Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why Buses Don't Fly in the Cloud: Thoughts on ESBs

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The shift to software as a service (SaaS) applications and the new era of open application programming interfaces (APIs) has led to a re-imagination of data, application and process integration in the enterprise. The vision of building a services-based abstraction layer to make enterprise business applications consistently and universally accessible is not new, but the technological game has changed, as have expectations of the business.

The service-oriented architecture (SOA) vision was powerful. Unfortunately, it was rarely realized in the on-premises world. When SOA was first conceived, the enterprise service bus (ESB) was seen as its enabling technology. An ESB as the service-based abstraction layer between applications was appealing to enterprise IT organizations that were struggling with constantly changing application versions and upgrades. “Loose coupling” would introduce much more flexibility to application lifecycle management, without brittle integrations frequently breaking. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of implementing the all-or-nothing SOA + ESB vision, most IT organizations very tactically continued to use the same old point-to-point enterprise application integration (EAI) patterns that were already in place. Very few IT organizations actually invested in the long-term services patterns that were initially envisioned and it seemed for many years that SOA was DOA -- dead on arrival.

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