Top 8 Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) Tools

IBM Integration BuswebMethods Integration ServerMule ESBIBM DataPower GatewayOracle Service BusTIBCO ActiveMatrix Service BusIBM WebSphere Message BrokerRed Hat Fuse
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    I consider the solution to be one of the most stable in the market.The product is usually very easy to deploy.
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    It's a visual tool, so our transformations can be quickly implemented without a lot of fuss. The fact that we have an easy way to expose REST services is also very interesting. It offers the possibility to connect over GMS to synchronize message brokers.
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    The solution offers multiple deployment options. The cloud and integration abilities are most useful allowing us to use applications such as Salesforce and DataWeave.
  5. I like that it is very stable, and we never experience any downtime. The scalability of the solution is good.
  6. I like the ease of deployment and the ease of implementation.The solution is quite stable overall. We haven't witnessed any performance issues so far.
  7. It is easy to develop. It has a very wide range of features. The older versions are very stable, and there are no issues with the product. The most attractive and beneficial feature is the ease of development.
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  9. Integration and mapping are easy, which is a major advantage. The solution has good integration.
  10. The product is complete, with no room for improvement. It has good customer support and implementation methodology.The installation is quite okay. We don't really change much in the configuration. Most of the time, most of the settings remain with the default and we are able to handle our needs using the default setting.

Advice From The Community

Read answers to top Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) questions. 522,946 professionals have gotten help from our community of experts.
Can you explain the differences between API Gateways and ESBs? What considerations are there for a business choose one over the other?
author avatarArchana Bhat

ESB is enterprise service bus primarily to have an architecture where many systems can integrated with each other seamlessly, which means that there is away to just hookup any system be it legacy with the plugins that is provided by the products, this avoids point-to-point connections.
The primary duties of an ESB are:

1.Route messages between services
2.Monitor and control routing of message exchange between services
3.Resolve contention between communicating service components
4.Control deployment and versioning of services
5.Marshal use of redundant services
6.Provide commodity services like event handling, data transformation and mapping, message and event queuing and sequencing, security or exception handling, protocol conversion and enforcing proper quality of communication service.

API Gateway:

API Gateway is the main part of API management. We all know how and what APIs are and what the are used for. These can be small chunks of services or a large set of service having many operations, with APIs we do computation or some logic required to satisfy the incoming request, but these services when used by external users called consumers we need to bring in some kind of system which can manage the requests and response for that consumer.

For example, a consumer is looking for some service in a JSON format and gives the details on a different like firstName as FName etc. For the same if we change the API itself it would go redundant for another consumer who needs it in different way. Also, the API provider would want to see the traffic make sure there is a regulation on the traffic that comes in, change for the requests that are made or see the trend of each call made or check on the TPS,Not only that, can have a way to display the services that are available to be consumed.

API gateway is the answer to all these in addition to it gives a way to do the below:
Security policy enforcement
Traffic Management policies
Load balancing
Dependency resolution
Cache management

For a business to choose between the both is the need of what kind of service is required, below set of questions might help to decide the same:

1. Is the purpose to provide a service to be consumed? - API Gateway
2. Is the purpose to integrate two different systems which cannot otherwise talk to each other - ESB
3.Is the purpose to do aggregations and mediation which involves logic - ESB
4. Is the purpose only to manage the incoming service request and do basic validation, security, threat protection,authentication? - API gateway
5. Is the purpose to provide a layer on top of your underlying API services? - API gateway

author avatarDeepakMishra


An API gateway is an API management tool that sits between a client and a collection of backend services. An API gateway acts as a reverse proxy to accept all application programming interface (API) calls, aggregate the various services required to fulfill them, and return the appropriate result.


An Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is fundamentally an architecture. It is a set of rules and principles for integrating numerous applications together over a bus-like infrastructure. ... This decouples systems from each other, allowing them to communicate without dependency on or knowledge of other systems on the bus.

An ESB is a centralized middleware platform that is used to integrate various enterprise systems and applications. ESBs replace the need for point-to-point communication, which is highly complex and not easily scalable.

Which is the Right Choice for Business?

Both API management solutions and ESBs have a common purpose: closer integration between various systems, applications, and data. However, the similarities stop there. In general, API gateways are more agile and flexible, making them better suited for the modern enterprise IT landscape.

Going with an ESB is probably the best route for your company if:

Many of your systems and applications remain on-premises.

You’re mainly concerned with your internal systems, not external third-party integrations.

You prefer a more logical, “exposure-centric” model.

Using an API manager is likely the better choice for your company if:

You need access to features and functionality not available with ESBs.

You want a more flexible solution that is better suited for e.g. microservices architectures.

You prefer a more agile, “consumption-centric” model.


