Do you need to store XML data in the messaging layer? If so does the data storage engine have to be integrated and integral to the rest of the messaging infrastructure? Sonic are the first vendor to suggest that the answer to both of these questions is yes.
At the end of last year Progress Software, Sonic's parent company, acquired eXcelon. Amongst eXcelon's portfolio were BPM, a business process management tool, and XIS, an XML database.
Last week Sonic made a major announcement that included the integration of BPM and XIS into the Sonic family. BPM provides complex orchestration and B2B functionality built on top of their Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) thus moving Sonic up the stack from pure technology into the business arena.
However the announcement that caught my eye was the integration of XIS. This provides a convergence of messaging and XML storage. All the messages going through the messaging layer are in XML format and they may need to be stored. They might need to be stored to preserve state during long running business processes. They may also need to be recorded for logging and auditing purposes.
Storage for audit is going to become critical to business; imagine a scenario where application integration is complete and transactions flow from the Internet through enterprise systems to partner systems using self-healing systems that should never go wrong.
A client puts in a transaction and two weeks later the business process completes and the client does not get what they expected. How do you retrace the business process to discover where it went wrong and what the input and output messages were at the time? An answer could be that you store all the messages independently of the applications, or Web services, which use them.
That would allow independent tools to be used for tracking and analysis, and would reduce the requirement for developing tracking functions within each Web service.
If all of this XML data has to be stored and analysed, it makes sense that it should be held in a data-store that understands, supports and is optimised for XML. XIS is such a store as it provides an XML Processing Engine that can parse, validate, store, index, update, query and transform XML, and a native XML data-store that provides schema-independent storage of any XML document type or size. XIS is built on highly reliable embedded database technology with full backup and recovery facilities.
The advantage of integrating this with the messaging becomes even greater when combined with Sonic Stylus Studio, an IDE that spans both the development of the ESB, the BPM and the data-store, and supports standards such as XSLT, XQuery and XPath.
BEA, IBM and now Sonic with their latest announcements have all looked at different levels and types of convergence. I will be investigating the strengths and benefits of these different approaches in the Intelligence in the Messaging Layer report in the summer.
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