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Iona to Ignite SOA Trail in Eclipse

One of the pioneering companies of the enterprise service bus (ESB) is looking to forge another path in distributed computing.

Iona Technologies said that it is joining the Eclipse Foundation as a strategic member to spearhead an open source tooling program for service-oriented architecture (SOA) . Sybase and ObjectWeb will assist Iona in managing the project.

SOAs are distributed computing models that are increasingly moving past a hype stage created by the allure of Web services , which facilitate application-to-application communication.

Carl Trieloff said in an interview the SOA Tooling Project will use Iona's current Eclipse-based Artix tooling as a baseline for the project, which will provide a set of graphical tools for either programmers who need to build new services or architects tasked with assembling SOAs.

Programmers using products from different vendors will be able to use STP as a development platform. To harp on the openness inherent in Eclipse projects, SOA tools will be created independent of vendor implementations, technology type, or even a specific open source community.

Trieloff said one of the reasons Iona decided to fire up this project is that it believes SOA tools should be made easier for programmers to use.

"Challenges of application development should be based on problem domain, not the complexity of the tools SOA architectures are increasingly multi-vendor solutions," he said. "SOA is simple in principle but the tooling doesn't cover up some of the required implementation."

He also said the trend is moving away from proprietary, server-centric integration and infrastructure towards standards-based, open architectures, noting that 50 percent to 60 percent of Java developers use Eclipse. The Eclipse platform boasts more than 50 million downloads.

Large rivals like IBM, Microsoft, BEA Systems and Sun Microsystems are already offering SOA tools in the market to garner interest in their middleware platforms. However, those must be licensed for fees like any other piece of proprietary software.

While those vendors embrace open source in other areas, Iona is taking a different approach, using the open source pipeline to further drive interest in its Artix and Celtix ESBs with regard to SOAs.

"Iona, too, was building commercial SOA tools for our products and we made the decision that it is better to have all of that technology open sourced," Trieloff said. "I think you will see larger vendors get involved."

He declined to say who Iona is in talks with.

The executive, who will become a chairperson on the Eclipse board, a reward for investing the money and resources to become a strategic member at Eclipse, said Iona expects to submit initial code for the project before the new year.

Acceptance of the SOA Tooling Project, along with a marriage of the Celtix ESB and STP, is expected in the first half of 2006.