Event-driven services in SOA

Design an event-driven and service-oriented platform with Mule

Internet transactions, business-to-business systems, peer-to-peer processes, and real-time workflows are too dynamic and too complex to be modeled by traditional sequential-processing methods. Therefore, the need for more sophisticated asynchronous processing techniques is quickly becoming apparent. To address these unpredictable environments, the current trend in systems architecture is service-oriented design and event-driven programming.

A service-oriented architecture (SOA) presents a dynamic runtime environment, where loose couplings between service providers and/or service consumers enable powerful and flexible component interactions. Building a communication model to exploit this power and flexibility is a high priority for competitive software development. An event-driven communication model is able to respond better to real-time changes and stimuli than conventional request/reply mechanisms.

Service-oriented and event-driven architectures are natural fits for distributed systems since they share many of the same characteristics, such as modularity, loose-couplings, and adaptability.

In this article, I discuss the details of designing an effective event-driven and service-oriented platform using Mule, a lightweight event-messaging framework designed around an enterprise service bus (ESB) pattern. Components and applications can use Mule to communicate through a common messaging framework implemented transparently using Java Message Service (JMS) or another messaging technology.

Overview of service-oriented architecture

The term "service-oriented" has evolved to define an architecture where a service is a software component that embodies a core piece of an enterprise's business logic and features the following characteristics:

  • Loosely coupled:Services are not fundamentally bound with other components
  • Protocol-independent:Multiple protocols can transparently access a given service
  • Location-agnostic:A given service typically performs a composite form of business logic and returns the result in a single call
  • Coarse-grained:Services can be accessed in the same manner no matter their location
  • Maintains no user state

Services typically focus exclusively on solving business-domain problems.

Generally, service clients rely on configuration data, registries, and software factories to determine the location, protocol, and public interface for each service.

Applications are typically described by what they do, not necessarily by what they are or what they contain. For this reason, it's much more straightforward to describe an application publicly using verbs (services) as opposed to nouns (objects). Since objects define a thing and not an action, an impedance mismatch can occur when attempting to encapsulate what a component does as opposed to what a component is. In SOA, an application is described naturally, since each logical business operation of the application that can be verbalized is a likely candidate for a service. Therefore, SOA solves the impedance mismatch by allowing applications and components to access the functionality of services based on what the services do, i.e., what actions they perform. In turn, application developers can more easily match their needs with the appropriate services, since the interfaces for the services describe more completely the problems they solve.

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