Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eclipse Swordfish OSGi ESB enters fray for SOA market acceptance, Sopera to add support

The Eclipse Foundation's news that the first release of Swordfish enterprise service bus (ESB) in early April hasn't exactly set the blogosphere on fire. Reaction to the open-source ESB so far has ranged from ho-hum to mild skepticism.

There are, after all, several open source ESBs in play, from Mule to Apache ServiceMix and Synapse to PEtALS.

On the other hand, it could just be that the rest of the bloggers are working finding just the right fishing metaphor to use for new ESBs, something that seems to be a requirement when writing about Swordfish.

How about, "there's a deep and wide ocean of opportunity for an open source ESBs, and an ability to federate them might provide yet more fish to fry." Sorry.

Eclipse made the announcement Monday at Eclipsecon 2009. Swordfish, which is described as a next-generation ESB, aims at providing the flexibility and extensibility for deploying a service-oriented architecture (SOA) strategy. Based on the OSGi standard, the new ESB builds upon such successful open-source projects as Eclipse Equinox and Apache ServiceMix.

Among the features highlighted in Swordfish are:
  • Support for distributed deployment, which results in more scalable and reliable application deployments by removing a central coordinating server.

  • A runtime service registry that allows services to be loosely coupled, making it easier to change and update different parts of a deployed application. The registry uses policies to match service consumers and service providers based on their capabilities and requirements.

  • An extensible monitoring framework to manage events that allow for detailed tracking of how messages are processed. These events can be stored for trend analysis and reporting, or integrated into a complex event processing (CEP) system.

  • A remote configuration agent that makes it possible to configure a large number of distributed servers from a central configuration repository without the need to touch individual installed instances.
Austin Modine at The Register sees the move putting Eclipse up against some software powerhouses and is taking a wait and see attitude:
Eclipse's jump into runtime puts the foundation into more direct competition with companies like Oracle, IBM and Microsoft, as well as a multitude of smaller providers. Eclipse already shook up the development tools market by offering a free and open source toolset — can Eclipse pull off the same with SOA?
Steve Craggs at Lustratus Research takes a glummer view:
So, will Swordfish make a successful strike at the ESB market? So far, open source ESB projects have not had a great deal of success, and as far as 2009 goes Lustratus has forecast that open source projects will suffer due to the lack of the necessary people resources to turn open source frameworks into a useful user implementation. However, Swordfish has the backing of the influential Eclipse organization, which has done a lot to standardize the look and feel of many software infrastructure tools.

Looking at the initial bites on Swordfish, the market needs to be baited a bit.

And, of course there's more to market acceptance than just the code drop. Also this week, German start-up and Deutsche Post AG spin-off Sopera GmbH announced plans to support Swordfish as part of a comprehensive SOA platform.

Sopera helped develop and refine Swordfish at Deutsche Post before helping to bring the project to fruition in Eclipse.

Using the Eclipse Swordfish (SOA Runtime Framework) and the SOA Tooling Platform (STP), Sopera now plans to further deliver a new service registry/repository, integrate process orchestration engines, and provide integration between the OSGi components -- all to create the SOA solution.

As I said to Ricco Deutscher, Sopera's CTO, managing director and co-founder, when briefed: "In today's economic climate, there is definite opportunity for open source SOA. Plus, we see emerging requirements for modern middleware that includes SOA, and helps prepare for cloud-based applications."

There should be a signifiant degree of pull for strong SOA offerings built of open source components, but with value-add of integration and associated support services. The market for the de facto on-premises cloud architecture and implementation is wide open. There's no reason that open source SOA implentations won't be a major portion of quite a few clouds.

Low-cost open spurce solutions -- coupled with the proper balance of completeness and flexibility -- may gain a surer foothold now, given the economy, than in the past. Deutscher says Sopera is seeking to attain and deliver on the right balance at he right price.

The ambition is certainly there. Last month, Sopera joined forces with Microsoft and Open-Xchange under the Open Source Business Foundation (OSBF), a non-profit European open source business network, to announce a platform that leverages SOA for cloud computing.

This "Internet Service Bus (ISB)" will create a bridge between Java and .NET software applications and promote seamless interoperability. I'm all for that, long as it's a fully bi-directional bridge.

The first release of Swordfish 0.8 will be available for download the first week of April from www.eclipse.org/swordfish/. Sopera will be delivering solutions around it and then added SOA and cloud solutions over the next two years.