Saturday, July 21, 2007

Optaros opens OS projects catalog, JBoss Rules 4.0 debuts

With more than 140,000 open-source projects floating around, finding the right one for your company is a daunting task. For IT managers, who usually don't have the vantage point that developers enjoy, the search can also be fraught with danger. Choosing or backing the wrong project can have far-reaching operational, legal and financial consequences.

Now, Opatros Inc. has a helping hand. They have morphed their popular Open Source Catalogue into an online version that provides a searchable and interactive source for finding the open-source projects that best meet a company's business and technology needs.

The Optaros Enterprise Open Source Directory (EOS) eliminates the need to download and print the hefty catalogue that Optaros introduced in November 2006. That version was downloaded over 10,000 times, however, indicating an industry need for this information.

The online directory gives viewers a short description of the project, includes an Optaros rating -- one to five stars -- as well as a community rating, comments from community members, and a link to the project Web site.

The ferment in the open-source community is one of the driving forces behind the move to an online, interactive product, according to Bruno von Rotz, Optaros's EOS Directory executive sponsor.

Von Rotz explained, "Since the launch of the Open Source Catalogue six months ago, some of the leaders have further expanded their competitive positioning. Additionally, the ratings of more than 70 percent of all the projects listed have changed, and we have added and removed approximately 45 enterprise-ready projects. The open source community is developing so rapidly that an online resource is the best approach to capture changes and stay relevant."

In other open-source news, business rules are moving into the mainstream with the release of JBoss Rules 4.0, which promises faster and leaner performance, a more powerful scripting language, point-and-click rules editing, and -- most important -- access to non-programming IT workers. JBoss Rules is the RedHat product that combines the Drools project with a JBoss subscription.

JBoss blogger Pierre Fricke says the new release "lays the foundation for bringing rules-based solutions into Simple, Open and Affordable SOA deployments. . ." Would that be SOASOA or just SOA-squared?

Tony Baer at Computer Business Review sees the new offering as a move by JBoss to position its new version "as a lightweight, more accessible alternative to spending tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars on more complex alternatives."

Some of the benefits of Rules 4.0 include:
  • More expressive and powerful declarative business action scripting language
  • New Guided Rules Editor with point-and-click functionality
  • Visual modeling technology to declaratively model execution paths of related rules
  • Multi-application support (for stateful and stateless processing)
  • Hibernate readiness, and
  • Business Rules Management System (Technology Preview), a web-based, AJAX-enhanced, collaborative rule authoring, versioning and management system to help non-programming IT workers interactively author and/or modify rules that are then automatically versioned.
In other JBoss community news, ICEsoft Technologies has announced what it's promoting as a "new and improved" version of ICEfaces, the company's flagship Ajax development environment.

Version 1.6.0 now offers deeper integration with JBoss Seam, the Web 2.0 application framework.

According to ICEsoft, ICEfaces extends JavaServer Faces (JSF) and eliminates the need for low-level JavaScript development. In the new release, SeamGen enhancements support the rapid generation of functional Seam + ICEfaces applications. It also contains source code examples.

An earlier e-newsletter from ICEsoft reported that the new version contained more than 180 bug fixes, as well as several enhancements.

ICEsoft claims a developer base of 12,000 and says ICEfaces has been downloaded more than 150,000 times. The latest version can be downloaded from

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Where are the best SOA synergies now that Rogue Wave is independent?

Either today or tomorrow the completion of Battery Ventures' buyout of Rogue Wave Software will prompt some strategic thinking about where this high-performance C++ platform supplier best fits in.

As a bit of background, Rogue Wave was a part of publicly traded Quovadx, which found itself in a bit of hot water with the SEC. That now appears to be resolved, and the Integration Solutions Division and Rogue Wave units of Quovadx are being scooped up in private equity buyout by Battery Ventures. The Rouge Wave unit will operate as a stand-alone unit within a Battery subsidiary, Quartzite Holdings. The third Quovadx unit, its CareScience division, was spun off to healthcare alliance Premier in March.

