IBM have SOA covered

I attended the WebSphere Technical Conference a couple of weeks ago where I got to learn a bit about IBM’s view on SOA. SOA is a big thing at IBM and you can see that in the messages that they are pushing out. It is a good thing that there was this focus, as SOA is becoming a major part of my day to day job.

Several messages were pitched at several levels over the four days and IBM had the product for each one of them:

Schemas: When embarking on SOA it is important to get the language right. The extension of this is that IBM have taken industry specific schemas and other learning to build up industry packs in the form of their WebSphere Business Services Fabric.

ESB: IBM have three products that can perform the function of an ESB, they are: WebSphere ESB, WebSphere Message Broker and WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance. Definitely have a look at the DataPower appliance it is a nice bit of kit. With an ESB there are four main patterns for implementing them:

  1. ESB
  2. ESB Gateway
  3. Brokered
  4. Federated

The book Enterprise Integration Patterns was mentioned as a great source of information in patterns for ESB.

The four things that an ESB does are:

  1. Route – messages between endpoints
  2. Convert – between transport protocols
  3. Transform – between message formats
  4. Distribute – business events

No Business Logic in your ESB: This message came out in several of the presentations not to put business login in the ESB. The ESB presentations were pushing it as good SOA practice. On the other side the WebSphere Process Server presentations were presenting Process Server as being  the place where your business logic goes. The design of your business services was a major point in the Process Server presentation: things like managing short and long running processes and using late binding to allow version management.

The final thing that really struck me was the integration of the tools within the WebSphere stable. Pretty much all of the products have their tools built on the eclipse platform which seems to provide a degree of integration if only to have the same tools on the same platform.

Something that came up a few times was service virtualisation which uses a registry to dynamically construct service. In my mind probably not a day 1 thing but keep your eyes open for it in the future. Oh and if you think you might want to do server virtualisation then get you registry in early, IBM has WebSphere Service Registry and Repository.

My history is Microsoft and I have been to a couple of TechEd events over the years and as a comparison IBM put on a pretty ordinary event. The event was spread over two venues and three locations for presentations, I think everyone at some point had to do a dash from one building to the other to get to the right presentation. This also limited the opportunities for networking because a) you where always in transit b) there was no central place to be.

At TechEd there always seems to be a mix of Microsoft people and people from outside of Microsoft presenting, at this conference it was 100% IBM presenters, read into that what you will.

I could go on about other things but lets just say IBM could learn a thing or two. On a positive I definitely got some good technical information that will help me in my job.

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