Enterprise service buses hit the road
Cape Clear, Iona, and Sonic suites lead the way toward services-based integration
Sonic SOA Suite 6.1
Sonic SOA Suite may be the most well-rounded and mature ESB solution in the marketplace today. This Java-powered package combines separate servers for the ESB, process orchestration, database services, and even XML processing. A separate product, the Sonic Collaboration Server, offers strong support for integrating external business partners.
Like Fiorano, Sonic lays a services bus atop its own messaging backbone, SonicMQ, to provide a cushion of reliability across transactions — raising the same concerns as Fiorano about vendor lock-in and the rigidity of centralized, heavy-duty hubs versus the more flexible, lighter-weight distributed end points that are the hallmark of true SOAs.
Sonic’s CAA (Continuous Availability Architecture), a software-based approach to high availability and guaranteed message delivery, demonstrated good performance and fault tolerance in my tests. Although hardware clustering for load balancing is still supported, CAA can help reduce your reliance on costly hardware as a hedge against system failures.
Although I’d prefer to see a cross-platform IDE, I didn’t mind the Windows-only development kit. Sonic Workbench includes a UML-style interface for building and managing business process flows. Workbench does not support BPEL and lacks process simulation capabilities, but its process-orchestration capabilities hit the mark.
Workbench made easy work of developing complex routing scenarios, using XSLT for transformations and XQuery for content-based routing, in addition to its itinerary-based routing, using specified instructions within the document.
Sonic makes the movement from development to staging server to deployment a seamless process. I easily configured, deployed, and checked dependencies among services with little effort. A solid security foundation includes pluggable authentication and encryption options, as well as embedded RSA support, which can be uniformly implemented across multiple domains for completely federated management. Also, although the majority of Sonic’s adapters will require additional third-party expense, the company offers one of the best selections of tried-and-tested application, b-to-b, and transactional adapters I’ve seen.
Sonic’s new Collaboration Server, which focuses on trading-partner integration, may seem redundant. Shouldn’t an ESB natively support your SOA-based business partners? Moreover, the cost of the b-to-b server will double the initial outlay required. Nevertheless, Collaboration Server’s support for protocols such as ebXML and RosettaNet, the capability to build ad hoc run-time bindings, and the ease with which human workflow is integrated make the b-to-b server worthwhile. Best of all, you can manage the Collaboration Server and the ESB within the same management framework.