After just over a year of development, Iona Technologies is to release a couple of polished versions of its Celtix open source enterprise service bus, and announced that it has transferred development from the ObjectWeb consortium to the better-known Apache.
The new versions, dubbed Celtix Advanced Service Engine and Celtix Enterprise, are each built on the original Celtix kernel. Both have also grafted XFire, a high-performance SOAP stack developed originally through Codehaus.
The difference is that Celtix Enterprise, the higher end version, adds a bunch of other open source technologies including Qpid, which implements the Advance Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) specification, and ActiveMQ, JMS 1.1-based messaging middleware developed by LogicBlaze which implements AMQP. And it also includes Eclipse-based tooling supporting JBI (Java Business Integration), Tomcat (for servlets), and Spring (an alternative to Enterprise Java Beans) containers.
And by the way, Iona is also making the AMQP messaging available as a standalone product called Celtix Advanced Messaging. AMQP is a new messaging protocol that is designed to support point-to-point, publish/subscribe (PubSub), and file transfer messaging patterns. And it can interoperate with JMS and Reliable MessageQ protocols.
If you’re confused, you have a right to be. It’s hard to tell from the branding which version of Celtix is richer, and the branding implies that one version is more advanced.
Compounding matters, Celtix isn’t the only ESB in Iona’s product list.
There’s still Artix, which can interoperate with Celtix but comes from a different C++ code base (Celtix follows current Java standards). Artix is the successor to Iona’s CORBA legacy, based on code related to the Orbix CORBA middleware that comprises the bulk of Iona’s installed base. Compared to Celtix, which is strictly Java, JMS, and XML-based, Celtix provides native support for legacy environments such as CICS, and security platforms like RACF or Kerberos.
As a sub $100 million company, there’s the question of whether Iona is large enough to support two different architectures in what will become a commodity market. According to Iona’s Q3 numbers, Artix sales roughly doubled over the same quarter a year ago when it was a brand new product.
Artix will pay for itself, said Larry Alston, vice president for product management and marketing.
The question is whether Celtix will. Obviously too new to show up in the numbers, Celtix is Iona’s play in what’s considered to be the sweet spot of the ESB market. But it’s also the part likely to become the most commoditized, as Celtix is one of a growing array of Java-based, open source ESBs.
And there’s a bit of intrigue to the Celtix open source story as well.
Celtix began as an open source project that resided at ObjectWeb. But Iona found scant visibility there, drawing few if any external contributors to the project. Alston characterized ObjectWeb as a place that provided more control than community.
Roughly a year after the project began, Iona viewed XFire as technology that would make Celtix more competitive because of its superior SOAP processing capability. When the decision was made to merge both the projects, moving to Apache was a logical place to provide a fresh start. And, said Alston, it has a much wider community.
The resulting project, now called Apache CXF, has 33 committers, 14 of which are from outside Iona.
For now, CXF is still in incubation stage at Apache. As for Celtix Enterprise, Celtix Advanced Messaging, and Celtix Advanced Service Engine, they are available now.