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2007

 

Alfresco recently released some information about its enterprise content management system user base. This study was picked up in several articles including eWeek. It shows a strong Red Hat presence in these Alfresco enterprise deployments and user base.

 

One of the most interesting tidbits of news was the fact that JBoss Portal had a strong lead in deployments using a Portal with 51% share. Liferay was a distant second at 32% and closed source Portals could only garner 17% share collectively! Looks like another market moving to open source!

 

I represented Red Hat at the US version of the Accenture conference that Mark Little attended in Europe and blogged about. As Mark described, it was a good conference and basically the same questions and discussion took place. On the vendor panel was IBM, BEA, Red Hat, Microsoft, Sun and Oracle in that seating order. However, there were a couple of notable differences.

 

For one, while I extolled the importance of vendor-driven standards to solve complex business problems (and reiterated Red Hat's participation in these activities), I also mentioned that I continue to be amazed at how super star developers create a framework such as Hibernate, jBPM, Drools, Spring, or Seam to solve a programming problem in a simple way that ends up being used by large numbers of developers creating a defacto standard. This got a rise out of at least one of the commercial vendors who went on to say something like this after describing their leadership driving standards - "...and these open source communities are proliferating creating way too many frameworks and projects. Like JBoss Seam. Why don't we just fix JSF through the vendor process? Some of these open source projects become defacto standards! I hate to say this, but we need to stifle creativity in the open source community and control these standards so they evolve in a more orderly way...". Wow! I fell out of my chair...and grabbed the mike :-)

 

After answering the question about open source evolution, I went on to say something like..."While the vendor driven standards process is important, that process gave us J2EE entity beans and the open source community gave us Hibernate. I need say nothing further!".

 

Oh, and how did I answer "How do I see oen source (OSS) evolving"? Basically, OSS is bringing a great deal of energy and creativity solving developer and business computing problems. OSS is expanding the market by making software more affordable and higher quality. As OSS SOA middleware evolves and becomes more feature rich, it is putting pressure on the commercial vendors in the manner described in the "Innovator's Dilemma" where commercial software continues to become more complex and overrshoots more and more of the market with open source taking a greater share over the next decade.

 

It was a fun panel :-) .

 

 

 

Not long ago, business rules engines were one of the bastions of pure academic computer science with only a niche role in serving business. As applied artificial intelligence, rules engines are the domain of PhD academics and were used in some advanced simulations, etc... No more. With the rise of some of the pioneering vendors and now a leading open source contender, JBoss Rules, rules engines are being embedded in web applications as well as providing services in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and to business processes automated with business process management (BPM).

 

JBoss Rules is the Red Hat product that combines the Drools project with a JBoss subscription. JBoss Rules 3.X was the first version offered by Red Hat's JBoss division starting in early 2006 and was focused on developers using a rules engine embedded in their web or enterprise application. Now, with JBoss Rules 4.0, we see open source rules moving into larger business process roles with its business analyst-friendly business rules management system (technology preview) and more rules tools advancements such as the guided editor. JBoss Rules 4.0 lays the foundation for bringing rules-based solutions into Simple, Open and Affordable SOA deployments and business process workflows.

 

JBoss Rules 4.0 adds numerous capabilities including:

