Sonic Seeks to Clarify Enterprise Service Bus

The company pitches its new reference model as a way of cutting through the confusion regarding ESB and SOA deployment.

Sonic Software Corp. on Monday introduced its definition of an enterprise service bus.

In a reference model called "Sonic ESB: An Architecture and Life Cycle Definition," Sonic laid out its definition of an ESB and offered a comprehensive and unambiguous vocabulary in a technology category rife with confusion and conflicting terminology.

ESB is an emerging standard for integrating enterprise applications in an implementation-independent fashion, at a coarse-grained service level via an event-driven and XML-based messaging engine.

For customers and the industry, the devil is in the details and in the definition of the model itself.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read about an open-source ESB project from Iona Technologies.

The company said its model also offers a precise technical reference for the ESB implementation in broadest deployment today, and a definitive basis for comparison between previous generation technologies, fractional ESBs and the comprehensive ESB reference model outlined in the definition.

The definition is available here.

"This reference model will help anyone interested in SOA [service-oriented archicture] infrastructure by providing a precise vocabulary and structural definition of an ESB that has been field-proven in over 250 live customer deployments," Hub Vandervoort, chief technology officer of Sonic Software, said in a statement.

"This definition permits them to clearly understand the key distinguishing architectural characteristics of an ESB, and how these properties provide a superior platform for distributed, service-oriented computing. Its time for fuzzy thinking about enterprise service buses to be replaced with a precise definition that allows the industry to separate fractional ESBs from the real thing."

Sonic, a unit of Progress Software Corp. of Bedford, Mass., made its announcement at the Gartner Integration & Web Services Summit in Orlando Monday.

"As for Sonics attempt to standardize the definition of ESB, its indicative of the troublesome state of that term," said Ron Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC in Waltham, Mass.

"First, there is very little commonality to any of the ESB products on the market. Second, its a practical impossibility to get everyone to agree on what exactly an ESB does and what functions and features people should expect from ESB products," Schmelzer said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead more here about ESB products from Sonic.

Schmelzer pointed out that IBM has also been working towards a standardized definition of ESB, and that IBM may carry more marketing weight.

Finally, he said, "Its not clear how important the ESB term will be in the long run anyway. First and foremost, companies should figure out what technologies they need to implement their SOA.

"If they get the technology from their existing vendors, from focused startups or from companies who have so-called ESBs, then so be it. But trying to get all the different vendors to come up with one definition for a notoriously ill-defined and widely abused term may not be a battle worth fighting."

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