Visual Orchestration Tool for Service-Based Applications

Will the concept of a visual orchestration system usher in a new wave of services-based applications? That's what Active Endpoints hopes. The Waltham, Mass.-based makers of ActiveVOS have been sounding this message with what approaches messianic fervor for the past eight months. With the recent release of the 6.0 version of the product, industry analysts are listening.

ActiveVOS 6.0 is an all-in-one orchestration and business process management system designed to allow Java developers, business analysts and enterprise architects to automate business processes. What makes the system a standout is its emphasis on collaboration across IT and business boundaries, eBizQ analyst Dennis Byron wrote in his August "BPM in Action" blog. He pointed out the company was an early mover in the commercialization of open source development known for and its contributions to the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) standard. It's also known for developing standards-based products that provide business process management (BPM) functionality.

In June, the company gave attendees of the Red Hat Summit in Boston a peek at the 6.0 version ActiveVOS. Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, described it as a product that "helps elevate SOA investments and developer knowledge to the level of business process outcomes."

"The market clearly needs to better empower enterprises and developers to reap business-level rewards from their IT systems and assets," Gardner said later in a statement, "especially as they examine and invest in services-oriented architecture."

Active Endpoints is considered the inventor of visual orchestration. Its flagship product is designed to allow users to automate, deploy and maintain composite applications and Web services within an SOA with a set of intuitive visual tools for creating services-based applications. It integrates a number of process-orchestration features into a single product, including integrated process modeling; a design, testing, debugging, and deployment environment; reporting and consoling features; and an event processing engine.

AciveVOS 6.0 offers what the company calls a "stark contrast to SOA stack products," which requires the user to assemble "a complicated puzzle from piece parts before any applications can be built," said company CEO Mark Taber. A former IBM-er who worked in Big Blue's SOA Appliance Division before joining the company last year, Tabor sees visual orchestration as the model "companies and Java developers have been waiting for" -- a tool that frees them from building expensive, theoretical application infrastructures so that they can focus on creating services-based applications.

This version comes with a nice feature for Java jocks: It's designed to allow developers to reuse plain old Java objects (POJOs) as native Web services. According to the company, "processes can be thoroughly tested and simulated in ActiveVOS 6.0 even when there are no actual services available during the testing phase." There's also an emphasis in this version on flexible deployment options that allow processes to be versioned and policies dictating what the system should do when a service is unavailable in production to be specified. And because the system's BPEL processes run on bare metal as native XML applications, the company said, "scalability is assured."

It's also worth noting that ActiveVOS 6.0 is 100 percent compliant with all major open standards. Along with BPEL, the company lists several standards with which its product is compliant, including: Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), BPEL4People, and WS-Human Task specifications.

ActiveVOS 6.0 is available now. A free, supported 30-day trial version is available for download here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].