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3/28/2006
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Is Open Source Ready To Implement SOA?

LogicBlaze debuts open-source Fuse middleware to help businesses get started with their SOA projects.

Is there such a thing as service-oriented architecture built on open-source code, or does the proposed combination represent just a marriage of convenience?

"Open-source code is extremely well-adapted to service-oriented architecture," says Winston Damarillo, a co-founder and chairman of startup LogicBlaze Inc. It has matured to the point where it can take on SOA responsibilities, he says.

LogicBlaze has launched an integrated suite of open-source code designed to get businesses started with SOA. Called Fuse, it includes several pieces of open-source code from the Apache Software Foundation, plus three from the Apache incubator. The claim that all the pieces have matured must be tempered by the fact that incubator projects at Apache aren't yet full-fledged open-source projects; rather, they're getting an organization and community established around a core code donation.

But one thing in Fuse's favor is that it comes with IBM's WebSphere Community Edition, the Java application server better known as the Geronimo project at the Apache Foundation. IBM acquired a version of Geronimo integrated with Linux, the Apache Web server, and the Apache Pluto Portal when it acquired open-source integrator Gluecode Software last May. Gluecode was Damarillo's previous open-source startup.

In addition, the Fuse SOA stack includes Apache ActiveMQ, an open source code project still at the incubator stage. Its goal is to develop a system that transports messages between the application server, a firm's infrastructure applications and databases, and its Web services. ActiveMQ is based on an implementation of Java Messaging Service, a specification of the Java Community Process, the multivendor consortium that makes additions to Java.

Also a part of the Fuse stack is Apache ServiceMix, another incubator-status piece of open-source code that provides the messaging fabric for implementing ActiveMQ and bringing together different services.

Messaging is at the heart of many early SOA attempts in corporations, with IBM's MQSeries and Tibco Software's Rendezvous able to invoke both proprietary and standard protocols. Damarillo says Java Messaging Service and the open-source services LogicBlaze has linked to it are enough for companies to get started with SOA. And they'll find they can grow with it as well, he says.

Apache jUDDI is a Java implementation of the Universal Discovery, Description, and Integration registry of Web services. Fuse incorporates jUDDI as its service registry.

These and other pieces of the Fuse stack appealed to the Colorado Department of Human Services as it sought to reorganize its mainframe-based child support services around SOA. It was already using open-source code, including Apache Web server, Linux, and JBoss, on its child support services Web site. With a more complete open-source stack, the department saw how it could tie more mainframe services to the site, allowing more participation by contributors as well as the recipients of child support services themselves, says Curtis Rose, technical manager for the Automated Child Support Enforcement System.

The site already hosts several thousand visitors a day. Rose says the department is in its first month of a pilot project-testing Fuse as the basis for a reorganized child support system.

"We wanted a broad enough platform so we don't have to do a lot of piecing together ourselves," he says. Either Geronimo or WebSphere CE was acceptable to state IT managers, he says, because they already had experience with open-source code.

Fuse is offered at $5,000 per server and $10,000 per server per year, depending on support level sought. Rose said the state preferred to spend on subscription licenses rather than package purchase licenses.

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