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ESBs, composite application frameworks deliver agility

Organizations are turning to modern messaging-based middleware, such as enterprise service buses and composite application frameworks, as they move to more agile, service-oriented architectures.

Agility and responsiveness are keys to success in today's fast-paced environment, whether you're in the corporate battlefield or a real war zone. Organizations as diverse as a custom home manufacturer and the Israeli Army are turning to modern, messaging-based middleware, such as enterprise service buses (ESBs) and composite application frameworks, as they move to more agile, service-oriented architectures and seek to utilize existing applications with new services.

Everything you do, whether a simple method or a full workflow, is all Web services based.
Nathaniel Marrin
Systems DevelopmentViceroy

When the window glass supplier for Viceroy Homes Ltd. in Port Hope, Ontario, wanted to eliminate the manual entry required for Viceroy's purchase orders, Viceroy developed an application that "takes purchase orders and turns them into an XML structure, as well as attaches any Excel documents," said Viceroy's Nathaniel Marrin, systems development. Viceroy, which has a Baan enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, implemented a composite application framework from Netherlands-based Cordys Inc., as its core integration and IT platform.

Cordys' Business Collaboration Platform is built on an ESB and includes a portal, development environment, orchestrator, integrator and application connectors.

"Our application will take a JavaScript front end and call one of the methods exposed in Cordys to send or receive information from our ERP system," Marrin said. "The XML generated from that gets sent to the Java application, which looks for Excel documents and sends that out."

Because Cordys is Web services based, Marrin knows there is a possibility to do more integrations with suppliers and reap additional efficiency gains.

"Everything you do, whether a simple method or a full workflow, is all Web services based," Marrin said. "You can schedule and launch your entry with SOAP; for us that's allowed us to write PerlScript, integrating a number of applications. We use [Cordys] more as an internal way to connect legacy systems and expose them to new systems, but we can also at anytime have the Cordys server accessible to the outside world and have anybody launch it as a Web service."

An ESB "is the most ideal approach to work with the design concepts of an SOA," said Arjen Westerink, Cordys' product marketing manager for the Americas. "SOA by its nature deals with plugging in services in a heterogeneous environment that can be anywhere in the network. Traditional integration architecture brokers limit you in the location/network/platforms they're available on, and scalability is difficult. An ESB matches the nature of distributed services."

An ESB is "a modern instance of message-oriented middleware; it makes sense for all the reasons MOM makes sense," said Dennis Byron, vice president of business process automation and deployment, at Framingham, Mass. -based IDC. However, he adds, "an ESB is no good without enterprise services, so the composite application framework gives you that."

There has been a spate of ESB-related announcements in recent months, including BEA's introduction of the AquaLogic Service Bus and Sun's intention to acquire SeeBeyond. "The hidden jewel in that [SeeBeyond] acquisition is the composite application framework," Byron said.

An ESB alone may not always be the answer, though, said Doron Cohen, vice president of sales at Liam-One1, a Tel Aviv-based supplier of middleware and infrastructure. Liam-One1 is working on a proof-of-concept application with the Israeli Army that utilizes both the BEA platform and the MantaRay messaging middleware from Coridan Inc., based in Santa Clara, Calif. MantaRay uses a peer-to-peer architecture, which avoids any single point of failure or congestion.

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"The army is going to service oriented, so they think an ESB is not the right thing," Cohen said. "Say the bus was sitting in Tel Aviv and there is a bomb; you can't depend only on the bus. If a bomb explodes, they don't want to break the connection between units. They think Coridan with BEA is the best solution; it gives them more choices."

MantaRay is Java message service compliant and supports a range of standards for transport and connectivity, including SOAP. It is also interoperable with Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition application servers. It supports publish-subscribe and point-to-point messaging.

Cohen said he introduced Coridan to BEA a year ago. "The [Israeli] army said there's no competition with IBM or Microsoft if BEA and Coridan go together."

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