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In August 2004, I wrote that the "bus does not stop here." I explained that enterprise service buses, the 21st century form of message oriented middleware (MOM), were becoming popular underlying middle-of-the-stack software. But they were not being used very often free standing, that is, just to replace enterprise application integration (EAI) software for example. More interesting, many users were starting to build a service-oriented architecture (SOA) without an enterprise service bus (ESB). It wasn't logical but the marketplace rarely is.

The next time I looked, about 18 months ago, that pattern still held. I did find that the number of "bus routes" had grown however. By that I meant that suppliers that had originally offered ESBs only underlying their other midstack software had begun to offer ESBs a la carte as well. IBM and BEA were leading examples of that trend. Still the suppliers' preference was to sell you their 'higher order' software, enabled by the ESB, rather than just sell you the ESB. "The bus still did not stop" with just the bus, and therefore the ESB market as a separate entity was not booming. IBM and BEA telegraphed their new ESB plans for a year before they announced, which probably held ESB adoption back. (Fear, uncertainly and doubt works throughout the information technology [IT] market and is not just an anti-open-source-software (OSS) phenomenon.)

But something else was happening in the user community that I couldn't pin down back when I last took a look. So I looked again last month. The trends I saw 18 and 36 months ago seem to be continuing but I think I now see the reason for user hesitation when it comes to freestanding ESBs. I think the OSS community is the culprit.

User Waited To Avoid Lock-in, Lower Costs
Quietly, multiple OSS ESB projects started up in the 2003-2004 timeframe. They were incubating while Progress, TIBCO and others traded PR releases about which supplier built the first ESB. OSS communities and sponsoring suppliers jumped in with OSS ESBs, almost as soon as the concept took form. In my 2007 MOM/ESB research, I found almost a dozen ESB/MOM OSS projects that began in 2003 or since and that have even matured from the community stage to productization. The newcomers include

  • Bostech ChainBuilder (based on Open ESB community efforts)
  • Covalent (providing support for Apache ActiveMQ)
  • Iona Fuse project (based on code acquired with LogicBlaze and Iona's own previous OSS ESB effort, Celtix)
  • Mule project and Mulesource
  • Optaros (providing support for multiple OSS products)
  • OW2's pending project
  • Red Hat (via its 2006 JBoss acquisition)
  • Sun (via its new OSS policy and indirectly via the 2005 SeeBeyond acquisition and Project Open ESB effort within the Java Community Process)
  • wso2 (based on Apache Synapse)


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