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SOA - Integration Industry Pulse

Beth Gold-Bernstein

Open Source SOA Coming of Age

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Much has already been said about the IONA acquisition and my fellow bloggers have had little positive to say. Dennis Byron stated that "Effectively this means little to the independent middleware market which had already collapsed in upon itself when BEA was folded into Oracle (ORCL)." and "Iona had ceased to be a major factor in the market early this decade." He views the IONA open source strategy as a last ditch effort to make its way back, but doubts it would remain independent. Dana Gartner titled the acquisition an "SOA infrastructure mashup", which I thought was clever. But Dana also expresses some skepticism over Progress' commitment to IONA's open source strategy.

Frankly, my initial thought about the deal was that it was an open source play by Progress. So before jumping in with a whole different set of opinions, I decided to first speak with Hub Vandervoort, CTO of Progress. I would say that Hub did a lot to strengthen this view. He called the open source piece the "real gem in the deal" along with the quality of the IONA staff, who Progress is also going to try to retain. Hub also made it clear to me that Progress clearly values the open source community IONA has created and has no intention of dismantling it. In fact, as part of its 7.6 release Progress announced its ESB for Spring strategy which will enable components of the Process stack to run in Spring containers on their competitors' platforms.

While both Progress and IONA have ESBs, the architectures are different and complementary. Artix is a distributed architecture which Hub described as "smart endpoints", while he called Sonic a "smart network". The different ESBs have different use cases and are currently used together in customer implementations. They both have Eclipse tooling. In fact, a federated ESB approach is becoming more common in the enterprise.

I must say I strongly disagree with Denis Byron that this means little to the independent middleware market (but we're still friends, right Denis?). Along with the SUN Caps 6 announcement this may signal a new approach to SOA infrastructure - a modular, component based, open and pluggable infrastructure. The proprietary, closely coupled, monolithic SOA infrastructures currently being offered seem like an oxymoron to me. Afterall, SOA is all about loose coupling for agility.

Dana Gartner suggested that the competitive landscape now puts Progress "up against IBM, Oracle, and Red Hat." Here I also disagree. IBM's open source initiatives are primarily academic. Oracle supports Linux, Eclipse, and some other open source initiatives but has no open source SOA infrastructure. Red Hat is an app server - not an SOA infrastructure platform. What I am seeing is a new breath of fresh air from some very unlikely corners of the market - Sun and Progress. And the fact that both companies are now offering modular open source platforms helps to legitimize this approach in the enterprise. Along with commercial grade support, management, security and services, I think we're going to see a very viable alternative to the monolithic proprietary SOA infrastructures. And to that I say Hallelujah!!!

Industry trends and vendor spotlights from Beth Gold-Bernstein.

Beth Gold-Bernstein

Beth Gold-Bernstein is a recognized expert in integration technologies and SOA with over 20 years experience View more

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