News.com writes about IBM’s efforts in the ESB space:
The term ESB covers a loosely defined set of capabilities. ESBs are meant to lower the cost of sharing information in corporations–a perennial and expensive headache for many firms. Integration of business applications is the top challenge for companies hoping to improve their efficiency, according to a recent survey of CIOs at Fortune 500 companies conducted by MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
An airline, for instance, might need to move customer data from mainframe systems to a company Web site. It would usually have to rely on proprietary integration servers to wire business applications together and shuttle data around. An ESB, by contrast, is built around industry standards and tools, including Java and Web services protocols.
Research firm Gartner predicts that ESBs will supersede traditional communications middleware by 2007. However, the capabilities of ESBs right now are limited, compared to more mature integration products, analysts note. For example, ESBs can convert customer record formats between two packaged applications but cannot automate complex business workflows.
Rather than create a separate ESB product that only supports Java and Web services protocols, as originally planned, IBM will augment its existing products with support for newer standards, such as Web services transactions and reliable messaging. This evolutionary approach will allow customers to continue using what they have while moving toward newer, more cost-effective ESB features, said Bob Sutor, IBM’s director of WebSphere infrastructure.