Integration Broker, Enterprise Service Bus, and Integration Platform as a Service: It’s Time for an Integration Solution Checkup

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Today, businesses have many choices for integration technology, including Integration Broker (IB), Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), and, most recently, Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS). Not all of these integration services are created equal. If your business has not evaluated your integration capabilities in some time, you may be behind when modernizing your business. We’ll explore each of these different integration approaches to help you determine which will best suit your needs.

Integration Broker

An integration broker (IB) facilitates point-to-point interactions between applications. They are designed to communicate from program to program. They integrate previously independent applications or services at the application layer of software design.

Typically, data flows through a central IB, which is designed to provide data transformation and transport services between the sending and receiving application. Integration brokers simplify integration by connecting systems with different data formats and data transfer methods. 

However, integration broker technologies are limited to point-to-point interactions, for example, from application A to application B. Then, a separate connection would have to be created to connect application B to application C. This results in an overly complex and inflexible architecture. Additionally, IB technology is unsuitable for complex integration use cases involving flows between multiple applications, content-based routing, conditional logic between steps, or more formal message distribution services.

Enterprise Service Bus 

An enterprise service bus (ESB) is a software architecture model that provides a loose coupling of services. ESBs allow services to be reconstituted into entirely different application contexts compared to when the services were first envisioned or developed. ESBs promote the reuse of applications without the need to recode applications. For example, if you have three different applications that communicate in different languages, an ESB can connect all three and serve as a translator between them. 

Integration experts often debate precisely what makes up an enterprise service bus. Standard capabilities include data transformation and mapping, message and event queuing and sequencing, security or exception handling, protocol conversion, and the like.

The one undisputed requirement is the need for a bus architecture—after all, it’s in the name. With a bus architecture, all systems follow the same standards and can share a standard method of transferring data between systems. ESBs incorporate a publish-and-subscribe approach, which makes it easy for any application to plug into the bus, as long as it meets the standards supported by the bus. 

Decentralized bus architecture can provide better scalability when it has no single point of failure and is designed for large deployments. However, they were not designed to support new modes of IT delivery (such as cloud-based applications) or new approaches to integration (such as API-led). 

The Future of Integration: Integration Platforms

The most recent development in integration technology is the Integration Platform as a Service (iPaas), which is a cloud-based service that connects your applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments. An iPaaS allows you to connect assets without any middleware or hardware and supports modern integration patterns like API-led or cloud-native microservices. 

So what can an iPaaS do? 

It can connect applications, migrate data, or sync data between data sources, so your teams can access the most up-to-date business data. For example, you can use an iPaaS to connect marketing automation apps and customer resource management systems (CRM), so sales can see where customers are engaging and when to reach out to make a sale. It can migrate your data between sources, like moving data from on-site sources to the cloud. Additionally, an iPaaS typically provides features to accelerate connectivity and reduce development time, such as low-code drag-and-drop interfaces and portfolios of pre-built connectors for typical business applications and databases. 

An iPaaS has all the speed, agility, and power of cloud computing so your business can keep up with change, accelerate integrations, and free up developer time. 

Which Integration Technology Does Your Business Use?

If you don’t know which model of integration technology your business uses, now is the time to check. If you are still using an integration broker, your business is severely limited in its integration capabilities due to an overreliance on point-to-point integration.

If your business still uses an ESB service, you may have more options for creating workflows and connecting assets, but your ESB will fall short as you modernize your IT architecture. It will need support for cloud-based integration or modern integration patterns like API-led or event-driven microservices, leaving your business lagging behind the competition. 

If your business has already integrated an iPaaS solution, you are on the right track to modernizing your business integrations. However, an iPaaS solution works best for departmental projects and small businesses. 

If your business is looking to tackle large, enterprise-wide integration initiatives across various deployment environments, it might be time to look into a hybrid integration platform.

Build the Best Digital Experience

When evaluating vendors, you need to ensure the integration vendor offers the mission-critical features for your business’s success. Creating a checklist of necessary integration capabilities—like drag-and-drop workflows, cloud source connections, browser interface, and more—will help you evaluate vendor offerings and decide which best suits your needs. 

Learn more about TIBCO Cloud Integration capabilities and download our Ultimate iPaaS Implementation Checklist from TIBCO to help you start your iPaaS integration journey. 

This blog was originally published by Kevin Bohan on 3/25/2015.