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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.

ESB, API Management Coming Together
While customers see a stable role for ESB, the technology itself is far from static.

"I've seen a lot of evolution in the ESB marketplace," notes Paul Fremantle, co-founder and CTO at WS02, which provides an ESB among other enterprise middleware products. His background includes building one of the first XML Web service gateways, which found use in 2003 as an early ESB at Charles Schwab.

Freemantle cites the convergence of ESB and API management functions among the current technology trends of note. He says ESBs have taken on the quality of service, usage throttling and access control roles that are typical of API gateways. On the other hand, API management vendors have effectively incorporated a number of ESB capabilities into their products, he adds.

WS02 offers both technologies, having launched an API management product in September 2012. Freemantle says newer customers are adopting both products and using ESB and API management components where they see a fit.

Ross Mason, founder and vice president of product strategy at MuleSoft, agrees that ESB and API management are coming together. "API publishing and management have become a very big piece of what enterprise integration is today, he says.

Mason says APIs have become the mechanism for connecting endpoints that exist outside of the firewall-cloud platforms and SaaS systems, for instance. He adds that mobile devices also need APIs to connect back into enterprise systems.

With that in mind, MuleSoft in April debuted its Anypoint Platform, which includes Mulesoft ESB along with API-related components such as APIhub, a public API respository; Anypoint Service Registry, a cloud-based registry for API governance, and Anypoint API Manager. The latter module is in beta now and slated for availability in mid-2013, according to Ken Yagen, vice president of products at MuleSoft.

Future developments may overtake both ESB and API management. ZapThink's Bloomberg believes Integration as a Service, which traces its roots to B2B integration products, will emerge over time as the next generation of ESB and API management. In the meantime, enterprises will turn to ESB and API management to pull together in-house applications and a growing population of external endpoints.

"ESB is a good foundation bedrock to enable that," Mason says. "Layering on API capabilities on top of that is extremely important to reach all the requirements of the enterprise."

 

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