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A group of leading user companies, vendors and other organizations plans to launch an open message queuing protocol that will enable users to create systems that compete with or replace proprietary technology.

On June 20, a group including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Iona Technologies, Red Hat, the Transaction Workflow Innovation Standards Team (TWIST, a European standards organization promoting open standards in the financial sector) and several other organizations are scheduled to launch AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol).

Last year, John Davies, then a vice president of New York-based JPMorgan, which has been a leading participant in developing AMQP, said several million dollars had been spent on the overall project, then known simply as AMQ. Davies said the primary investors in the effort were financial institutions fed up with paying expensive licensing fees for proprietary message queuing technology from the likes of IBM and Sonic Software.

However, sources said that rather than release the entire AMQ code base the group had developed, the plan is to open-source the AMQ protocol and then enable companies to build systems around it or embed it into their operating systems or software stacks. The group is launching AMQP as a wire-level protocol and looking to gain support of standards organizations.

Read more here about AMQ.

Davies has since left JPMorgan and is now chief technology officer at C24 Solutions, a London-based software development company specializing in messaging and Web services technology. Davies said C24 would be interested in the technology for both development and to possibly sell services and support around it.

“We think this is something that is going to snowball and be big,” Davies said in a recent interview. “This will be another implementation of a messaging protocol.”

Indeed, one technologist involved in the project said the underlying intent of the project is to reduce the fees companies have to pay for technology such as IBM’s MQSeries by providing “an open-source equivalent.”

However, Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink, questions whether another specification is necessary.

“A key question is whether dealing with such interoperability challenges is best handled at the messaging infrastructure level or at the service interface,” Bloomberg said. “Is this just one more JMS [Java Message Service], which now has several vendor-specific implementations?”

Bloomberg’s argument is that with a protocol specification, somebody still has to go to the effort of building a system around it. But JPMorgan and friends maintain that this option is still bound to be less expensive than existing proprietary solutions and that savvy user organizations can build their own implementations, while others can rely on help from companies like C24 to provide support and services in a Red Hat- or JBoss-like model.

Neither Sonic nor IBM was able to respond before this article was posted. But in response to word of AMQ last year, Hub Vandervoort, vice president of strategic services at Bedford, Mass-based Sonic Software, said the idea of an open-source message queuing technology “is interesting to some, but open source doesn’t have continuous availability, clustering, etc.”

ZapThink’s Bloomberg called AMQP a new specification for defining and developing messaging infrastructure that is supposed to be technology-agnostic, open and interoperable. “JPMorgan Chase Bank is looking to leverage AMQP for messaging infrastructure that crosses multiple platforms, languages and protocols, and resolves the bottlenecks of dealing with multiple middleware solutions,” he said.

AMPQ has implementations on C and C++ and will support C# and Java, sources said.

Next Page: Target: Financial services sector.

Meanwhile, as JPMorgan and others join to launch AMQP, other companies are working on building open-source software stacks targeting the financial services sector. And AMQP could play a role in these stacks. The stacks include support for financial services standards such as SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) and FIX (Financial Information eXchange) standards.

For instance, SpikeSource, a provider of certified open-source stacks based in Redwood City, Calif., is working with Volanté Technologies, of New York, to provide stacks of software that are open-source or a combination of open- and closed-source software for financial services customers. Volanté products are fully configured and optimized for use with SpikeSource Spike Stacks.

“Business-savvy professionals in financial services do not have to think twice about open-source products now,” said Vijay Oddiraju, CEO of Volanté Technologies, in a statement. “By running a SWIFT-certified solution on an open-source stack fully supported by SpikeSource, customers are assured of a reliable and risk-free offering.”

He said Volanté is committed to providing customers with the flexibility to choose their platform, open source being one of them.

Meanwhile, SourceLabs, a Seattle-based competitor to SpikeSource, is attacking the effort differently, but targeting financial services with its certified open-source stack as a whole.

“Financial services companies’ internal development teams are under more time-to-market pressure, and thus tend to be more innovative and empowered in selecting their platforms,” said Cornelius Willis, vice president of marketing at SourceLabs. “The Wall Street firms led the way in Unix adoption, then Linux adoption; now they’re leading way in open-source adoption beyond the operating system.”

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