Sun, Others Prep Java Integration Spec


Several vendors led by Sun Microsystems have published a
draft of Java Business Integration (JBI), a blueprint for facilitating Java
software integration based on service-oriented architecture
(SOA).


Also known as Java Specification Request (JSR) 208, JBI is a new container
model for hosting pluggable integration as event-driven services in an SOA,
according to David Chappell, vice president and chief technology evangelist for
Sonic Software and member of the JSR 208 expert group.


The spec is being developed through the Java Community Process (JCP) by more than
22 vendors, including Novell, Oracle and Sonic. Apache, JBoss and IONA joined
Wednesday, and while BEA and IBM had supported JSR 208, both left recently,
according to Chappell.


The goal of the spec is to alleviate the pains associated with the integration
of software from disparate vendors, providing greater portability and code
reuse, both key characteristics of an SOA .


Integration developers will be able fit a JBI-compliant BPEL engine, an
XSLT-based transformation engine or XPath-based routing
services into one container, paring production costs.


At a glance, JBI might look as though it overlaps with functionality from
the BPEL spec, which Microsoft, IBM and BEA Systems spearheaded
along with many of the vendors associated with JBI. Chappell said this is a
misnomer.

“JBI and BPEL are very complementary in that JBI provides a container
environment in which to host a BPEL engine, which will allow that BPEL
engine on to other integration services through an enterprise service bus,”
Chappell told internetnews.com. Sonic specializes in ESBs
, which links applications via XML and Web services
.


While this may be the case, the emphasis on BPEL seems to be the reason
major J2EE software makers IBM and BEA
left the JBI table. IBM spokesman Ronald Favali
confirmed IBM is not supporting JSR 208.


But Chappell said the prospect of standardized integration seems to scare
off some vendors who rely on Java-based application servers and messaging
middleware.


“JSR 208 is looking to do standardized integration just as the J2EE spec
standardized the app server space,” Chappell said. “What that’s going to
lead to is an increased choice for customers and a reduced cost, and IBM,
being one of the entrenched vendors in this space, probably feels threatened
by this trend of standardization of integration components.”


But IBM, considered by some analysts to be a leading standards driver in the
software market, is buckling down on BPEL, which is now being shepherded by standards
group OASIS.

“IBM is focusing efforts for business integration around other specs that
are further along, such as BPEL,” Favali told internetnews.com,
adding that Big Blue remains an active, committed member to the JCP.


ZapThink analysts Ronald Schmelzer and Jason Bloomberg called the news
positive for the Java community, but issued words of caution to the vendors.
Their concern is that because the spec is Java-oriented, it will lock out
others.


“There’s nothing here that enables the development of heterogeneous SOAs
that are deployed on a wide range of infrastructure types, including
Microsoft, mainframe and non-Java environments,” Schmelzer told
internetnews.com. “It might be the foundation for Java-based SOA,
which is great, but that will by definition only serve a part of the market
need.”


Schmelzer also argued the spec will be a tough sell without support from
leading vendors IBM and BEA. “What if IBM and BEA come up with their own
Java-based spec? They’ll need to deal with that,” he said.


Bloomberg said one of the reasons there seems to be so much clash between
Sun and IBM with regard to Java is that IBM now positions itself as the
leading Java software provider, while Sun argues it is still the leader.
This has triggered “some kind of holy war” against the likes of IBM and BEA
in which Sun is trying to “maintain its tenuous hold on Java.”


“There’s clearly a need for both JBI and its metadata-driven approach to
business integration,” Bloomberg told internetnews.com. “Should JBI
become established, it will be the best way to support business
integration metadata approaches, including WS-BPEL and the related output
from the W3C Choreography Working Group on the Java platform.


“However, the political battles among vendors risk sinking JBI before it
gains the traction it needs to be successful,” he said.


While such political battles have been waged frequently during the last few
years, recent events have bridged gaps separating Sun, IBM and Microsoft,
generally considered the prevailing camps in software standards advancement.
Sun, through its settlement with Microsoft, has joined Web Services
standards efforts, such as WS-Notification and WS-Eventing.

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