JBoss adds Drools business rules engine

Company's middleware platform touted for SOA

Looking to position its middleware as the industry's only open source SOA platform, JBoss on Tuesday is adding the Drools Java business rules engine to its stable of products.

The company, at its JBoss World, Barcelona conference in Spain, also is upgrading its workflow and orchestration software, called jBPM, for Java Business Process Management.

Drools and the new jBPM 3.0 will support deployment of SOA applications on JEMS (JBoss Enterprise Middleware System).

"We're announcing JEMS as the only open source platform for SOA," said Shaun Connolly, vice president of product management for JBoss. The company also points to recent partnerships, such as one with Microsoft  regarding interoperability between Windows and JBoss, as bolstering its standing in the SOA market.

Previously hosted by Codehaus, Drools -- and its developer, Mark Proctor -- is moving over to JBoss. Drools is slated to become a JBoss product called Java Business Rulesin early-2006, along with being a part of JEMS.

"[Drools] enables [use of] reusable business rules across applications and services in an SOA," Connolly said. A business rules engine allows for personalized rules in an SOA environment.

Version 3.0 of jBPM, meanwhile, adds support for BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) 1.1 and 2.0, for orchestrating, or coordinating, Web services in a process flow.

"The business process management and workflow capabilities that jBPM provides further the ability to provide extended task management, for instance tracking tasks that are assigned to people, systems, or groups," Connolly said.

JBoss's jBPM 3.0 also enables development of workflows to address specific business-process problems. 

Simplified persistence in jBPM 3.0 allows for easier business process and workflow development, JBoss said. A pluggable architecture in the software provides workflow, orchestration and business process management in a single platform to simplify business development, the company said.

"JBPM is a complement to the [JBoss] application server," said analyst Yefim Natis, a vice president at Gartner. "It is an essential element if they want to compete with the leaders in the software infrastructure space," such as IBM, BEA Systems, Oracle and SAP, Natis said.

JBoss's SOA platform, however, is incomplete, Natis said. "They're going in the right direction. They don't have, most importantly, an ESB [enterprise service bus] and without an ESB they're incomplete."

JBoss plans to release an ESB in 2006.

JBoss's business model involves selling professional services related to its free, open source products.

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