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Top ESB Implementations and Their Functionality

The most effective and successful Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) implementations today do not live within boundaries that are sharply defined; instead the functionality is always expanding. The integration functionality provided by the top ESB platforms are as fluid and dynamic as the innovative new applications they serve to interface. Amorphousness makes them difficult to apprehend, until you recognize that their purpose is to simplify the task of connecting vast enterprise level applications so as to make them all work together as a single application

In fact, although we often see ESB compared with API Management as alternative solutions, the reality today is that the best ESB solution providers include API management in their implementations! See our article on API Management here. Those ESB platforms which absorb and unify the largest set of integration technologies thus have the highest potential to interface the most complex enterprise solutions. Leaders in this field have built-in connectors for every popular application, framework, platform, and all their associated protocols, translations, and ESB data integration formats. Furthermore, they include tools for building and managing APIs as needed. Let’s begin with the behemoth.

Example of Integration Complexity Replaced by an ESB Provider

App Connect Integrates ERP and CRM

While legacy giants of IT like IBM build complex and expensive solutions, they do provide the functionality earned through rich experience, which can be pivotal to successful integration. In spite of unwieldy names like “WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud Integration software” (the progenitors of IBM’s ESB platform), having learned every middleware angle from diverse clients across decades of business challenges, IBM’s App Connect ESB deployments span innumerable industry use cases including many ESB application integrations. Enterprises demanding more agile development and more economical implementations can still learn much from the leviathan.

For example, a leading home developer presented a significant challenge to integrate a number of existing enterprise applications, among them JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application. Foremost among the challenges, IBM App Connect would have to integrate EnterpriseOne with Customer Relationship Management software by Salesforce. Additionally, the developer required a new strategy to create secure application programming interfaces (APIs) in order to integrate their various web applications, including ADP payroll – itself an enormous legacy system – along with its Concur Travel & Expense accounting application. How did App Connect achieve such a monumental integration feat?

Hybrid integration played an important role in meeting all the challenges, along with the deployment of existing IBM technologies, including DataPower, which supplies security measures for APIs to be deployed outside the company’s firewall. The real triumph, however, was that App Connect already had native connectors for both the ERP and the CRM!  With that decisive advantage in hand, the developer was able to plug in all their other integrations. The outcome was a single unifying internal integration paradigm to replace multiple ad hoc integrations and point-to-point protocols. Certainly, connectors like that are expensive to build, and IBM has to recoup their own development investment.  Fortunately for startups and smaller enterprises though, it is now possible to leverage the genius of giants like IBM for a fraction of the cost, with an emergent ESB solution like Pandio’s hosted Apache Pulsar service offering.

Software AG the and the All-Inclusive Integrator

Successful ESB solutions now integrate not only enterprise applications but likewise unify all other integration paradigms within a single framework as well! In fact, while ESB functionality itself is a superset of Event Driven Architecture (EDA) and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA),  it also integrates:

  • Enterprise application integration (EAI)
  • Business-to-business (B2B)
  • Services provided through Web (SPW) 

For more details, have a look at our in-depth exploration of ESB. The point is not to blur the distinction of integration tools, but instead to recognize that integration providers must be all-inclusive; they must incorporate all effective methods, including API Management. Furthermore, they must employ engineers who daily practice Olympic integration feats. In effect, the integration provider’s engineers temporarily become their client’s engineers. After the implementation is complete, they continue to provide occasional technical support. Software AG’s Enterprise Service Bus solution is one such provider, and the name of their ESB solution illustrates the point.

The webMethods Integration Server, or webMethods Enterprise Service Bus, integrates diverse services and protocols, maps data between all application data formats, and supports communication between thousands of systems. As such, it is one of the most comprehensive multi-paradigm integration providers available today. In one case study, Software AG demonstrated its alacrity to integrate systems by creating 63 interfaces in less than 8 weeks with two engineers! 

As with the IBM case study, webMethods is a costly solution. Indeed, every ingenious offering on the market has its unique price point. Enterprises seeking a more agile solution that doesn’t require costly integration efforts but still delivers unparalleled performance are now able to leverage a lean and super modern ESB provider like Pandio to tackle their unique interface challenges.

JBOSS section

To counterbalance allegiance to the old ESB giants of our IBM case study, we will now look at Sprint’s conversion to the JBoss middleware ESB solution. Spring, the global telecommunications giant found itself locking horns with Oracle WebLogic and IBM WebSphere middleware. Both are expensive and intensive sinkholes of developer drudgery.  To escape the costly spiral, Sprint converted to a lighter middleware called JBoss and saved $4 million annually. A third party provided implementation support and training throughout the migration, thus further relieving Sprint of the burden. After the JBoss ESB architecture was installed, the open-source code was received well by internal Sprint developers, who now had much greater control over the integration. The JBoss Fuse ESB architecture is a relatively new platform which is functionally related to the Apache open source offering. The JBoss ESB example at Sprint demonstrates the power of open source to compete with the more entrenched legacy providers, and reduce dependency on expensive, closed source technologies.

Universal Connectors and Apache Pulsar

To complete our discussion of the best ESB implementations available today, let’s have a look at ESB core functionality, the features which are already standard offerings among the top providers. You may be surprised to find that ESB platforms have now evolved to include user-friendly interfaces:

  • Human Workflow User Interface
  • IDE for integration development
  • Business Process Monitoring and Management, 
  • Connectors
  • Transaction Manager
  • Security and authorization
  • Application Container 
  • Messaging Service 
  • Metadata Repository 
  • Naming and Directory Service 
  • Distributed Computing Architecture

Recently, the increasing demand for ESB platforms has inspired their evolution toward not only integrating software applications but also integrating the humans who use them. While ESB solutions are easier to implement internally today than they were 10 years ago, thanks to built-in connectors and protocol translators, there are still many motivating factors to consider working together with a third party ESB expert to manage your integrations, one such as Pandio. Important to the choice are time-to-market, cost, and developer overhead. But in the final analysis, it may simply be assuring to have an ESB partner with which to join forces.

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