JBoss Inc is announcing the addition of business rules and BPEL orchestration to its open source product mix, at its European user conference in Barcelona this week.
In so doing, JBoss is adding Drools, an open source business rules engine with a rather unfortunate name, to its JEMS Java application server offering.
JBoss is also bulking up its JBPM process management offerings with BPEL support and new task management capabilities. (Business Process Execution Language is the ratified standard for orchestrating web services.)
The result is that JBPM, which comes as part of the JEMS suite or standalone, now supports automated and human workflows.
In turn, JBoss has recruited Drools project lead, Mark Proctor. The move is similar to its sponsorship of Hibernate, the object/relational mapping alternative to Enterprise Java Beans, which JBoss announced roughly a year ago.
With the addition of business rules, Connelly claims that JBoss is the only pure open SOA platform offering. However, pure play SOA is not synonymous with complete, as JBoss won’t have a web services messaging product until Q1 of 2006 at the earliest, and an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) sometime after that.
As for process management, JBoss claims its version is cheaper and simpler than BPM pure plays like Fuego, which are traditional commercial software products.
We’re targeting an un-served market, he claims, adding, Most BPM software is expensive. By contrast, with the JBoss model, you only pay for support, and get the software license gratis.
The business rules market has been dominated by two players, Ilog and Blaze. Of the two, Ilog’s engine is the most similar, as both use a Rete algorithm that optimizes rules processing, testing only for unique conditions not shared by other rules.
By contrast, Java rules, a proposed specification that has been stalled in the Java Community Process (JCP) for three years, is far more cumbersome, requiring that all conditions be evaluated with every instance.
Coincidentally, while Drools is written in Java, it could also run on .NET, a fact that won’t hurt JBoss’s recently announced memo of understanding with Microsoft.
Connelly believes that Drools will give JBoss another foot in the door with users of Hibernate that are currently using WebLogic or WebSphere as their core middle tier.
He claims that there has been much customer demand for the business rules piece, but is not making any predictions as to Drools uptake among the JBoss installed base.