26-08-2015 Door: Guy Crets

ESB = Erroneous Spaghetti Box?

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While re-reading the Microservices article by Martin Fowler, I was triggered by the following footnote #7: We can't resist mentioning Jim Webber's statement that ESB stands for "Egregious Spaghetti Box".  I viewed the presentation - from 2008 - in which Jim Webber and Martin Fowler bash the Enterprise Service Bus and translate the acronym ESB into Erroneous Spaghetti Box.


I do agree that often, the integration platform simply contains a spaghetti of point-2-point integrations. But that's good! Way better than all that integration logic dispersed over many systems. With a wide variety of integration techniques, protocols and message formats. And spaghetti in a box is exactly what I tell when explaining what an integration platform is. Only by taking the next step of careful service and message design, one can arrive at a true Service Oriented Architecture.

Let's sum up the main advantages of an integration platform:

  • A standardized way to have applications talk to one another
  • No coding in a 3GL such as Java or C# but configuration in an application specifically built for the task of integrating systems
  • Support for applications of different kinds and ages, including packaged applications
  • Strongly reduced diversity in the tools and techniques used to integrate applications
  • Support for reliable, asynchronous communication using queuing and message persistence (which Fowler doesn't seem to like either)
  • Trivial connectivity through adapters
  • Central place to monitor and manage the communication between systems, in particular the reliable message exchange
  • Help turn packaged or older applications into services if desired (not everything is developed in-house)

With the disadvantages:

  • That it is a central, separate platform,
  • Requiring some specific skills (XML)
  • The cost of the integration development and support becoming truly visible.

Where Webber and Fowler do have a point, is that middleware vendors come with a whole slew of products. Obviously one should only pick the parts that are useful. And the ESB will definitely not create the Service Oriented Architecture for you.



Guy Crets

Guy Crets is Business Integration Architect en Partner bij I8C, onderdeel van de Cronos Group dat meeer dan 3.000 medewerkers telt. Hij is toonaangevend consultant en spreker met meer dan 25 jaar ervaring op het gebied van integratie en SOA-gerelateerde oplossingen en problemen. Hij heeft op vele internationale congressen en usergroup-bijeenkomsten over de gehele wereld presentaties gegeven en workshops gehouden, of als moderator opgetreden. In België spreekt Guy regelmatig bij SAI (vgl. NGI in Nederland) en verzorgt daar ook seminars.

Guy was en is betrokken bij talloze SOA en integratie trajecten: screen scraping, mainframe integratie, JMS messaging, Tibco EAI en SAP Netweaver . Als consultant bij talloze bedrijven, varie?rend van Fortune top 500 tot kleinere ondernemingen, heeft Guy een enorme dosis praktijkervaring opgedaan bij integratie-trajecten. In België bij organisaties als Electrabel, Swift en Eurocontrol, in Nederland o.a. bij Akzo, Philips, Rabobank en Interpolis. Deze ervaring, gecombineerd met zijn deskundigheid op het gebied van intregratie-oplossingen en integratie-tools, komen goed van pas als u worstelt met applicatie- of data-integratie in uw organisatie. Guy verzorgt verscheidene trainingen bij Adept Events

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