Today I attended a very nice workshop at Oracle Netherlands where some Oracle Partners could get acquainted with the beta 10.1.3 release of the Oracle Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).
The ESB is part of the 10.1.3 Application Server. And JDeveloper is the tool in which ESB-scenario’s are build. For now, that is. In the near future an Eclipse plug-in will most likely be made available also. The user interface in wich to develop ESB scenario’s looks a lot like the BPEL Process Manager plug-in, so if you have some experience developing BPEL processes, creating ESB scenario’s will be familiar. The BPEL PM in JDeveloper will be quite different from what we have seen today. First the process manager needs a separate JDeveloper installation. The current version of BPEL PM (rel 10.1.2) consists of two functional different parts: orchestration and integration (adapters and data transformations). The integration part is also handled/covered in ESB functionality, so there is overlap. In release 10.1.3 the BPEL PM is built as a plug-in that integrates fully with a "default" JDeveloper install. Second, only the orchestration survives while ESB has taken responsibility over the data integration and transformation as shown in the figure.
But ESB is more than only the integration part of BPEL PM and it serves a different purpose. BPEL PM is to manage processes; ESB is about application plumbing. Much like InterConnect does if you discard workflow. ESB and InterConnect are about the same except the "hub and spoke" model is the only model that is supported with InterConnect. ESB supports both the "hub-and-spoke" model and the "point-to-point" model. That means you can choose between integrating applications via a central hub or directly, depending your needs.
For what I’ve seen and build with the ESB today it looks very cool. The adapters (database, file, AQ, MQ, etc) are the same as used in BPEL and InterConnect. Deployment is done by deploying a zip file (jar file?) to the ESB server, so at least it can be automated more easily via scripting (shell or ant). Finally, the ESB is said to be at least 5 times faster than BPEL. That’s no superfluous luxury.