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Moving away from ESBs to microservices

Use of the enterprise service bus, a software architecture consisting of services that implement standard integration patterns, seems to be declining. Appearances can be deceiving, however, as TheServerSide's recent interviews with three Java pros reveal.

Historically, ESBs have been used to facilitate the development of a centralized, hub-and-spoke type of system. ESB features typically are used to build and deploy a SOA. ESBs and SOA are associated with slow-moving implementations of big systems.

From a Web developer's perspective, a bunch of microservices deployed to a lightweight Karaf container would actually meet the definition of an ESB.

Microservices are the direction the industry is moving, said Rob Terpilowski, software architect at Lynden Inc., a transportation and logistics firm. He's using smaller, micro-type services that don't require having an enterprise bus to pass data back and forth.

"I would say ESBs, in my opinion, are dead," Terpilowski said. "I wrote them off a long time ago."

On the other hand, Java consultants Matt Brasier and Jeff Genender say that the term ESB is unfashionable, as is the term SOA, but the technology is still quite usable.

"None of it is really dead," said Matt Brasier, head consultant at C2B2 Consulting, Instead, ESBs have simply evolved. "It's just a rebranding exercise, taking integration technologies, giving them a new name and then selling them under a new name."

Java Champion Genender observed that ESBs are now part of integration middleware, where pieces of many different components can be put together in a loosely coupled fashion. The term ESB carries negative baggage as a complex implementation, but the functionality of the ESB is still valuable.

Find out more about the status of ESBs in this video interview with TheServerSide, recorded at JavaOne 2014 in San Francisco.

-- Jan Stafford and Cameron McKenzie

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