An API Gateway is a proxy provided for the client. The Gateway gives the client a consistent interface regardless of any changes within the internal system. It allows the internal system to change without affecting the client. 
The API Gateway can also provide consistent cross-cutting concerns such as security logging, reporting and API analytics.

An ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) provides a means for service-to-service communication. With this technique, services do not need to communicate with each other, reducing coupling. 

API management tools often have additional features and capabilities that are not present with an ESB.

API management is more flexible and optimized for newer tech developments such as microservices, whereas ESBs are not.

API management solutions are typically consumption-based, while ESBs have an exposure-based model.

ESB is traditional middleware used in SOA solutions for routing, message transformation, protocol bridging, among other things. A new category of middleware solutions called API Gateway are now offered by several vendors. These solutions are commonly described as the central point to access the REST and SOAP services offered publicly by an organization. However, API Gateway solutions seem to offer a subset of typical ESB features.

Today, the Service Mesh pattern has become popular for microservices. A Service Mesh implementation can provide both an API Gateway and service-to-service communication, along with load balancing, security and many other features.

author avatarRobert Solomons
Real User

Centralization of integration and the mediation of payloads are the main reasons why many organizations with Enterprise Resource Planning applications decided on an ESB "Enterprise Service Bus" for their organizations. With a multitude of connections protocols like JDBC, SFTP, JMS, REST, SOAP, and HTTPS there is not an application that some of these ESB's are not able to connect to. It has the ease of connectivity and the ability to handle the transformation of any data structure regardless of the data formats. An example of this would be to connect to APP 1 using SFTP to pick a file with CSV content and then transforming the CSV content to JSON content based on specific data mapping rules and forwarding the data to APP 2 using REST. Message persistence, Message Queening, Guaranteed Delivery are some of the other abilities. Asynchronous message processing is preferred over Synchronous message processing.

Most of the requirement for API's stems from the business wanting APPS for customers, simple integration with vendors and HR departments wanting apps to communicate to their employees. All this has to be achieved with agility, speed of execution, and is key to API calls which is why mapping of deep structured data to another data format is not advisable.
API management would be best suited in an organization with a SaaS 1st approach since most SaaS services have out of the box APIs. The key to the success of APIs is its ability to exchange data near real-time. Synchronous ( request-response ) exchange of data without data mediation is best suited for APIs.

In conclusion, API's is quick and easy away to consume data. While there is a need for an ERP solution it would make sense to have a native ESB and an API tool to call the backend without any data mediation.
A smaller organization who opt for SaaS is where API management is best suited.

author avatarBalu Sosale
Real User

An API gateway is something that typically acts as a proxy for your web services and provides interesting value, such as: logging, making SOAP services callable like REST services, debugging help, tracing, etc... Because the API gateway is a sitting between the consumer and your services, it can easily capture traffic and do these sorts of things

An Enterprise Service Bus (like nServiceBus) is designed to sit on top of a messaging protocol (like RabbitMQ) to give it functionality that does not come with (or functionality that is difficult to implement) the basic messaging or pub-sub, for example: Database stored durable messages, retry logic, listener encapsulation, easier ways to subscribe to messages, and sagas. You can use the messaging protocol without using an ESB but not the other way around. For example, you can use RabbitMQ without using nServiceBus.

author avatarSubramanian Ananthakrishnan

An API gateway typically sits in the topmost layer of the northbound to accept all API requests coming in from Applications whether it be channels, third party trusted or non trusted servers. The API gateway has few key primary responsibilities such as :

* Authentication of the API request using PSK or tokens
* Throttling of the requests based on assigned quota or overall traffic handling capacity of the underlying application layers
* API registry management with structure interchangeability (XML to JSON to WSDL etc) support using Swagger
* Sandboxing of API.

Basically it would enable anything to do with the service API in its own form.

Sometimes it's also configured for advanced functions such as API Monetization, where the APIs are rated on a tariff and the registered API partners are invoiced for the usage..

An ESB sits South of API GW and has its own set of functions (although there are no standards specified) such as:
* Composition of the service API itself. i.e exposing a composite service API by combining or transforming multiple atomic service APIs from the underlying registered services
* Transformation of API (converting from one protocol to other or one structure to another)
* Routing of the API in one to one OR one to many forms
* Orchestration of the flow of services using some form of workflow implementation such as BPM
* And finally, enabling the publish and subscribe of these composite and atomic service APIs

In the microservices world as well, the ESB has a big role to play, unlike many theories that think otherwise. A layer that needs to organize all those millions of microservices getting created and enabling a meaningful composite structure for the external world to consume.. someone to maintain a registry so that duplicate development of a service is avoided within the same organization. Manageability of microservices.

author avatarAravindKashyap

The major difference is that API gateway exposes a set of services to consume. On the other hand, ESB s gives two-way relationships, so both service providers and consumers actively participate in terms of communication. Unlike API gateway, ESB allows the computation entity to be service as well as the consumer on-fly where gateways restrict the setup to have a single behavior.

