Following on from my last blog about the future of Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs), I want to look at some of the issues the developments raise, particularly for those that have to implement them, and I want to discuss why a new ESB is needed.

Moving towards simplicity

The key change is going to be a move towards simplicity – a more granular architectural model for both business processes and the systems which run them. The applications services we used to build were far too complex: huge packages of code that had to run as a complete entity. The associated ESBs needed to monitor and manage them grew in size and complexity to match.

The shift to a more granular, single feature or function, approach will however allow users to build services that ultimately provide much greater business process complexity, and couple with both far more flexibility and business agility.

Technically, this will be a question of understanding where applications reside and how deeply they are interwoven into the business processes. This in turn forces a change on to the traditional ESB as the use of APIs as the underpinning of applications communications and collaboration comes to the fore. It will be the API Service Gateway that now allows monitoring and management communications, as well as service collaboration, between applications, wherever they are run. And this will be the backbone of much more direct, real time interaction between a business and its customers, partners and suppliers.

So in terms of fundamental thinking this is nothing new, but it is different. It is not the rigid, fixed, often multiple ESBs we have become used to, that each operate on fixed contract terms and their own agreed terminology. Now we can start to use lightweight components that can expose more of our services and easily manage business processes and report on them.

Moving applications to cloud

But that is only half the story, and an irrelevant half if it is not possible to make sufficient and consistent data available in real time. That challenge still needs tools that can integrate, at scale, enterprise data that is usually held on-premise - and probably will be for the foreseeable future – with data generated by the new applications and services that operate in cloud environments.

In the past the answer to this problem was a perceived need for a fully-loaded, 360o view of their customers. But time has shown this to be something of an overkill. What is required now has to be more focused, because the services businesses needs are more precise and focused. That focus can be because the service required is short-lived, or because its scope is smaller and more precisely targeted.

In physical terms this is translating into hyperconverged architectures built on huge volumes of microservers, each designed to run specific, focused microservices that are loaded, run and killed as required. Coupled with continuous delivery of the latest code, this microservice approach matches that need for focus and short lifecycles which businesses are starting to demand, with none of the overheads of traditional, multi-year applications lifecycles.

A good example is what has happened with smartphones - the apps available on them are tailored to do one thing very slickly and efficiently. These are the microservices and the model is spilling over into the enterprise already.

And in the enterprise context what it does need is a method for managing them properly and, increasingly, charging out their use. This is certainly becoming the model for dealing with the outside world of customers, partners and suppliers, and is beyond the scope of traditional ESBs. So businesses will have to provide the tools for an automated applications monitoring and management environment so that the level of business activity required these days can actually happen.

Request for automated monitoring and managemnet of applications

The ability to monitor process activity in real time in such increasingly automated business systems in real time is fast becoming a fundamental requirement. And the more this can be automated the more users can focus on getting the design and implementation of their business services right. And that is what IntegrationMatters sets out to provide - all the other stuff that HAS to be done so that business processes run efficiently, reliably and fast.

Through a long-standing partnership with leading integration vendors we can work with most existing classic enterprise applications. In addition, we are now adding more direct partnerships with the major applications players. And it is why we cover the growing range of cloud services that are now starting to appear on top of those applications.

That means we can offer a single soup-to-nuts monitoring and management capability for business processes that operate across everything the enterprise is likely to want to use. The alternative is the traditional clutch of multiple – and mutually incompatible – ESBs and management tools. This has, historically, sometimes led to divisional or departmental infighting, where one says that they did not receive transaction data while another claims that it was sent. Now there is a real need to oversee the processes as a whole.

The Integration Matters approach

At its heart, the Integration Matters’ solution automatically identifies implemented business processes a user is running. It can understand the language used to create the business processes and the data being used and generated. It also gives unparalleled insight into how transactions are processed and how well that is being done. It can then work with performance expectations and policies by monitoring processes for any deviations and identify problem areas.

Now it is being ported to other environments it can natively cover and increasing range of multiple ESBs. This is an important step, as any enterprise of any size is going to have multiple business applications from different sources, together with multiple ESBs from every major supplier. They will, of course, also have their own in-house applications and tools.

Such tools will be vital components in the faster, more complex world of hybrid environments that mix cloud-delivered services with legacy business management applications. And it will be the ability to monitor and manage business processes and data transactions across those two environments that will help users understand how efficient their own business is at turning identified sales prospects into customers.

That metric is not easy to compute because the businesses need to understand how many unique visitors are coming to their websites, whether they are returning visitors, and whether they book a transaction of any type.

Our end-to-end process monitoring solution nJAMS is able to aggregate all the information that comes from the microservices processing the transaction, together with their interaction with back office level business services via ESBs, and report the result. Why? Because we are sitting at the source of all the transactions.