Enterprise Service Bus Product Selection Process – Steps To Follow
Since its first published appearance in 2002 by Roy W. Schulte of Gartner group, the concept of enterprise service bus has evolved a lot. The success of any modern organization today depends on how it can scale its services without losing control over its technology systems. With the emergence of new technology services and the important role they play to drive core services of companies, it becomes vital to have robust communication capabilities among existing and external systems. Enterprise Service Bus implementation can help organizations in all these areas!
As mentioned earlier, ESB has evolved a lot over the years. There are many open source and commercial ESB products are available in the market. Given ESB’s transformational nature, it requires a great deal of research and feasibility study w.r.t. the requirement to find a right ESB product for the organization.
At Ellicium, we recently helped one of our client to select right ESB product. This article explains how we took on product selection process and learnings we got out of it.
THE 6 STEP PROCESS
In the beginning, we devised this six-step process.
- Initiation and Stakeholder Interviews:
We started the product selection process with market research on the ESB product vendors. The goal of this exercise was to get a list of features available in different products. Using this list of features for ESB tools, we then conducted the interviews with functional and technical stakeholders. Each stakeholder had to rate the features based on their desirability to use them. This exercise helped us to understand the pain-areas and needs of the end users.
Do use a different set of the feature list for functional and technical stakeholders. The main reason for doing this is that the level of understanding and pain-areas can be very different for functional and technical stakeholders. Remember, a single size does not fit everyone!
- Prioritizing Requirements:
Based on the scores given by the stakeholders for each feature of ESB product and by keeping the organizational use-case in mind, we prioritized the requirements for the product selection. This step can be very tricky as different features can carry more weighting than others while evaluating the product. For example, the ‘Technical’ or ‘Architectural’ features can carry more weight than the ‘usability’ features.
It is must to define ESB product selection criteria that include functional and nonfunctional requirements to be given to Vendors as part of the further process. With this step, we could do that easily!
- Vendor Shortlisting:
Utilizing the defined ESB product selection criteria, industry best practices, and market research, we then shortlisted the Vendors to be considered for the evaluation process. Along with the publicly available information for each vendor, we also took inputs from the third-party industry analyst firms such as Gartner.
Apart from looking at the features available in every product, it is essential to check the credibility of the vendor, product roadmap, and support model. To put it more boldly about support Model, the support available online for a product can hugely impact the product implementation in an organization. Make sure product you select has good support in place!
- Proof of Concept:
As a next step, we contacted all the shortlisted vendors and explained to them our needs and process of selection. To understand the capabilities of each product, a common use-case scenario was shared with all the vendors to be performed as a Proof of Concept. This scenario was a small piece of the process of larger implementation.
It is advised strongly to execute the POC by yourself with the help of vendors. This will give your technical stakeholders/users a chance to try their hands on each of the product. It will also help you to understand how hard or easy it will be to implement the process in your environment using a product. Know your hurdles before you get face to face with them!
- Vendor Demos:
After the completion of POC, every vendor was invited to deliver a demo of all the functional and nonfunctional features shared as ESB product selection criteria in earlier steps. This exercise helped all the functional and technical stakeholder to understand the capabilities of each product.
Make sure to follow the process of vendor demos thoroughly. Best way to do it is to have a questionnaire in place which can help a great deal to understand the product better while demonstrations.
Based on the Vendor demos, each stakeholder scored all the products for the functional and nonfunctional features. Utilizing the stakeholder’s scores, feedback of third-party industry analyst firm, support material availability and pricing models, best 2 ESB product vendors were recommended to the management to negotiate and finalize the ESB product.
You must create a logical and reality-based score model to arrive at recommendations. This model should inherently have checks in place.
Overall, this process gave us tremendous insights into ESB products. Implementing ESB comes with its own benefits like getting visibility across the system, cost saving, and better integration to name a few. At the same time, before embarking on this journey it is important to have a clear vision on how much ESB will help an organization.
I am sure above process will help you in selecting the right tool. I will be more than happy to receive your comments and suggestions. Also, I would love to know your ESB implementation journey.
Connect with me here: LinkedIn > https://bit.ly/2ydj3kH so that we can start the conversation right away!