What's more, word has it that Rogue Wave Executive Vice President and President Cory Isaacson will be leaving the company entirely, replaced by new CEO Bart Foster (CEO of former Battery portfolio company DecisionPoint Software).

So now that Rogue Wave is un-entangled, as it were, and part of a private equity firm that, if history is an indication, might well want to find a good home for its newly adopted firm ... someday, someway -- where might Rogue Wave land?

Well, consider that there are hordes of C++ applications scattered around the world. Consider that these applications need to accomplish two things for health and economy: modernization of platform and service-enablement. The Java applications world is undergoing just such a transition, as are myriad mainframe applications. Not too many C++ applications are being newly written specifically for SOA; Java and C# are pretty popular there.

But the larger SOA infrastructure vendors might just want a high-performance, multi-core-optimized C++ complement to their Java, .NET and mainframes modernization and/or SOA-enablement strategies. Rogue Wave also has some marquee customers in financial services, telco, software, and government. Large professional services companies that are also enjoying growth synergies by bundling modernization and SOA initiatives would also no doubt value a strong C++ component to these efforts in the market.

As frosting on this tasty cake, Rogue Wave is also tightly involved in the Apache Tuscany SCA Native (aka C++) incubation project, and Rogue Wave will likely produce a commercial platform that combines its Hydra SCA 3.5 (releases in April) with Tuscany SCA Native (aka C++) community-developer and open source code. Rogue Wave is a contributing member of the Open SOA Collaboration. So there's an open source path and commercial-open source business model potential here too.

And which large IT vendor might want to 1) augment a SOA strategy with strong C++ platform and modernization offerings, 2) avail itself of a commercial-open source market opportunity, 3) augment Java and mainframe SOA migration initiatives, and 4) make application modernization and SOA transformation professional services hay?

Why, Novell, of course. Actually, I can think of a couple of others. Rogue Wave bears watching and waiting over the coming months.

Monday, July 16, 2007

IBM broadens its data reach for SOA with DataMirror buy

Further banking on SOA as a consolidation strategy accelerator for enterprises, IBM on Monday announced its intention to acquire DataMirror.

The Markham, Ontario-based DataMirror provides real-time data capture and delivery across a broad range of data sources — including IBM's own DB2, Oracle, Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server — and allows altered data from such sources to be fed into the popular IBM Information Server. The goal: real-time integration and delivery of data deltas across a variety of sources to then reach a variety of applications and services.

The approximately $161 million acquisition, if approved, will thereby extend the reach of IBM's Information Server and give businesses faster access to data for making business decisions, responding to market demands, and rapidly identifying new business opportunities. The acquisition continues a fast-paced (for IBM) buying spree, almost as active as Oracle's over the past several years, although IBM tends to buy smaller companies that augment its strategies, rather than buy its way into new businesses wholesale.

Data and access to data is the lifeblood of any agile big businesses. According to IBM, the DataMirror technology captures data changes as soon as they occur and delivers the changes and new data either to other business processes or the enterprise service bus (ESB). This makes it an integral part of an SOA strategy.

IBM Information Server currently processes data from DB2 databases, but what DataMirror brings to the party is its technology works with a wide variety of other databases, sitting on top of the other processes, and can capture the data without slowing the performance of those operations.

So the inclusion of the DataMirror technology into its "Information on Demand portfolio" will allow Big Blue to cast a bigger umbrella over more types of real-time data for distribution and processes-updating capabilities. That means a more comprehensive SOA infrastructure capabilities set that spans data services with transactional and presentation services.

IBM said the acquisition will move their information-on-demand strategy closer to the master data management "holy grail" of providing one view of the customer -- the total and correct view.

This acquisition also therefore further amplifies the vision that management of meta data about data (aka master data management) is the keystone of the future for enterprise software infrastructure vendors. By making data free yet coordinated, IBM can position it's Information Server and IBM's Dynamic Warehousing offerings as the best-of-breed data management environments for gathering, distributing, and also analyzing real-time business activities. The value continues to move up an abstraction from the core RDBs.

