By Sean O’Shaughnessey
For about a decade, the acronym ESB—within the context of enterprise application integration (EAI) or middleware—has stood for enterprise service bus. It is a technology set that shares messages and services throughout an organization.
Even after the obvious success of the ESB, and the complications of point-to-point “spaghetti-in-a-box” technologies, many companies still have services that would be best described as a DSB (departmental service bus). As the EAI space matures, these late adopters will surely jump on the bus, even if it means throwing away the inefficient technologies their original implementations were based on.
How the ESB Is Like an Organism
Some companies have evolved the concept of ESB far beyond the simple movement of messages and sharing of services. For these leading companies, we might want to consider changing the ESB acronym to mean event service bus. An event service bus still carries messages and shares services, but now it can intelligently respond to messages without additional systems.
In fact, comparing an EAI implementation to the nervous system of most animals reveals many similarities. You can see the effect of these similarities using the Integration Maturity Model (IMM). The closer the inorganic implementation within your organization compares to the organic implementation of nature, the higher your company will score on the IMM assessment.
There is no natural correlation within advanced organisms of a point-to-point integration. Advanced organisms do not have single-purpose communication mechanisms that cannot respond to stimuli. When your finger is pricked, the message of pain is communicated via the central nervous system to the brain. That message doesn’t communicate to the elbow, with the elbow communicating to the shoulder, and finally the shoulder communicating to the spinal cord. There are no isolated portions of an advanced organism, and there should be no isolated portions of an advanced EAI implementation.
Even some simple organisms with limited brain (computing) power pull away from danger or dangerous stimuli. The ability to evade danger and pain is extremely common in most animals, regardless of their standing in the evolutionary pool.
Company Technology Evolution Still at Caveman Stage
Amazingly, many companies have not evolved to the point of some of the simplest of organisms. These organizations cannot react to basic stimuli such as the presence of danger, or, more importantly, food (in the form of customers). To develop these capabilities, they need an event service bus.
An event service bus combines the flexibility of an enterprise service bus with the power of complex event processing (CEP). The CEP enhancement allows the “bus” to respond to opportunities and threats without having an application built on top of a database, which would slow the reaction time. Within organic creatures, a slow response time could mean injury or loss of food, and the same is true in organization; slow response could mean exposure to risk or a missed opportunity for profitable customer interaction.
Perhaps it is too early to evolve the ESB acronym to this new definition of event service bus. It may be too confusing to those still on the integration-maturing curve. But we should at least consider calling this more highly evolved integration capability an ESB Plus—and it should be the goal of any company that wants to provide the best possible experience for its customers.