While pundits may still not agree on what an enterprise system bus is, Sonic Software Corp. continues to carve out and expand its own vision of an ESB, targeting large-scale, distributed SOA deployments with release 7.0, announced yesterday. The Sonic ESB 7.0 includes a new Eclipse-based workbench for modeling, configuration, testing and deployment; implementation of advanced Web services standards; and an extension of Sonic's Continuous Availability Architecture (CAA) for high-throughput environments.
In this release, Sonic is "focusing on ease of use for developers in the SOA lifecycle," said Ken Schwarz, senior product marketing manager for Sonic, an operating unit of Progress Software Corp. Workbench offers "total SOA lifecycle management through modeling, configuration management, testing and deployment." In addition, Schwarz said, "Going forward, Eclipse is our foundation for all our tools." Sonic has become the second major ESB vendor to standardize on the Eclipse platform, joining competitor Cape Clear Software Inc., which made the switchover in the version 6.5 release of its ESB last November.
'The ESB space has been quite muddied, but Sonic really is a beacon of light here, since they have the most complete, compelling and well-crafted vision for what the ESB is 'supposed' to be," said Ronald Schmelzer, a senior analyst at ZapThink LLC, Waltham, Mass. "Many others are using the term without as well-defined a vision for a differentiated product. Both the new features in Workbench [and] support for Eclipse, as well as further refining around building reliable service interactions all serve to further differentiate the Sonic product."
The Eclipse-based Sonic Workbench 7.0 process modeling capability includes a drag-and-drop palette and standards-based business process notation, enabling business analysts to create process flows across distributed services. "If this is your first Eclipse environment it works as a standalone Eclipse system, but the tools play nice with other tools. You can import business process notation from other tools," Schwarz said.
The Workbench's testing and debugging capability enables ESB processes to be tested in both test environments and live, distributed deployments. "It can be done either inside the system for Eclipse or in a distributed SOA environment, but either way the tool looks the same," Schwarz said. "You can test at design time and runtime. You can debug in a live environment by setting breakpoint without disrupting other running processes."
In addition, for secure and reliable communication between services, Sonic ESB 7.0 supports WS-ReliableMessaging, WS-Addressing, WS-Security and WS-Policy, "the four critical standards to get quality of service and on-the-wire protocol interoperability," said Schwarz. Though it should be noted that only WS-Security has reached full-fledged standard status. WS-ReliableMessaging and WS-Addressing are currently under committee review at OASIS while WS-Policy has yet to find its way into a standards body.
Finally, Sonic ESB 7.0 extends the Sonic CAA with CAA Fast-Forward, a reliable messaging technology that eliminates the bottleneck created by disk writes. All Sonic ESB 7.0 services can fully exploit this capability, according to the company.
"The new mode does away with persistent store used to manage messages moving from one client to the next. We it make optional. You can still use stores, but they incur a performance penalty. We're exploiting CAA for speed as well as reliability, for more than 10 times improvement in performance," Schwarz said.
The Sonic ESB is the core of the company's SOA suite, which includes the Sonic Orchestration Server, Sonic XML Server and Sonic Database Service. And with the recent acquisition of Actional Software, Sonic also plays now in the SOA management and governance area.
"We have a number of capabilities tied to the ESB, but we also go beyond that," Schwarz. said. "An ESB gives you the ability to lay down tracks for reliability and to be managed as a single infrastructure, but it's not the only way to do SOA. Actional goes well beyond the edges of ESB. It doesn't require one at all. We can offer SOA management and governance through the Actional approach."