by Sam Ramji on October 24, 2008 06:00am

We've been working with a range of open source projects in the last few years, and each one has taught us something - both what to do more of, and what to change. One of the things we've learned in listening to very specific customer needs, is that there is an emerging pattern of shared software development that will drive changes in how companies buy vs. build software.

Messaging (and I mean enterprise messaging, rather than email) is an area that is of keen interest to customers like JP Morgan Chase and Credit Suisse. As they run their businesses on real-time messaging, they need to be deep experts, and drive changes in their messaging platforms to fit their business. Along with companies like Cisco, Novell, iMatix, RabbitMQ, WSO2, and Red Hat, these industry leaders have built a standard for ubiquitous messaging: AMQP.

The Advanced Message Queueing Protocol is an open specification supported by open source communities and currently implemented by Apache QPID, RabbitMQ, and OpenAMQ.  The contributors established the AMQP Working Group as a body to manage the process of developing the specification.

It's my pleasure to announce that Microsoft has been invited to join the AMQP working group  by the six founding members. We have committed to participate in the development of the specification and are keenly interested in the developing need for interoperability in enterprise messaging.

While message-based transports with security and transactional integrity are a vital infrastructure component throughout financial institutions, the AMQP specification and related implementations may also provide greater interoperability for a number of other vertical scenarios, including insurance and healthcare. AMQP specifies a wire-level protocol (think of a transport like TCP or HTTP) and FIX, FpML, SOAP, and other messages can be sent of AMQP in LAN and WAN environments.

I think it's particularly interesting to see this trend of industry-specific shared software and protocols. In the case of AMQP, the known implementations are open source (using MPL, BSD, GPLv3, and Apache licenses).  In a sense the customer/end-user organizations involved in AMQP - competitors in their core business - are choosing to act as a technology keiretsu within a highly competitive industry.

Our work in AMQP will be consistent with the commitment to openness outlined in July. The AMQP Working Group requires a limited royalty-free patent licensing commitment from its members and, as a participant, we have agreed to grant royalty-free patent licenses on specified terms to implementers of the specification.  

The AMQP Working Group is also not a formal standards-setting organization like ISO or a standards consortium such as the IETF, OASIS or the W3C, but rather a group of companies and organizations that have come together to develop a specification to improve interoperability for messaging solutions. Microsoft will help, as appropriate, the Working Group to take the AMQP standard specification to another standards-setting organization, should it decide to do so at a later stage.

So, in short, we hope to contribute to the development of the AMQP specification in ways that will promote interoperability for existing and new implementations.