Definition

enterprise service bus (ESB)

An enterprise service bus (ESB) is a software architecture for middleware that provides fundamental services for more complex architectures. For example, an ESB incorporates the features required to implement a service-oriented architecture (SOA). In a general sense, an ESB can be thought of as a mechanism that manages access to applications and services (especially legacy versions) to present a single, simple, and consistent interface to end-users via Web- or forms-based client-side front ends.

In essence, ESB does for distributed heterogeneous back end services and applications and distributed heterogenous front-end users and information consumers what middleware is really supposed to do: hide complexity, simplify access, allow developers to use generic, canonical forms of query, access and interaction, handling the complex details in the background. The key to ESB's appeal, and possibly also its future success, lies in its ability to support incremental service and application integration as driven by business requirements, not as governed by available technology.

One of the major vendors of ESB, IBM, promotes it as a way to meet the challenges of integrating applications and provide a single, unified architecture —- built around IBM WebSphere —- that can:

  • Distribute information across an enterprise quickly and easily.
  • Mask differences among underlying platforms, software architectures, and network protocols.
  • Ensure information delivery even when some systems or networks may go off-line from time to time.
  • Re-route, log, and enrich information without requiring applications to be rewritten.
  • Provide incremental solution implementations so all enterprise services and applications need not change immediately or all at once.

According to IBM, "ESB is not a new software product – it's a new way of looking at how to integrate applications, coordinate resources, and manipulate information."

 

Getting started with enterprise service bus
To explore how the enterprise service bus is used in the enterprise, here is an additional resource:
ESB Tutorial: This tutorial introduces you to the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), a service-oriented methodology for enterprise application integration. This collection, which includes articles, expert advice, white papers and much more, will get you up to speed on how ESBs are changing the way we do integration.

This was last updated in October 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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