RealTime IT News

Red Hat's JBoss Leaps Into Business Rules

Running a full Java middleware stack in a production environment is often about more than just having an application server. Red Hat's JBoss division today announced a new solution for managing the business rules that are needed as part of a full middleware stack.

JBoss Enterprise Business Rules Management System (BRMS) 5.0, is an open source rules system that enables business policy to be created, managed and deployed. While the new solution is the first official BRMS release from JBoss, it builds on the JBoss Rules Engine, which is currently at its 4.3 release.

For Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the new solution helps it broaden its open source middleware portfolio and could well bring it into more direct competition against middleware stacks from IBM and Oracle.

"JBoss made its mark by having an open source JavaEE middleware server, but what we've been doing over the last few years is we've expanded the strategy," Craig Muzilla, vice president of Red Hat's middleware business unit, told InternetNews.com. "The app server is a great foundation, but it's just the beginning for companies that are looking to build out. So we've been adding the pieces that add to our portfolio, so we can be an open source alternative to some of the proprietary stacks."

Muzilla explained that the JBoss Rules Engine has been expanded in the new BRMS 5.0 solutions to make it into a full platform offering. The core technology is based on the open source Drools project.

"BRMS beyond just the core rules engine provides tooling and a user interface for designing and managing rules and a repository for managing all the metadata associated with the rules," Muzilla said. "The idea for have a rules engine is to separate how a business analyst or even an end user manages rules in their environments. It makes it easier to change rules on the fly for say insurance claims processing or for a trading system. Users can establish rules and they don't have to dig into the code to do that."

Muzilla said that existing JBoss 4.3 users could migrate their rules into the new platform, so rules will not need to be re-written.

Competitive parity?

"BRMS does put us in competition with vendors like Oracle and IBM that have a full middleware stack, and this puts us in that space," Muzilla said. "So if someone is looking for an open source alternative to those vendors than we have a lot of the major buildings blocks."

IBM bought rules vendor Ilog last year, which Muzilla specifically described as being a leader in the space. Though Muzilla sees JBoss as a competitive alternative, he admitted that JBoss does not have complete feature parity with Oracle or IBM.

"The areas where we have intent for additional investment in the next 18 months are in the portal, SOA, and in more integration related to Business Process Management (BPM)," Muzilla said. "If you look at Oracle or IBM, we don't have some of their capabilities, but our capabilities are expanding as we speak."