Modern Middle Manager
Primarily my musings on the practical application of technology and management principles at a financial services company.
Here There Be Dragons

Monday, March 29, 2004  

Looking ahead, I see projects for the next quarter, projects out about 6 months ahead and after that, chaos. Old maritime maps used to say, "Here there be dragons" at the unexplored edges of them. That sounds about right. So what chaos lies unexplored before me? In the rush to build individual software applications for seemingly disparate needs, whether it's to process wires or perform shadow accounting, it turns out that there is a common thread -- taking data from one source, processing it, and spitting it out somewhere else. Because so much of what we do consists of small applications, it strikes me that we have a perfect opportunity to use loosely-coupled programs to pass that data around. That raises an important question -- what is the conduit through which the data is passed? Answer: a message transaction manager, aka middleware. Any reader of this site knows I'm a big fan of the open source promise. So, in the spirit of delving into an open source solution, what platforms are available for secure, loosely-coupled apps (i.e., web services) and middleware?

Secure web services are not as easy as they sound -- there is very little right now that conforms with the WS-Security draft standard. One project that is almost there is the Apache WSS4J project. WSS4J is a library that allows Java applets to sign and verify SOAP messages with digital certificates and digital signatures, which ought to be quite useful in financial transactions. We are currently setting up a test platform to try out Apache Axis with the WSS4J extension. It looks promising so far.

The middleware is a trickier problem. This part really didn't click in my head until today. I know about proprietary solutions like IBM's Websphere MQ and Microsoft's, um, hmm...I think they had a product called Microsoft Messaging Queue Manager and Transaction Manager but damned if I can figure out what does it now. Anyway, on the open source side it appears there are a few projects, courtesy of Google:

OpenJMS, an implementation of the Java Message Service v1.0.2 spec. It doesn't look too terribly robust.

Hermes Message Service Handler, developed by the free ebXML organization. Looks like nothing new has occurred after mid-2003. This is probably a dead project. appears to have several middleware projects listed on its site under Interoperability, including JORAM and JOTM. JOTM looks to have had its last update in mid-2003. JORAM looks to be updated more often, the last entry made on February of 2004.

I can't find much else here. I'll have to look around more.

UPDATE: Looks like JBossMQ has this functionality as well. JBoss is free although they charge for the docs. It looks like an extensive application server. Interesting.

posted by Henry Jenkins | 3/29/2004 09:29:00 PM

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