Finally admitting that Enterprise Service Bus is actually a product, not just an architecture, IBM released a roadmap comprised of new and enhanced products addressing multiple points of the Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) lifecycle. They extend from design to deployment and management. And, yes, a couple of those products are actually called ESBs.
It includes a bare bones ESB, branded appropriately, WebSphere ESB, that simply routes and transforms data and processes exposed as web services. By comparison, this product is similar to the Quicksilver ESB product being offered by BEA.
However, IBM also provides more deluxe ESBs that tap into other pieces of the WebSphere family, including clustering and failover of the appserver, and support of higher-end process orchestration. On its own, WebSphere ESB can be used for pilot or small-midsize business installations, which do not involve multiple applications, servers, or the composition of complex, long-lasting processes. Towards that end, WebSphere ESB could be used with the WebSphere Express family aimed at small-midsize businesses.
A higher-end version of the ESB will also be packaged as part of an enhanced WebSphere Message Broker, IBM’s latter-day incarnation of the old CrossWorlds EAI product. And the ESB will also be included in a new product, WebSphere Process Server, providing a means for business analysts to quickly deploy, replace, or refresh services.
Other new products include WebSphere Integration Developer, a design tool targeted at business analysts who are assembling processes into the composite applications that are exposed as services; WebSphere Business Monitor, providing a dashboard on the performance of business processes deployed as services; and WebSphere Everyplace Deployment, which provides ways of exposing services on clients other than web browsers.
Then there are updates to roughly a dozen products to round everything out.
The best way to understand the scope of announcements is to look at where each product fits into the lifecycle of identifying the need for a service, composing it, developing the necessary software components to support it, deploying it, and ensuring that the services are meeting service level agreements.
There are two use cases that IBM’s tools address: business process modeling and deployment that either does or does not require the development of new software components. Conceivably, if no new software development is required, the tools are sufficiently high-level to allow business analysts to compose, and monitor processes themselves (although they would probably need IT help in physical deployment or operations). The other case, where software development is required, involves loosely coupled links (primarily via UML translations) with the Rational tools.
In a use case touching all the bases covered by the new and enhanced IBM tools, the cycle would start with business analysts using WebSphere Business Modeler, an existing product, to compose process models and reuse existing processes when composing new services. The business modeling product is adding more granular activity modeling, web collaboration capability, and import of Microsoft Visio process diagrams.
In turn, Rational Software Architect 6.0.1 adds the ability to build and transform UML models to web services, while supporting the use of WebSphere messaging patterns to build and configure the ESB. In turn, UML is transformed by developers using Rational Application Developer into services with user interfaces and, where necessary, adapters to business processes or applications. Those services are reviewed by business analysts in WebSphere Integration Developer, where they assemble the actual services that are deployed.
For scenarios where services only need to be composed, business analysts could define the processes using WebSphere Business Modeler, import them into Integration Developer where they are composed, deploy them with Process Server, and monitor them with WebSphere Business Monitor, which provides the real-time dashboard. In some cases, services can be generated without having to perform Java coding.
Significantly, the new and enhanced IBM offerings reflect the fact that services-oriented environments may not always solely rely on web services. Driving that in, Ian Muir, a senior manager with Standard Life Assurance Company, gave a customer testimonial on how they are using IBM middleware to initiate roughly 40% of their mainframe transactions as services.
Additionally, IBM will offer jump-start services and is developing various vertical industry service templates. IBM will soon disclose more details on the products, which are to be released over the rest of the year.