Cape Clear’s Enterprise Service Bus Avoids WebSphere Gridlock
September 20, 2005 Dan Burger
Just last week IBM announced plans to crank up its service oriented architecture (SOA) efforts with new hardware and services designed to help companies develop more scalable and flexible applications that are more closely aligned with business goals. Service oriented architecture is a method for redesigning technology foundations and improving interoperability between disparate systems. Big Blue sees it as an important next step in the evolutionary process for IT. Cape Clear Software agrees. However, on matters relating to WebSphere, the two companies are on opposite sides of the fence.
Cape Clear has just announced the availability of its enterprise service bus (ESB) that is billed as being “fully integrated and optimized” for the IBM WebSphere environment, including the WebSphere Studio family of integrated development environments (IDEs), WebSphere Application Server, and WebSphere MQ. The Cape Clear ESB for WebSphere supports iSeries, DB2, and the Tivoli suite of products for monitoring and management.
This is where the road gets a bit bumpy. The way Cape Clear sees it, IBM has loaded WebSphere with tremendous complexity–great functionality, but more cumbersome than a truckload of pigs. The WebSphere middleware stack includes “a hodge-podge of products” such as MQ, the messaging backbone of WebSphere; CrossWorlds, the business process automation software, WebSphere Application Server, and the Web development products created by Rational. “This is not a single architecture and parts of it are proprietary,” says Cape Clear spokesman Joe Lichtenberg, whose comments will likely be tacked up on the WebSphere bulletin board.
“Bundling over a dozen products to implement an ESB is not what customers are asking for,” says Cape Clear CEO Annrai O’Toole. “It’s about simplicity!” O’Toole’s picture will probably end up on that bulletin board, too.
But a lot of folks would agree with the comments. IBM does tend to make customers play chess when they wish Big Blue would let them play checkers.
Cape Clear makes a point of emphasizing that its enterprise service bus was built “from the ground up” using XML and Web services standards. This enables companies to reduce the time, cost, and complexity of building a service oriented architecture. Stories of costly WebSphere deployments are not uncommon, and they have had an ill affect on the number of iSeries shops considering WebSphere. The IBM iSeries Developer Roadmap, which was once a WebSphere-only Roadmap, is now open to a variety of third-party options because of complexity and cost factors related to WebSphere implementations.
Cape Clear says its ESB should appeal to organizations that understand and realize the benefits of SOA, but may have been apprehensive of WebSphere on iSeries. Building and interlinking back-end systems, creating a shared infrastructure that improves the flow of business information in spite of the convergence of heterogeneous systems, and the rapid integration of applications and data both inside and outside the firewall is the promise of SOA. The lure of eliminating barriers to information sharing, such as different operating systems and languages, has put many organizations on the SOA pathway.
People using business applications on a desktop are unlikely to be aware that an SOA conversion takes place. However, for software programmers, system architects and designers, the process involves a significant reworking of the corporate technology, which can be a complex puzzle of dissimilar systems.
ESBs are designed to facilitate the interactions of disparate information and technology that includes applications, services, information, and platforms.
Cape Clear notes its ESB simplifies SOA integration by offering benefits such as deep support for open standards that are based on XML and Web services standards. It is designed to avoid vendor lock-in. It also offers complete support for the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) 1.1, which is the standard for SOA orchestration and routing, and which enables the design, deployment, and management of complex workflows.
Pricing for the Cape Clear ESB is $2,500 per developer and $10,000 per CPU.
Cape Clear Software is a privately held firm with headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts, and offices in Dublin, London, and San Mateo, California. For more information, visit the company Web site.