I'm Starting to See a New Technology Trend Forming Here

by David A. Chappell

I'm starting to see a trend here. Its good to see that some of the larger platform vendors like IBM and Microsoft are "getting on the bus". Here is another article on IBM's intentions that I came across recently -

IBM Plans to release Enterprise Services Bus

In the article, ComputerWorld's Pat Thibodeau notes analyst support of the ESB, highlighting Gartner's support and referencing IDC's March report calling ESBs a "disruptive technology." I think its cool because Sonic got a mention in the article, and Jon Johnson at Northrup Grumman (a Sonic customer) is also included as an adopter of ESB technology that exists today.

webMethods, although a much smaller player, has href=http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/031029/dcw011_1.html>announced similar intentions to release an ESB. I was kind of hoping that they would start using that terminology.

Microsoft has announced "Indigo", which from what I can tell, combines messaging, Web services, and SOA. Sounds like an ESB to me.

Here are some of the descriptions of the Indigo sessions from the "sold out" PDC that is going on right now -

"See how to build next generation "Indigo" Message Bus Web service endpoints within ASP.NET Web applications. Learn how you can now receive and process Web service requests on non-http protocols (and how you can extend this to add your own), how you can integrate Web services with ASP.NET caching services, and build integrated Web applications that expose both UI and data functionality."

"Indigo is Microsoft's programming model and framework for building connected applications and Web services. "Indigo" brings together the best of .NET Remoting, MSMQ, ASMX and .NET Enterprise Services to form a unified model and runtime for building connected applications on the Windows platform"

"Indigo is Microsoft's programming model and framework for building connected applications and Web services, and is built on top of the WS protocols, a suite of specifications that will power the next phase of the Internet, much like TCP and HTTP powered the Web we have today. Learn about the architecture behind this protocol framework, and drill into the specifications: Security, Transaction, Reliable Messaging, Addressing, and Policy."

In John Fontana's Network World writeup of Gates' keynote speech at the Microsoft PDC, he uses the words "...a Web services
communication bus
built into the OS" to describe Indigo.

eWeek's Darryl Taft's writes about it here

Here is an excerpt from the article about timeframes for the release of Indigo -
"According to sources close to the company, the first beta of Indigo will not be available until the middle of next year, with actual delivery coming in the Longhorn timeframe of late 2005 or later. "

Also noted in Darryl's article is Indigo's "multiplatform" approach - "In addition, Microsoft is promoting a multiplatform vision through Indigo—multiplatform as in multi-Microsoft platform. The idea is that developers will be able to write a single code set in Indigo and it will
be able to run on a variety of different user environments, such as mobile devices, remote access devices or distributed out to clients, sources close to Microsoft said."

Most of the press I have seen about the announcements being made at Microsoft's PDC are focusing on Longhorn and Whidbey. I'm not surprised that the desktop O/S environment and their enhancements around VS, C#, and CLR would take center stage over middleware infrastructure fabric in their fanfare. That's been their bread and butter for so long, and where they get the most attention. But you don't have to go too far to find something that looks like an ESB, at least in the way that they seem to be combining messaging and Web services. I would guess that the rest of the ESB-like functionality may be better suited for inclusion in Biztalk.

All are competition for Sonic, but healthy competition. You can't have a technology trend with only one vendor :) This phenonmenon of messaging and reliable Web services helps to promote cross-vendor interoperability when everyone shares a similar model of asynchronous loosely coupled communication.

That ESB book idea is sounding better every day.