Cape Clear: 2006 ESBs Gain Interop, Tools

In 2006, Enterprise Service Buses will begin playing a much more strategic role in more enterprise integration projects, including SOA, thanks largely to better interoperability between Java and .NET ESBs, as well as better tools. That's the view of David Clarke, the co-founder of Cape Clear, a leading ESB provider who has committed to donate its XML, WSDL and BPEL tooling technologies for ESB to Eclipse. IDN speaks with Cape Clear's Clarke for a clearer look at ESBs for SOA in 2006.

Tags: ESB, Cape, Clarke, Business, Security, Common, Tooling,


In 2006, Enterprise Service Buses will begin playing a much more strategic role in more enterprise integration projects, including SOA, thanks largely to better interoperability between Java and .NET ESBs, as well as better tools. That's the view of David Clarke, the co-founder of Cape Clear, a leading ESB provider who has committed to donate its XML, WSDL and BPEL tooling technologies for ESB to Eclipse. IDN speaks with Cape Clear's Clarke for a clearer look at ESBs for SOA in 2006.

In 2006, Enterprise Service Buses will begin playing a much more strategic role in more enterprise integration projects, including SOA, thanks largely to better interoperability between Java and .NET ESBs, as well as better tools.

That's the view of David Clarke, the co-founder of Cape Clear, a leading ESB provider who sees the emergence of a common ESB "stack" to be composed of a variety of core WS-* services, as well as standards that set a common way to define security and workflows. "Increasingly, we see the [ESB] sector adopting a common set of technologies for mediation at the mid-tier," Clarke told IDN.

Among those common ESB technologies, Clarke said, are standards for supporting services-based traffic via common protocols, transports, transformation technologies and even common (or at least compatible) technologies for security, authentication and even workflow. To the point, Cape Clear's latest ESB (Cape Clear 6.5), supports many base level WS-* standards, as well as WSDL 2.0, XML, BPEL and even SAML, WS-Security (or related security models). Many other ESB providers now offer, or have roadmaps to offer, similar support.

This leaves Cape Clear's Clarke with an intriguing observation: "This emergence of a common ESB [stack] of implemented standards will bring two results," one for users and one for vendors Clarke said.

  • First, for users -- Increased commonality among ESBs - even among Java and .NET ESBs - will mean a higher degree of interoperability between ESBs; and
  • Second, for vendors - Increased commonality will leave tooling and core enterprise-framework support (such as quality of service, data integrity, etc.) as the two key areas for competition.

  • Cape Clear 6.5, now shipping, already attacks this issue of QoS for the mediation layer, adding both
  • Standards-Based Security - which provides guaranteed and interoperable security across services via a new security policy framework for WS-Security and the WS-I basic security profile; and
  • Mission Critical Scalability - which provides enhanced reliability and scalability for enterprise-wide deployments via a comprehensive 'one-click' clustering capability, to enable load-balancing and high-availability for tasteful BPEL processes
  • Security policy management which offers admins a security-policy framework for defining security policies; and an
  • Extensible end-to-end security architecture, which allows for end-to-end security integration with custom and third-party security systems
    Cape Clear engineers, feeling that its latest release captures a state-of-the-art for a firm ESB architecture, execs will focus in early 2006 on improving ESB tools. "For us, it's all about the [ESB] tooling at this point. We need to make ESBs easier to use, for both developers and architects, of course. But, at some point, we need tools that will let the business [analyst] use an ESB to change or update his application." While many ESB users, vendors and analysts would suggest that making an ESB usable by a non-developer is a bit ambitious, Clarke demurs from that view.

    "At the end of the day, ESB tooling is simply about exposing underlying capability of an ESB platform in a way that users can grasp." His goal for Cape Clear tools to bring state-of-the-art tooling, which takes advantage of metadata, patterns and change management.

    Cape Clear Brings Ease of Use ESB Tools to Eclipse
    Speaking of pushing the envelop for ESB ease-of-use, Cape Clear this week said will bring ESB-driven tools to the Eclipse Open Source IDE. The work will be based on the company's current Cape Clear Studio tool, which supports XML, WSDL and even BPEL (Business Process Execution Language).

    The company's Cape Clear Studio tool, which is a component of the company's just-release Cape Clear 6.5, ESB, is already integrated Eclipse, and supports BPEL, XML/WSDL and Java.

    This week's move to join Eclipse is driven by Cape Clear's vision to deliver a more business-friendly end-to-end toolset for ESBs, Cape Clear co-founder David Clarke told OET. Cape Clear Studio "makes creation and orchestration of services more productive," Clarke said, and moving that business-aware vision for ESBs forward is at the heart of Cape Clear's Eclipse decision, he added. "There are always going to be certain parts of the [ESB] tooling infrastructure that will be baked into Eclipse," he added.

    In 2006, the underlying ESB technologies from various vendors, including non-Java vendors such as Microsoft, will become increasingly compatible and interoperable, Clarks told OET. In fact, he said that as more and more vendors base their ESB stack around a common stack of web services standards (WS-*) and XML-friendly standards tooling will be a key differentiator for ESBs.

    "For us the distinction between ESBs will be more and more in the tools," Clarke said. "What the tools focus on -- in terms of what their design approach orients you into; and especially who the tools are fashioned for will be the differences," he said. For Cape Clear's part, Clarke told OET the ESB tooling focus "should be more business-oriented [tasks] and business users, while BEA and IBM seem to be more focused on surfacing more underlying complexity and technical content."

    Clarke described the distinction between Cape Clear's view, and those of BEA and IBM this way: "We want to see tools go to where business analysts or other less techie people can start building and manipulating and interrogating SOAs. That becomes extremely interesting to us, because then you've crossed that PowerBuilder divide, where it's not just the extremely skilled techies that can use your stuff but people at the business user level. We can even get to such a point that even those who drive spreadsheets can think of using some ESB tool for their business," Clarke told OET.

    "Granted, this is extremely difficult to do, to be sure, but if you ask me what direction our tools strategy will take in 18 months to 2 years, it is absolutely around trying o build smartness into tools and ease-of-use into them, to the point where business users can make meaningful interventions into SOA."

    While the idea of non-programmers orchestrating business rules from an ESB console may seem far-fetched today, the most recent version of Cape Clear Studio tools for Cape Clear's ESB 6.5 today leverages metadata and abstractions in a number of ways, Clarke said. Among them: the tools allows users to import UML, XML and BPEL modeling data, which in turn the Cape Clear Studio under the covers can use to generate a set of artifacts




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