Key Differences between ESB, EAI and SOA

To distinguish these three technology concepts, which promote standardization both within and across industries, it is best to first define them and then understand their functions.

ESB, which is the abbreviation for enterprise service bus , is a software architecture that provides integration of enterprise applications and services for complex architectures, such as middleware infrastructure platforms.

An ESB's primary function is to provide the connections between communicating applications - acting much like a router to control the data. It is commonly used in enterprise application integration (EAI) or service-oriented architecture (SOA) principles. The interaction and communication between components are across the bus, which has a similar function to the physical computer bus to handle data transfer or message exchange between services, without writing any actual code.

ESB as an infrastructure software service-oriented model works as a managed message system that provides routing, data transformation, translation upon a client's request and event-interpretation. It is often needed to transform messages into a format that the application can interpret. ESB is also used to change data content or execute services via a rule engine.

EAI, short for enterprise application integration is a framework that makes use of software and computer systems to enable data integration across applications within a single organization, while also simplifying business processes among connected applications and data sources.

The sharing of data and business processes between applications are its primary purposes. However, EAI also defines a set of principles for integration of multiple systems for communication architectures, such as message-oriented middleware (MOM).

It serves as a system that can provide a business service to simplify information data between diverse applications, which makes it possible to easily integrate them when needed.

This discipline of integrating applications and data within the enterprise has been a critical component of today's enterprise strategies. In fact, many vendors offer EAI suites that provide cross-platform, cross-language integration solutions.

Differently than EAI, which deals with linking enterprise applications so they can communicate with one another (by means of an intelligent reasoning engine) and carry out “batch” data transfers, is the service oriented architecture (SOA) that provides “transactional” data transfers, with no third-party software required. SOA is different from the EAI approach in that it does not depend on a third-party solution.

Service oriented architecture is an integration paradigm that is based on a fundamental design principle and provides architectural interoperable services - hence its name. It encompasses legacy systems, software components and message processing capabilities.

Its primary function is integration of services and the development of applications. SOA-based systems have become more common (than ESB and EAI) because of development technologies and platforms and the changes in traditional IT roles and responsibilities. SOA has been the solution for business logic and technology.

SOA represents distinct principles that foster service-orientation in loosely coupled systems (like ESB where it acts as a broker between services), network change management governance and has become an important aspect of Web 2.0 applications and services.

It is a framework that can automate business processes while specifying service-oriented modeling business systems within an architectural application. It is used as design scheme of application-level and enterprise-level solutions for modeling a computing environment.

Apparently, SOA is a solution to overcome all sorts of shortages in EAI and ESB technologies and provide a means for reusable services. It supports Distributed Enterprise Application Integration and “enterprise service bus” integration environments. The latter is the new software architecture, called SOA-based enterprise service bus (ESBsoa), which is a Web services-based application supporting platform ideal for transport adaptation, service adaptation and common services.

By now, one should be able to differentiate the three concepts: ESB, EAI and SOA.

In deciding which one to implement, ESB presents a low cost as it is often used by those with limited IT resources. And even though some consider EAI to be a thing in the past now with SOA, there are packaged EAI solutions that would be appropriate for large scale integrations. SOA, even with ESB and EAI that will go on to coexist, offers the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements and technologies.

Discuss your individual business' needs with an experienced SOA consultants today. Contact us for more information.