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WSO2 Enterprise Integrator 4 min

The ESB is not dead- it’s just sleeping

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
Enterprise Service Bus is not dead it is just sleeping
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The Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is not dead, it's just sleeping - Monty PythonThe ESB is getting old. And when things get old, people tend to forget about their value. It happens to smartphones, cars, and mothers all the time. It’s not a bad thing per se, as the old should give way to the new so innovation can happen. But in the case of the ESB, this oblivion is highly dangerous. When you forget about the one thing no modern organization can live without, you’ll never make it through your digital transformation. In this blog, we’re advocating the resurgence of the (renewed!) Enterprise Service Bus.

We have a problem

The ESB was developed to solve a problem. Growing businesses couldn’t handle the enormous amount of information flows going in and out of different systems, that were incompatible and unable to communicate. Different departments like Finance and HR worked with their own tools and applications, meaning each business consisted of separate islands where information and knowledge couldn’t be shared, let alone re-used. Moreover, all of these different infrastructures lead to the infamous spaghetti software, turning IT into a black box that was impossible to comprehend. This, in turn, resulted in a slow and rigid data infrastructure, that could lead to total failure if employees with a slight understanding of what was going on left the company.

The ESB to the rescue

But then there was the Enterprise Service Bus, lighting up the dark. Thanks to this clever piece of middleware, different types of internal systems were taught how to talk and exchange relevant information. As an ESB loosely couples internal applications, different departments can cooperate without the risk of a breakdown when one of them gets in trouble. Information can be re-used, sent from A to B (or C, D, or K) and speeds up all kinds of processes. The ESB has transformed many businesses into a modern and well-oiled machine, opening doors to new production processes and even new ways of gaining revenue. When connected to the outside world through APIs, for example, the ESB supports a data-driven strategy where different types of information are automatically analyzed and put into action.

Too old for cool

This outside world comes with a problem, though, as it changes constantly. The rise of the smartphone, the Internet of Things, APIs, and real time analytics together with an increasing focus on customer intimacy and time-to-market have created a turbulent business environment that requires middleware that is just as flexible. The ESB as we know it, however, is often rigid and unable to predict changes, let alone anticipate them. Application requirements change every few months, and this time frame is getting shorter as we speak. This is not the ESB’s fault, obviously. It still functions as the perfect intermediate between internal systems and it is without a doubt a crucial element of every IT architecture. But given the many changes outside the company walls, there’s need for improvement.

Don’t give up on me

Today, we should ask ourselves: “Should we use smart endpoints (accessed through an API gateway) or do we still need an ESB?” Hence, should we give up on the ESB, and replace it with, for example, an API Service Gateway and smart endpoint at the target information systems? Not at all! What we need, is an ESB update, so that it can help businesses in this highly digital era. This renewed ESB should be easily manageable, lightweight, flexible, more automated, and able to communicate with stakeholders in real time. Or even updated towards a full lightweight micro-services enabled ESB container. Whether integrated with an API Service Gateway or other smart pieces of middleware; the Enterprise Service Bus will always be the traffic controller and data formatter (mapping and message translation) every company needs to create order out of the chaos. So, a modern ESB is still needed besides the API Gateway as traffic controller and data formatter. To put it even more strongly: the more chaos, the higher the need for a well-functioning ESB. It is not a coincidence that WSO2 recently launched a new version of their Enterprise Service Bus, and called it the Enterprise Integrator. This new product allows you to integrate cloud services and legacy systems and offers an even higher compatibility, so your data gets transformed into any form you want.

No more doubts about the value of your ESB: when up to speed, it will be one of the key elements to guide you through today’s technical era and digital transformation.  It may have fallen asleep, though, so it’s up to you to wake it up and get it to work!

Want to know more about the role of the ESB in your digital transformation? Download the white paper below!

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