Sonic Suggests ESB Definition to Ease Chaos

The ESB sector is quickly becoming rife with confusion. And, while there is growing consensus among vendors (and end users) than an ESB is supposed to provide a mediation layer between legacy and SOA resources, there are devils in the details. Sonic Software has put its ESB Definition into the marketplace, and execs say the document lays out ESB hallmarks architects and devs should look for.

Tags: ESB, ESB Definition, CORBA, Deployment, Technologies, Bachman, Process Management,


The ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) sector is quickly becoming rife with confusion. And, while there is growing consensus among vendors (and end users) than an ESB is supposed to provide a mediation layer between legacy and SOA resources, there are devils in the details.

Sonic Software this week put its ESB Definition into the marketplace, and execs say the document lays out ESB hallmarks architects and devs should look for.

The challenge we face is that everybody is basically too loose with their terms, and customers are struggling with very different definitions from a wide number of vendors. In fact, B said, in the last year ESB has become such a hot sector that there's a mad rush to get some product into the space. "If you had anything last year, it's an ESB today - app server, BPM (business process management) engine, a web services tool or even a legacy middleware tool - it's all [labeled] an ESB now," Jon Bachman, Sonic's senior director of product marketing told IDN.

Sonic suggests the industry needs to back up a step, and get a clearer vision of what an ESB accomplishes, and more importantly, what underlying components need to exist for the ESB to operate.

"ESB is not a concept, it's a thing - it's tangible with pieces to it" Bachman said. "and so we put out a ESB definition that looks to define what an ESB does and how it does it."

The Sonic ESB definition provides:
  1. A comprehensive and unambiguous vocabulary in a technology category rife with confusion and conflicting terminology;
  2. A precise technical reference for the ESB implementation in broadest deployment today; and
  3. A definitive basis for comparison between previous generation technologies, fractional ESBs and the comprehensive ESB reference model outlined in the definition.
Sonic's ESB Definition also suggests a list of what is says are the necessary under-the-cover properties an ESB should posses - especially when used for SOA. Those ESB properties should include: Design Center, Interface, Managed Relations, Deployment Model, and Process Management.

Bachman told IDN another perspective on ESBs can be gained by looking at a lifecycle approach to design and deployment. In this vain, he said insight on the importance of an ESB Definition can be gained by looking at CORBA, a last-generation, n-tier to-legacy approach that didn't deliver all its promises.

"We faced challenges with CORBA because end points were compiled and that would change the interface, and that [meant] you would change the end point and have to do a redeployment. In comparison, an ESB can resolve those issues because it provides dynamic capabilities [with won't affect changes]. But, while ESBs may simplify complex CORBA projects, they are not a simple thing, Bachman said. "An ESB is a sophisticated machine, but it is a machines and as such, it has components and implementations."

Sonic's ESB Definition is crafted to complement the its earlier work on an SOA Maturity Model, which outlines the varies aspects of SOA-related tasks and technologies. Click here for more on the tie-in between Sonic's view of ESBs and SOA.




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