SOA Open Source stacks


Dave Linthicum wrote a post called Open Source SOA provides some major advantages. In his post Dave stated:

When it comes to SOA, I think open source provides two major advantages:

  • First, it’s typically much less expensive than the tools and the technology that are proprietary.
  • Second, they are typically much more simplistic and easier to understand and use.

To the second point, simplicity. The open source SOA vendors seem to take a much more rudimentary approach to SOA, and their tools seem to be much easier to understand and, in some cases, use. While some people want complex, powerful tools, the reality is that most SOAs don’t need them. If you’re honest with the requirements of the project, you’ll see that good enough is, well, good enough.

Great points. I would also add another clear advantage which I learned the hard way. On a previous enterprise wide SOA initiative, I drank the cool-aid that the vendor stack was an integrated stack and was simpler to deploy and manage over a stack of a mix of vendors. What I found out is that the mega vendors (IBM, Oracle, etc.) have bought so many pure play tools (rules engines, BPMs tools, data services and MDM tools, governance tools, etc.) that the smooth integration ends when the Power Point decks are closed. In reality, the mega vendor stacks are a hodge podge of rushed acquisition and integration efforts.The important thing, is that the underlying architecture of each tool within the stack are completely different and there are very few people (if any) within the organization who understands the complete stack. In fact, we were dealing with two very different organizations when dealing with support and they were not in sync. Eventually the entire company was consumed by another mega vendor (you can probably guess which acquisition this was) and the whole product roadmap was turned upside down.

Now let’s look at some of the well established open source stack vendors like WSO2, MuleSource, and RedHat. These vendors do not suffer from acquisition madness and chaos. If fact, they are all built on a consistent architecture and do offer smooth integration between the various layers of the stack. Do they have all of the features of the commercial products? No. Do they have enough features for most SOA initiatives. Definitely. MikeKavis wrote a post on CIO.com called Tight Budgets? Try open source SOA. Here is a quick summary of the advantages he discussed:

  1. Try before you buy
  2. Lower cost of entry
  3. Cost effective support
  4. Core competency
  5. For the people by the people

So what open source options do I have, you might ask? The following picture shows the open source tools that some people prefer for their new SOA initiative. There are using a combination of WSO2, Intalio, Drools, Liferay, and PushToTest.

This is just one example of many. You can mix and match tools from different open source communities or you could standardize on one community. Here is an example of Red Hat’s jBoss SOA stack.

And MuleSource has a well known suite of tools as well.

Many organizations are still not very comfortable with open source for mission critical initiatives. There is a debunk for many of the open source myths in the past (here, here, and here).

If there ever was a time to embrace open source, the time is now in this harsh economy. As commercial SOA vendors continue to get gobbled up by the mega vendors, it is time to seriously consider alternatives.

The above schematics and the first place to step on (context) for writing this post are from  Mike Kavis . Also I would like to thank him for using his comments and graphs (although their are not his - Please refer to Mule, JBoss and WSO2 sites for these and extended info for these tools).

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