New JBI standard could change Java

Integration and application platform vendors are touting the recently ratified Java Business Integration (JBI) standard. Meanwhile, Sun is pitching JBI as a key enabler for SOA.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- With Sun Microsystems Inc. and a sizable group of vendors backing the recently ratified Java Business Integration (JBI) 1.0 specification, standardized integration may soon become the norm for enterprise Java developers.

Presenting to a packed audience at JavaOne, Sun engineers and specification leads for JBI 1.0 (dubbed JSR 208) Ron Ten-Hove and Peter Walker described JBI as the foundational standard for integration and a key enabler for service-oriented applications.

JBI is about moving beyond point-to-point or proprietary integration and monolithic application server stacks.
Robert Meyer
Senior Product Marketing ManagerTibco Software

"The industry has been dealing with the problem of scaling beyond point-to-point integration," Ten-Hove said.

JBI addresses this by providing a common messaging infrastructure that enables business components and services to communicate irrespective of their underlying platforms and communication protocols.

JBI acts like a container of containers, allowing various service engines and binding components to plug in and communicate using a common messaging bus. Business Process Execution Language services, Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations translators and J2EE-based Web services are pluggable are examples of service engines. Binding components, on the other hand, act as translators between the JBI environment and different protocols such as SOAP, Applicability Statement 2 (AS2), Electronic Business XML (ebXML) and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

Both types of components communicate with each other using Web Services Description Language 2.0-compliant interfaces, which describe the message format, the message exchange pattern and service endpoints. However, these plug-in components never send messages directly to each other; instead, they communicate with a normalized message router that takes care of mediating messages and transactions among services.

"JBI is about moving beyond point-to-point or proprietary integration and monolithic application server stacks," said Robert Meyer, senior product marketing manager at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tibco Software Inc.

At least 14 vendors have announced their support for the JBI standard, including Tibco, which will unveil a JBI service container in the first half of 2006, part of the company's Project Matrix JBI-based service deployment platform initiative.

"The industry is showing tremendous momentum in their support for JBI," Meyer said. Backing the standard are application vendors such as SAP AG and Oracle Corp., integration vendors such as Tibco and Sonic Software Inc., and application server vendors such as Sun.

JBI addresses SOA needs

While the vendor community is strongly committed to JBI, end users are just starting to get their arms around it.

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Learn more about the Java Business Integration standard

"We're really only doing point-to-point messaging at this time," said Barry Egbert, a contract developer. One of Egbert's clients, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, receives clinical data from hospitals nationwide and stores it in a central health data repository.

Egbert said that while the proprietary "hub-and-spoke" integration model of the department is sufficient for the time being, his client is starting to consider moving to a service-oriented architecture, which in turn puts JBI on his radar.

"SOA is basically a system structuring mechanism that separates the system provider and consumer," Ten-Hove said. JBI provides a standard container that allows both provider and consumer to transparently interact.

"We want to build an ecosystem of plug-in platform providers that will allow customers to leverage open standards to compose reusable applications," Ten-Hove said.

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