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An enterprise service bus (ESB) is the back bone of an SOA implementation. Though no canonical definition of an ESB exists, David Chappell states in his book Enterprise Service Bus:

The term extended enterprise describes an organization and its business partners, who are separated by both business and physical boundaries.

An ESB is typically defined by the list of services it provides. Services commonly included are:

  • Transport mediation—not all applications and services that need to be integrated use HTTP or JMS.

  • Dynamic message transformation—not all services use SOAP and are unlikely to require the same message structures.

  • Intelligent routing—not all messages emanating from a source are intended for the same destination. The target destination will likely depend on some criteria inherent in the message.

  • Security—only authorized and authenticated users need have administrative access to the Fuse ESB Enterprise runtime; services and brokers that handle sensitive information may restrict access to unauthorized or unauthenticated clients only; similarly, messages that contain sensitive information may be encrypted as they transit their routes.

An ESB simplifies the complexity of integration by providing a single, standards-based infrastructure into which applications can be plugged. Once plugged into the ESB, an application or service has access to all of the infrastructure services provided by the ESB and can access any other applications that are also plugged into the ESB. For example, you could plug a billing system based on JMS into an ESB and use the ESBs transport mediation features to expose the billing system over the Web using SOAP/HTTP. You could also route internal purchase orders directly into the billing system by plugging the Purchase Order system into the ESB.

Most ESB implementations provide all of the services that are used to define an ESB, so it is hard to differentiate ESB implementations based on features. A better way to differentiate between them is to use the following four measures:

Based on Apache ServiceMix, Fuse ESB Enterprise reduces complexity and eliminates vendor lock-in because it is standards-based and built using best-of-breed, open source technology. It differentiates itself in these ways:

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