Open Source Quick Guide: ESBs, application development frameworks, more

This Open Source SOA Quick Guide is a starting point for keeping up with open source news and sorting through open source SOA tools. Topics include ESBs, application development frameworks, and more.


Open source software is increasingly a presence in the SOA world. ESBs and application development frameworks are the most prominent examples, but open source BPM, data integration and other diverse tool types have appeared as well. This Open Source Software Quick Guide is a starting point for keeping up with open source news and sorting through open source SOA tools.

The two sides of open source are well-established: On one is the universal affordability of free products; on the other is the caveat that only the product is free—implementation, integration, and user education require overhead. And because open source products are often more specialized and less documented than their commercial counterparts, that overhead means open source is not always a cost-saving alternative.

Many companies, of course, do save money by going open source. But there are more benefits to open source than immediate savings. In the introduction to Open Source SOA, author Jeff Davis points out why open source products pose less risk than commercial ones: "Commercial companies often go out of business or get acquired," writes Davis. "When either happens, it's not uncommon for the products to be discontinued, or awkwardly merged into some other offering."

In addition to greater market longevity, Davis also identifies the strong user communities that develop around open source offerings. "How often is it that you can communicate directly with the developers responsible for the code?" he asks. "Such interaction in the open source community is common." Davis outlines a complete open source SOA technology stack in chapter 2 of Open Source SOA. We've provided it as a free excerpt.

Many believe that open source benefits not just the companies that use, but the industry as a whole. In a recent presentation on open source SOA, JBoss SOA platform product mananger Burr Sutter explained how open source drives the creation of new methodology and best practices. He used test-driven development as an example. "[Test driven development] was dramatically impacted by the availability of open source technology that allowed you to do test-driven development," said Sutter. "Can you imagine what it would take for developers around the world to adopt a new methodology or best practice if that software cost ten thousand dollars a seat, as it once did?"

Sutter also answered critics of open source. "There's some notable people within our industry who have claimed that open source software is vile and horrible and destroys value within our industry," said Sutter. "I feel that is fundamentally untrue. What it does do is free up resources within your large proprietary software company to chase bigger dreams."

Open Source SOA Quick Guide
Part 1: Benefits of open source go beyond cost savings
Part 2: Open source ESBs drive integration but not without risk
Part 3: Application development frameworks offer open source alternatives
Part 4: Open source options exist for BPM, IDEs, and more

This was first published in December 2009

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