  • Fast – JBoss Rules 4.0 is faster and leaner than its predecessor. As with any technology performance metric, "your mileage will vary" depending on use case, however, our internal benchmarks have shown that key tests have gone from being measured in minutes to seconds.
  • Expressive - JBoss Rules 4.0 introduces a dramatically more expressive and powerful declarative business action scripting language. Users will find that it is more concise as well as more readable.
  • Tools - Introducing the Guided Rules Editor: Point & click your way to advanced declarative business rules that automatically bind to enterprise data by simply answering basic menu prompts via drop-down lists. No coding (or coders) required.
  • Ruleflow - Part of the new Eclipse-based IDE for JBoss Rules 4.0, Ruleflow is a visual modeling technology to declaratively model execution paths of related rules. It also allows for simultaneous flows within a single working memory and essentially organizes rule execution along the requirements governing a typical business process. Example: one rule flow could be acquiring stock ticker information while another flow is performing the logic associated with which stocks to purchase or sell.
  • Multi-application support: Improved support for stateful and stateless processing as well as overall thread safety helps make Drools even easier to embed within Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (EE) and service-oriented business applications.
  • Hibernate Ready - JBoss Rules 4.0 allows for local reasoning over collections of facts that are pulled directly from Hibernate-driven RDBMS queries. Your existing Hibernate components can be used directly in the rules engine and this reduces the amount of code you need to create substantially.
  • Business Rules Management System (Technology Preview) - The new BRMS available with JBoss Rules 4.0 is a web-based, AJAX-enhanced, collaborative rule authoring, versioning and management system. Non-programming IT workers can now interactively author and/or modify rules that are automatically versioned. Administrators now have full life cycle control over which rules are in QA, staging, production, etc.

 

These additions have been created working with the Drools project user and developer community and shows the power and speed that open source development brings to bear on a high value middleware segment such as rules engines. We are excited about the progress of JBoss Rules and the expanded opportunities it offers for developers and business process professionals around the world!

 

Check the latest Drools release. Learn more about Red Hat's JBoss Rules product and here which includes the Drools project and the JBoss Subscription. We expect JBoss Rules 4.0 to be finalized by July 20th.

 

JBoss Portal 2.6 builds on the JBoss open source tradition of collaboration with our users, customers and developer community simplifying user interaction and participation in service-oriented-architecture-enabled business processes. JBoss Portal continues to see expanding deployment in customer service and intranet portal deployments where a simpler, more open and affordable platform is required. The telecommunications, financial services, government and other industries see the benefits of using open source software to add value to their SOA deployments by delivering to human business process participants a personalized experience improving their productivity doing their jobs.

 

The main themes of JBoss Portal 2.6 community developed enhancements include the following:

  • Advanced Personalization – JBoss Portal has had user personalization of individual portlets since the JBoss Portal 2.0. In JBoss Portal 2.6, We've improved the granularity of personalization and ability to further personalize the user experience. Personal user dashboards bring personalized themes, layouts and portlet content increasing the productivity of specific roles and people within a business process or collaboration effort. Further enhancements include user created user interfaces, drag and drop portlets and more granular controlled access at the portlet level.
  • Usability Improvements – The open source community including customers provided outstanding input to improve the usability of JBoss Portal which, as with all software, is an ongoing development. The open source difference means that this happens in a transparent manner with JBoss Portal. Improvements include portal and user administration as well as content management. Portlets may be managed overall or for individual instances including default definition. User administration simplifies user creation, provides a list based view and includes user search. Basic content management provided out of the box now includes action-based management within a familiar directory view.
  • Content Management System (CMS) Workflow – JBoss jBPM provides content management approval workflow in a configurable process that enables or disables this role-based approval capability.
  • Additional Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) Support – WSRP support offers expanded functionality beyond the basic producer and consumer profiles. We've added implicit cloning capability to both the producer and consumer. The advanced WSRP profiles are also supported in JBoss Portal 2.6.
  • Identity – Until JBoss 2.6 developers had to write customer JAAS modules to integrate with LDAP. With JBoss 2.6 developers have pre-built integration with LDAP server. Supported servers include Red Hat Directory Server, OpenDS, and OpenLDAP. Portal 2.6 not only provides LDAP integration but an overall simplified architecture for your enterprise directories.
  • Google Gadgets - Google Gadgets are mini-applications that work with the Google homepage, Google Desktop, or any page on the web. They can range from simple HTML to complex applications, and can be a calendar, a weather globe, a media player. It is simple to write new custom gadgets. JBoss Portal 2.6 provides a simplified way to drop any of these pre-built gadgets as portlets.


 

We are excited about the possibilities for customers and users to improve user experiences with JBoss Portal 2.6. In particular, the personalization, usability, identity and WSRP enhancements take JBoss Portal to a new level that was driven by our customers and community for their own use. Check out JBoss Portal and create better user experiences for you and your users today!

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