One of the more confusing areas in technology today is business process and Web services integration. Companies looking for a solution must sort through products touting a veritable alphabet soup of acronyms such as SOA (service-oriented architecture), EAI (enterprise application integration), BPM (business process management) and ESB (Enterprise Service Bus).
And while all these products have a similar goal—namely, tying together diverse applications, data sources, servers and processes—each approaches this goal differently.
Sonic Software Corp. is a pioneer and leader in the ESB approach, and with the release in June of Sonic ESB 5.5, the company continues to build on its leadership. In eWEEK Labs tests, we found Sonic ESB 5.5 to be a powerful, flexible platform for integrating diverse systems, processes and applications in a reliable, scalable manner. We believe ESB 5.5 is a worthy choice for any company looking to leverage SOA technology.
The interesting thing about Sonic ESB is that it is almost completely an under-the-covers infrastructure product. It has almost no interfaces or tools that are completely its own. Instead, it runs on top of SonicMQ 6.0 and benefits from that products management tools and from the failover capabilities of its Continuous Availability Architecture.
Pricing and packaging for Sonic ESB can be confusing. Pricing for the base deployment version of Sonic ESB, which includes only ESB and SonicMQ, starts at $10,000. Organizations that want a development platform must purchase Sonics Integration Workbench, priced at $3,750 per user, which includes ESB, SonicMQ, Orchestration Server, XML Server and a special integration edition of Sonics Stylus Studio Integration Edition. There is no option for companies that already own Stylus Studio to simply upgrade their current version to the Integration Edition. ESB is also a piece of Sonic Business Integration Suite, which in a typical enterprise implementation for all suite components, including adapters, will likely cost about $200,000.
Using Sonic ESB, we could create complex business processes that could easily use a wide variety of Web services, data sources and applications. Because of the products architecture, once we implemented something to use ESB, it became portable and reusable throughout the test infrastructure, especially when compared with integration solutions that require point-to-point processes.
Integration Workbench provides a good development environment for creating service-based processes. After a simple installation, the entire Sonic platform was available for creating and testing applications, services and processes. The add-ons to Stylus Studio included in the Integration Edition let us develop processes to use the ESB infrastructure and were especially good for creating Web services from existing business processes.
As with all Sonic products, ESB 5.5 has excellent standards support, offering support for a broad array of Web services, XML and Java application standards. The platforms server components run on nearly all platforms, but the development tools run only on Windows.
Sonic provides an extensive collection of adapters to help companies connect almost any enterprise application or data platform to Sonic ESB. The product also includes several good samples that helped us get up to speed with the products capabilities.
Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at email@example.com.