New Offering from Intel Enables SOA Without ESB

Loraine Lawson

When you think of SOA vendors, does Intel spring to mind?


Probably not. But in fact, Intel has been moving its own infrastructure to service-oriented architecture since 2004. Intel chief architect Steve Birkel told SOA Magazine the company has reaped "in excess of tens of millions of dollars worth of reuse value" since moving to SOA. Birkel even co-authored a book about SOA, "SOA Demystified," which includes, among other case studies, a look at how Intel as a manufacturing company moved to SOA.


Along the way, Intel developed a few SOA-related products the company has slowly been bringing to market for wider use. So you, dear reader, can benefit from Intel's SOA success -- if you're willing to pay for the short-cut.


First, in December, the company unveiled its XML Software Suite and SOA Security Toolkit. That was followed in April by the SOA Healthcare Expressway.


This month, Intel announced its SOA Expressway, a vendor-neutral "soft appliance" that will can connect services and applications across networks and file formats -- without an enterprise service bus (ESB).


If you're confused by the term soft appliance, you're not alone. InformationWeek had to explain it. It's an appliance without hardware -- in other words, it's software, but not just any software. This software is designed to work faster and better than the software it replaces, much as a hardware-based appliance would. Intel's Web site also calls it an "appliance replacement."


I'm not sure why they just can't say it's better software, but maybe that's why I'm in journalism and not marketing.


Here's a rundown on what SOA Expressway offers. It:

  • Acts as an intermediary between servers and applications running on different platforms, much like an ESB. For instance, it can integrate applications or services built in Microsoft's .Net with database servers or Web server applications built in Java.
  • Speeds up parsing and conversion of the XML.
  • Supports discovery of services based on WSDL and WS*.
  • Includes a graphical development environment for creating data maps and work flows.
  • Includes Web Management Console, a browser-based console setting up database connections, network protocol adapters or service clusters.

InformationWeek notes that Intel built SOA Expressway for its own SOA needs, so it includes nifty performance-enhancing extras such as XML processing and a design that runs SOA Expressway across a multicore Xeon chip.



It can be yours for a "mere" $75,000 per two-way server -- although, Intel's Girish Juneja, director of SOA products, was quick to point out there are no additional fees or charges.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jun 18, 2008 12:47 PM surekha surekha  says:
I am just curious as to how the "soft appliance" can do all that an ESB does but at a greater speed and efficiency.Is it treating each payload on the wire as opaque with the metadata (typically implemented as the SOAP header and/or the metadata on the envelope of any canonical model) needed for routing being embedded elsewhere as opposed to being transported with the payload? So does this deviate from the W3C SOAP standards and bypass the SOAP stack?Another question I have would be around the end to end monitoring of the messages passing thru the bus. If the payloads are opaque then how does it accomplish content based routing and message aggregation and message augmentation a key feature of the ESB? Also, if the ESB is placed on an appliance how does one accomplish runtime service discovery? Are there additional steps involved with design time service publication activities to now "transcribe" these services and service contract/ policies to the appliance? Thanks,surekha - Reply

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