Thursday, September 8, 2011

SOA & ESB: Food for Thought

With the immense popularity of Web Services and SOA, the term "Enterprise Service Bus" has become a well known technical buzz word. Many people consider Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) to be a magic wand by which any problem in enterprise integration and SOA can be solved at a whim. But what is the real technical definition of ESB? What are the problems it's supposed to solve? What are the fundamental services and facilities provided by an ESB? What are its limitations and what are the problems it's not supposed to solve? Many people don't really know the answers to these important questions and end up using the wrong tool to solve the wrong problem.
Some people consider ESB as a shortcut to implementing SOA. And why not? Most ESB solutions out their (including our own WSO2 ESB) provide excellent support for SOAP, WSDL and a plethora of other WS-* standards. But does adding an ESB into a solution architecture really bring any SOA aspects into it? On the other hand is it possible to implement a SOA without using an ESB? Food for thought...
Now don't get me wrong. ESB is a fantastic piece of technology. The number of problems it can solve and the number of use cases it can support is mind boggling. Having worked with a number of customers in the past, I've learnt that regardless of the application of SOA principles, it's almost impossible to implement a useful integration solution without an ESB. However as developers and architects we must have a good understanding of what an ESB is and what it is capable of so we can put the ESB technology to use in a more effective manner. Knowing the answers to above questions will help us make better choices when planning out an integration project and selecting middleware for a solution implementation.
I'm going to make an attempt at answering some of the above mentioned questions in my WSO2Con talk scheduled for next Tuesday. It would be interesting to listen to the feedback other developers and architects in the audience have to offer regarding these all important issues. So if you're keen on learning the fundamentals of enterprise integration and ESB feel free to drop in to my talk titled "ESB: The Swiss Army Knife of SOA". If you're not interested in this particular topic, please do join us at WSO2Con anyway. We have 20+ other professionals lined up to deliver some amazing tech talks. I'm sure you will find it interesting and useful.

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