Financial Industry Floats Open-Source Messaging Standard for Web Services, SOA

Banks seek replacement for proprietary messaging technology with an open-source alternative. The AMQ system may make Web services and service-oriented architectures fit for duty on Wall Street.

A coalition of financial institutions is working to develop an open-source alternative to proprietary message queuing technology, hoping to make Web services and service-oriented architectures fit for duty on Wall Street.

The new technology, known as AMQ, is an open-source message queuing system that provides the same functionality as IBMs WebSphere MQ (formerly known as MQSeries), has implementations on C and C++, and will support C# and Java.

John Davies, vice president of New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co., which is participating in the development project, said several million dollars have been spent on AMQ R&D. IBM and fellow proprietary messaging company Sonic Software Corp. are closely following the project, Davies said.

"We now need something thats not proprietary. Banks dont like proprietary things," Davies told eWEEK during an interview at the Web Services on Wall Street Show & Conference here last week.

Not only has AMQ drawn the participation of several banks, but also companies such as Red Hat Inc., Novell Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are considering building AMQ into the kernels of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SuSE Linux and Solaris, respectively, Davies said.


At the same conference, OASIS promoted the UDDI specification Version 3.0.2 to boost business uses of Web services.

AMQ is expected to be officially released as a wire-level protocol over the next few months, sources said. In addition, AMQ proponents will be seeking the support of a standards organization, sources said.

Davies said that while open-source message queuing alternatives exist, "nothing provides C and C++ support at a reliable protocol level." AMQ technology includes a transactional, point-to-point, high-performance publish-and-subscribe model supporting 100MB chunks of data and market feeds at the same time, Davies said.

If AMQ catches on in the trading environment, "youll have an instant messaging system built into the kernel," Davies said.

The fact that several banking concerns are supporting AMQ is significant, said Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, in Waltham, Mass.

"Even if AMQ doesnt get widespread adoption, at some point there will be a widely accepted open-source and free message queuing application that will continue to put pressure on the so-called ESB [enterprise service bus] vendors," Schmelzer said. "The software platform is rapidly becoming commoditized, and vendor startups need to be very cautious that they are innovating ahead of where open source is pioneering."

Davies said the impetus for AMQ was a desire among financial firms to reverse the use of proprietary technology and increase the use of open source in Wall Street back-office systems.

Although Davies said he is an avowed Java aficionado and a supporter of the Java Message Service API, he said JMS "fails on the non-Java side as a transport mechanism."

Davies said there is no reason AMQ could not replace MQSeries in other environments as well.

The idea of an open-source message queuing product "is interesting to some, but open source doesnt have continuous availability, clustering, etc.," said Hub Vandervoort, vice president of strategic services for Sonic Software, in Bedford, Mass. Sonic sells an ESB solution known as SonicMQ. Certain users "believe my product should be free," Vandervoort said. "Its a noble idea but not a realistic one."

JBoss Inc., of Atlanta, also produces an open-source messaging product, known as JBossMQ, as an alternative to MQSeries and other proprietary transport offerings.

Marc Fleury, CEO of JBoss, said that he hadnt heard of the AMQ development efforts, adding that his companys products had some early success in the financial sector.

Still, AMQ proponents say that JBossMQ never received official sanction from financial institutions and that, as a consequence, the open-source operating system manufacturers have expressed little interest in including the technology in their kernels.

Banking on open source

Features of the proposed AMQ transport technology:

  • Reliable implementations on C and C++
  • Support for C# and Java
  • Transactional, point-to-point, publish-and-subscribe model
  • Simultaneous support for 100MB data chunks and market feeds
  • IM built into the OS kernel

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