Bulking up its Celtix enterprise service bus, Iona Technologies has acquired LogicBlaze, a nine-person open source firm that developed some complementary technology, for an undisclosed sum.
Iona was finding itself incorporating LogicBlaze’s technology into its Celtix open source ESB already. According to Larry Alston, vice president of corporate strategy and product development, the deal was rooted in Iona’s move last year to move its Celtix open source project from ObjectWeb to Apache.
At that time we began to expand the scope of Celtix to incorporate technology form other open source projects, he said.
That meant stretching Celtix to support other lighter-weight containers beyond the J2EE one that it started with. Iona wanted to broaden support to alternative containers such as Spring, which is run by Interface21, and ServiceMix, a project run by LogicBlaze that was hosted by Apache.
For Iona, the quest for lighter-weight containers was a bit personal. We learned a lot from our experience with Orbix, said Alston.
Iona’s Orbix was probably the best-known commercial implementation of CORBA, a component architecture that was one of the first implementations of a services-oriented architecture, before it was so named. While ahead of its time, CORBA suffered from its complexity and significant computing overhead.
More recently, developers have been defecting from J2EE to alternative frameworks like Spring for similar reasons, and this time, Iona wanted to be on the train before it left the station.
Consequently, as Iona began extending Celtix, ServiceMix and ActiveMQ, an open source implementation of JMS (not IBM’s MQSeries) that was also developed by LogicBlaze and hosted at Apache, became part of the list of technologies that Iona wanted to add.
Late last year, Iona released Celtix Enterprise, which added support for ServiceMix and ActiveMQ, plus a grab bag of other open source goodies like the Spring container, Tomcat, and Eclipse-based tooling supporting Java Business Integration.
Consequently, acquisition of LogicBlaze is all about recruiting experts rather than getting technology, which was already available as open source.
The reason we’re excited about getting these people is that they know how to interact with the open source community, Alston said.
LogicBlaze is one of a string of open source entities under the Simula Labs holding company founded by Winston Damarillo, the person who sold GlueCode to IBM (which became WebSphere Application Server Community Edition).
The acquisition of LogicBlaze comes on the heels of last month’s acquisition of C24, which added data transformation to Artix, Iona’s other ESB product, which is not open source.
Consequently, with two ESB product lines, it’s easy to get confused about Iona’s product strategy because, at this point, both products are beginning to evolve away from each other. Artix comes from a different C++ code base that is the successor to Orbix, while Celtix is Java-based. Compared to Celtix, Artix provides native support for legacy environments such as CICS, and security platforms like RACF or Kerberos.
Because the products are so different, Iona doesn’t expect the open source Celtix to cannibalize Artix’s business. We realized a year ago, there’s a whole new business model and revenue stream available to open source that allows us to sell support and special service using Iona technology into new accounts, said Alston.
Of course, Iona is hardly alone is pursuing the open source business. It’s true we have a much broader offering but we’re not competing with JBoss’ app server, said Alston. They have however announced an ESB and JMS offerings, and we now do compete with them on that front much more than before.
In that sense, Iona’s business model with its ESB is similar to what IBM is doing with WebSphere: offering a commercial product and a different open source freebie (of course, IBM is a bit of a larger company than Iona).
The swoop for LogicBlaze comes days after Iona cut its first quarter revenue forecast due to its failure to close two big deals in Asia Pacific and the US worth over $2m. Alston did not discount more acquisitions in the future: We’ll continue to look at opportunities that both accelerate our product roadmap and expand business.