Iona Expands Open Source ESB, Moves into SOA Governance

The ESB vendor is moving to a hybrid business model and updating its SOA platform for greater compatibility between open-source and proprietary modules.

December 10, 2007

2 Min Read
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Enterprise Service Bus vendor Iona announced today that it is upgrading its SOA suite, rearchitecting its products around what it calls a hybrid of open and closed source. Previously, it had pursued a strategy that gave customers a choice but meant that the company was competing with itself by offering two separate ESBs: its flagship Artix platform, which grew out of its CORBA products and remains proprietary software; and Fuse, an open-source ESB built on Apache code and originally developed by LogicBlaze, which Iona acquired in July this year.

Iona still offers the two different ESBS, and admits that that it might be cannibalizing some of its own sales. However, the new release integrates the two by providing a common set of add-on modules that can be used with either. At the initial launch there are three of these, covering Data Services, Orchestration and Governance.

The last is particularly notable as it includes a Repository and UDDI

3.0 Registry, relatively new areas for Iona. It first shipped a governance product about six months ago, but the new release adds new versioning and metadata features. This brings Iona into competition with a new set of specialized Governance vendors such as LogicLibrary and Systinet, though Iona positions the product as part of the ESBs rather than a separate offering. Iona continues to partner with AmberPoint for run-time management.

The Fuse ESB is available as a free download, with Iona saying it makes money from consulting, training and support services " essentially the same business model as Linux vendors like Red Hat. However, the add-on modules also give it another potential revenue stream, as all of them are still sold under proprietary licenses. In this respect, Iona's business model is closer to companies like Xen and VirtualIron, who layer their own closed-source software on top of an open-source foundation.This looks like a good strategy for Iona, as base ESB functionality is rapidly being commoditized. The modules let it add value in areas where free software isn't yet available, while the hybrid model ensures that customers can move to open-source at their own pace. However, the hybrid is still incomplete, as Iona still offers many add-on modules that support only Artix, not Fuse. These include security, quality-of-service and connectors for interoperability with Microsoft and mainframes. Iona's long-term plan is to bring all its modules to Fuse, though it says it will continue development of Artix for the foreseeable future, as a shrinking but still substantial group of customers are still reluctant to use open source at all.

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