Vendor Challenges

By John Moore  |  Posted 2007-07-19 Print this article Print

The standard definition of service-oriented architecture is still being debated. But semantics aside, companies are using a variety of frame-works to integrate applications—and increase efficiency.

Vendor Challenges

The use-what-you-have argument doesn't always win out, however. The European Organization for Nuclear Research, better know as CERN, decided to scrap its messaging infrastructure as it built a new control system.

That system, Technical Infrastructure Monitoring, keeps tabs on CERN's machinery, which includes the world's largest particle accelerator. The organization had been using middleware vendor Talarian's SmartSockets messaging software, a product Tibco picked up in its 2002 acquisition of Talarian.

"Instead of just upgrading the software, we took the chance to rethink the solution," says Peter Sollander, technical infrastructure operations department manager at CERN.

Today, CERN uses Progress Software's SonicMQ messaging software, which supports Web services protocols such as SOAP. This take on a SOA engine has the reliability and fail-over features the physics laboratory requires. For example, if one SonicMQ message broker shuts down, a redundant broker automatically takes over, Sollander says.

Progress represents another take on service-oriented integration: the enterprise service bus. Enterprise service bus products handle the same linkage chores as the IBMs and Tibcos of the world, but were designed from the start as a standards-based approach to integration.

Enterprise service bus supporters also contend that the technology is better suited to event-driven architecture, an approach for building systems that respond to events in real time.

In CERN's case, the laboratory needed an event-driven control system. The Technical Infrastructure Monitoring system collects data from thousands of monitoring points. Important changes, like a power supply tripping a circuit breaker, cause the system to generate an event, which is published to the system and distributed to whatever application or person is interested in the information, according to Sollander.

Vendors moving beyond the enterprise application integration space, however, are adopting the enterprise service bus nomenclature and pursuing event-driven architecture. IBM, for one, announced its WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus in 2005. Tibco, for its part, says it has been providing event-driven architecture solutions for years, citing its work with financial customers.

John writes the Contract Watch column and his own column for the Channel Insider.

John has covered the information-technology industry for 15 years, focusing on government issues, systems integrators, resellers and channel activities. Prior to working with Channel Insider, he was an editor at Smart Partner, and a department editor at Federal Computer Week, a newspaper covering federal information technology. At Federal Computer Week, John covered federal contractors and compiled the publication's annual ranking of the market's top 25 integrators. John also was a senior editor in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Computer Systems News.


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