WSO2 Announces Web Services Mediation Project

The startup submits Synapse, a framework for working between two Web services, to Apache incubator program.

WSO2, a startup focusing on open-source Web services, is expected to announce Monday a new project to create a Web services mediation framework known as Synapse and submit it to the Apache Software Foundations incubator program.

Sanjiva Weerawarana, founder, chairman and CEO of Colombo, Sri Lanka-based WSO2 (which means Web Services Oxygen), said his company is being joined by four other founding companies that are leaders in the Web services and ESB (enterprise service bus) spaces: Blue Titan, Infravio, IONA and Sonic Software.

Weerawarana said Synapse is an open-source implementation of a Web service mediation framework and components for building and deploying SOAs (service-oriented architectures). It sets a framework for working between two Web services and enables users to define routing and other factors between services.

"Synapse is a Web services mediation framework that will provide a common core to be utilized by ESBs, Web services management platforms and other types of SOA infrastructure," said Dave Chappell, vice president and chief technology evangelist at Sonic Software.

Each founding company will contribute expertise to the project. Infravio will seed the project by donating code from its X-Broker product.

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"We have a bunch of technology we developed with our enterprise customers," said Miko Matsumura, vice president of technology at Infravio. "We built all of our stuff to sit above the Apache Web services stack. This project looks very promising. The goal is to have a Web services alternative [in the open-source world]; our goal is to add value and have an enterprise-class intermediary system."

Added Matsumura: "My perspective is that the key pieces of the SOA puzzle include registry/repository [discovery, reuse and lifecycle governance] and broker/intermediary [loose coupling]. So the donation of X-Broker to the Synapse project is an effort to catalyze the growth of SOA and the use of native WS intermediaries. The endgame is of course to have all application integration and business integration built on open standards and open source."

The group of companies decided to call Synapse a Web services mediation framework rather than an ESB after lengthy discussion, sources said. Indeed, the Synapse project proposal document noted that the term "ESB" is "somewhat contentious." As it stands, the founding group includes ESB vendors (Sonic and IONA), a Web services registry company (Infravio) and a Web services management system vendor (Blue Titan).

IONA said its open-source ObjectWeb Celtix ESB will collaborate with Synapse.

"We intend to contribute Celtix ESB code to Synapse," said Eric Newcomer, chief technology officer at IONA. "When we joined we made this position clear to everyone, and though it isnt yet decided I think the positives are very strong: alignment between ObjectWeb and Apache and the ability to reuse existing open-source ESB code."

Sonics Chappell said Synapse "will further promote convergence and interoperability among SOA infrastructure offerings from the vendor community and open-source community alike."

Sonic will be contributing architectural input and guidance as well as source code contributions, Chappell said.

"Sonic has been providing a mediation framework as part of Sonic ESB for over three years now, and as such we will be bringing to the Synapse team our experience gained from working with customers who are building service-oriented architectures," Chappell said. "Synapse will provide the opportunity to vet the model of service mediation, which is an important part of ESB functionality, with the open-source community and get more developers and architects familiar with the idea of using mediation in their SOA projects."

The Synapse proposal said the overall effort is to build a set of components that work together with Axis2—Apaches platform for creating and deploying Web services applications—and other Apache and open-source projects to create a flexible transformation, management and routing system.

"There are two strong reasons for creating this project in Apache," the proposal said. "Firstly, Apache has led the creation of open source Web services code, and this is a clear logical extension of that line of work. Secondly, there is an opportunity to help shape the broker/ESB marketplace through the creation of a high quality, Web services centric (vs. Java-centric) open source implementation which is developed in a truly open community and which is available under the favorable terms of the Apache Software License v2.0."

IONAs Newcomer said Synapse is "basically aimed at providing an open-source implementation of SOAP 1.2, WSDL 2.0, etc., as part of the evolution of Axis toward newer WS-* specs. Synapse will also develop a simple way to transport a SOAP message over multiple protocols. This last part of course aligns well with our work to date in multiprotocol Web services architectures."

Meanwhile, the Synapse proposal said initial development will be in Java but future development could include Synapse/C, based on Apaches C/C++ Web services efforts. Also, "We expect to support not only Java, but also other languages on the Java platform such as Groovy, Javascript/E4X, and Jython," the proposal said.

In addition, "Synapse plans to support the Java Business Integration (JBI) standard, but we plan do so as an add-on rather than as core APIs," the proposal said.

Also, though Synapse will support connections to other systems, "the fundamental model of this architecture will be based on the core Web Services standards, including SOAP, WSDL, WS-Addressing, WS-Policy, WS-Security and WS-ReliableMessaging," the proposal said.

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