In this report excerpt, we share best practices for your own enterprise service bus evaluation process.


Our readers described their ESB evaluation work in three large categories: understand the situation, technology and product education, and product run-offs. While all three are equally important, the most interesting insights shared, and therefore to share, pertain to the product run-offs.

In the first part of this section, we describe the major ESB evaluation activities. In the second part of this section, we share insights on the product run-offs, or in-house Enterprise Service Bus Rides. Please note, while this report is specific to the enterprise service bus, the frame of the evaluation process described can be used for any application infrastructure evaluation.

Major ESB Evaluation Activities

The categories described above break down into four major activities. The amount of time you spend in each activity depends on your familiarity with the subject matter. As with most architectural activities, your progression will be iterative, rather than linear. Just be certain you have a solid problem definition before creating your product short list and conducting your bus rides.

1. DEFINE THE PROBLEM. Take the time to understand your situation. What business and technology problems are you trying to solve? What are your business and technology plans? What is the state of your application, information, and infrastructure portfolios? What is the skill level of your organization? Do you have a budget? Are you working at a project or enterprise level? What is your organization’s appetite for change? What is your organization’s tolerance for risk? Is your interest integration or service orientation? If SOA, which style—composite applications or flow? What resources—people, information, applications, or services—are you trying to connect? For what types of interactions or scenarios?

2. LEARN ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY. Technology education starts with key integration and service-oriented technologies (XML, XSLT, messaging, Web Services and BPEL) and practices (loose coupling, mediation, integration patterns, and semantic models). Your goal is familiarity, rather than expertise. You’ll need this background to effectively evaluate the ESB solutions, both in the research and hands-on activities.


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