This morning an interesting topic was posted to the Apache ServiceMix user forum, asking the question: To ServiceMix or not ServiceMix.
In my mind the short answer is: NO
Guillaume Nodet one of the key architects and long time committer on Apache ServiceMix already had his mind set 3 years ago when he wrong this blog post - Thoughts about ServiceMix.
What has happened on the ServiceMix project was that the ServiceMix kernel was pulled out of ServiceMix into its own project - Apache Karaf. That happened in spring 2009, which Guillaume also blogged about.
So is all that bad? No its IMHO all great. In fact having the kernel as a separate project, and Camel and CXF as the integration and WS/RS frameworks, would allow the ServiceMix team to focus on building the ESB that truly had value-add.
But that did not happen. ServiceMix did not create a cross product security model, web console, audit and trace tooling, clustering, governance, service registry, and much more that people were looking for in an ESB (or related to a SOA suite). There were only small pieces of it, but never really baked well into the project.
That said its not too late. I think the ServiceMix project is dying, but if a lot of people in the community step up, and contribute and work on these things, then it can bring value to some users. But I seriously doubt this will happen.
PS: 6 years ago I was working as a consultant and looked at the next integration platform for a major Danish organization, and we looked at ServiceMix back then and dismissed it due its JBI nature, and the new OSGi based architecture was only just started. And frankly it has taken a long long time to mature Apache Karaf / Felix / Aries and the other pieces in OSGi to what they are today to offer a stable and sound platform for users to build their integration applications. That was not the case 4-6 years ago.
Okay No to ServiceMix - what are my options then?
So what should use you instead of ServiceMix? Well in my mind you have at least these two options.
1) Use Apache Karaf and add the pieces you need, such as Camel, CXF, ActiveMQ and build your own ESB. These individual projects have regular releases, and you can upgrade as you need.
The ServiceMix project only has the JBI components in additional, that you should NOT use. Only legacy users that got on the old ServiceMix 3.x wagon may need to use this in a graceful upgrade from JBI to Karaf based containers.
2) Take a look at fabric8. IMHO fabric8 is all that value-add the ServiceMix project did not create, and a lot more.
James Strachan, just blogged today about some of his thoughts on fabric8, JBoss Fuse, and Karaf. I encourage you to take a read. For example he talks about how fabric becomes poly container, so you have a much wider choice of which containers/JVM to run your integration applications. OSGi is no longer a requirement. (IMHO that is very very existing and potentially a changer).
I encourage you to check out fabric8 web-site, and also read the overview and motivation sections of the documentation. And then check out some of the videos.
After the upcoming JBoss Fuse 6.1 release, the Fuse team at Red Hat will have more time and focus to bring the documentation at fabric8 up to date covering all the functionality we have (there is a lot more), and as well bring out a 1.0 community released using pure community releases. This gives end users a 100% free to use out of the box release. And users looking for a commercial release can then use JBoss Fuse. Best of both worlds.
Okay back to the question - to ServiceMix or not. Then NO.
Innovation happens outside ServiceMix, and also more and more outside Apache.
If you have thoughts then you can share those in comments to this blog, or better yet, get involved in the discussion forum at the ServiceMix user forum.
PPS: The thoughts on this blog is mine alone, and are not any official words from my employer.