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WSO2 Enterprise Integrator 3 min

Do I need an ESB vendor or an ESB partner?

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Luuk Abels
Integration Consultant
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Do I need an ESB vendor or an ESB partner?When you’re in the middle of selecting an Enterprise Service Bus, typing in “ESB” in Google is probably the worst thing you can do. Within seconds, you’re flooded with websites on ESB software, ESB vendors, and ESB partners. These websites are all very helpful- if you know what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll probably end up in the wrong place reading the wrong information. For the right input to show up on your screen, you should know whether you’re looking for just a vendor or a partner-vendor combination. In this blog, we’ll tell you about the differences and why you should care in the first place. 

Not the same thing

An ESB vendor and an ESB partner are not the same thing. ESB vendors develop and sell ESB software, whereas ESB partners use the software of an ESB vendor as a tool to help companies build a new (and better) software architecture. In theory, you can buy a software product from a vendor and implement it yourself, so without the help of a partner. In this case, you buy the software (like an ESB, an API, etc.,), draw up the requirements and put your own IT department to work. In the real world, not calling for help often results in ESB implementations gone wrong or an implemented tool that’s not put to the best use. This certainly applies to open source products, that are highly editable and therefore complex to fully understand.

Specialized knowledge

It comes as no surprise that many companies choose to work with a partner. The main reason for this is their specialized knowledge on specific software tools that is not available at the average IT department. As ESB partners collaborate with products of one or several ESB vendors, they have a lot of experience with implementing them in different contexts. This doesn’t mean your own IT department consists of less intelligent or skilled people. It’s just that the work they do differs from IT professionals that work for a software partner. Like we explained in an earlier blog, Solution Architects are often hired to do the implementation of a new product, whereas Enterprise Architects and Information Architects usually work for the company itself.

Choose who you work with

There are many reasons to choose for an ESB product that is open source. It reduces the risk of a technical and financial lock-in and it’s being improved by a community of professionals all around the world. The only thing open source products lack, is a team of professionals to help you implement, test, and monitor them. The open source vendor will provide the source code, a manual, and a platform to ask questions, but they won’t send people to get the job done. This is where the ESB partner comes in. You can select this partner based on your own preferences such as geographical location, so that you can have regular meetings in your native language. When the ESB implementation is finalized, chances are you’ve created a valuable relationship that lasts for many years. This, in turn, eliminates the need to hire extra people, as you decide on the hours your partner spends on you.

And the answer is…

So, do you need an ESB vendor or an ESB partner? First of all, you always need an ESB vendor. He provides you with the actual ESB software, meaning that without a vendor, there’s nothing to implement. Teaming up with a partner is not obligatory, but highly recommended. A partner has specialized skills and experience, and functions as an extension of your internal IT department. With a hybrid team of internal and external professionals, chances are high your ESB runs like a charm, both now and in the future.

Are we biased because we are an ESB partner ourselves? Of course we are. But we don’t really care. There’s a reason why we do what we do, meaning that if our jobs didn’t matter, we’d probably be doing something else.

Do you work with a partner? And why (not)? Please leave a comment and join the conversation!

Looking for the right ESB vendor? Then read our ESB selection guide below.

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Full API lifecycle Management Selection Guide

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