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Open source SOA middleware platform gets governance boost

Rob Barry

Open source ESB and Web services specialist WSO2 announced this week that it has added operational SOA governance features to its offerings.

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They've got the religion and they're orthodox, which makes them easy to trust.
Michael Meehan
Sr. AnalystCurrent Analysis
"We're traditionally for the hard-core techies," said Paul Fremantle, cofounder and CTO of WSO2. "I'm a big believer in building out from concrete things. But as we've delivered on that concrete stuff the customers have come back and we've talked through some of their higher level business requirements."

Where WSO2's Registry 2.0 required heavy customization, Fremantle said Governance Registry 3.0 includes an out-of-the box system that business users can start using right away. Adding a business-level governance approach means WSO2 users can now leverage a top-down approach to service oriented architecture.

Fremantle said the Registry is a key touch point between business users and IT users. One feature he said makes operational use easier is a tagging system that complements the formal taxonomy. While the IT department can define and categorize services in a way that makes sense to then, business users can label them with searchable tags and add notes that can be read by anyone.

Other features include a Governance Dashboard that provides runtime and design monitoring and synchronized remote registry management.

The announcement comes only weeks after WSO2 released its Carbon Core, a hot-pluggable SOA platform built on OSGi.

"When we first built products, we were building individual products, like the ESB [Enterprise Service Bus] and WSAS [Web Services Application Server]," said Fremantle. "What we've done over the last 18 months is shift to more of a platform story."

WSO2 has a reputation of following open source standards with zeal. Though not as feature-rich as competing products like Software AG CentraSite or HP Systinet, that adherence to standards is what Current Analysis Sr. Analyst Michael Meehan says gives WSO2 its edge.

"They probably have the best adherence to open source technology on the market right now," said Meehan. "They've got the religion and they're orthodox, which makes them easy to trust."

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Meehan went on to say that WSO2, along with SpringSource, is one of the "leading lights" in supporting the use of OSGi frameworks. As OSGi is touted for its ability to add new features on the fly without downtime, WSO2 has taken full advantage.

"What Java is missing is two capabilities," said Fremantle, "a clean way of discovering new services at runtime and the ability to hide [or] expose dependencies."

Comparing J2EE to a "big house of cards," Fremantle said WSO2's middleware comprises granular components that can all be activated easily from within one another. So, a Web Services Application Server user could download the tools for the Enterprise Service Bus and have them interfacing in moments. And if any components have dependency conflicts, those dependencies can be versioned or hidden.

In terms of governance, Meehan said WSO2 has a long way to go before they get a solid base of business users.

"WSO2 isn't going to win a lot of business from customers looking for a soup-to-nuts enterprise SOA governance overlay," said Meehan. "But its Governance Registry will be able to find some traction with customers looking to build a governance infrastructure in a more incremental fashion."


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