Enterprise service buses hit the road
Cape Clear, Iona, and Sonic suites lead the way toward services-based integration
PolarLake Integration Suite 4.0
Built on PolarLake’s Java-centric service bus, JIntegrator, the PolarLake Integration Suite 4.0 sports a nice collection of tools and connectors plus some basic features for ensuring quality of service that make it worthy of consideration for small to midsize deployments. Limited BPEL support and shortcomings in tools and activity monitoring make it a difficult sell for large installations.
PolarLake makes use of a “circuits” metaphor to represent collections of XML-based configuration files, processes, and transports controlled by its servers. Circuits may contain details for data transformation, database integration, attaching to a JMS pipe, or adding monitoring and reporting functionality within a process, to name a few. A unique XML streaming architecture boosts performance by “pre-processing” inbound XML documents before transmission of the document is complete.
For process modeling, the Eclipse-based IDE was not bad. Its graphical interface offered a pallet of drag-and-drop components for assembling processes and let me test the flows between my circuits before they were deployed. The capability to simulate run-time testing within the development environment sped up debugging tremendously. On the downside, I could not perform debugging during true run time, nor could I manually intervene in live processes. These would be nice improvements to PolarLake’s activity monitoring.
PolarLake’s newly added BPEL engine enables sophisticated exception handling, transaction compensation (rollbacks, alerts, and workflows in response to failed transactions), and message correlation (re-syncing a stream of messages for continued processing). Data transformation was standard stuff, although the graphical interface quickly became cluttered when handling anything beyond a one-to-one mapping. Transformation and content-based routing are strong thanks to XPath and newly added XQuery support.
On the development front, PolarLake’s biggest shortcoming is limited support for WS-* standards, but there are others. For example, you get no tools for tackling complex, non-XML-ready data structures. Incorporating Excel docs in processes won’t go as easily as with Cape Clear. Convoluted pop-ups in the new WSDL editor had me pining for a simple text editor.
Security, too, could use some improvement. PolarLake’s SecureXML module, which provides basic public key support for XML signatures and encryption, is a good step in the right direction, but the only adapter included is for the VeriSign Trust Service Integration Kit. For anything else, such as Baltimore’s KeyTools or Apache signatures, you’ll need to create your own adapters.
A basic management console, drawing on the sensor feedback data I built into my circuits, let me monitor and restart applications, as well as view error messages. I could not drill through to underlying specifics, making troubleshooting difficult, but remote monitoring and alerting — key to managing distributed services — were good. The system can generate SNMP traps to integrate with enterprise management systems.
Large customers may want a more complete toolset, richer activity monitoring, and fuller BPEL support from their ESB vendor, but the PolarLake Integration Suite has a lot going for it, including good process simulation, adapters for enterprise applications, and decent QoS provisions. Support for SWIFT, FIX, and XBRL document formats warrant a look from financial services companies.