Inside the F1000’s ESB Success Checklists

ESB experts from IBM, BEA, Sonic Software and Sun reveal top secrets of ESB/SOA success from their F1000 customers. IDN looks at the top items making up the ESB Success Checklist for the F1000s.

Tags: ESB, Integration, Customers, Business, ESB-CON, ESB Success, Schmidt,

Top ESB experts from IBM, BEA, Sonic Software and Sun recently gathered during ESB-CON II, Inside Innovative Integration, an unprecedented online event to reveal top secrets of ESB/SOA success from their F1000 customers.

Even as analyst firm and media reports cite an increase in ESB/SOA adoption, ESB-CON II went behind the generalities to get the top ESB providers to share how their F1000 customers are working with ESBs to meet IT and business needs.

ESB-CON III -- Enabling Business Critical Integration and SOA -- March 1, 2007

Experts from ESB leaders BEA Systems, IBM, Progress Software and Oracle Corp. share their latest insights and news on tools, trends and F1000 Use Cases for deploying ESBs and SOA. This fast-paced event covers Feature Upgrades, Best Practices and Blueprints for using ESBs to deliver cost-efficient business-critical integration for your current assets, and for preparing for SOA. Click here for your complimentary ESB-CON III registration.

Here's a look at the ESB Success Checklists shared by experts from IBM, BEA, Sonic and Sun - gathered all from their experience with Fortune 1000 customers. .

Marc-Thomas Schmidt, ESB Chief Architect

2006 is the year where ESB and SOA "got real and our customers really switched onto" to these technologies, Schmidt said during ESB-CON II. From that uptick in ESB/SOA rollouts and adoption, Schmidt said he's seen "a very broad spectrum of integration problems can be tackled with ESBs,."

The broad needs of F1000 customers feeds directly into IBM's ESB Success Checklist. Schmidt lists the following must-haves for ESBs.

  • Support a wide variety of entry patterns."Customers can choose from a wide variety of entry points," Schmidt said, so the ESB solution you choose should let customers choose from them, including service brokering, web service gateways, app integration hubs and even an enterprise-wide SOA fabric
  • Provide strong 'time-to-value'. ESBs should "be up and running quickly without requiring a lot of unnecessary hand-coding, or complex programming skills," Schmidt said.
  • Strong support for Reliability. Many integration projects require high-levels of uptime, and customers should not be required to look to ESB add-ons to get that extra reliability. Schmidt mentioned IBM had worked with a large bank to provide 99.97% reliability (for connections back to the central office) using an ESB solution.
  • Broad support for both heterogeneous environments and standards. "Standards are important, but a lot of companies have non-standard technologies in place," Schmidt said, "So and ESBs need to support Open Standards as well as non-standard building blocks."

  • Sonic Software
    David Chappell, VP and Chief Technology Evangelist

    Sonic Software has been deploying ESBs in the Fortune 1000 since 2002, and now has more than 300 customers. Backed with that experience, Chappell puts two items at the top of his ESB Success Checklist:

  • Position ESB technology as business-critical. "ESB investments need to be viewed as an important enabler to the company's business imperative," Chappell said. "Very few CIOs or CEOs give a damned about ESB or SOA architectures, per se. So, [for ESB success] find someone on the business side responsible for a top business imperative and let them champion your cause," he added.

  • Find a project that can offer immediate business value. "Nothing speaks louder than a project that is on time and on budget."

  • During ESB-CON II, Chappell illustrated his advise through examples from several large customers, including AltaGas Ltd.

    AltaGas followed these two steps to great ESB success, Chappell described during ESB-CON II. AltaGas, a large energy distribution company, which through acquisitions had grown to a $1billion company. But, they were still using 150,000 Excel spreadsheets to track accounting. AltaGas executives saw value in an ESB-driven project to consolidate all their accounting systems and data. In their first general accounting consolidation projects, AltaGas paid for the SOA investment, and are continuing with projects.

    BEA Systems
    Sanjay Chikarmane, Business Unit Executive for Integration Products

    BEA now has more than 1,000 customers undertaking SOA projects, with a strong percentage of them now using BEA's ESB offerings for both internal integration, as well as B2B projects, including First Franklin, a leading mortgage broker and America Online

    BEA's Chikarmane suggested during ESB-CON II that F1000 customers are increasingly looking to ESB offerings to lend a mission-critical framework to a variety of integration projects, including web services, services-to-legacy and B2B. With that as a background, he brings several important tips to their ESB Success Checklist.

  • Take a pragmatic approach in SOA."Pick a starting point for 2-3 year vision and execute project by project."
  • Realize integration with ESB is more than messaging. "There are several critical planks to enterprise-class integration with an ESB, and they are messaging, security, composition and management. If you don't address these in an integrated manner, you could spend more with outside vendors and consulting than you should"
  • ESBs need to support more than web service."Take stock of your environment. Most enterprises have far great investment in FTP, JMS, SMTP" than in services, he added. So, make sure [your ESB environment] supports your heterogeneity out of the box.

  • Sun Microsystems
    Ross Altman, CTO Business Integration Platforms

    For many of Sun's top customers, an ESB Success Checklist revolves around their ability to define and assemble the pieces these F1000 companies need for a strong Center of Excellence strategy, Altman said during ESB-CON II.

    On Altman's Success Checklist are the following items:
  • Staff the COE with the right combination of the right people."Get both technical people and those people that can relate [technology features] to business owners," Altman advised COEs have these skills on the team: (a) data transformation, (b) adapters, (c)web services, (d) messaging , (e) process management
  • Have a strong methodology -- suited to your business.. "One methodology that works in one place may not work elsewhere," Altman warned, so make sure your methodology maps to your business needs, your IT skills and even the history of applications development (the way you do things and what you're good at.)
  • Implement control mechanisms to manage ESB/SOA services over the entire life-cycle of that service."You need more than a repository" to manage services, Altman said. The life-cycle management means you also should look at your service/application at every stage --- from pilot, to initial deployment, to updating and even retirement.
  • Set "Governance" rules as early as possible. While many companies wait to establish governance policy and practices until well into their service-creation phase, there's no reason to wait if you know as a company that you want to go in a services direction, Altman said. "Early governance speeds reuse of services and components."

    These insights on how F1000 firms succeed with ESBs offered by IBM, Sonic Software, BEA Systems and Sun is just a sample of the valuable Best Practices, Use Cases and Product Roadmap information available on-demand at ESB-CON II: Inside Innovative Integration.

    IDN readers are invited to view up to 5 hours of ESB-CON II's high-value streaming audio/video at no charge by going to