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ChainBuilder ESB Alpha

Bostech has released an alpha version of ChainBuilder, another entry into the crowded ESB market. ChainBuilder ESB consists of both a runtime environment and an IDE. The runtime environment includes an ESB and JBI- compliant service engine and binding components, including components that provide integration capabilities for non-XML/Web services applications. The product also includes a graphical configuration and design time tool that plugs into Eclipse. Bostech claims that while it may not be as robust as BPEL (which will be able to be plugged into our environment), the configuration toolset is very easy to use and will allow for faster deployments for the many instances where BPEL may be "overkill".

InfoQ sat down with Bostech's David Bourke to discuss the release.

David described the differences between ChainBuilder and other open source ESBs such as ServiceMix and Mule:

ChainBuilder ESB is an Open Source Enterprise Service Bus like ServiceMix and Mule. While ServiceMix and Mule have focused primarily on the bus or container, we have put more emphasis on ease of deployment and the development of robust components to be plugged into the bus. As an example, the ServiceMix file binding component allows you to look for a file and treat the entire content as an XML message. The ChainBuilder ESB file binding component allows that funtionality but also allows you to handle non-XML messages, new line terminated messages, check that a file is not in use, archive a file when it is done being read, etc. We also put more importance on supplying service engines that allow non-XML data (X12, fixed, CSV) to be processed.

In David's opinion, JBI is not only an open standard but the best approach to building out an ESB infrastucture:

Compliance with the JBI specification will allow faster deployment of ESBs since components can be developed in parallel by multiple sources. We intend to make use of other JBI-compliant components in our product as they are available. For instance, the alpha version of ChainBuilder ESB released on October 30 includes the ServiceMix JBI-compliant container.

We also inquired about the motivation behind choosing a dual-licensing strategy and the overall business model:

We wanted to contribute to accelerating adoption of JBI because of our enthusiasm for that open standard and its approach to SOA development. Bostech decided to release ChainBuilder ESB with an Open Source license to allow broader availability of a JBI-compliant product. We do, however, have a number of existing partnership and direct customer relationships for our ChainBuilder EAI product. Our current customers base is committed to migrating to the new technology and most of our existing customers want to keep their existing commercial license. Bostech's dual licensing strategy allows for wider accessibility for our technology through the open source license while also allowing users that prefer a commercial license to use the product too. For Open Source licensees who might be interested, a subscription is available that includes training and support.

ChainBuilder is scheduled for general availability in January 2007; the alpha version is available for download at Bostech's web site.

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