As an example of how the real-time capture and delivery can aid business development, DataMirror pointed to a telecom application, in which a client company can detect when customers are running low on pre-purchased minutes, allowing the company to contact the customers in advance about purchasing more time, thereby increasing sales and preventing customers from experiencing a loss of service.

You have to wonder whether IBM will also extend what DataMirror does into open source databases -- from mySQL to Ingres to perhaps even SaaS applications and/or repositories. Such a move could allow IBM to become the all-data-for-all-purposes-oriented leader (more "open" than Microsoft or Oracle) -- while still protecting its DB2 franchise (for now). Being inclusive at the data management level is more important than protecting an installed base, right?

Among the other benefits of the combined platform will be:
  • Dynamic data warehousing
  • Real-time analytics
  • Faster disaster recovery
  • Production and e-business integration
  • Real-time event detection
DataMirror currently has about 2,200 customers, about 60 percent of whom are also IBM customers, as well as 15,000 licenses. The company and its 220 employees will be integrated into IBM's Information and Platform Solutions business unit, and IBM said it intends to retain DataMirror's Toronto-area development center focused on heterogeneous data capture.

The acquisition requires approval from DataMirror's stockholders, as well as regulators, and the deal is expected to close in the late third quarter of this year.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

IT enters its most fertile development era ever

Information technology is now entering an unprecedented era of rapidly expanding development productivity. This is because of two unassailable facts: The number and types of people who can actively participate in software development are expanding, while -- at the same time -- we're seeing a rapid compression in the effort, cost and risk of taking applications and services from concept into full production.

Put these trends together and we enter a fertile new era of diverse applications and services creation, one that offers developers more choice on how to build, and offers architects more choice of how to deploy (including broader use of web services and hosting to the "cloud"). The trends auspiciously portend less risk for businesses, both for entrepreneurs and enterprises alike, to innovative in ways that more easily bring applications to markets via the Internet.

The entrepreneurs are groking this all just fine, while the enterprises are quickly recognizing that they face new upside benefits as they adopt so-called Enterprise 2.0 approaches. Such development process improvements as "application lifecycle management 2.0", open source development communities such as Eclipse, and a widening embrace of Agile development practices are quelling enterprise IT leaders' fears of development project misfires.

In the mostly consumer-facing Web 2.0 arena, the ongoing mash-up of the definitions of developer and entrepreneur among start-ups allows for a flowering of innovation with relatively low up-front costs. If an application or service doesn't work in gaining wide use and appeal, these innovators keep on changing it until it does. Google is a prime example of this tinker-to-success mentality.

Other accelerants to the ease-of-development trends are the wide embrace of open source tools, preference for rich Internet applications (RIAs) approaches (highlighted by the recent Microsoft Silverlight unveilings), and openly available APIs for myriad ecommerce and social networking Web services from the likes of Google, Amazon, Yahoo!,, and Microsoft.

I'm also seeing a variety of new automated development workflows and requirements gathering approaches that bring non-developers increasingly into the act of defining, adjusting and implementing applications. These folks are not coders, but they are keen on business transformation via re-engineered business processes. The more tools that close the gap between process efficiency knowledge and the implementation of such productivity enhancements via IT, the more that talented non-developers will deeply exploit IT for their business goals.

A prime example of such tools and approaches is One Team Technologies, a Chicago-based start-up that walks non-geeks through a series of menus and choices -- selecting new options based on the roles and choices of the creators -- to design database-driven, potentially mission-critical applications. I think venture capitalists ought to use this technology and approach to incubate even more innovative start-ups, and create more business process-focused applications that can be delivered quickly to dynamic enterprises and markets.

And while this trend toward design automation and inclusion of more non-coders into development makes sense for start-ups and Web 2.0 greenfield innovators, the fruits of this broadening portfolio of possibilities will soon benefit SMBs and enterprises as they embrace software as a service (SaaS) and on-demand delivery of applications and integration services. SaaS also accelerates the ability to mash-up and use the services provided from communities of functional interest and from vertical industry niches. That is to say that those hosting organizations interested in proving on-demand applications will increasingly provide the tooling to create and adapt applications all the more appealing to more businesses.