An API Gateway is a proxy provided for the client. The Gateway gives the client a consistent interface regardless of any changes within the internal system. It allows the internal system to change without affecting the client. The API Gateway can also provide consistent cross-cutting concerns such as security logging, reporting and API analytics.

An ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) provides a means for service-to-service communication. With this technique, services do not need to communicate with each other, reducing coupling. ESBs often use guaranteed messaging for inter-service communication.

author avatarMartí Pàmies Solà
Real User

For me the answer is clear and easy: Enterprise Service Bus implements Business Process, which was designed using Business Process Management Notation and implemented using Business Process Execution Language.

All other tools, like API Gateway or message-oriented middleware, could be so useful and powerful, but could never be an ESB, as in its core, they are not about Business Process.

From my experience, being able to clearly define a process at Business Level (not the IT level) and keep track of its implementation on an ESB it's critical for nowadays organizations.

Hope this is useful.

author avatarGary Collier

ESB is a middleware software used for the exchange of information between connected enterprise applications. If you purchase a 3rd party ESB you should choose one designed to support the applications you want to connect, i.e. commercial applications such as Finance and HR. Connecting proprietary applications is possible with an extensible API, i.e. one in which ESB cares only about origin and destination of information, passing content through without modification. ESB may optionally include a mapper to transform source data to target format.

An API gateway sits between the internet and on-prem application. It determines what services are needed, such as sftp, https, as2, JSON, ect. API gateway operates in a client-server model and potentially supports different API protocol for the two ends of the exchange. One example of an API gateway is a managed-file-transfer (MFT) application such as Moveit. It operates independently of both content creator and content consumer. An API gateway typically is not integrated with mapping software and can be used in tandem with any transformation solution.

Miriam Tover
There's a lot of vendor hype about ESB solutions. ESBs are not something you just install it and wait for great things to happen, right? What questions should someone ask before purchasing an enterprise service bus? Help your peers ask the right questions so that they'll make the best decision.
author avatarBinayak Nanda (Mphasis)

There are two kinds of integration piece ESB & EAI. If your requirement is for basic integration(Web services) then ESB would be helpful. If you have traditional or legacy systems that communicate with legacy protocols and message formats then ESB would be a bit harder to use as you need to develop adapters for those legacy systems by your own. On the other hand EAI is an extension to ESB by vendors and it offers ready made tools and adapters which can ease your integration. But cost is involved there.

author avatarChannu Kambalyal
Real User

ESBs are now about 10+ years old. Evaluation practices are now well established as follows (key ones):

1. For low cost and pay per use look for iPaaS options rather than on-promise installs. You have the option to move over to something better later.

2. Look for skilled resources at your end. Fancy high end ESB could cost you for usage and also resources in demand.

3. What are the integration needs of your org? Are your apps legacy, what are their integration capabilities? This will highlight the need for adapters (tight-coupling), or loose coupled integrations like HTTPS or JMS/MQ, etc.

5. Look for ease of use for developers and monitoring capabilities of ESB.

6. Always carryout end to end POC before making any commitment to any vendor. Have this done with specific use cases or your org.

author avatarRadhey-Rajput
Real User

For purchasing the ESB, you should ask the few questions below:
1. It should be highly scalable, re-usability and low cost.
2. The related company should provide good support in case of environmental issues.
3. Security should be good in case of inbound and outbound messages.
4. Should be supported by a wide range of protocols and adapters.
5. With the wide adoption of cloud and SaaS applications, integration needs to support on-premise, hybrid, and cloud/SaaS applications.

author avatarWalter Kuhn
Real User

1. What kind of integration do you need? Does the supplier understand your problem domain? Do you focus on flexibility, on speed of integrating, etc?
2. Are the so called adaptors there which you need? Also the protocols supported you need?
3. How is security enabled?
4. Does it run on own servers, or in cloud?
5. How complex is the development cycle, and the management of versions of processes and interfaces? Error management?
6. Pricing including stages you may need, amount of licences you need for larger Environments,... till long term costs
7. What kind of infrastructure is needed?
8. Is federation of ESBs important for you, if so, how is it supported?
9. Who will do the implementation and the operative management of the ESB?
10. Performance?
11. Config Management?
12. Vendor support - how fast, how expensive?

author avatarPaulPerez
Real User

The main question about an ESB is to understand if you need an ESB to implement links between partners together in a kind of workflow or if you want to link the partner in the same business process.

