SOA offers great benefits by simplifying the architecture by virtue of its priniciples and helps in making an enterprise more agile. But implementing SOA is not easy and it takes a well-defined strategy. It is a long-term investment and if the first step taken is in wrong direction, then integration costs and complexity can increase exponentially.
For example, consider an organization which is in Retail domain and wants to integrate its 2 channels – Store and E-Commerce. This can be done by choosing any of ESB available in the market which supports the protocols, message formats etc of the requesting and providing applications. However, integration might not stop here. There can be another legacy system which the organization has acquired and wants to integrate. Also, management wants to increase agility by defining worflows and dynamically changing rules according to business needs in a faster changing market. It needs to be understood that SOA is a journey and it is business to decide which mode of transport they take to embark on this journey.
IBM is one of the leaders in middlware but does its products make a better choice when implenting SOA?
1. IBM has a wide array of products. Deciding which product suits which requirement is a not an easy task. If there is an ESB requirement then IBM offers the following products: Websphere ESB, Websphere Message Broker and Datapower. Not all products offer the same benefits and each one has its own strength and pitfalls.
2. These ESBs alone may not suffice. If complex transformations are required, then you might also need a Websphere Transformation Extender. If a legacy application needs to be integrated and a third-party or customized adapter is required, then providing a seamless integration will be a challenge.
3. As SOA evolves and business grows, it almost becomes a necessity to have a BPM tool to facilitate agility. IBM provides Websphere Process Server as a BPM tool for process based integration.
4. Websphere Process Server is mounted on top of Websphere Application Server. It also comes with a Business Rule engine to enrich process workflows. However, there is another powerful product, websphere ILOG, which also offers business rule management.
5. ILog JRules is installed separately and has its own development and runtime environments. While you already have a Rational Application Developer, an eclipse based IDE, you will be using another IDE for rule authoring. Not only this, you are also using an IDE for designing and developing ESB flows. For example, if you are using websphere message broker, then you will be using a message broker toolkit as IDE.