Its often great to be a pioneer, and Sonic Software can certainly make that claim in the areas of messaging, Web services and ESBs. Over time, one benefit of being a pioneer is accrued experience in the field and a set of mature and time-tested products.Click here to read a review of Artix 4.0.But there are also drawbacks to being an early mover in a technology area. Sometimes a vendor sticks to methods and processes that have always worked well, even after more efficient methods have been introduced by competitors. It can also mean loyalty to tool sets and editors that may not be well-suited to modern development processes and methodologies. In recent years, Sonic Software has faced some of these challenges, but with the release of Sonic ESB 7.0 in June, the company has begun to address some of these issues. For example, Sonic has moved to an Eclipse-based environment, and its Sonic Workbench now runs as a perspective within Eclipse. This is a massive change for Sonic, and while we think it will pay off down the road, it will likely necessitate retraining for longtime users. But, once users become accustomed to the new interface, theyll find the new Sonic Workbench to be very good at handling many tasks. During tests, for example, we found the tasks of configuring, testing and deploying processes and services much easier in the updated Sonic Workbench, requiring much less native coding and raw data commands. Click here to read a review of Cape Clear ESB 6.6. Like its competitors, Workbench now includes improved interfaces for creating BPEL-based process orchestrations, and it also has some very nice, almost-BPM-level features for managing and testing processes within the ESB environment. Sonic ESB 7.0 also includes its sibling, Sonic MQ 7.0, which handles all messaging tasks for the platform. On the server side, Sonic ESB 7.0 runs on Unix, Linux and Windows servers, but Workbench runs only on Windows systems. Sonic ESB supports all major databases and is priced starting at $35,000 per CPU. Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.