Open Message Queuing on Horizon

New protocol aims to aid financial institutions by ditching licensing fees

A group of leading user companies, vendors and other organizations has launched an open message queuing protocol that will enable users to create systems that compete with or replace proprietary technology.

On June 20, a group including Cisco Systems, JPMorgan Chase, Iona Technologies, Red Hat, TWIST Process Innovations and several other organizations launched AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol).

Last year, John Davies, then a vice president of New York-based JPMorgan, said several million dollars had been spent on the project, then known simply as AMQ. Davies said the primary investors in the effort were financial institutions fed up with paying expensive licensing fees for proprietary message queuing technology.

However, sources said that, rather than release the entire AMQ code base the group had developed, the plan is to open-source the AMQ protocol and then let companies build systems around it or embed it into their operating systems or software stacks. The group is launching AMQP as a wire-level protocol and looking to gain support of standards organizations.

Davies has since left JPMorgan and is now chief technology officer at C24 Solutions, a software development company in London specializing in messaging and Web services technology. Davies said C24 would be interested in the technology for both development and to possibly sell services and support around it.

One technologist involved in the project said the underlying intent of the project is to reduce the fees companies have to pay for technology such as IBMs MQSeries by providing "an open-source equivalent."

However, Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink, of Waltham, Mass., questions whether another specification is necessary. "A key question is whether dealing with such interoperability challenges is best handled at the messaging infrastructure level or at the service interface," Bloomberg said. "Is this just one more JMS [Java Message Service], which now has several vendor-specific implementations?"

Bloomberg argues that with a protocol specification, somebody still has to go through the effort of building a system. But JPMorgan and other group members maintain that this option is still bound to be less expensive than proprietary solutions and that savvy users can build their own implementations, while others can rely on help from companies such as C24 to provide support and services.

In response to AMQ last year, Hub Vandervoort, vice president of strategic services at Sonic Software, of Bedford, Mass., said the idea of an open-source message queuing technology "is interesting to some, but open source doesnt have continuous availability, clustering, etc." Neither Sonic nor IBM officials were available for comment before press time.

ZapThinks Bloomberg called AMQP a new specification for defining and developing messaging infrastructure that is intended to be technology-agnostic, open and interoperable. AMQP has implementations on C and C++ and will support C# and Java, sources said.

Meanwhile, as JPMorgan and others join to launch AMQP, other companies are working on building open-source software stacks targeting the financial services sector. AMQP could play a role in these stacks, which include support for financial services standards such as SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) and FIX (Financial Information eXchange) standards.

For instance, SpikeSource, a Redwood City, Calif., provider of certified open-source stacks, is working with Volanté Technologies, of New York, to provide stacks of software that are open-source or a combination of open- and closed-source software for financial services customers. Volanté products are fully configured and optimized for use with SpikeSource Spike Stacks.

SourceLabs, a competitor to SpikeSource, is attacking the effort differently by targeting financial services with its certified open-source stack as a whole. "Financial services companies internal development teams are under more time-to-market pressure and thus tend to be more innovative and empowered in selecting their platforms," said Cornelius Willis, vice president of marketing at SourceLabs, in Seattle. "The Wall Street firms led the way in Unix adoption, then Linux adoption; now theyre leading the way in open-source adoption beyond the operating system."

Financials Message Queuing Backlash

Theyre fed up with paying expensive licensing fees for proprietary message queuing technology, and theyre not going to take it anymore. Heres the plan for their open-source AMQP:

* Who is involved: JPMorgan Chase, Cisco, Envoy, iMatix, Iona, Red Hat, TWIST Process Innovations and 29West

* Why: In response to internal requirements, market demand, partners electronic trading needs and the desire to lower fees paid for proprietary technology

* Goals: To create specifications for defining and building messaging infrastructure that is broadly applicable for enterprise use, totally open, platform-agnostic and interoperable and that aims to provide developers with simpler and more powerful ways of constructing messaging-dependent applications

Source: eWEEK reporting