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Red Hat's Pierre Fricke on JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform 5.1 Release

Red Hat launched JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform 5.1 last week, which gave me an excuse to chat with Pierre Fricke. The director of the company's JBoss division's product line is always a great, nuts-and-bolts interview.

"If I had to summarize this announcement in one line, I'd say, 'Turn the data you have into the information you need,'" Fricke said, beating me to my opening question. (I guess the marketing guys eventually get to everybody.)

The big news in this release is a superset of the SOA platform: the JBoss Enterprise Data Services Platform (5.1). This an open source data virtualization and integration platform that includes some tools for creating data services out of multiple data stores with different formats. It also allows you to present information to applications and business processes in an easy-to-use service.

"Data integration and utilization of data has sort of been an orphan in the SOA discussion over the last decade," Fricke said. "But it's become a real hot topic in the last year or two. This basically brings this whole notion of data virtualization and integration into the data services platform."

Virtually all organizations have many data sets in many different formats. An org could have information on one customer, for example, in the CRM app data stores, in financial data bases, and customer support flat files. So it become difficult to establish a whole view of that customer, and if you hard code to all those data sources, management down the road is a bit of a nightmare.

Enter the Data Services Platform, which is an extension of what is effectively Red Hat's next-gen ESB.

"This is how we've solved this problem," Fricke says. "The Data Services Platform comes with tools in JBoss Developer Studio that enable you to create a virtualized view of the data you need in the specific application, or business processes, or set of applications. And you're drawing from your existing data sources, so you can leave the data in place; you don't have to make replicated copies and create data marts and all that kind of stuff, which is very expensive. You just leave the data in place and do rewrite transactionally, maintaining the integrity of the data and everything -- through the Data Services Platform -- leveraging that data in an SOA, business processes, and applications through the data virtualization engine."

The 5.1 version of the JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform itself comes with an Apache CXF Web services stack; the latest version of the JBoss Developer Studio IDE (4.0), which includes updated SOA tooling for ESB and data virtualization; a technology preview of WS-BPEL; a technology preview of Apache Camel Gateway; and updated certifications for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, Windows 2008, IBM, and JDK, among others.

The two technology previews are interesting. WS-BPEL (Web Services Business Process Execution Language) is a standard executable language from OASIS that's used for specifying interactions with Web services, both executable and abstract processes. 

Apache Camel is a popular enterprise integration pattern framework. The open source framework is based on the patterns identified in Enterprise Integration Patterns: Designing, Building, and Deploying Messaging Solutions (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2003), written by Google software engineer Gregor Hohpe and IBM IT specialist Bobby Woolf. (A must read.)

"BPEL is a standards-based service-orchestration engine and set of editor tools that help to automate a process flow," Fricke says. "The Camel Gateway brings Apache Camel to our enterprise customers. It's a very popular integration framework that makes integration development easy by providing patterns and adapters to start from. Both of these technology previews extend the ESB. "We're providing an early view of the code, which people can take a look at, use in development, to attract early adopters to give us feedback."

The Apache CXF Web services stack is also kind of a big deal in this release, Fricke pointed out. The stack has attracted a popular community and enjoys broad support. Red Hat has joined that community, too.

"You could say that our whole Web services story has become very simple," Fricke added. "It's simple to leverage Web services within the ESB. Anyone that struggles with leveraging the data they have, and faces a bunch of custom work to make the data fit their application, this is the tool for them."

Posted by John K. Waters on March 15, 2011