Open-source projects intertwine for integration

Three projects join forces to create alternative to software-integration products from IBM and others.

Three open-source projects are teaming up to create an alternative to software-integration products from IBM and other heavyweights.

Those involved in talks told CNET News.com that the partnership calls for close technical ties and code sharing among ServiceMix, Apache Synapse and Celtix, which is hosted at France-based consortium ObjectWeb.

The goal of the planned alliance, the sources said, is to create a more cohesive integration offering and attract software developers in the increasingly cluttered field of open source, where new projects seem to appear weekly. Wide adoption of open-source integration products--software that glues together business applications--could open up revenue opportunities for participants in the area of support.

News.context

What's new:
Looking to create more momentum around their integration software, three open-source projects are in talks to share code and provide close interoperability among them, CNET News.com has learned.

Bottom line:
Integration software, which glues together business applications, appears to be following the same open-source path as other software categories, such as databases and application servers.

The winner "is going to be decided by market adoption, which of course doesn't become clear until the software is ready for production use," said Phil Wainewright, founder and publisher of Web services site Looselycoupled.com. "But if these three initiatives are going to join forces, that will help them command more mindshare. The outcome is really going to be determined by who gains the most momentum."

An official announcement that will also involve integration company Iona Technologies and LogicBlaze, an open-source start-up that provides support services for ServiceMix, is planned for September, according to those involved.

The three projects address different aspects of the age-old problem of integration. Corporations spend millions of dollars a year on integration products. Much the way a network router can ship packets of data between different locations, so-called integration brokers transport business documents and transactions from application to application.

For example, a program can pass a customer's online purchase information from an order-entry system to a warehouse or customer-support application. Rather than write custom code to propagate the purchase order information between systems, developers can rely on brokers to handle the connections and provide standardized tools for writing the "glue code."

Though this software plumbing is not visible to most end users, it commands the interest of software developers and IT executives, who need a reliable infrastructure to underpin their business applications, according to analysts.

Standardization, commoditization?
The three open-source efforts vying for more developer attention rely on standard protocols for integration. ServiceMix is server software, based on the Java Business Integration, or JBI, standard, which runs Java programs that collect and process data from different sources. Celtix, a project created by Iona Technologies, serves the same purpose but is designed to support a broad variety of communication protocols and languages. Meanwhile, Synapse is a recently launched project for processing XML documents when they are sent between two applications using the Simple Object Access Protocol, or SOAP.

These three projects are very much in their early stages--ServiceMix is the only one to have released a version 1.0, which it did last week. However, the combination of these products could apply more

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