OpenESB Review

Supports top-down and bottom-up approaches for the services, processes definition, and composition

What is our primary use case?

During the last years, I worked on many large OpenESB projects. I used OpenESB in many business domains and implemented it in different areas such as Finance (IFDS UK), Bank (ING Belgium), Insurance (Humanis France), Retail (Leroy Merlin), ESL Gaming (Philipines)or Governmental organization (Xunta de Galicia Spain).

Bank, finance, and insurance users searched for reliable integration with their existing applications ( Legacy application, mainframe, external partners.). ESL Gaming used OpeneSB for its scalability and processes 1 billion of message daily with a large configuration deployed on a private cloud.  

Jobcentre services deployed by the government of Galicia require strong availability to provide support to its community. With an OpenESB platform with 4 nine availability, the government of Galicia was able to manage the unemployment crisis caused by the Covid19 pandemic and offered available services to hundreds of thousands of unemployed people.

How has it helped my organization?

OpenESB is a services-oriented integration platform that matches SOA or Microservices constraints and requirements.

OpenESB pushes the organization to clearly define service boundaries and interfaces. So it motives the business and the development teams to clearly define their business services and processes they want to implement. OpenESB supports fine and coarse-grain granularity for the services and supports top-down and bottom-up approaches for the services, processes definition, and composition.

OpenESB is focused on services orchestration and composition but not on message workflows as are competitors such as MULE, WSO2, Dell Boomi, or FUSE. Compared to its competitors, OpenESB has a longer learning curve but a better efficiency when complex implementations are required.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are :
- The full-service orientation of the product.
- The development process supported, from beginning to end, by a set of graphical development tools.
- The service composition is the core of the product and allows the developer to compose services in a very easy way. Similar to the Oracle SOA Suite composition, The OpenESB composition implements more additional features such as the connection policies between services and interface support. For example, the "last deployed" policy allows you to deploy a new version of service and automatically reroute the messages to this new version. If a bug appears, just redeploy the previous version. So you don't need to stop and start OpenESB and increase the platform availability.

What needs improvement?

The documentation of the product must be improved. It could be tricky to find the right documentation on a topic since the documentation is spread in many places. A part of the current documentation has been written by Sun microsystems and now belong to Oracle. it can be found on the Oracle website. Another part has been written by the OpenESB community and many other documents come from Pymma and Logicoy. So, I advise the new joiner to contact the community to get entry points and accurate documentation. The OpenESB is working on that issue with professional technical writers.

Additional tutorials and Videos to take up the product would be welcome.

Additional components such as a rule engine are welcome. If Connector to Kafka or Apache Gemfire is available, additional connectors to NoSQL containers such as Mongo and Cassandra would be useful.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with OpenESB for 10 years.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have good feedback on OpenESB stability and availability but few statistics. The companies that provide me that feedback set OpenESB availability around 4 nines

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

OpenESB scalability mainly depends on the quality of the application design. Once the architecture principles implemented (ex: short and stateless processes) OpenESB has no scalability issues and we were able to process one billion of messages daily for one of our customers.

I insist to say that OpenESB scalability mainly depends on the quality of the application design.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support on integration platform is a bit tricky since each user has a legacy environment (ex: mainframe, SAP, ...) that impacts OpeneSB behaviour. So It is difficult (impossible) for the technical support to recreate an environment for each user.

So when an issue occurs in an OpenESB platform, the user must extract the issue from his/her environment and so allow the support to replay and understand the issue.

Sometimes this simple rule can be a sticking point between the development team and the support.

Once this rule understood, the delay to fix a bug and get a patch is short  (half day in average)

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also worked with Oracle SOA and WSO2. Oracle SOA and OpenESB are close since they have been developed by the same team. However, Oracle SOA comes along with mandatory products such as Weblogic and Oracle DB (even if other DB are supported, Oracle pushes to use the SOA suite with its DB). This set of tools makes SOA Suite heavy to install, requiring large resources and overall expensive. Government and Departemental projects have not the budget for such a product, so we switch to OpenESB to offer similar features.

WSO2 is a nice product easy to use and works nicely when simple processes can be implemented as message workflows. A large part of the projects, we worked on, required advanced features in their business processes such as the compensation, the correlation, the support of the SAGA pattern that are not natively implemented by a WSO2 workflow. OpenESB implements natively these features and helps us to complete our projects on time.

How was the initial setup?

OpenESB is straightforward and can be done in a few hours. Lager configuration on the cloud or on-premises with multiple instances can require more time to set up the OpenESB Environment (Not OpenESB itself)

What about the implementation team?

We relied on our internal expertise on OpenESB.

What was our ROI?

Same response than the previous one. Good feedback but few real study on ROI. We get from a financial customer that evaluate the budget save "annually" GBP 20M when using OpenESB around for an annual cost for license support and consulting around GBP 1M. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

OpenESB exists in two editions. The Community Edition and the Enterprise Edition. The Community Edition is free of charge. The Enterprise Edition is dedicated to deployment on production and provides powerful monitoring and high scalability and comes with professional technical support.

The licensing model is easy and is linked to the number of OpenESB instances in production. Instances for the other environments (pre-prod, test, QA.) are free and supported.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

see previous question

What other advice do I have?

OpenESB is a smart and efficient solution for integration. It implements sophisticated concepts that must be understood to take advantage of the product. Take time to look at it and contact the community to get more information and documentation. Please have a look at my comment on the question: In what areas could the product or service be improved?

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?


If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Pymma supports the OpenESB project and provides services and consulting on OpenESB. But this link does not impact my personal point of view which is independent of my company policy.
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