Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) Tools: Technical Comparison and Review

The right enterprise service bus (ESB) tool can help your organization speed up application integration and go to market faster. Let’s look at five of the leading ESB tools. Compare each tool based on technical features and benefits, and enterprise support pricing.

1. Red Hat JBoss Fuse

JBoss Fuse is more than an enterprise service bus (ESB). It is a lightweight open source integration platform – based on Apache ServiceMix – that is available on premise or in the cloud. Built on open standards, JBoss Fuse is bolstered by a large community of developers, rather than the small teams who typically maintain proprietary source code.

Features and Benefits

  • Apache ActiveMQ: A fast, open source message broker that supports JMS as well as clients written in other languages like C and Python
  • Apache Camel: An open source framework that provides implementations of tried and true EIPS (Enterprise Integration Patterns). This allows developers to leverage pre-existing solutions to frequently encountered coding challenges related to enterprise integration
  • Apache CFX: An open source web services framework, which provides for communication using various standards such as JAX-WS and JAX-RS, HTTP and FTP, as well as different formats like JSON, XML, CSV, etc.
  • Apache Karaf: An OSGI runtime container for deploying applications
  • Fabric8: An orchestration tool for large middleware deployments

JBoss Fuse Support and Pricing

Pricing starts at $23,760 for a standard, one-year, 16 core subscription. This comes with unlimited web and phone support during normal business hours.

2. Mule ESB

Mule ESB is low footprint, Java-based enterprise service bus. It is open source and like most ESBs, allows for the integration of systems via JMS, Web Services, HTTP, JDBC, and more.

Features and Benefits

  • AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol): Support is based on the RabbitMQ Java Client
  • Routers: MuleSoft uses routers to split, combine, reorder, evaluate, and broadcast messages
  • Anypoint Connectors: Pre-built protocol, database, transport, and database connectors. You can also build your own if needed
  • Mule Runtime Engine: The heart of the MuleSoft Anypoint platform. Deployable in the cloud or on premise
  • Mule Runtime Manager: Allows for the deployment, monitoring, and troubleshooting of Mule instances

Mule ESB Support and Pricing

Although MuleSoft does not make their prices publicly available, various sources estimate it to cost between $80,000 to $96,000 for a one-year, 16 core subscription (see references here and here). Base subscriptions come with 30 support incidents, available for use during normal business hours.

3. IBM Websphere ESB

IBM WebSphere ESB is IBM’s enterprise service bus offering. It aids in the integration of service-oriented, message-oriented, and event-driven systems. It has, however, been discontinued and will reach end of life in 2018.

Features and Benefits

  • WebSphere MQ: IBM’s implementation of the JMS interfaces
  • Routing/EIPs: Things like content-based routing and other enterprise integration patterns can be implemented via the use of XSLT
  • WebSphere Adapters: Pre-built protocol, database, transport, and database connectors
  • WebSphere Application Server: The runtime of WebSphere ESB is built on top of WAS
  • Administrative Console: A browser-based interface that that allows you to monitor, update, start and stop applications, services, and resources running on WebSphere ESB

IBM WebSphere ESB Support and Pricing

A one-year 16 core license with support costs $630,400. Access to support is available 24×7.

Pricing per core is determined by multiplying Processor Value Units (PVU) by number of cores by price per PVU. In this case, the price is based on a mid-range Intel Xeon processor, which is rated at 100 PVUs, and the ESB Price Per PVU which is $349. Faster processors are worth more PVUs than slower processors. This price schedule prevents customers from lowering their core subscription cost by using a smaller number of higher speed processors.

4. Oracle ESB

Oracle ESB is based on a prior Oracle product called Retail Integration Bus Essentials. It is intended to aid in communication between existing Oracle products and third-party applications.

Features and Benefits

  • Oracle Message Broker: A JMS-compliant API that supports AQ, IBM MQSeries, TIBCo Rendezvous, and more
  • Routing Service: SOA style routing services that allows for routing rules to be defined and published with a WSDL
  • Integration Adapters: A set of JCA adapters available for download. These allow for communication with databases, message queues, various enterprise applications, and over various protocols
  • ESB Server: The runtime server that listens to topics for updates
  • ESB Control: Allows configuration changes to be made in real time

Oracle ESB Support and Pricing

A 16 core one-year license of Oracle ESB costs $73,600. 24×7 technical support can be purchased for this license for $80,960.

5. Microsoft BizTalk

Biztalk is Microsoft’s Inter-Organizational Middleware System. In other words, it’s basically an ESB. It leverages .NET and allows developers to write their integration pieces in Visual Studio.

Features and Benefits

  • MSMQ (Microsoft Message Queuing): First released in 1997, this message queue implementation is still available for installation on current versions of Windows Server
  • Routing: Message/routing specifications are implemented through XML, but generally this XML is generated using graphical tools
  • Adapters: BizTalk has a variety of built-in adapters. As expected, has great adapter support for Microsoft technologies such as the various WCF protocols
  • BizTalk Server: BizTalk requires IIS (Internet Information Services) for various functionality such as HTTP, SOAP, SSL and more. Typically, this is deployed on Windows Server
  • BizTalk Server Administration Console: This is a MMC (Microsoft Management Console) that allows for extensive configuration and management of the server

Microsoft BizTalk Support and Pricing

A 16 core license of BizTalk is $173,360.

Final thoughts

ESBs are a pretty broad topic. While there is a lot of overlap in features, where they really differ is in documentation/community support, implementation styles and price. Which one is right for you is a matter of how much control you want over the implementation, your level of desire for community support and your sense of fiscal responsibility.

As the leading Red Hat middleware partner in North America, Shadow-Soft has helped enterprise customers migrate to JBoss Fuse. If you would like to learn more about what JBoss Fuse can do for you, contact us today.