LINUXWORLD - JBoss enhances middleware line

JBoss on Monday will bolster its open source middleware stack with the release of a JBoss-branded version of a formerly commercial transaction server. The company will also unveil a new business process management software and a rules engine.

The announcements are being made at the LinuxWorld conference in Boston.

Products being made available for download as part of the JBoss Enterprise Middleware Suite (JEMS) include JBoss Transactions 4.2, JBoss Rules 3.0, and JBoss jBPM 3.1 (Business Process Management).

JBoss Transactions 4.2 is the re-branded Arjuna TS (Transaction Service) transaction management software acquired last year from Hewlett-Packard and Arjuna Technologies.

"The news there is basically enterprise-class distributed transaction management" in the open source arena, said Shaun Connolly, vice president of product management at JBoss. The company looks to compete with offerings such as BEA Systems' Tuxedo.

JBoss Rules 3.0 is JBoss' implementation of the Drools open source business rules engine, which is being moved from codehaus.org to JBoss.org. The software handles complex rules and decision criteria for application.

"It basically enables people to separate very complex decision criteria outside of the code," Connolly said. An example of complex decision criteria could be an airline running a special promotion for clients flying 20,000 miles in a year, he said.

Version 3.0 features increased scalability and is more enterprise-class, Connolly said. Also featured is the JBoss Rules Workbench for visual development of rules.

Version 3.1 of jBPM, JBoss's business process management workflow middleware, features an updated visual designer with drag-and-drop capabilities. "It provides everything that business process designers and folks like that would look for when designing their processes," Connolly said.

JBPM Visual Designer plugs into the JBoss Eclipse IDE.

The new version of jBPM also features tighter integration with the JBoss Seam framework for building applications. Seam automates business process management.

JBoss's new middleware can work with or without the core JBoss application server, which can supplement the offerings with functions such as clustering support. The three products are available free in an unsupported form. Annual subscriptions including support start at about US$7,500 for JBoss Rules or jBPM.

JBoss is gaining traction in middleware but lacks experience, said Michael Goulde, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

"They are being used for an increasingly broad set of applications, but they haven't reached the top of the pyramid yet," Goulde said in an e-mail. "It takes new platforms five to 10 years of increasingly mission-critical application experience before customers will entrust their transaction systems to the new technology. There is no reason to expect that JBoss would follow a different path."

JBoss has been successful with its support-based business model, Connolly said. "We [more than] doubled our business year over year," in 2005, he said. Connolly would not reveal the company's earnings.

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