More Companies Embracing the ESB for Integration, Services

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Top Ten Best Practices for Data Integration

Use these guidelines to help you achieve more modern, high-value and diverse uses of DI tools and techniques.

ESBs (enterprise service bus) haven't lost their allure when it comes to integration in the enterprise, according to a recent Forrester report. What's more, ESBs are expected to play an increased role in supporting SOA and integration.


Forrester's Q2 Wave on ESBs, which was published in April, recently became available for free download, and it includes a slew of statistics about ESB usage from Forrester's Q1 2011 Global Application/B2B Integration Online Survey, which queried 167 application development and enterprise architects from North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The survey shows ESBs are widely adopted, with more planning to add the technology:

  • 58 percent are using an ESB, and of those, 32 percent say they will expand their use of ESBs.
  • Beyond those already using ESBs, an additional 32 are considering an ESB.
  • 13 percent say they've got an ESB but aren't expanding its use.
  • Only 7 percent of the respondents say they're not interested in ESBs.


The survey also asked how companies are using ESBs, and I thought the results were interesting. Multiple responses were allowed, but routing (95 percent) and messaging (92 percent) emerged as the primary use for ESBs. Data transformation ranked third at 77 percent. Other functions reported:

  • Transaction mediation (58 percent)
  • Creation of services (35 percent)
  • BPEL-based orchestration (28 percent)
  • BPEL-based development (14 percent)


"ESB use cases for data transformation are distinct from those typically ascribed to extract, transform, and load (ETL) middleware," the report notes. "ESBs are making rapid, inline transformations feasible when maintaining a near-real-time service level for information delivery; the ESB approach to transformations makes them inherently less complex and comprehensive than the transformations possible when taking a more batch-oriented ETL approach."


Beyond all the fun statistics stuff, on page 6, you'll find the start of the Wave, which is basically Forrrester's assessment of the ESB market. Forrester Waves rank solutions on a graph, with strong versus weak performers on the vertical and a horizontal line of Risky Bets, Contenders, Strong Performers and Leaders. They ranked 11 individual ESB products - including four open source ESBs - and nine vendors (three of the ESBs belong to IBM) using 109 criteria, which, thankfully, the report doesn't enumerate. You have to be a Forrester client to access the Forrester Wave Tool, which offers that depth of information.


So, what's the top ESB? It turns out you really can't go wrong in this market, because none ranked as "Risky Bets" or even "Contenders." All nine placed along various degrees of "Strong Performers" or "Leaders," and none fell below the middle line when it came to strength vs. weaknesses. For the record, two open source solutions - FuseSource and WSO2 - ranked as leaders, which explains why FuseSource sponsored this as a free report on SD TImes. Oracle, whose ESB Forrester says "provides an industrial-strength ESB product" - has also made the report available for free viewing.


If you're looking at ESBs, then you'll have to dig a bit deeper to consider robustness, ease of use and so on. The Wave includes a general discussion about these topics and explains which solutions excel in which areas.