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At the close of our wildly popular ESB Evaluation Framework,4 we shared our intent to evaluate some leading (commercial and open source) “pure-play” ESBs.5 Now, that time is (finally) upon us. A natural question is, why now? Or rather, why not over the summer, right after the publication of our ESB evaluation framework? The short answer is we have been collecting, synthesizing, and sharing information to make the ESB evaluations most valuable for our readers. The longer answer is, two reasons:

INDUSTRY MOVEMENT. First, over the last few months, there has been significant activity in the ESB marketplace. The commercial market saw the entry of the application infrastructure giants, BEA, IBM, and Tibco. The entry of the giants didn’t contract the ESB space; rather, their entry legitimized it. The existing ESB vendors we’ve spoken with, such as CapeClear, Iona, PolarLake, and Sonic Software, welcomed the giants. During the same time, many of these existing vendors have released product upgrades.

The activity wasn’t limited to the commercial market. On the open source side, (seemingly) everyone had an ESB-related announcement. There were open source ESB (and ESB-like) announcements from existing projects ServiceMix and Mule, and new projects from Sun, Iona, Apache, and, most recently, JBoss.*6

READER INTERACTION. Second, we took the opportunity to converse (email, phone, and pub) with the enterprise professionals downloading our ESB, integration, and SOA papers. These interactions were invaluable. We learned how readers are using our research, what vendors and products piqued their interest, and the burning questions they wanted answered from our ESB evaluation series.

In-House Evaluation Best Practices. A bonus from our reader interaction was the surfacing of best practices for in-house evaluations of ESBs. As we’ve mentioned throughout our SOA and integration research, every enterprise is different, and in your technology and product evaluations, you need to focus on the best fit for your situation. In some cases, the best fit might be continued investment in an installed product line, rather than an industry-ordained best product. To find the best fit, you need to supplement research activities with hands-on evaluations. In other words, take your own Enterprise Service Bus Rides, using your own integration scenarios, and focusing on the portions of the evaluation framework that are most important to you.


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