Connectivity and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)

Connectivity and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3910-2.ch006
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Although the concept of connectivity in different contexts might have different meanings, its central functionality remains the same, facilitating connections to meet the needs of concerned contexts. From the enterprise integration perspective, connectivity should significantly resolve the heterogeneity issues in light of enhancing the needed interactions among applications. Hence, efficient and cost-effective cross-application and real-time data/functionality sharing can result. As discussed in the earlier chapters, the middleware technology has significantly evolved, providing the increasing needed support for the connectivity necessary for integrating distributed applications. With the evolution of enterprise integration architecture, patterns, and technologies, the middleware role evolves too. Middleware not only serves as a facilitator to provide passive universal connectivity across distributed applications, but also takes an active role in promoting and supporting the practice of service-orientation principles in enterprise integration. Indeed, enterprise service bus (ESB) emerges as this kind of middleware and integration platform. In this chapter, different perspectives of connectivity applied in enterprises are first discussed. The insights of the emerging concept, model, and technology employed in ESBs are then explored. As ESBs become as a pillar in enterprise integration, the roles and capabilities of ESBs in great detail are finally analyzed.
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1. Different Perspectives Of Connectivity In Enterprise Integration

Enterprise systems architecture evolves with the quick advancement of computing technologies and the increasing business operations demands on more comprehensive and timely information support services across an organization. As discussed in Chapter 4, compared to point-to-point integration architecture, peer-to-peer integration architecture substantially facilitates enterprise integration, resulting in significant improvement in terms of the reliability, robustness, and scalability of integrated systems in an organization. Figure 1 shows how the middleware technologies have evolutionarily migrated to enable the fundamental support for the connectivity needed in integrating distributed applications along with the evolution of enterprise integration architecture, patterns, and technologies.

Figure 1.

Architectural evolution of practical solutions to integrating heterogeneous systems: a) point-to-point Integration; b) peer-to-peer integration; c) integration based on open systems architecture and standard technologies; d) universal integration bus


General speaking, connectivity in the context of computer networking technology, refers to the use of computer networks to have computer systems connected to each other. Networking connectivity is the foundation of enterprise integration, enabling the potential for information resources to be shared between these computer systems and their final users. From the application integration perspective, connectivity should facilitate desirable communications and interactions and give rise to the obliteration of the gaps among applications to entail efficient and cost-effective cross-platform, high-speed, real-time data/functionality sharing.

The following points highlight the evolution of connectivity over last several decades in enterprise integration from an architectural perspective:

  • Ad hoc communication (Figure 1 a): Enterprise integration indeed started with this type of connectivity when there were no integration-bound communication methods and appropriate integration designs available in an organization. Enterprise integration thus ends up with a point-to-point architecture, which is error-prone, hardly changeable, and difficult to maintain and scale.

  • Common shared connectivity (Figure 1 b): By relying on interface definition languages and the provided commonly shared integration utility services, enterprise integration improves the flexibility and maintainability of integrated systems. However, the outcomes are typically restricted by the specifications and features used in the employed middleware.

  • Standard and open systems based interconnection (Figure 1 c): Web services technologies enabling service computing across enterprises have transformed how applications could be integrated. Because of the provided standard and open systems based interconnection, enterprise integration becomes practically applicable in a large-scale fashion. Integrated systems thus become more flexible, reliable, maintainable, and scalable than ever before. Moreover, the empowered connectivity enables further improved interoperability among enterprise information systems between organizations.

  • Universal integration bus (Figure 1 d): Indeed, technological heterogeneity can be substantially ameliorated as more and more Web Services based applications become available. However, there always are varieties of legacy systems that must be used in organizations in the foreseeable future. Many of these legacies might continue to be in place in order to provide business functionality supports after further technical enhancements and/or enrichments. For sure, many new systems in a large enterprise will emerge. To ensure all the applications can be well and effectively integrated in the enterprise or in an inter-enterprise setting, a universal integration bus becomes necessary.

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