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JBoss salivates over Drools

Open-source software maker will add a business rules engine, at the request of customers.

BARCELONA, Spain--JBoss announced Tuesday that it will soon add a business rules engine, known as Drools, to its open-source software stack.

Marc Fleury, founder and chief executive of JBoss, said in his keynote speech at JBoss World in Barcelona that his company decided to work with Drools after repeated customers requests.

Fleury claimed that Drools is a "very mature project" that is already used by a number of large companies, including Japanese car manufacturer Toyota and French bank Societe Generale. JBoss has hired the founder and lead developer of Drools and will start offering product support and services in the first quarter of 2006.

Drools is a rules engine implementation based on the Rete pattern-matching algorithm. The Drools team has adapted the algorithm so it can be used with object-oriented programming languages such as Java, Python and Groovy.

The Drools product was referred to as the "JBoss Rules Engine" on a slide in Fleury's keynote presentation, but he said JBoss may keep the product's original name. "I'm not sure we'll rebrand--I like the Drools name," he said.

Drools is the latest external project that JBoss has added to its open-source stack, officially known as the JBoss Enterprise Middleware System (JEMS). Previous open-source projects added to JEMS have included the Web server Apache, the persistence framework Hibernate and the open-source workflow engine JBPM.

Sacha Labourey, JBoss' European general manager, told ZDNet UK on Monday that the company may eventually move beyond middleware. "As our focus becomes wider we will provide value in other domains than strictly middleware," he said. "But we still have a lot to do in the pure middleware space, such as improved integration and reporting."

JBoss also released a new version of its workflow engine on Tuesday. JBPM 3.0 features a new pluggable architecture, simplified persistence and extended task management.

Ingrid Marson reported for uk.Builder.com in Barcelona.