While the aqualogic product has "service bus" in its name, BEA describes it mainly as a platform for managing services. This is probably a good thing, because as a straight ESB, AquaLogic Service Bus is merely competent and is clearly less mature and capable than more established ESBs, such as Sonic Software Corp.s Sonic ESB. However, AquaLogic excels as an SOA management system, providing some of the best and most cleanly executed tools for managing services that eWEEK Labs has seen.Nearly all management, monitoring and analysis are done from the browser-based AquaLogic Service Bus Console, which makes good use of enterprise portal technology and conventions. From this interface, we could get a quick graphical check on the health and activity of our services and servers, and we could view any alerts that had been triggered.The most powerful area of this interface is the Project Explorer, which provided access to service resources and service creation that normally are not found in browser-based interfaces. We could create SOA projects, import and define WSDL (Web Services Description Language) files, and handle transformationsbasically, do anything we needed to for creating a complex service. We could even test it. The Resource Editor made it simple to find and repurpose schemas, XML Queries or other service-based content that we had created. Also within the Project Explorer, we could define detailed alert options for any of the components of our services. These rules could be as simple or as complex as needed, and the step-by-step process helped us create alert rules and define parameters that would invoke the alerts. When invoked, the alert could send an e-mail message or could be configured to send a JMS (Java Message Service) message, which could trigger additional processes. Click here to read a related review of Weblogic Server 9.0. AquaLogic Service Bus supports a wide variety of popular messaging formats. Routing mechanisms supported include FTP, HTTP, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), file system, e-mail and JMS. However, while AquaLogic Service Bus can work with message queue systems, it doesnt directly support any. Instead, it relies on the JMS interfaces of these systems. For transformations, AquaLogic Service Bus can use XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) and XQuery. The product does a very good job with XQuery, leveraging it for powerful routing options and for calling external services. XQuery also is one of the only areas where a non-browser-based tool comes into play. The bundled XQuery Mapper, an Eclipse plug-in, provides useful visual tools for performing data transformations using XQuery. The products design should be familiar to anyone who has used a data mapper, and we found it simple to use for even complex transformations. AquaLogic Service Bus runs on top of WebLogic 9.0 and gains all the clustering, scalability and reliability benefits that the WebLogic application server provides. The included tutorials are well-designed, although pretty basic. Much better are the sample applications available at BEAs developer Web site, dev2dev.bea.com. Pricing for AquaLogic Service Bus 2.0 starts at $20,000 per CPU. Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.