If you haven't looked at XML accelerators, or appliances, for some time, you might want to look again. They now incorporate more integration, security and even governance features - all of which makes XML appliances a natural fit for B2B and cloud integration, according to a recent TechTarget article.
XML appliances-aka SOA appliances and XML gateways - can perform many of the tasks of an ESB. While they can't host services, they can handle the integration-in fact, their quick response time makes them a good option for situations where you have to translate a huge variety of formats, according to TechTarget.
And unlike an ESB, they don't sit in the middle of your network, which makes them a good fit for handling some of the same tasks at the edge of your network. As Ron Schmelzer of ZapThink says in the article:
"Acceleration is certainly a huge part of the value, But if we're looking at the XML message, we can do other things. We can enforce security; we can do management, routing or transformation; we can do queuing, failover and load balancing."
Of all those, coupling security with high-performance integration seems to be what's making XML appliances so competitive. In a post about how XML appliances reduce the complexity of application security, CTO Edge's Mike Vizard writes:
"There's an adage that says complexity and integration are the enemy of security. And yet, it's pretty clear that in order for the economy to thrive, we need more integration. So at the very least, that means we should be focusing more on taking as much complexity out of the equation as possible."
Given all of that, you can see how an XML appliance might nicely solve the on-premise to cloud integration challenges. And you can expect vendors to market to you accordingly.
Cloud isn't the only new way vendors are pushing appliances. IT Business Edge's Arthur Cole writes that vendors are offering appliances tailored to specific enterprise software. For example, HP's new XML Accelerator is designed to work with SAP's ERP and Netweaver Process Integration platforms, and plans to offer similar appliances for Oracle, Microsoft and other XML-based systems.
The TechTarget article does an excellent job of explaining the technology, as well as the problems and limitations of XML appliances. It's an okay read for business leaders, who will have no problem following it as long as acronyms like "SOA" and "CPU" don't trip them up.
For tech leaders, I would say it's a must read, particularly if you're involved with a lot of B2B integration or plan to use more SaaS or cloud solutions. The article is exhaustive and focused on the problems you can and cannot solve with XML appliances.
Kudos, by the way, to reporter Rob Barry for interviewing such a wide range of sources. He even found an actual use case-the Commonwealth of Massachusetts-and interviewed the enterprise architect in charge of the decision.