Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: John Esposito, Elizabeth White, AppDynamics Blog, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Industrial IoT, IoT User Interface

Microservices Expo: Article

SOA Product Review — ActiveBPEL 3.0 from Active Endpoints

Still active and out in front...

(SYS-CON Media) - We last looked at the Active Endpoints Inc. product suite back in May of this year. Since then, the team at Active Endpoints has been busy working towards the 3.0 release of its ActiveBPEL Designer and engine.

The biggest and most interesting enhancement is full support for all WS-BPEL 2.0 constructs. This feature will let users gain early access and experience with the upcoming OASIS standard.

The folks at Active Endpoints carefully thought through how to support users in their move to WS-BPEL 2.0. This resulted in the ability of BPEL 1.1 and WS-BPEL 2.0 processes to co-exist during design, test, and execution in both the designer and the engine. This lets users migrate their processes at their own pace. I've been burned in the past by products that required a big bang conversion so the ability to support 1.1 and 2.0 processes easily is a huge win.

ActiveBPEL Designer
My last ActiveBPEL review focused on the designer tool so I won't spend much time on it here except to point out a few enhancements. (Figure 1)

First of which is the ability to migrate any valid BPEL1.1 process to a WS-BPEL 2.0 proces. This is done by saving the existing 1.1 process as a WS-BPEL 2.0 process. During this "Save As" step ActiveBPEL will convert as much of the process syntax as possible and report conversion issues on any BPEL sections that couldn't be converted to the 2.0 syntax. These issues are displayed in the designer as static analysis errors. Users can then correct any errors. Once this is done, the user has access to all the new 2.0 features. Again, another nicely thought out touch for converting a process. I was able to convert one of my existing 1.1 processes and correct any issues easily.

Finally, Active Endpoints has added some of the obligatory GUI enhancements such as grids, anchoring annotation, and scope level auto-layout. The ActiveBPEL Designer continues to be a well-thought-out and constructed tool.

Engine Basics
The ActiveBPEL Engine manages BPEL processes. For those new to BPEL, a BPEL process is a collection of Web Services with various interactions specifically orchestrated to complete some portion or all of a business process. Each Web Service is treated like a black box that does some part of the process. Ordering the Web Services calls, information passed to and returned from the calls, and conditional execution are called orchestration. Its details are defined in the Business Process Execution Language specification (the BPEL Spec).

The ActiveBPEL Engine is designed to run in most of today's Application Servers. I had the WebLogic 9.2 application server handy so that acted as my test bed. The ActiveBPEL Engine also requires a database, so I downloaded and installed MySQL 5.0. The installation wizard does a nice job of walking you through the installation and it automatically configured the application server based on my responses. Keep in mind you still have to know how to configure your application server of choice. I had to ensure that the appropriate database drivers were set up and that my server was clustered, but the ActiveBPEL wizard handled the engine-specific setup nicely.

Once I had the product installed on the server, I was able to load up an existing 1.1 BPEL process. I specifically chose the process I created for the original review back in May. It loaded and ran in the server without incident. I then saved the process as a 2.0 process. There were a few minor errors that I quickly fixed then deployed the new processes to the server and again ran it without any problems. Granted my process wasn't incredibly complex, but it was still nice to see everything work as advertised.

Process Versioning
The ActiveBPEL Engine supports versioning processes. Various versions of a process can execute in the engine concurrently. Versioning includes effective dates and expiration dates of processes. This is a great feature and invaluable when you're cutting over to new processes. I've especially seen this come in handy when consulting in the past for a company in the power industry. Government agencies dictate how the business operates and when changes to their processes must be effective. Having effective and expiration dates are a must in this kind of environment.

The ActiveBPEL Engine is also smart about how it handles expiration of running processes. It gives the user a choice of terminating the process and allowing it to continue to run to completion, or migrating the process to the new version. Process migration sounds a bit dicey and the manual outlines its limitations, but I'm sure there will be users out there who won't be able to live without it.

Process Deployment
When describing my test, I glossed over the deployment process. The ActiveBPEL Designer is the recommended tool for deploying BPEL processes to the ActiveBPEL Engine. It packages the various files that make up the selected process in a business process archive (.bpr) file. The tool supports automatic deployment of the .bpr file to the engine. It can also generate an Ant script to re-deploy the file.

When you use ActiveBPEL Designer to create a .bpr file, the .bpr wizard generates a resource catalog. The data in the catalog is displayed in the engine's administration console. The catalog also provides a way for the engine to find WSDL files, schema, and other resources in the deployment archive.

Administration Console
As said above, the ActiveBPEL Engine provides the obligatory administration console, but again it's nicely done. You can inspect processes while they're running. The process page even displays the process details and the process diagram.

For users who run large process sets, there's a nice feature that filters processes. Active Endpoints even provides a nice expression builder to aid in creating fairly complex criteria for selecting the processes to view.

Custom Invocation
My favorite feature in the engine is its ability to implement a custom invocation handler for service endpoints. This lets a process bypass the creation and transport of SOAP messages over Axis. The process's outbound message is routed directly to a service

Custom invocation handlers can provide a more efficient technique for communicating between processes and services on the same machine. It can also take advantage of an alternate SOAP engine or provide messaging to an application that's not exposed as a Web Service.

Custom invocation handlers are implemented as Java classes, EJB containers, or .NET assemblies that implement the engine's custom invocation interface. The BPEL process's deployment descriptor contains a custom invoke handler attribute for the partner role service. The custom handlers are loaded by ActiveBPEL and used to call out to a Partner Role service endpoint when the service is invoked in a BPEL process.

The bottom line with this feature is that you can co-locate chatty services and set up highly efficient messaging for high-volume processes. This is very cool, sort of a "pimp my ride" for the BPEL crowd.

Licensing
As stated in my previous review of the product, the ActiveBPEL Engine core is an open source product. The designer tool isn't, but it's still freely downloadable from the Active Endpoints Web site.

To get access to the high-end engine features like process versioning and clustering you'll have to license the Enterprise product. The cost of the Enterprise product varies based on the deployment platform and ranges from a low-end Tomcat-enabled version to a J2EE-enabled version that can run on a mainframe.

Support
Active Endpoints, Inc. offers a few support options. First, for open source users, forum- and mailing list-based support is provided. There's also a premium support forum for users with a valid product serial number. For enterprises with higher support demands, incident-based support can be purchased.

Conclusion
Active Endpoints, Inc. continues to stay out in front of the BPEL standard with thoughtful features for support of WS-BPEL 2.0 migration. The BPEL design tool and execution engine continue to be freely downloadable and well documented with good community support. Teams looking to move toward the WS-BPEL 2.0 standard should consider Active Endpoints' 3.0 version.

Product Info

Company
Active Endpoints, Inc.
Three Enterprise Drive
Shelton, CT 06484

Web: www.active-endpoints.com
E-mail: [email protected]

Licensing Information
ActiveBPEL Designer: Free
ActiveBPEL Engine (Open Source): Free
ActiveBPEL Enterprise: $7.5k - $30k per CPU based on deployment platform

Testing Environment
OS: Windows XP Professional (Service Pack 2)
Hardware: Intel Pentium M Processor with
2GHz - 1GB RAM

More Stories By Paul Maurer

Paul Maurer is a principal in the financial services practice of a leading consulting services company.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights. At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.