API Management 3 min

Bye-bye technology?

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
yenlo blog 2019 10 21 bye bye technology pager in hand

Bye-bye TechnologyHave you ever considered how much technology has been introduced in the last 30 years? It’s really remarkable. Some of the technology is still in use, albeit in advanced form. The personal computer is nothing like the one from 30 years ago. Other technologies are obsolete because they are no longer needed or they have been replaced by better solutions. But, as is often the case, there’s a nuance. This article is about technology we really don’t use anymore.

A recent World Economic Forum article titled “Four revolutionary technologies that are now obsolete” caught my attention, because it describes some technologies that are no longer in (widespread) use. Like the pager, for example. We’re talking about the pre-mobile phone era. Pagers were popular in the 80s and 90s. For those unfamiliar with pagers, it’s a simple communication device that receives short messages, for example the numbers “1930”. Which can indicate the number you need to dial. You would wear them clipped on your belt and they would flash and make a sound when a message arrives. Hospital staff used them a lot, as well as emergency workers. I personally remember that my sister’s boyfriend at that time had a pager. When she wanted to meet him, and my mother was gone (the coast was clear), my sister paged her boyfriend the time to meet up (for example 19:30). This, of course, was way before the mobile phone era. For most people pagers are no longer relevant.

However, due to the resilience of the technology for emergency workers, it looks like there’s still an offering by Dutch Royal KPN for such devices. Of course it’s modernized, but the technology is still used in niche areas. I was browsing the offering because it intrigues me and shows the longevity of the technology. It turns out that communication with these devices as part of the IT infrastructure is done using SOAP messages. So, if you want to integrate pagers into your IT landscape, you need to be able to send a SOAP message to these devices. But SOAP itself is becoming a technology that is used less and less, RESTful communication took its place. That of course means APIs. Can you use an API to communicate with a pager? The answer is yes, but with the right environment like the Enterprise Service Bus.

The moral of the story is that you may want to say goodbye to technology, but that isn’t always possible. The pager is of course an extreme example, but when you look closely at your IT landscape, there may be systems to that you really want to say goodbye to, but you can’t. Reasons can be complexity, cost or risk. Or combinations of these.

Fortunately, we’re still able to make these systems work today. How? Due to the magic of the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). The quote “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” is attributed to Mark Twain. That was his reply to stories about his demise. The ESB is also still very much alive, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Of course, we see new paradigms appear like microservices, but there will “always” be a need for technology that is able to make a connection between heterogeneous systems.

It’s not a choice between ESB and microservices, there is no competition. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks. The newly released WSO2 Enterprise Integrator 7.0 and its predecessors (including the upcoming EI 6.6.0) offer you the tools to do both. Support for the ESB configuration functionality, as a larger, more monolithic approach or in a microservices environment. The Enterprise Integrator 7.0 also supports  Ballerina, an agile integration development environment made for deployment anywhere. If you want to know more, read our ESB Selection Guide white paper.

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