Journey to an Enterprise Service Bus Integration

Introduction

In the 1990s, Enterprise Resource Planning solutions rose tremendously. At the time, they were the new “grail”, concentrating every single one of an enterprise needs in a packaged solution. It did not take long, 10 years roughly, for executives to determine that their bloated, overly customized and overly expensive-to-upgrade solutions would never bring the promised reductions of complexity and savings they were expecting.

Worse, each new change would compound the existing complexity: changing Chart of Accounts, product codification, pricing structure, customer structure, etc.

An idea started to form: rather than concentrating everything in one place, a better approach would be to leave best in breed applications alone and integrate them. How?

The Enterprise Service Bus is arguably the “grail” of data integration solutions, especially when it comes to Enterprise data integrations.

I experienced several reasons for that:

  • For the last 20 years, enterprise growth has been greatly accelerated through acquisitions, creating the need of being able to integrate quickly and in a repeatable way different business models built on different IT systems. But what if I’m on Oracle Applications and they’re on SAP, now what?
  • The speed at which companies are doing business, and the amount of actors involved, created the need of disseminating crucial information in real-time across numerous disparate IT systems. How do I enable customer registration in my e-commerce portals, and propagate in real-time this information into my order entry systems, my warehouse management systems, financial systems and Salesforce CRM so the customer can start placing orders right away?
  • “Data is the new gold”: Being able to gain insights by introspecting and analyzing in real-time data passing through enterprise systems in order to make on-the-spot operational decisions. How do I route a customer order so it is served by a location that will provide the fastest service, at the cheapest cost?

At 50,000 ft, an ESB architecture looks a lot like a Hub & Spoke:

However, the distributed architecture in the central Hub alleviates the bottleneck challenges that the Hub & Spoke model introduced. I will come back later on this aspect.

To that extent, I see the ESB architecture as a natural progression of the Hub & Spoke model to better face today’s enterprise challenges.

In this series of articles, I will review various data integration models and how they address the shortcomings of a Traditional integration, paving the way for the utilization of an Enterprise Service Bus architecture. I will not enter into deep technical details, rather I will provide a practical review of each model and applicability to an enterprise.

The next article in the series can be found here.

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