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ESB persists as application integration tool

John Moore | May 16, 2013
The tried-and-true enterprise service bus--long the foundation of now-dated service oriented architecture deployments--is back in style thanks to the increasing need to integrate disparate applications. The secret to ESB's future success, some say, is a close tie to API management tools.

In one example, NCR uses ESB to integrate a loyalty program system it's building for a retailer. The system will involve an NCR-developed Facebook app hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and NCR's own data center resources. It will let customers participating in the loyalty program opt into retailer offers via Facebook. ESB, in this case, will tie the different elements together.

In a different scenario, ESB may be deployed to help organizations reconcile legacy point of sale gear with a new payment system. A company could have a mix of legacy and new POS technology, but the data generated by the older POS devices exists in a format incompatible with the backend system.

POS transactions can be routed to NCR's ESB, which then determines whether it came from a legacy or new POS based on the device ID, Rosner says. "Based on a rule, [the ESB] then triggers a transformation of the data to the one accepted by the system."

Rosner estimates that NCR's ESB handles hundreds of concurrent connections but adds that the number of connections will grow exponentially once the company works through the initial challenges of the deployment.

ESB 'Agnostic To the Technology Platform'
Another ESB user, Social Interest Solutions, a Sacramento, Calif. nonprofit that builds health and social services systems, has been deploying the technology for several years.

Social Interest's ESB is built on Microsoft BizTalk Server and Windows Communication Foundation. The ESB is part of the organization's One-e-App system, which lets people submit one application for multiple health and social services programs. The ESB includes a rules engine that contains the eligibility requirements for various programs; organizations in Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana and Maryland use One-e-App.

Ashok Rout, chief technology officer at Social Interest, sees a continuing role for ESB technology. The organization is now expanding its Arizona system to help the state meet its Affordable Care Act mandates. The system, slated to go live October 1, will use the ESB to integrate with federal and state systems. The connections will be used to verify income and other eligibility criteria. ESB will also provide a mechanism that other states can use to leverage features or functions of the Arizona system.

Rout counts support for different integration methods among ESB's enduring qualities. "The beauty of ESB is that is allows you to be agnostic to the technology platform [and]...the integration you are doing," he says.

Rout notes that his organization's ESB allows Web services, APIs or flat files to be integrated. An ESB designed to be agnostic can accommodate new integration approaches as they surface. "ESB is going to be critical in the future," he says.


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