Iona Gets on the Bus with Celtix Project

The adoption of service-oriented architecture (SOA) is accelerating, as collaborative efforts like the Celtix Project gain momentum, experts said.

Dublin, Ireland-based Iona Technologies last month disclosed that it is planning to contribute proprietary technologies for Celtix, a Java-based open-source Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) project, focusing on providing open-source middleware.

Iona is a developer of enterprise integration technologies, based on CORBA and ESB, which cut both the cost and complexity of cross-platform integrations. An ESB is essentially a software infrastructure that enables SOA by providing communication and translation between different applications or processes.

IONA CEO Peter Zotta believes open-source software will be a major accelerator for the adoption and evolution of ESB technology. “It is clear customers want to move away from expensive, proprietary, and server-based integration approaches,” he said. “Our customers embrace ESB technology to solve integration problems using distributed architectures built on open standards.”

Aiming High

The Celtix project is hosted by the ObjectWeb Consortium, a not-for-profit open-source group, and Iona is the first vendor contributing to the effort.

ObjectWeb’s other projects include JOnAS — an open-source certified J2EE implementation, JORAM — a Java-based Message Oriented Middleware, and Enhydra – a Java/XML app server.

Plans for Celtix are ambitious, and include support for the Java Business Integration (JBI) spec or JSR 2 xx, recently adopted by the Java Community Process (JCP). The project also aims to provide WSDL contract language support for defining services, and broad support for standard Web services/SOA transports, like WS-Reliable Messaging, Java Message Service (JMS).

Other support is aimed at HTTP, and SOAP and XML payloads, as well as application bindings for Java and POJO, or Plain Old Java Objects. Other targets, experts say, are Eclipse-based administration and configuration tools and basic security support.

The latter is increasingly important for open source, experts noted. Research consultancy The Yankee Group has noted an emerging trend in enterprise network security that has seen security products, rather than operating systems, increasingly becoming the target for exploits.

“Security researchers — whether they wear white, grey or black hats — are increasingly less interested in poking holes in desktop operating systems,” said Andrew Jaquith, an analyst with Yankee Group. “A more fascinating and profitable area exists in finding vulnerabilities in the products meant to defend against the attacks themselves.”

Finding Flaws

The first deliverable for Celtix is expected to be ready by the fourth quarter this year. In the interim, rival ESB vendors, including PolarLake, CapeClear, and Fiorano Software have decided to work on other projects, but Sonic Software, the purported developer of the term ESB, is said to be considering working on Celtix.

Meanwhile, there is some industry criticism of the Celtix project. Some experts say that Celtix is too focused on the messaging layer of the open-source network, and developers of orchestration and mediation services might not have much to contribute today. Others say that though there is in fact an open-source application server market, that does not mean that there is a comparably sized ESB market for open source.

Pole Position

That criticism has not dissuaded Iona, which has offices in Dublin and Waltham, Mass. The company will continue to upgrade its proprietary ESB solution, Artix, while it pursues an open-source version, hoping to bolster the market for ESB functionality.

The company said Celtix will be based on Artix and will support the Java Business Integration (JBI) specification, transport mechanisms such as Web Services Reliable Messaging (WS-RM), Java Messaging Service (JMS) and HTTP, as well as binding support for Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and XML payloads.

The first code drop from the Celtix project is expected in the third quarter of this year, with an initial release of the open-source ESB right after that. Iona hopes that delivering an open-source ESB will help drive adoption of ESBs and SOAs.

A Seattle-based consultant Iona hired to help with the Celtix effort, Clifford Schmidt, said the company has the proper focus with the Celtix effort and that ObjectWeb will be a good fit for the project because of the community’s licensing model and its focus on middleware.

“Now that Iona is involved, there’s no doubt that ObjectWeb’s roster of ESB technologies is unrivaled in the open-source world,” said Francois Letellier, a member of the ObjectWeb executive committee. “Commoditization of ESB technologies is on its way-and ObjectWeb is in the pole position to be the place where it happens. Standards such as JBI promise to accelerate it.”

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