The road from application service innovation to full production, as I mentioned, is already rapidly compressing. A great example of this compression effect comes from Bungee Labs' Bungee Connect offering, which debuted at Web 2.0 Expo. Another way of describing Bungee Connect is software development and deployment as a service (SDDS). Bungee Connect combines the virtues of online web application development with a near-real-time test and debug capability and with a click-to-host service that — now here's the rub — costs the developer next to nothing to get into full production.

Here's an offering that recognizes that new business models that vastly expand the universe of web services players is what the web is all about. The Bungee Connect service began allowing beta use access on May 1. Developers may register to participate in the early-access beta program.

Bungee Connect gives developers WSYWIG, drag-and-drop, rich Ajax interface creation tools online. Those familiar with scripting and web applications development can begin creating web applications from a library of Bungee functions, or create their own services, or mash-up ones from a core of providers: Amazon, Google,, Yahoo!, Real Networks, Windows Live, PayPal, and eBay.

The cost for the use of the tools, testing, and then hosting is free, and the subscription cost for the at-scale hosting only kicks in based on the use of the application by end users. Low use means low costs, and high use means a predictable measure of the proceeds goes to the development and hosting service. The hosting business stays with Bungee as the grid services provider while the applications ramp up into a sustainable business. Bungee collects rent — so to speak — based on use of the underlying infrastructure. Pay as you grow.

The net effect of these trends and examples is that the time, cost and risk of going from design to full production are deeply compressed. We are entering a period on unmatched applications, services, and media creativity.

Shouldn't you and your company be a part of it?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Red Hat delivers middleware stepping stone to larger platform distribution in fall

Red Hat has cemented another large stone into the foundation of its Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) 5.0, expected later this year, with the announcement of middleware solution EAP 4.2.

EAP 4.2, the company's most comprehensive enterprise platform, weaves JBoss, Hibernate, and JBoss Seam into a single (integrated, tested, and certified) platform for Java applications. The new direction is an outgrowth of Red Hat's announcement in April that it had decided to split its efforts into the traditional releases, following the traditional model, and the enterprise releases, for which Red Hat will sell support.

Key components in JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 4.2 include JBoss Application Server 4.2, Hibernate 3.2.4, JBoss Seam 1.2, and JBoss Transactions 4.2.3. It also sports embedded Apache Tomcat 6, a web services stack, support for ful J2EE 1.4 services with extended support for the common Java EE 5 features.

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 4.2 has been certified on different operating systems, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, HP-UX, Solaris, and Windows; Java Virtual Machines from BEA, HP, and Sun Microsystems; and databases such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and Postgres SQL. It will also be available in seven languages.

Red Hat is moving closer to a full SOA infrastructure offering.

JBoss CTO Sacha Labourey blogged about the new release, saying that Red Hat had bundled in as many of the EE5/EAP 5.0 modules that had already been finalized, anticipating the next release.

The indication there is that there's no time to waste in getting a full open source SOA stack to the market, one that Red Hat hopes sets it apart from the commercial and other open source alternatives.

IT analyst and blogger Tony Baer over at OnStrategies, wrote about the split, when the announcement came out last April. He sees Red Hat as not buying to the Eclipse model and, rather, creating what he calls "its own parallel universe."

EAP 4.2 is available now from the Red Hat online store or from resellers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Parsing search marketing, the 'content pyramid' and RSS strategies with Sam Whitmore

Read a full transcript of the podcast. Listen to the podcast.

In my work covering enterprise application development and deployment strategies, I often find myself also witnessing a sea-change in how software providers market their values. Software has always been a challenge to market, and many of the most innovative thinking in online marketing has come from the software industry.

I'm now seeing four distinct legs of support under the software marketing bench: 1) traditional internal marketing (web sites, downloads, product literature), 2) traditional external marketing (advertising, events, webinars, lists, email, newsletters), 3) viral (blogs, podcasts, videocasts, community sites, social media), and 4) search (all of the above plus tagging, sharing, community, relevance).

