ESB vs Middleware: What’s the difference? – Chakray

Thanks to an ESB, applications can move work uniformly and can subscribe to messages based on simple business and structural policy rules. In this article we will explain the differences between Middleware and ESB technologies:

What does Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) mean?

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.

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.

WSO2 ESB Ebook