Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Weblogic, Microservices Expo

Weblogic: Article

The ESB - SOA Hullaballoo

ESBs Cohabitating in SOA: Controversial?

Jason English's Blog

With multiple ESB platforms, you are still providing a very good way to bring underlying business applications and transaction systems to bear with an integration and messaging framework, sometimes with business process management as well. Yes they are different systems, but they can be pulled together effectively as long as the validation is there, and as long as the multiple teams have a means to virtualize their dependencies and continue developing and testing new functionality.

I had a talk with Rich Seeley from SearchSOA a couple weeks ago, and his article: "SOA Complicated by ESB Proliferation" reflected how our discussion turned to what we're finding is an inevitable reality of SOA in large enterprises: the need for a team to manage and validate the Intermediation of different ESB and integration platforms.

Then this from our peer David Linthicum: "Are ESBs Hurting SOA?". Well usually we have seen eye-to-eye on many issues, especially since we are in the "platform neutral" space of needing to govern & validate the leading platforms on the market. In fact, we just sponsored a paper Dave authored "Testing & Validating Heterogeneous SOA" coming out soon that talks about how to design and validate these kinds of heterogeneous platforms. Dave is likewise not beholden to one ideal platform or solution.

Was I wrong this time on so many levels?
And who knew there was a controversy around ESBs in SOA?

That article spurred several comments for sure - and I had to put my own in there. We have also heard from a few more experts weighing in on the topic - Jeff Schneider didn't really see why it was a big deal in "Linthicum on ESBs," after all that kind of reality is likely what he is solving every day in his practice, while Loraine Lawson had a very good post "Multiple ESBs Causing Problem, but Nobody's Listening," supporting Dave's point that we need to do much better architecturally, and not just accept it as a reality.

Now to caveat, I was actually talking about it as a challenge -- I was never recommending multiple ESBs as an ideal approach - but it is certainly not out of reach to manage well with good intermediation practices. Companies putting all of their eggs in the basket of mediating strictly at the web services layer also run into a proliferation of different standards and metadata, or the "JBOWS" conundrum -- I addressed this recently in a brief -- and it is hard to dictate that compliance unless you have a very tight grip on standards, and for most large companies, the standards around services aren't consistent. So if you try to enforce too strict a compliance, you end up with poor reuse.

With multiple ESB platforms, you are still providing a very good way to bring underlying business applications and transaction systems to bear with an integration and messaging framework, sometimes with business process management as well. Yes they are different systems, but they can be pulled together effectively as long as the validation is there, and as long as the multiple teams have a means to virtualize their dependencies and continue developing and testing new functionality.

Obviously you would like to start with a clean slate and architect the system from the ground up with well-defined semantics, proper levels of service granularity, get partners delivering on the same standards, and realize the reuse and agility benefits you expect from having a very modular system. But, given the reality of acquisitions, partnerships, and the need to support ongoing businesses and their heterogeneous technology at consistent service levels, most larger companies need to find a way to get these systems to play together nicely.

We have to reconcile ourselves to this fact: the likelihood that there will only be one platform participating in business process execution will decrease, when there is a broader distribution of the business process. Departments may mandate homogeneity, but inter-enterprise transactions couldn't possibly do so. SOA is about abstractions that make disparate things work together.  Let's leverage this pattern to bring these systems together.

Now Dave just came back with a rebuttal in Real World SOA: "Madness I say!" - and yes, I do understand where he's coming from. An ESB does not a SOA make, and, yes, more centralized control would improve the situation. Still, I'm right on so many levels as well though... : ) We often take the tack of "SOA Federation," which is akin to the idea of Federal vs. State authority: a central (Federal) authority that dictates some ground rules and standards for interacting, but leaves much of the specific technology decisions such as which ESB to use, to the parties (or States) that provide and consume the shared services.

When you take SOA as a multi-enterprise workflow of a consortium of partners working together, centralized control is practically unattainable. You can't just dictate that partners follow your policies and your architectural decisions.

I’m a big fan of both leverage-and-extend, and iteration as a means to an end. I'd submit that the greatest IT value of a service-based architecture is that it enables these things. With them, I can be more responsive to business needs faster. I'm also too much of a realist to take a 'puritanical' view of how to build out an SOA.  We have to try and refine over time.  So I'd rather "grade" SOA on its level of maturity, not call it something else.  For example, ungoverned web services used within a tightly coupled team is an immature SOA; broadly distributed services leveraged by a variety of consumers with increasing development responsiveness is a mature SOA... 

If I am a business, I want the benefit of being uninterested in the implementation technologies deployed under the service interfaces I consume, so long as the governance and testability are there. Why preclude any technology from making its contribution to SOA, especially one that is doing fairly well at the job like ESBs?

I love a good back-and-forth on these kind of issues. I've talked to a few other bloggers/columnists since then, and I'm sure we haven't seen the last of this debate. To me it says that the practices and methods for SOA are still evolving, and there are a lot of good people passionate about working on these issues. We may never arrive at an "optimal" SOA but I do believe that IT will get better at addressing business needs if we keep signing up for solving the hardest problems while ensuring continuity today.

More Stories By Jason English

Jason joined iTKO in 2004, bringing more than 15 years of experience in executing marketing plans, re-engineering business processes and meeting customer requirements for companies such as IBM, EDS, Delphi, TaylorMade, Sun, Motorola and Sprint. As Director of eMarketing and Executive Producer, in2action Consulting at i2 Technologies, he was responsible for i2's outbound messaging during a period of extreme growth, as well as marketing services and working directly with clients to build easy-to-learn front ends to B2B systems. Prior to that, he managed customer experience as an Information Architect at Agency.com. Jason scored and designed several internationally released computer games in addition to conventional print advertising and television commercials.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...