Wednesday, April 21, 2010

OpenESB under Oracle

It's been a few months since Oracle acquired Sun. At the time there were a lot of questions about what Oracle would do with OpenESB. On Feb 15, I posted a plan to the users mailing list. What was the plan? And how is the plan coming together? How is OpenESB doing a few months after the acquisition? What will the future hold for OpenESB?

First, let's try to understand Oracle's perspective. Oracle already has an integration product: the SOA Suite. Through the BEA acquisition it got another one, and through the Sun acquisition it got yet two more: CAPS and OpenESB. Of course there's no sense in keeping high levels of investments in all these products; it makes much more sense to focus on one product. What is this strategic product? Oracle is very clear about that: Oracle's strategic SOA middleware platform is the Oracle SOA Suite. Consequently, Oracle has reduced the level of investment in OpenESB.

That was the bad news. Now for the good news. Oracle could have just pulled out from OpenESB and let it fall into a black hole. Or worse, it could have taken the site down, removed the downloads, or put other obstacles in place. It did not. It did quite the contrary.

Although Sun was the main sponsor behind OpenESB, Oracle recognized that a lot of  people made investments into OpenESB, either in the community or into their own company by using OpenESB, and with a feeling of responsibility and fairness, Oracle decided to help the community to find a way to stand on its own, so that all these investments would bear fruit for as long a time as possible.

Did you invest in OpenESB? Let's look at what will change for you depending on the kind of investment you made.

What will change for you

What will change for you if you bought GlassFish ESB support? Nothing will change: you are still fully supported. The same Sun SOA Support department is still available to help on issues. Should patches be created to address issues, the full Sun SOA Sustaining department is still there to create patches.

Are you using GlassFish ESB but did not buy support? Unlike Sun, Oracle is no longer trying to sell GlassFish ESB licenses to new customers. Instead, you may rely on community support, or commercial support provided by one of the OpenESB community partners. The user mailing list is nowadays less frequented by Sun/Oracle engineers, but other community members have stepped up and are keeping the mailing list responsive. More about that below.

Are you investing in OpenESB by contributing code or other artifacts, or are considering to do so? You will find that it has become easier to contribute. I've put together a new governance document that gives greater freedom to community contributors. Oracle can still exert influence, but that is intended to keep the peace in the community should that be necessary. Overall, you will find it easier to propose and implement new changes, to commit code, and last but not least, to influence the roadmap. This brings us to the future of OpenESB.

The future of OpenESB

The future of OpenESB revolves around OpenESB becoming an open source community that can stand on its own, i.e. without Sun or Oracle as the single major sponsor. That transformation will of course not happen overnight, and Oracle is committed to help with this transformation. For instance, Oracle will do periodic builds and post these on the downloads site. Another commitment is that Oracle will merge patches that it makes for customers, back into the open source repository.

What did Oracle do so far? Next to the governance document I already mentioned, the sources of GlassFish ESB v2.2 can now be found in the open source repository. The HL7 BC and the WLM SE are also back in the open source repository, and the binaries can be downloaded from the downloads page. The process of an automatic periodic build has incurred some delays due to technical issues, but is well on its way.

OpenESB today

How is OpenESB doing today? Let's look at the users mailing list. From the Users mailing list on Markmail, it can be seen that the list activity has declined a bit, but is not much below the activity of that of a year ago.


What we also can learn from Markmail is that community members who are not on the Oracle payroll are stepping up. For example, here are the most active posters for March:


Another metric that we can look at is the number of users. In GlassFish ESB v2.1 we introduced a feature in which NetBeans checks for updates upon startup. By looking at the traffic to the updates-server, we can estimate how many users there are of GlassFish ESB. I defined the number of users as the number of NetBeans installations that ping the server at least three times in a time window greater than five days. As can be seen, the number of users is going up.


In terms of a roadmap there are no concrete proposals from the community yet, but several members have expressed interest in continuing with Fuji.

More good news: a few new committers have joined the project and are contributing code.

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