JBoss Takes On jBPM Project

JBoss, owners of the popular JBoss open source development community,
added another piece to its middleware product portfolio with the addition of
the Java Business Process Management (jBPM) Project, officials announced
Monday.

Tom Baeyens, jBPM founder and lead developer, will continue his work on the
project as a full-time architect and project lead at JBoss from his
home office in Belgium. He said serious discussions with JBoss
officials began a few weeks ago, though the two have been in contact for some
time.

The project’s move under the JBoss umbrella was necessary for the project’s
continued growth, he said.

“The JBoss group has already done this magnificent thing of unfolding business on
top of open source projects,” Baeyens said. “It’s quite a bumpy road to get
there yourself; we were trying to do that, and we were successful. But it is
a bumpy road, and within the JBoss group we think we can do this in a much
more professional way than we were able to do ourselves.”

BPM is another component for enterprise networks built with Web services and
service-oriented architectures in mind: rather than focusing on the
architecture, BPM is designed to monitor business processes when used in
conjunction with an application.

It’s an area that’s expected to gain in popularity with IT managers, as the
complexity of integration among enterprise applications grows. According to
research at IDC, spending in the BPM industry is expected to reach $1
billion by the end of 2004, with a 25 percent compounded annual growth rate.

Commercial vendors have been flocking
to the budding software sector: IBM , BEA Systems , Oracle , webMethods and
Microsoft all have products geared toward BPM as a
component of their overall SOA and Web services strategy, while companies
like Oak Grove Systems and Intalio focus on standalone
BPM applications.

jBPM is one of the more popular open source projects tackling BPM. Others include
Werkflow, OfBiz, PowerFolder, OpenFlow, Open Business Engine and
wftk. Last month, the Apache Software Foundation incubated donated software
from Gluecode under the Agila Project.

With jBPM under its belt, JBoss has another business-centric
application going in middleware. The company has made a name for
itself providing support and consulting services for open source software in
an enterprise setting, sometimes called professional open source. In
addition to its highly popular JBoss application server, the company
supports projects like Tomcat, Nukes and EJB 3.0.

Baeyens said his project’s popularity — jBPM is downloaded 2,000 to 3,000
times a month — comes from its simple programming model, scalability and a
simple but powerful internal engine. He hinted that while the project
caters to developers, it’s inclusion with JBoss will signal more
user-friendly functionality.

“For now, the difference is in target audience; we’re more targeted towards
the developer community,” he said.

Bob Bickel, JBoss vice president of strategy, said jBPM will indeed
offer more in the future, focusing on three areas: native BPEL
support, a visual designer to map out workflows, and expansion
of the process management capabilities. He said an immediate addition to
capabilities would be a tool the company’s developed, which takes a business
process and automatically publishes it as an HTML file.
Future additions include integration with Nukes on JBoss, its open source
content management application.

He said the reason JBoss went with jBPM over the other open source project
was its momentum in the developer community, as well as its ability to
integrate smoothly with other JBoss applications.

“From a technical basis, Tom Baeyens had done a really great job on the
architecture and is very synergistic with where JBoss sees the world moving
to,” he said. “It fits in very, very nicely with some of the broader
integrated stacks that we’ll be coming out with in the future.”

JBoss officials rolled out jBPM 2.0 Monday, with
scalability, testability, build scripts and functionality updates.
Developers can download it here.

Work will continue from three fronts now — at JBoss, through developer
community SourceForge.net and from Baeyens jBPM.org Web site. He noted that
the developers, who normally have close ties with the software they are
donating their efforts to, supported his decision to move the project
under JBoss.

Bickel said the 25 developers on the jBPM Project will remain a vital part
of the development process. Users can expect a faster development roadmap
down the road, with a beta version of jBPM 3.0 by the end of
the year and a final release sometime in the first quarter of 2005.

“The partnership between jBpm and JBoss is fully deserved after Tom Baeyens’
hard work and clear vision of what an open source workflow engine should
be,” said David Benson, a jBPM and JGraph project developer, in an e-mail.
“His strong commitment to community spirit and adherence to open source
principles has earned him the trust of developers worldwide. I’m sure all
developers on the jBpm project, both past and present wish Tom every success
in this exciting new development.”

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