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The world has long been a colourful, diverse, and heterogeneous place. By demolishing silos, both in terms of technology and organization, an increasing number of systems communicate to bring maximum value for the end users.
The first IT systems were superstrong monoliths. Expensive and complicated, but able to independently handle all the necessary operations. With the development of business and the penetration of IT solutions into practically all industries, it became clear that even the monoliths needed to cooperate. The first forms of cooperation came in the form of reading records straight from databases. This approach enabled the exchange of data, but the data itself often didn’t mean much without the related business logic. The next evolutionary step was exposing integral services.
Services as integral groups of functionalities enabled the implementation of business processes that included different systems. However, the increase in services escalated the problem of the lack of standard protocols for intercommunication. The implementation of a new communication protocol for each new system proved to be a complicated and expensive practice, which led to the creation of standardized protocols and message formats. This also eliminated the remaining technical obstacles to more solid integrations of heterogeneous systems.
A further increase in the number of integrated systems resulted in a dramatic increase in communication channels and the need for the implementation of a central integration component. This component, known as the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), introduced the hub-and-spoke model and eliminated the need for direct communication among each system, understanding all the standard communication protocols and translating message formats. This way, the complexity of integrations transferred from individual systems into the integration component.
This concept is vital for the contemporary age of the Internet of Things (IoT), aimed at integrating unthinkable amounts of devices. By positioning itself in the centre of each integration, the ESB component is the ideal spot of implementation of infrastructure requests such as user authentication, access authorization, action logs, and applying various other security checks.
The implementation of complex integrations today is practically unsustainable without the application of the ESB component concept. This has been recognized by renowned software producers who offer their own solutions such as the IBM Integration Bus, TIBCO ActiveMatrix BusinessWorks, and Mule ESB. Quality solutions are available in the open source world through products such as Apache Camel, Apache ServiceMix, and Spring Integration.