MuleSoft, the company that produces the open-source Mule ESB, has licensed a proprietary Java Message Service (JMS) server to provide a more reliable commercial messaging solution for its customers, leading an analyst to question its commitment to open-source development.

MuleSoft’s version of that product, called Mule MQ, became generally available Tuesday for US$4,400 per CPU; support packages are available for a separate charge.

The company chose to license a JMS server from an unnamed OEM because its customers were encountering reliability problems with Apache ActiveMQ, said CTO Ross Mason. MuleSoft customers had previously used ActiveMQ.

“There were problems with clustering. It doesn’t cut it, and no one supports it,” Mason explained. “We took the OEM’s JMS Server and added some extra bells and whistles. We spent months making it a fine-tuned product.”

Performance was MuleSoft’s primary focus, he said, claiming that Mule MQ achieve up to five times the performance of ActiveMQ for some use cases.

The server includes integrated management and monitoring tools.

Mule MQ is compliant with the JMS 1.1 specification and is deployable as a standalone messaging server or embedded in a MuleSoft iBeans application container, according to the company.

iBeans is a container that runs inside of Apache Tomcat, MuleSoft’s Tcat Server (a commercial edition of Tomcat), and the Mule ESB. MuleSoft introduced iBeans in September.

iBeans and Mule ESB are open-source projects, but Mule MQ is the second closed-source product that the company is selling, along with Mule Data Integrator.

MuleSoft’s recent embrace of closed-source software prompted Burton Group research director and vice president Anne Thomas Manes to question whether it was transitioning away from being an open-source middleware company.

“Except for Mule ESB, all Mule products are free for development and pre-production, but not for production,” Manes said. “Its tagline is no longer ‘The open-source middleware company.’ ” Manes added that it also changed its named from MuleSource to MuleSoft.

MuleSoft had the option to build a scalable messaging server around Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP), an open messaging specification, but opted to use a proprietary solution, Manes noted.

However, she said that the Mule ESB is also built on JMS, and it may have been a factor in the company’s decision.

Mason responded, saying that MuleSoft opted against using AMQP because its adoption cycle “is still a couple of years out.”

“We will be doing things with AMQP (I’m actually a reviewer on the spec), but we see a more urgent need for a JMS server that provides low latency-reliable messaging for enterprise applications that use JMS, but don’t want to fork out on TIBCO EMS or WebSphereMQ,” Mason wrote in a reply.

Manes noted that there are several existing AMQP implementations, including Apache Qpid and RabbitMQ.

“MuleSoft has always been and will continue to be an open-source company. We have a commercial open-source model; that means we invest in open- and closed-source products,” Mason stated.

MuleSoft’s flagship product, Mule ESB, remains open source. iBeans is an open-source technology, and the company’s MuleForge development community “helps to foster a wider community around Mule and its surrounding technologies,” he added.

Mason explained that closed-source products are included in its product mix to target large enterprises with mission-critical projects.

“From my perspective the mixed model is inevitable; companies have to make some money to stay a going concern, and this seems like an inevitable transition,” said Forrester principal analyst Jeffrey Hammond.