb open-source community.

The open-source ESB will provide the foundation for building out SOAs (service-oriented architectures), said Eric Newcomer, Ionas chief technology officer.

Newcomer said Iona will continue to market and upgrade its proprietary ESB solution, Artix, but the company is pursuing an open-source version to buoy the market for ESB functionality.


Click here to read eWEEK Labs review of Iona Artix 3.0.

Celtix will be based on Artix and will support the JBI (Java Business Integration) specification, transport mechanisms such as the WS-RM (Web Services Reliable Messaging), JMS (Java Messaging Service) and HTTP, as well as binding support for SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and XML payloads and application bindings for Java and POJO (Plain Old Java Objects), Newcomer said. Celtix also will feature WSDL (Web Services Description Language) support for defining services, he said.

Moreover, Newcomer said he expects to see the first code drop from the Celtix project in the third quarter of this year, with an initial release of the open-source ESB by the end of the year.

Iona hopes that delivering an open-source ESB will help drive adoption of ESBs and SOAs.

"We want to try to accelerate market changes," Newcomer said. "Were looking at the open-source market as where the commodity-level components are going."

In addition, "the integration market is shifting away from proprietary systems to open standards," Newcomer said.

Indeed, "we dont want to fight the rising tide of open source; we want it to float our boat," he said.

Cliff Schmidt, a Seattle-based consultant Iona hired to help with the Celtix effort, said the company has the right focus with the Celtix effort and that ObjectWeb will be a good fit for the project because of the communitys licensing model and its focus on middleware and because Iona is an open-source rookie.

Schmidt, formerly with BEA Systems Inc., helped BEA deliver open-source projects such as XML Beans and Beehive, and also helped shepherd BEA to join the Eclipse open-source application development environment effort.

"I asked Iona if they were OK with giving away software and that it would have to be good software or the effort wouldnt go anywhere," Schmidt said. "They said they were."

"Now that Iona is involved, theres no doubt that ObjectWebs roster of ESB technologies is unrivaled in the open-source world," said Francois Letellier, a member of the ObjectWeb executive committee. "Commoditization of ESB technologies is on its way—and ObjectWeb is in the pole position to be the place where it happens. Standards such as JBI promise to accelerate it.

"In addition, Iona brings expertise and know-how in long-proven technologies such as CORBA [Common Object Request Broker Architecture]," he said. "This will nicely complement more recent technologies, such as SOA, and enable a bridge of the two worlds. Iona may also be willing to address the tooling layer, which would make open-source ESB solutions an alternative of choice to commercial, close-source options. This is all the more true at a time where users become more and more reluctant to buy monolithic, cumbersome EAI/ESB platforms and pay the high price for platforms when they only use parts of them."

Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, of Waltham, said hes somewhat skeptical of Ionas strategy.

"Im not really quite sure how this is going to work for Iona," Schmelzer said. "Im not sure how this helps to simplify the infrastructure."

But Newcomer knows how he hopes it will work. "Itll open up a new business line through supporting services for an open-source line, and well be able to approach customers who have not had a need for our high-end product," he said.

"Theres a way to get revenue off of services and also the upsell opportunity for Artix," Schmidt said.

Iona had initially attempted to introduce an open-source ESB effort with JBoss Inc. several months ago, but the two companies could not come to terms on how the effort would play out, sources said.


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