I'm also seeing a hastening shift from the second leg to the third and fourth, in terms of investment and expected return. Companies are shifting the emphasis from tradition to social media.

Creating and distributing good content is essential to all these activities, and accelerates the movement to social networking and community development. I recently had a podcast conversation with Sam Whitmore, editor and proprietor of Sam Whitmore's Media Survey, in which we discuss these themes along with the burgeoning role of RSS, community, conversations, and search.

Together we wonder whether the "public" relations community will soon gain a new cohort, the "search" relations person. It's a new way to reach the public, the right public, and on the public's terms. Their search terms. Search is the new media.

Here are some excerpts:
We're now getting people to understand the concept of "You don’t have to browse anymore." They still search, of course, probably more than ever before. But you think about the two ways ... that people get their information now, it's either through RSS syndication, or through search. And it’s almost quaint to think back about, "Yeah, I think I am going to go through my bookmarks and see what I haven’t visited in a while." I don’t know anybody who does that anymore.

The idea is to start thinking strategically about your content. Instead of having thousands of people around your company, each creating their own content without much interaction about it, without much coordination about it -- but perhaps a lot of overlap and a lack of reuse -- adding to more of a case of redundancy. And that goes for everything from mimeographs to RSS feeds, and all in between.

But when you think about content more strategically -- and can plan for and create core content that they can be reused and extended across different uses, like marketing literature, the documentation you provide for your services and products, your advertising, as well as your communications with your investors, with analysts, with press -- you create more of a coordinated core set of messages and documents and content. And we'll be seeing more audio and video increasingly in this mix.

If a company can create this content core and allow people to use it and make it accessible -- in the same way as with the development of software tools and components -- you can better control your costs; you can control better your message because more of your messaging will be in sync, because its all coming off of the same core.

Any company that has a strategic direction that they are taking their business to should say, “What are the keywords that relate to our future? What is the content we can create that will drive recognition from those keywords of our value, specifically as an individual company? And how can we create an ongoing process by which we’re feeding that algorithm machine over and over again to retain that high ranking?"

That to me is marketing 2.0.

I think that these IT trade titles and these people that are being rapidly disintermediated, they need to figure out how to get some of their content to rank well in generic search environments. And that brings us back to SEO and the fact that you can subscribe to RSS search results and these people really are getting hammered.

The way you go about a whitepaper is you do research, you get information and you do interviews -- primary research. And what is an interview? It’s a discussion. Why not just create a great discussion with the experts and put that up, instead of putting it into some sort of a turgid-prose, 80-page tome that people only read the executive summary of?

Why not give the long tail its due and put up a series of five key discussions with the experts you would have interviewed anyway for the whitepaper, and let people either read the transcript or glance at the executive summary of each individual interview or discussion, and then pick and choose? To me that’s just a better way to learn. And it also, by the way, is a lot easier for the experts as well as the authors. So it really is a discussion.
Read a full transcript of the podcast. Listen to the podcast.

If any of our listeners are interested in learning more about BriefingsDirect B2B informational podcasts or to become a sponsor of this or other B2B podcasts, please fill free to contact Interarbor Solutions at 603-528-2435.

Produced as a courtesy of Interarbor Solutions: analysis, consulting and rich new-media content production. Dana Gardner’s Podcast on Marketing 2.0 with Sam Whitmore. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2007. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

IONA corrals open source SOA assets under FUSE brand, further aligns with Apache

IONA Technologies' acquisition of LogicBlaze last April has culminated in the announcement this week that IONA's providing a coordinated array of open-source products available under the new FUSE family.

Based on projects hosted by the Apache Software Foundation, the FUSE components will provide messaging, SOA connectivity, and service enablement for a variety of IT environments. All are interoperable with Artix, IONA's commercial SOA infrastructure.

When it announced that it had acquired LogicBlaze, IONA leaned heavily on the fact that the deal included SOA heavy hitters Hiram Chirino, Rob Davies and James Strachan, who have impressive resumes and were undoubtedly key to IONA's support strategy with the new FUSE products.

