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Sun Java CAPS chugs down SOA open source track

Rich Seeley, News Writer

It's not there yet, but today's release of Java Composite Application Platform Suite (Java CAPS) 6 by Sun Microsystems Inc. takes its service-oriented architecture (SOA) product further down the open source track.

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This is probably the third such announcement I've seen in the last three months, where a vendor is seeking to meld SOA and MDM at the ESB level.
Bradley F. Shimmin
principal analyst of application infrastructureCurrent Analysis LLC.

Sun has been open sourcing the enterprise service bus technology from its 2005 acquisition of SeeBeyond, which forms the core of Java CAPS, as part of its Open ESB project. Today Sun is also announcing Mural, a second open source community for master data management (MDM) technology.

While the ESB is now open source, Sun is yet to complete the open sourcing of all SeeBeyond code, said Ashesh Badani, Sun's director of SOA and Java CAPS.

Asked about the open source status of Java CAPS, Bradley F. Shimmin, principal analyst of application infrastructure at Current Analysis LLC., noted that Sun's adherence to the Java Business Integration (JBI) specification in an open source community provides advantages. Badani pointed out that Java CAPS is also adopting the OSGi model, which Shimmin sees as a plus.

"Java CAPS is not yet an open source suite," Shimmin said, "but they are on a good track in using JBI to modularize the suite. This will let them more quickly roll out suite updates without having to wait for a twice-a-year schedule. This will also help them encourage their ISV community to write to JBI and probably OSGi, which will let them build pluggable components that can run on top of Sun's ESB."

Shimmin said Sun's combination of ESB with MDM and complex event processing (CEP) for SOA is part of a trend he is seeing.

"The two most important things in addition to the JBI modularization are Sun's shipment of an MDM suite that is itself JBI-based and built on top of the company's ESB as well as its CEP tool, which is built into the ESB suite," the analyst said. "This is probably the third such announcement I've seen in the last three months, where a vendor is seeking to meld SOA and MDM at the ESB level. It's a very pragmatic approach that's been missing from SOA since the beginning. It's not just about the transaction anymore."

The new open source Mural project is based on existing code, that while not best of breed, is strengthened by the combination with Sun's identity management, CEP and business process management (BPM), business activity monitoring (BAM) and business intelligence (BI) products, Shimmin said.

"Their MDM tool in the Mural project is not new code," Shimmin explained. "It's something they've built and used with customers through professional engagements from the start, mostly for unifying customer profiles. As such it's not a heavyweight MDM solution compared with the pure plays out there, but when combined with Sun's identity management solution, it makes for a pretty good data compliance solution."

Event-driven SOA
The combination of CEP for real-time data and BAM/BI for historical events is also part of a trend he is seeing from other vendors including IBM with the CEP technology it acquired with AptSoft, the analyst said.

"It lets you basically build a business process optimization routine that's not just based on historic data from BAM/BI but on real-time events that might come from other processes, servers, network, etc," Shimmin said.

Badani said Sun has not yet included the service component architecture (SCA) specification now working its way through the OASIS standardization process, having chosen to focus on JBI and OSGi. SCA, developed by rival vendors including IBM and Oracle Corp., is not being excluded from future consideration for Java CAPS and its open source community, he said.

"Our position isn't one of JBI versus SCA," Badani said.

Shimmin did not see this as a problem.

"I wouldn't worry too much about SCA in this context," Shimmin said. "That's more about building composite apps. Tools like OSGi and JBI are more about architecting SOA environments."

GlassFish and NetBeans
Beyond JBI, Badani noted that Java CAPS is based on Sun's Java standard runtime and server technology.

"We have a common development environment via NetBeans and a common runtime environment via GlassFish, which is our open source application server," Badani said.

While it is not totally there yet, Sun is committed to moving its ESB and MDM technology into open source, said Mark Herring, vice president of Sun Software Infrastructure.

For more information
Sun rises in Forrester evaluation of platforms for SOA/BPM

Sun SOA roadmap focuses on B2B

"There are two main themes as we migrate down the open source route," Herring said. "One is more and more reliance on open source through Open ESB and Mural. In time there will be more and more that will move into those communities and other communities. The second is continual focus on real customer problems. This is why we've sub-setted out some of the complete CAPS product and come up with the MDM suite focused on real customer pain points of how to get a single view of employee data, customer data, supplier data, etc."

The Sun executives did not offer a specific roadmap for the future of Java CAPS and MDM. Herring noted that the collaborative community nature of open source development is less predictable than single vendor model for proprietary products.

"You'll see us continuing to evolve with JBI and looking at things like SCA as it comes along but perhaps more importantly continuing to push open source," Herring said.


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