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IONA Introduces New ESB Product

Although the enterprise service bus, or ESB, has only really become a product category recently, the term is getting plenty of mention lately. With the convergence of ubiquitous Web services and an IT focus on reuse and cost cutting, it's a good time for vendors with ESB products.

IONA Technologies has announced version 3.0 of Artix, its extensible enterprise service bus product. The upgrades expand the tools and technologies that Artix works with to leverage SOA initiatives.

As with other IONA products, Artix 3.0 is intended for large enterprises. IONA has a telecommunications and financial services industry heritage, as well as a history with CORBA, and its client list includes customers such as financial giants Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch. Because of the amount of legacy systems such organizations are typically running, they're ripe for the linking and reuse capabilities of Web services and service-oriented architectures.

The climate is definitely warming for the enterprise service bus concept, according to IONA CTO Eric Newcomer, who says his company has seen an uptake in ESB business since the latter part of last year. "Part of it is that Web services is finally getting established in the marketplace," he says, along with concepts around service-oriented architectures. Newcomer says the flexibility of an SOA in bridging the gaps between technologies is starting to catch on. Another ESB driver is cost efficiency, he says: "IT is under tremendous pressure to cut costs and deliver."

The IT services industry has reached a point of maturity, Newcomer says. Instead of investing in new technologies, many companies are looking at the next level of efficiency for existing systems. Most companies have "all the IT they need," Newcomer says, but in separate stovepipe arrangements that don't tie into an overall enterprise architecture.

According to Shawn Willett, a principal analyst with Current Analysis in Sterling, Virginia, with Artix 3.0, IONA has "really tightened up its differentiation from other products."

He predicts that the product will continue to appeal to high-end companies that want to build service-oriented architectures that they can extend themselves, using Artix 3.0's plug-in architecture. "Large telcos and financial services organizations like this sort of product because they can customize it themselves," Willett says. "They can define for themselves what a service is, without someone else's heavy EAI layer."

Newcomer says IONA is indeed aiming Artix at the high end of the ESB market. The intention is to extend the ESB to anything an enterprise might be running, from mainframes and legacy code, to CORBA, to Tuxedo, TIBCO or homegrown systems.

Artix 3.0 includes targeted plug-ins that can support virtually any protocol, transport, data model, security standard or development platform. The new release also extends Artix's platform coverage to include both Eclipse and Visual Studio development platforms. The product can help organizations with significant mainframe investments integrate those resources through features such as WSDL first development for PL/1 and COBOL, WSDL generation from BMS screen map sets and enhanced tooling to support WSDL first command line utilities.

About the Author

Linda Briggs is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. She can be reached at lbriggs@lindabriggs.com.

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