What is ESB?
By Chris Brunau
It’s important to understand the various integration technologies available in the marketplace to find the one best suited to your enterprise’s needs, as many of them offer significant time and cost savings. This article will define what an enterprise service bus (ESB) is, as well as the benefits of using one and how to assess when your enterprise should use one.
What is an ESB?
An enterprise service bus (ESB) is a form of middleware used for integrating applications or services across an enterprise. It’s usually managed and maintained by an IT department and it is deployed on-site. Essentially, an ESB manages connections between applications and helps them communicate - eliminating the need for an enterprise to write code to connect applications, which becomes increasingly complicated as more components or applications are added over time.
Why use an ESB?
The primary benefit of using an ESB is less work and easier maintenance. An ESB simplifies integration, making it easier for an IT team to connect legacy systems and new components or applications and maintain them. An ESB does the translation work for you - converting various disparate protocols and data formats to the correct message type and then sending those messages to where they need to go, whether that’s to another application or an application component.
Because of this streamlined process, an ESB is also great for scalability, as it makes changing or adding additional components easier than a point-to-point integration, which can be time-consuming and more difficult to manage over time. An ESB is also useful for enforcing security and compliance, given that it sees all traffic being routed through the system.
When should your business use an ESB?
There are many considerations to determine whether your enterprise needs an ESB - here are some of the major ones:
- If your enterprise has three or more applications that require integration, it’s best to use an ESB - otherwise, a point-to-point integration is the better option.
- If you’re likely to scale in the future and add more applications, your enterprise should use an ESB.
- If you use multiple types of communication protocols or plan to incorporate services from external vendors, these are also good reasons to use an ESB.
An ESB saves time, money
An ESB can save your enterprise time and money by simplifying the complex integration of legacy systems and new applications. By avoiding point-to-point integration, an ESB also prevents future headaches that come with attempting to manage an increasing amount of complex code over time.
But it’s important to evaluate your enterprise’s true needs before deciding if an ESB is right for you, including assessing how many applications need to be connected, the likelihood of your enterprise adding more applications in the future, and how many types of communications protocols are being used.