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Open Servicing

Open Servicing

It seems as though as soon as the open source community rallies around a technology, the IT industry starts taking it more seriously - and finds practical application for it. Ironically, although organizations like the concept, despite the maturation of the open source community in a variety of platforms and technologies, adoption of open source products in large organizations is still an uphill battle. The good news is that mainstream vendor products are now based on a combination of open source technologies, and so mature products from the community are finding homes in many corporations.

One of the greatest values provided by open source is the ability to think outside the "standards" box. We have all seen history repeat itself as standards are proposed, modified, argued about, and change ownership. Some get divided, and some merge. In the end, although technology standards are driven by a consortium, the consortiums are primarily representative of a handful of mainstream vendors with large market shares. This is true in the case of platform standards, such as Java, as well as technology standards, such as XML, and the Web service standards that stem from the base of WSDL, SOAP, and UDDI.

Take the evolution of BPEL (Business Process Execution Language), for example. It has changed names form BPEL to BPEL4WS to BPEL, and now WS-BPEL. Along the way, it has had ownership from IBM, Microsoft, BEA, and other vendors with base application server offerings. Now the standard is owned as WS-BPEL by OASIS. Also during the course of its evolution, it has branched out into other standards like BPELJ. Along the way, open source implementations of BPEL have been made available as alternatives to commercial products that tie you to the vendors' offering stacks.

The standards in Web services are becoming unmanageable. The combination of standards bodies and vertical standards for WS-Security, WS-Interoperability, WSM, and so on have made it really confusing for organizations to wade through the mire and develop basic services. As a result, the Web services that are being developed in most organizations are not well thought out, and are on unstable foundations. Besides the complexity of individual specifications, it is not clear how all of these standards will work together to provide a viable technology platform at any point in time. A natural result of this is the incompatibilities between vendor product offerings; often there is a lack of integration between products in a stack offered from the same vendor. Furthermore, on the practical side, it is not clear how Web services that are developed after somehow making standards and products work together with be deployed and managed in a production environment.

This week the Apache Foundation announced a new open source project to address this issue - the Apache Synapse project. Synapse is contributed by WSO2, which is a Web services firm founded by leaders of the Apache Web Service project. And guess where the technology is from? A small island in Asia, south of India, called Sri Lanka. The idea behind Synapse is intended to address the issue of creating something tangible from the quagmire of standards around Web services. Synapse plans to produce a service broker - lightweight and scalable - based on Web services standards. The broker will be developed with contributions from Infravio, Blue Titan, Iona, Sonic Software, and others. Synapse focuses on the implementation of a pure Web services stack, including WS-Policy, WS-Security, WS-ReliableMessaging, and WS-Addressing. Also, Synapse is targeted to enable SOA adoption by combining with other open source components such as Struts, Axis, Spring, and Hibernate. In essence, Synapse is the equivalent of your open source ESB.

More Stories By Ajit Sagar

Ajit Sagar is Associate VP, Digital Transformation Practice at Infosys Limited. A seasoned IT executive with 20+ years experience across various facts of the industry including consulting, business development, architecture and design he is architecture consulting and delivery lead for Infosys's Digital Transformation practice. He was also the Founding Editor of XML Journal and Chief Editor of Java Developer's Journal.

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