IONA has just announced its new release of Artix, the extensible ESB,…
…here. IONA always pushes this concept of extensibility as a good thing, but I am not so sure. Specifically, IONA says Artix is extensible because it is modular, and goes on to explain that this means there is a base cost and then functional plug-ins that can be purchased when and where they are needed.
Now, this has immediate appeal, I can see. There is something comforting about only paying for what you need, and only on the systems where this function is required. But IONA seems to have placed quite a lot of functionality in this ‘priced add-on’ category such as protocol bindings, security functions, reliability and scalability features and so on. The danger, it seems to me, is that as your functional needs grow across an ever-widening network of ESB nodes, the price may climb sharply, with the customer suddenly facing a much higher bill than originally thought.
So there are definitely pros and cons of this approach – but perhaps the con that worries me the most relates to the purchase approval procedures that seem to be usual today. Every purchase has to be justified and approved. In the ‘one package’ approach, this requires a potentially tough justification up front, based on buying a package of function, some of which may not actually be used at first. In a way, the modular approach should mean this is easier, because you are only asking for funding to pay for a function that is actually needed. But in practice, having to go through the approval cycle for each functional increase could well turn out to be prohibitive in terms of elapsed time and danger to sanity. At least with the other approach, all the pain is dealt with in one go.
I guess the jury is still out.