WSO2: A lightweight, fast, and free ESB
Open source WSO2 ESB 1.0 makes XML messaging easy to deploy and easy to manage, but lacks high-availability optionsFollow @infoworld
Setup was very easy: Unzip the files, start the ESB, and then log in to the management console. I took the hard route, just to see if I could throw a spanner in the works, by compiling from source code and using Tibco Enterprise Message Service as my JMS provider. After a bit of reconfiguring the examples to use the Tibco JAR (Java Archive) files, everything worked without a hitch.
For a product that is a dot-zero release and less than six months old, WSO2 ESB works remarkably well. A few things are missing that might make some enterprise customers wait for future releases -- primarily deployment options. The biggest limitation is a lack of good high-availability options, which is a bit odd considering the application server offered by WSO2, WSAS, supports clustering and high availability. There are ways of achieving high availability with Version 1.0, but clearly this release is focused on messaging functionality, not on meeting mission-critical deployment requirements.
Version 1.5 of the WSO2 ESB is only a couple of weeks away at the time of this writing, and it promises the capability of deploying into J2EE containers via existing container transports, as well as clustered deployment into the WSAS (Web Services Application Server). In addition to expanded deployment options, Version 1.5 promises file-based transports via Apache VFS (Virtual File System), message splitting and aggregation, XQuery transformations, database lookups, and more.
A work in progress
An ESB is often the entry point along the road toward SOA adoption. A service bus makes it easy to begin sharing services among applications with little development effort and minimal impact on existing infrastructure.
The WSO2 ESB is limited to organizations basing their messaging on XML. It's also worth noting that, unlike commercial SOA suites from the likes of BEA, Cape Clear, Oracle, Progress Sonic, and Tibco, which typically package a full-fledged development environment, a BPEL orchestration engine, plug-ins and adapters to enterprise applications, and other bells and whistles with their ESBs, WSO2 strictly provides the software backbone to route and transform XML messages.
But with its focus on fast, scalable, and reliable message mediation, and its support for Web service standards, this ESB would be well suited to organizations with high transaction volumes, such as banks and financial institutions. If your organization has adopted a CIM (Common Information Model), then the WSO2 ESB would fit in perfectly.
The biggest factor hindering its acceptance now is the lack of deployment options for organizations requiring highly available solutions. If your organization is ready to take a "roll your own" approach to HA, or is doing so now, then WSO2 is ready to be considered as a content-based router (CBR) or XML appliance. A number of XML appliances on the market tout their hardware acceleration for speedy XML processing, but if the numbers are to be believed, WSO2 ESB can provide nearly equal performance at a fraction of the cost.
Organizations with broader requirements for an ESB should consider WSO2 for non-critical applications until a HA strategy is rolled out by the vendor. Development of the product is active and proceeding quickly; if progress continues at the current pace, a few more releases would make WSO2 worthy of consideration in most enterprise-level ESB deployments.