You have to understand that the ESB market can be shared in two parts:

1- The workflow managers (MULE, WSO2, Dell Boomi...) link efficiently one partner (ex: applications, data containers, resources, external services) but offer a few possibilities to involve theses partner in complex and Sophisticated business processes. 

2- On the other side, the Orchestrators (Oracle, Tibco, OpenESB) implement complex processes that required overworks when you just need to connect a Database with a microservices.

The main difficulty in that choice is that after the first project implementations it often come more complex projects that require complex process implementations and changing for another product is often impossible only after a few months.

We have to evaluate what is your real integration needs and the Complexity of your future projects.

The other criteria are less relevant since each large editor provides a large scope of adapters, good scalability and certainly good support. 

author avatarRoddyAletawi

Check out:

I'm Financial Technology Solution Consultant in a large company. What is the role of ESB/ API Managers in a digital banking environment?
author avatarPaul Perez
Real User

ESB and API are really different entities. If you read about a kind of competition between both products, there is a misunderstanding. 

API is used to expose your services, checks the access rights, security, invoicing, etc.

ESB on the other side, provide new services by aggregating existing applications and resources. 

Mixing roles creates great difficulties since API are not made to create new processes and ESB is weak when managing accesses.

Another point, API products are often linked to HTTP and don't manage service access through FTP, message which is useful when you do integration projects.

In the bank, ESB puts together, new and legacy resources such As the mainframe, to create new business processes. The API is a convenient way to access to that service.

I hope it is useful.

Feel free to contact me for more detail

author avatarPaulPerez
Real User

Hello to all,

Today I would like to come back to this question about mixing ESB and API management.

First, I'd like to clarify that I mainly understand APIs based on the REST protocol when I hear or read APIs. Even if REST and API are not linked in their theoretical definitions, today, a large majority of the APIs is defined using REST.

As I have often said in other media, using REST as a protocol impoverishes the integration capabilities. When you see the success of REST APIs in many projects of all kinds, you often come across as a comical or a nostalgist of the past, SOAP/XML and Comma Separated Values exchanges.

This second answer would take too long to explain why REST pollutes and impoverishes exchanges between partners in the same business process. But to give you more details in a few words, the main reason for this affirmation comes from the indefectible link between REST and HTTP. Using only GET, PUT, POST... in asynchronous mode restrains integration platforms capabilities and is toxic for the definition of coherent exchanges.

Back to our question, it is clear that any ESB like OpenESB, WSO2 or WebMethod, today can handle REST APIs more or less quickly. REST is used as an entry point to the company's business services. So many IT managers mix ESB and API and ask the ESB administrator to become an API manager.

Today, REST's influence on integration technologies is decreasing. For 2-3 years, we see that more and more software editors, service companies, and analysts expressing reservations about REST use as an entry point for business services. (the light is at the end of the tunnel)

Event Oriented Architecture users are at the forefront of this new movement. The recent EDA 2021 summit ( demonstrated that the future is not in REST APIs.

Also, the IoT (Internet of Things) wave with its billions of devices will be much more influential on our future architecture and integration platform design than the web and its HTTP protocol itself.

Other IoT protocols such as MQTT (Asynchronous and message-oriented protocols) will soon play a significant role in our future architectures where GET, PUT, and POST operations will no longer be used in exchanges between partners.

Best ESBs will be perfectly capable of using IoT protocols (or any other protocols) as entry points to business services.

In conclusion:

REST APIs are just a part of an integration platform. This part will decrease in the following years, replaced by IoT protocols and event-oriented designs. The ESB administrator must understand that even if IT Gurus and user pressure force him to focus on REST APIs, this is a small part of his/her tasks. Reliable and easy access to scalable and available business services is the essential part of his job and the criteria on which he will be evaluated.

The ESB manager must not be focused on API only. Still, he must employ all the protocols existing on the market to design a powerful integration platform and provide easy access to business services. Consequently, asking him/her to be (or become) an API manager seems to be a mistake and even a long term fault for the company evolution.

author avatarRohit SAHNI

The industry framework has changed rapidly. Instead of a strong core and multiple interfaces mostly hardcoded with channels, banks are moving to a light and flexible product processor with APIs that can be consumed by various partners in the fintech echo systems. API managers are going to be an integral part of next-gen banking as they will own revenue generation and building a network of opportunities for the banks through integrations and partnerships to help the bank become a lifestyle bank rather than a traditional bank which will loose to the competition to the challenger banks. 

author avatarSatyajeet Damre

i think their role is about desgn, development, testing, and operational issues all of it. ensure that the vision of integration is implemented and maintained by being part of implementation and governance team.

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Find out what your peers are saying about IBM, Software AG, MuleSoft and others in Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). Updated: July 2021.
522,946 professionals have used our research since 2012.