Panel cites benefits, limits of ESB

Enterprise services buses (ESBs) are useful for service integration and message routing in SOAs, but users should know technologies such as XML as well as the limitations of ESBs, panelists said in a Webinar Thursday.

Executives from BEA Systems, IBM, Sonic Software and Sun Microsystems are participating in the "ESB-Con: Due Diligence Day" Webinar, sponsored by Integration Developer News. The executives kicked off the event with a panel discussion featuring advice on using ESBs.

"We don't recommend them for hosting pure application logic or systems that require tightly coupled components for execution," Hub Vandervoort, CTO at Sonic Software, said.

But Vandervoort said ESBs offer benefits in the areas of architecture and lifecycle, including business agility.

"In setting up an ESB environment, it's important to be familiar with XML standards, Vandervoort said.

Concurring with Vandervoort, Jeff Davies, principal architect for AquaLogic at BEA, cited the importance of Web services.

"Certainly, a solid understanding of XML is critical," he said.

XQuery also is crucial, he said. "XQuery is to XML what SQL is to relational databases, so we need to become fluent in XQuery."

ESBs, while designed to integrate services and enable stateless orchestration, are less suited for handling long-running, stateful processes, Davies said. He recommended BEA's own WebLogic Integration for dealing with these sorts of processes.

The ESB is the logical place to begin managing and publishing services, he said.

Formation of a governance team for SOA also is vital, according to Davies. "SOA is not about technology alone," he said.

It is a strategy for becoming a highly agile organization, he added.

Vandervoort also advised that ESB users have knowledge of infrastructure. Skills are needed for process design, testing and monitoring, he said.

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