WS02 offers open source app server sans J2EE stack

WS02 is offering an open source application server which, unlike that of its rivals, is not based on a J2EE stack but instead focuses on XML and Web services.

Geared for SOA deployments, the WS02 Tungsten application server supports core WS-* (pronounced "ws star") specifications for Web services as well as REST (Representational State Transfer). Tungsten is built on the Apache Axis2 Web services foundation, which WSO2 helped develop.

"Basically, our focus is building an application server that lets you host business logic and the way that you expose business logic to the world is through Web services and XML interfaces," said Sanjiva Weerawarana, chairman and CEO of WSO2. While at IBM, Weerawarana led that company's WS-* initiatives and also co-authored Web services technologies such as WSDL, BPEL (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services), and Apache SOAP.

"There's a significant disconnect between what the J2EE stack wants and what the Web services stack wants," Weerawarana said.

A J2EE stack features technologies such as JAX (Java API for XML) and JMS (Java Message Service). "It's a completed, powerful stack, but when you're doing Web services, that stack is not in sync with what the Web services technologies need," Weerawarana said.

Ironically, the initial version of Tungsten, available now, is for Java programmers. Releases planned for C and PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor language developers are due in August. Tungsten features an AJAX-based (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) administrative console that uses RSS to send alerts.

With Tungsten, WSO2 is offering a different twist on application servers, an analyst concurred.

"What WSO2 is doing with their non-J2EE app server is new, in that it's built from the ground up to support Web services implementations. J2EE comes with a lot of baggage from the pre-SOA days, since it's fundamentally based on the code portability value proposition of Java," which is write-once, run-anywhere, said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink, in an e-mail.

"SOA, however, is based on services, which are 'write once, access anywhere'," Blooomberg said.

WSO2, which has offices in Sri Lanka, Boston and the United Kingdom, plans to offer an open source middleware platform. The company plans to release an enterprise service bus named Titanium in the third quarter of this year and a server-side mashup and service composition platform called Tellerium in the second quarter of 2007.

Unlike other ESBs, Titanium will not be a rebranded JMS platform, Weerawarana said. It will mediate XML and MTOM (Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism) communications.

Tungsten is available via an Apache license, which will be the case with all WSO2 products. The company will sell support services for Tungsten, with prices starting at US$3,000 for one- to two-server deployment for one year.

WS02 features executives formerly with companies such as Computer Associates and IBM. The name, WSO2, means Web services oxygen and is intended to mean that the company is providing a breath of fresh air to Web services.

WSO2 also offers a developer portal for Web service developers, called WSO2 Oxygen Tank. (http://www.wso2.net/)

Weerawarana is the founder and a former chairman of the Lanka Software Foundation (http://www.opensource.lk/), which was formed to entice Sri Lankan developers to contribute to open source projects.

"Right now, Sri Lanka is the largest contributor to Apache from outside the U.S. and western Europe," Weerawarana said.

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