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ESB vs middleware: What’s the difference?

An Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is a design pattern that mediates between the client and the service. It is capable of changing the format and the protocol of data communication to achieve that the two ends of the conversation can reach an understanding by means of the compatibility created.

Thanks to an ESB, applications can move work uniformly and can subscribe to messages based on simple business and structural policy rules. We can also define an ESB as a software tool that has the purpose of mediating between different applications in order to establish communication between them, taking into account a series of criteria that have been established beforehand. These applications do not communicate with each other directly but take advantage of the ease the ESB provides for them to work together.

Differences between ESB vs middleware technologies

When it comes to establishing the differences between ESB and middelware, it should be made clear that an ESB is one of the tools in the middleware ‘Integration’ subcategory. An ESB contributes to the integration of numerous applications by playing an intermediary role of routing, filtering, mediating and transforming messages.

When we talk about middleware technologies, we are referring to a more generic and general concept, which encompasses everything from integration tools to content and document management, including web portals, business process management and application servers. It establishes effective and agile communication between the databases and the applications used by the user at the end of the process, or a Commercial Off-The-Shelf application (COTS), whether it is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

It is safe to say that an ESB is one of the integral parts of today’s middleware tools, but it is not the only tool that should be considered under this denomination. Nevertheless, it is highly valued for its primary function, which is to facilitate that services and systems are brought to a common standard to be integrated as needed at any given time by the users of an organization.

-Maybe you are interested: Are the microservices the end of the ESB?

Features that define an ESB

Compared to other forms of middleware architecture, an ESB is characterized because it supports both request and response communication as well as one-way communication. This means that the best ESBs have very high error tolerance and scalability, as well as advanced data storage and forwarding capabilities.

The best ESBs make it easy to change routing on the spot, while the routing rules can also be modified so that business processes adapt to the specific needs of the moment. Moreover, an ESB will present a method for generating or accessing metadata that documents the request/response interfaces and the interfaces of the enterprise components that exchange information. The XML format is the format commonly used to present ESB metadata, with interface definitions in WSDL. As far as web services are concerned, an ESB will support basic web services standards for communication. This includes SOAP, XML and WSDL.

With an ESB, it is possible to make connections between business components that the developers have generated, even if they have done so on stand-alone computers. This function must be added to the one already described to integrate applications.

Features of WSO2 Carbon

WSO2 Carbon is a middleware platform integrated by components that presents a total adaptation to the specific needs of any enterprise IT project, either in the enterprise or in the cloud. With 100% open source technology, it makes it easy for developers to compose applications, launch business processes or develop services using WSO2 Developer Studio. Legacy applications can be used flexibly and become compatible.

WSO2 Carbon is the first enterprise middleware architecture platform that is operational in any enterprise organization’s own facilities as well as in the cloud. Connections between employees, customers and partners, as well as business collaboration, have never been so important, and WSO2 Carbon can provide the optimal and efficient response. The basic operation of WSO2 Carbon comprises common capabilities shared by all products, such as integrated registration, user management, transport, security, registration, clustering, clustering services, caching, coordination and a graphical user interface framework.