When JBoss acquired the Drools project in Oct 2005, I was pondering how to position it within the JEMS suite and in support of SOA. Lot's of interesting thing occured throughout 2006 as we made a lot of progress with JBoss Rules 3.0, the productized version of the Drools project. In particular, one thing that jumps out is the increased interest in business rules engines and how they can help a business perform better. It has become clear the JBoss Rules can increase business agility and responsiveness by building a modular business policy architecture using rules.
I attended the executive session at the Washington DC Business Rules Forum in November 2006. There, several industry leaders including the CIO for Centerpoint Energy, rules architects from other energy companies and a division VP from JP Morgan Chase. Interesting points that were made included the improved productivity by using a rules engine to host business policies for energy allocation and running the energy business at large. One mentioned how they went from 3-4 months response time to regulation change to 2 days! Another mentioned that a rules engine coupled with an event repository (or log) was the key breakthrough to solving their Sarbanes-Oxley challenges. SOX in a BOX, so to speak :-). Indeed, JBoss ESB, coupled with JBoss jBPM and JBoss Rules will solve this problem far more easily and affordably than today's cobbled together multi-vendor solutions. The other interesting thing mentioned was that while the traditional close source rules engines had good capability, they cost way too much and were too "heavy" for many uses within the enterprises. JBoss Rules did not exist during their deployment, but in the future .... Drooling for Jboss Rules :-).
Another area of interest (kind of along the lines of SOX in a BOX) is the use of business rules in an SOA. This is an important area of focus for us at JBoss to bring a leading innovation SOA platform to solve high value business problems. Stay tuned.
There is a lot of interest in JBoss jBPM and JBoss Rules used together in various customer scenarios. See my Enterprise Open Source Journal article which describes how business process (JBoss jBPM) and business rules (JBoss Rules) are being used in some of our customers.
There is community interest around Rules in a .NET environment.
Finally, the JBoss Rules product is attracting partner and competitor interest as there is no open source altnerative. We love our partners and certified partners for JBoss Rules have great opportunities. OTOH, BPM and ESB competitors that are not certified....can they really meet service level agreements on a complex technology as a rules engine? Clearly there is a lot of demand and interest in JBoss Rules!
2007 will see more great things for JBoss Rules....stay tuned.