Enterprise service buses hit the road
Cape Clear, Iona, and Sonic suites lead the way toward services-based integration
FusionWare Integration Server 3.0
FusionWare’s flagship product features a Java server framework for mediating communications, backed by a Windows-native IDE for designing process workflows and a GUI for server management. The Integration Server’s licensing model offers an interesting way to control deployment costs, and the IDE provides some nice wizards for easing development. Ultimately, however, this suite is suitable only for small, centralized integration projects.
FusionWare’s licensing structure is unique among vendors in our roundup. Licensed by the number of concurrent processing threads, the server ticks down the number of available threads with each inbound request. When a server’s thread count is exhausted, new requests sit in the message queue until a running process completes or is suspended, and a thread becomes available again.
The licensing scheme offers a sign of the solution’s limited scalability. Although you can purchase and install additional worker threads to meet growing demand, I was disappointed to discover that there was no way to pool licenses across multiserver installations.
FusionWare’s tools are also a mixed bag. The Designer IDE is adequate for creating workflows, but can be somewhat cumbersome at times, as it lacks many of the visual queues and graphical tools for streamlining tasks that are commonly available from competing vendors. On the upside, the Business Process Wizard does a good job of jump-starting a project framework, including storing assets and text-based workflow configurations.
FusionWare’s XSLT wizard takes a different approach than most XSLT tools, which typically offer a visual map of inputs to outputs. Instead, XML transforms are done through an interesting two-step process, which involves pre-parsing the input structure to isolate pertinent data items before mapping them out. I personally found the process somewhat convoluted, but it would certainly minimize complexity in handling large document structures.
I’d like to see FusionWare adopt a workflow standard, such as BPEL, and incorporate features for transaction compensation and exception handling. Although a new tool has been added to test deployments, tighter integration of versioning, management, and project deployment is needed. Debugging also could be more efficient. The IDE allowed me to set basic breakpoints, but having to jump to a text-based, command line interface to execute debug processing was a pain. This would not pass muster in high volume shops.
FusionWare is also light on administrative features. It provides only very basic insight into queue conditions and service status. Better metrics and auditing will be a definite requirement for enterprise installs. Until FusionWare drops them in, customers should plan on building their own.
This product also lacks a strong enterprise footing when it comes to transport support -- currently limited to HTTP and e-mail -- and security, where FusionWare’s support for the basics, such as HTTP/S and simple password-based authentication, may not be sufficient to meet advanced encryption and authentication requirements. These and other shortcomings, including the absence of extensions to external management systems, the failure to support advanced b-to-b protocols (RosettaNet, ebXML, etc.), and the lack of ERP or SCM adapters, for example, relegate FusionWare to small-scale implementations.