WS02 upgrades open-source ESB

ESB 1.5 will be bolstered with scheduler, XQuery, and caching, but analyst is not sold on company's approach

Emphasizing SOA deployments, WSO2 will upgrade its open-source ESB (enterprise service bus) next Tuesday with such features as a scheduler and XQuery support.

The Apache-licensed WSO2 ESB 1.5 can run scheduled tasks and offers improvements for caching and performance, the company said. Message augmentation using standard databases is featured, as is support for a POJO (plain old Java object) model.

"It's a very lightweight, high-performance ESB," featuring a graphical management console, said Paul Fremantle, vice president of technical sales at WSO2.

"The main purpose of this [product] is doing simple, fast mediation of XML messages, Web services messages, and non-XML," Fremantle said. The ESB is being used, for example, by a hauling company that deploys it to connect thousands of mobile terminals inside trucks to a logistics management system, he said.

The built-in scheduler in version 1.5, based on the open-source Quartz project, allows for setting up tasks to run at specific times. Users no longer need to write their own code for this. XQuery support in version 1.5 makes it easier to do XML transformations and extract data from XML, Fremantle said.

Another highlight is geared to file formats.

 "One of the things that we've really ramped up in this release is support for existing legacy formats," such as FTP, Zip files, and Jar files, said Fremantle. Users can bridge between Web services, Java Message Service, and file systems, he said.

A POJO Command capability makes it simpler to write ESB add-ins without having to understand either the ESB programming model or message formats. "Basically, it makes for a cleaner programming model," Fremantle said.

Version 1.5 is based on the 1.1 release of the Apache Synapse service management integration broker. But an industry analyst saw Apache ServiceMix as the better choice for an ESB.

"We see Apache ServiceMix being a more appropriate choice for conventional ESB-type of functionality," said Michael Goulde, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "We see Apache Synapse as providing more of a mediation framework for XML messages and Web services. WS02 takes a very strong position on Web services as being the path to SOA. Not everyone agrees with this approach, and those who don't look more at ServiceMix as the ESB of choice."

Another analyst liked the product's standards support but questioned whether the ESB designation was proper.

"What's most significant about the WSO2 ESB is that it is a lightweight, standards-based, open-source service intermediary that is precisely that and nothing more. In other words, its standards support is second to none, and they have concentrated its capabilities on building its performance as a content-based router and, in general, full-featured service intermediary," said Jason Bloomberg, managing partner at ZapThink.

"What it doesn't have, however, is a legacy of traditional middleware. It's not an application server or a message bus or an EAI platform. So in many ways, it's ESB moniker is a bit of a misnomer as its really a service intermediary without all the baggage that commercial ESB products bring to the table."

Also added in version 1.5 is support for the CSV (comma separated values) data format. "You can transition it to XML, and you can extract data," Fremantle said.

Service caching in version 1.5 provides the ability to cache responses from services and reply to further requests of the same type to reduce the load on back-end services, WSO2 said. This can protect against denial of service attacks and improves scalability.

DBReport and DBLookup mediators in version 1.5 allow the ESB to augment messages with information stored in a database. Message-splitting, meanwhile, enables large or composite applications to be processed in parallel.

Improved logging and tracing makes it easier to support service-level logs, while message-tracing lets administrators track a particular mediation path for troubleshooting.

Although the product is open source, WSO2 sells support services starting at $2,000 per socket.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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