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Sonic ESB chosen for BT Integrate

More endorsement for the ESB

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Sonic Software has just had a rather nice endorsement for its ESB (Enterprise Service Bus): BT Global Services is using it in its BT Integrate distributed integration appliance.

This seems to be a practical realisation of an idea I first saw mooted (and demo’d) by Data General last century – a smart box in the corner of your premises, with just a network port, a power connector and a link port (to another box, for fault tolerance), provisioned and managed entirely through your phone connection. Good to see practical technology catching up with yesterday’s vision!

And, I really do think that ESB and SOA will be the enablers for the next decade.

There is a comfort issue with using external services for business-critical integration – although BT’s hosted model differs from that of Salesforce.com, in that its hardware device lives on its customers’ premises. However, these BT hardware appliances are not the same as, say, Cast Iron Systems' appliances, which require purchasers to manage their own network - BT manages the network and you have an SLA with BT.

According to Paul Moxon, senior director of product management at Sonic Software, and contrary to some reports, the BT appliance incorporates a bog-standard vanilla Sonic ESB. Part of the BT requirements for this ESB was that infrastructure management information and application payloads could be kept entirely separate - although different levels of encryption may let you dip into the payload for management - and Sonic has strong out-of-band management capabilities. Apparently, the only customisation needed was at the management tool level, where Sonic collaborated with BT (and other tools are involved, e.g., BMC Patrol).

Moxon claims that BT evaluated “everything” before choosing Sonic (key requirements included distributed deployment capabilities requiring zero onsite support and resilient availability); and that the appliance approach really speeds up deployment of the ESB. These claims are both probably more-or-less true, but I doubt if physical deployment is the main bottleneck to installing an ESB for mission-critical applications.

We’re back to comfort and “enterprise application integration” has a bad reputation for leaving people in the lurch.

Sonic has done a lot to address this with its proselytising for ESB (it sponsored Dave Cappell’s ESB book) and its access to supporting Progress technologies such as DataDirect (originally NEON) Shadow (according to Moxon, Sonic makes many sales where “mainframe connectivity was the crunch point”) and it resells iWay’s unparalleled range of integration adaptors.

However, without denigrating Sonic’s success with BT, many customers will stick with current suppliers and relationships they are comfortable with (this was very obvious at the Information Builders Summit last month) – and everyone is offering an ESB of sorts these days. In the Enterprise world, long term relationships often count for a lot more than the latest whizzo technology. ®

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