In an increasingly competitive economy, organizations in every industry must innovate to survive. A 2020 survey from McKinsey found that the impact of COVID-19 has significantly sped up the adoption of digital technologies. Those companies that considered themselves successful in responding to the pandemic reported technology capabilities that others did not— including the use of more advanced technologies, and faster experimentation and innovation.
When enterprises are burdened with old, expensive-to-maintain technologies, such as the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), transformation is difficult.
Fifteen years ago, ESB platforms promised a revolutionary way for businesses to connect applications to one another and to encode business logic in software. Enterprise would hire senior developers, who wrote custom code, often using Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) to connect applications to a shared communication bus that spanned the organization, theoretically reaching every business-critical application and resource. Business logic was encoded in these connections.
Coding was difficult, but the bus supposedly provided a secure, comprehensive thoroughfare for the data that applications and business units relied on.
And if new business opportunities arose, new competitors appeared, or regulations changed, and a business unit suddenly needed to revise its business logic in response, the IT organization would need to find the time and budget to write, test, and deploy new software for the ESB.
As the pace of business began accelerating dramatically from the first decade of this century to the second, the impracticality of this approach became painfully obvious. Already by 2008, the 451 Group, a leading IT analyst firm, was noting that the heyday of ESBs may have already come and gone.
Today, ESBs are still around. Many enterprises still use them. The question now is whether enterprises should continue or even deepen their commitments to this old, complex approach to integration, or whether they should adopt a faster, more flexible approach to integration – an approach better suited to rapid development cycles, cloud architectures, and market pressures that compel nearly every enterprise to explore and integrate new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).
How ESBs and Last-Generation Middleware Slow Enterprises Down
Many enterprises now spend as much as 70% of their IT budgets maintaining old, brittle, hand-coded ESB integrations and outdated applications, rather than adopting new technologies that could transform their businesses.
ESBs and other SOA-era middleware integration products create the following problems for enterprises:
Keeping Your ESB Up-to-Date
Even the most popular ESBs aren’t integrated platforms. Rather, they’re a narrow subset of what is needed for comprehensive digital modernization. The complexity of this modernization component becomes obvious once one collects all the release notes for all the products that make up an ESB offering from a single vendor. The printed release notes, let alone the API guides and programming tutorials, make for many long hours of reading – and that’s assuming you know which version of each sub-product you know you want to use. A longtime ESB vendor currently offers six different versions of its flagship product, and integrations have to be significantly revised to move from version to version.
IT Labor Scarcity
As Ken Schmitt, managing director of integration consultancy TechStone Technical Partners, put it: “Legacy integration middleware requires support from a small army of developers, architects and administrators. Those individuals are getting harder to find, so costs rise as supply dwindles. In contrast, integration projects with a modern integration platform as a service (iPaaS) typically only need one or two employees to implement, and these integration developers do not need specialized skills. They just need to understand their business needs and workflows. As a natural byproduct, the iPaaS developer talent pool is growing rapidly.”
These first two challenges – outdated software releases and requirements for senior personnel – combine to make IT labor even harder to find. Are you conducting a search for a senior Java programmer familiar with SOAP protocols and the late 2014 version of your ESB? Good luck – fewer organizations are investing in ESBs, making ESB programmers even more rare and more costly. One successful integration consultancy reported that in the past few years, just one customer has selected an ESB solution, while dozens chose to invest in the modern SaaS-based alternative, iPaaS.
Architectural Incompatibilities and Manual Processes
ESBs typically require business to embed business logic in the integration with the ESB. Embedding business logic in complex code makes changing business logic an expensive, time-consuming, and arcane task. It’s better to keep business logic near the edge and the people whose workflow the logic is affecting.
ESBs were designed to support loose coupling of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) services, but in the name of expediency, many integration engineers simply created tightly coupled solutions, hard-coding connections between services. (Loose coupling makes it easy to connect one service to another in an ad hoc way. Tight coupling creates customized, single-purpose connections between applications.) Adding to the difficulty of maintaining and updating these connections is that many of these solutions rely on SOAP, rather than REST or JSON, the protocols favored by today’s SaaS offerings.
Many enterprises find themselves struggling to connect new SaaS solutions that rely on REST or JSON to highly customized SOAP services on their ESB. They wonder if there’s an easier way to integrate SaaS applications with legacy resources.
The Advantage of Boomi iPaaS
In contrast to ESBs and other last-generation middleware products, the Boomi AtomSphere Platform is a single, continuously updated, cloud-based integration platform that allows enterprises to integrate applications and services, improve data quality, and deliver data where it’s needed to support digital transformation.
Unlike ESB products that turn out to be product suites, the Boomi iPaaS is truly integrated: it’s a single comprehensive platform that includes multiple complementary capabilities, including integration, master data management, API lifecycle management, EDI management, data cataloging and preparation, and low-code workflow automation.
The Boomi AtomSphere Platform offers important advantages over ESBs and other old middleware integration products. These advantages include:
Accessible, Low-Code Development Tools
Boomi provides a graphic, drag-and-drop interface for building applications. It even offers crowdsourced suggestions within the product for machine-learning guidance to streamline the building of integrations between popular applications. Boomi enables integration for everyone. Developer integration for developers and simple drag-and-drop integration for rapid citizen integrator integration.
Rapid Integration Development
Thanks to its low-code interface and a collection of a large library of ready-to-use connectors, Boomi helps IT organizations build integrations 5X faster than with ESBs and other integration technologies.
It’s easy to create integrations, revise them when needed, and scale integrations as needed. Boomi is a cloud-based solution that allows integration and workflow processes to run wherever they’re needed: in the cloud, in an on-premise data center, or at the edge – even in edge gateways support IoT devices.
Robust Logic Architecture
Boomi doesn’t force enterprises to embed business logic in a central location. Rather, logic can be built into the edge integrations and workflows used by business units themselves. And if business opportunities arise and business logic needs to change, those changes can be quickly implemented with Boomi’s low-code interface.
Boomi is less expensive than traditional middleware. No hardware to purchase and maintain and automated and schedule updates let integrators focus on integration and not on patching on-premises updates.
Without the complexity of multiple, separately released products and arcane interfaces, Boomi reduces the complexity of building integrations, managing APIs, and automating workflows. Reducing these risks means that business innovations can be deployed more quickly. Enterprises can act boldly, experimenting with new products and services, confident that their integration platform supports modifications, refinements, and dramatic changes in scale whenever the business requires it.
From ESB Burdens to Unlimited Possibilities
Freed from having to make costly investments in ESBs and other old technology as technical debt, enterprises can use the Boomi AtomSphere Platform to pursue their boldest, most innovative ideas for digital transformation.
To learn more about how Boomi can help you modernize your infrastructure, contact our integration specialists today.