IONA said at the time "LogicBlaze's employees are respected experts in the open source community, and are key contributors to the most popular open-source projects related to SOA, including Apache ActiveMQ and Apache ServiceMix."

Does the latest announcement mean that IONA is dumping Celtix in favor of the FUSE ESB? That's the question that Jason Stamper of Computer Business Review Online put to Larry Alston, IONA's general manager of open source. It’s just the opposite, Alston told Stamper:
"To say that would be plain wrong. Celtix had become CXF in Apache, and CXF is one of the underpinning projects in FUSE, too. If anything, we're fusing Celtix and LogicBlaze."
The assemblage of these components rationalizes and streamlines the open source SOA approach that IONA is banking on to grow its traditional and the emerging SOA businesses. The components provide an on-ramp for a variety of types of users, developers, and architects. The variety of offerings allows flexibility on adoption paths, to find the right fit for SOA infrastructure, while leveraging the benefits of an Apache open source license and community.
IONA FUSE consists of:
  • FUSE ESB -- Based on the Apache ServiceMix project, FUSE ESB is built on the Java Business Integration (JBI) specification.
  • FUSE Message Broker -- Based on the Apache ActiveMQ project, FUSE Message Broker is a JMS-oriented messaging platform.
  • FUSE Services Framework -- Based on the Apache CXF project and formally known as the Celtix Advanced Service Engine, the FUSE Services Framework is designed for service creation, integration and reuse of technical and business service components.
  • FUSE Mediation Router -- Built upon the Plain Old Java Object (POJO)-based Apache Camel project, FUSE Mediation Router provides a lightweight, rules-based and transport-neutral routing and mediation engine that leverages Enterprise Integration Patterns.
IONA is also offering several support models at different pricing levels, ranging from 8/5 technical support to 24/7 support for enterprise mission-critical projects in production, and also ranging from per-incident pricing to unlimited support.

A new Website for the FUSE community -- -- features user forums, wikis, tutorials, sample applications, and documentation for spurring on FUSE adoption. The site also features downloads, access to tooling, and early access to additional project code.

Disclosure: IONA is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect B2B podcasts.

Movie Review: Greg the Architect provides stiff performance in SOA thriller

Unaccustomed as I am to reviewing animated short features, the latest installment of "Greg the Architect" squarely tackles the confusion many enterprises encounter over SOA.

Throughout the clip we are left hanging on an emotional cliff, trying to decide if Greg can focus on SOA rather than be overcome by myriad nonsensical distractions from vendors and industry analysts. [I'll drop the price of that ROI assessment to $9k and guarantee delivery in 14 months.]

Greg the Architect is a creation of TIBCO Software. In the latest installment, "Focus Pocus," Greg, a long-suffering enterprise architect, desperately needs a vacation, but he's sidetracked by Jerry, the CIO, and dragged to a SOA conference at the Biscotti Center.

I don't want to reveal the thrilling conclusion, but let's just say it involves a colleague, a small mountain of turgid white papers, and a clever subterfuge by our hero, Greg.

In Focus Pocus, Greg's performance comes across a little stiff, although that may have a lot to do with the fact that all characters are portrayed by GI Joe-type action figures (Thunderbirds?).

Enterprise architects may see themselves as a little more flexible than that. If the producers want to win over architects, claymation may be the way to go (Gumby?). Let the architect bend a little to adapt to the situation. And your little pony, too.

Greg started out as part of the SOA Now Journal, also produced by TIBCO, and he now has his own Web site (fan club?), where viewers can see past episodes and download "fun stuff." A social SOA network in the making.

Perhaps TIBCO should consider a virtual reality game where users could put Greg through some grueling IT paces, sort of like Toontown Online meets Second Life meets the corridor outside a typical CIO's office. Flying white papers that land anywhere but on your head would cost 20 life points. Data cleansing stations could renew his energy. The registry/repository lounge could be where text messages are shared with end users. The player with the shortest requirements list at the end wins. [No charge for that consulting, BTW.]