Government Clouds Take on the ESBaaS

Recent discussions with government ICT leadership related to cloud computing strategies have all brought the concept of Enterprise Service Bus as a Service into the conversation.

Now ESBs are not entirely new, but in the context of governments they make a lot of sense.  In the context of cloud computing strategies in governments they make a heck of a lot of sense.

Wikipedia defines an ESB as:

In computing, an enterprise service bus (ESB) is a software architecture construct which provides fundamental services for complex architectures via an event-driven and standards-based messaging engine (the bus). Developers typically implement an ESB using technologies found in a category of middleware infrastructure products, usually based on recognized standards.

Now if you actually understand that – then you are no doubt a software developer.  For the rest of us, this means that with the ESB pattern, participants engaging in service interaction communicate through a services or application “bus.” This bus could be a database, virtual desktop environment, billing/payments system, email, or other services common to one or more agencies. The ESB is designed to handle relationships between users with a common services and standardized data format.

New services can be plugged into the bus and integrated with existing services without any changes to the core bus service. Cloud users and applications developers will simply add or modify the integration logic.

Participants in a cross-organizational service interaction are connected to the Cloud ESB, rather than directly to one another, including: government-to-government, citizen-to-government, and business-to-government. Rules-based administration support will make it easier to manage ESB deployments through a simplified template allowing a better user experience for solution administrators.

The Benefits to Government Clouds

In addition to fully supporting a logical service-oriented architecture (SOA), the ESBaaS will enhance or provide:

  • Open and published solutions for managing Web services connectivity, interactions, services hosting, and services mediation environment
  • From development and maintenance perspective, the Government Cloud ESB allows agencies and users to securely and reliably share information between applications in a logical, cost effective manner
  • Government Cloud ESBs will simplify adding new services, or changing existing services, with minimal impact to the bus or other interfacing applications within the IT environment
  • Improvements in system performance and availability by offloading message processing and isolating complex mediation tasks in a dedicated ESB integration server

Again, possibly a mouthful, but if you can grasp the idea of a common bus providing services to a lot of different applications or agencies, allowing sharing of data and and interfaces without complex relationships between each participating agency, then the value becomes much more clear.

Why the Government Cloud?

While there are many parallels to large companies, governments are unique in the number of separate ministries, agencies, departments, and organizations within the framework of government.  Governments normally share a tremendous amount of in the past this data between each agency, and in the past this was extremely difficult due to organizational differences, lack of IT support, or individuals who simply did not want to share data with other agencies.

The result of course was many agencies built their own stand alone data systems, without central coordination, resulting in a lot of duplicate data items (such as an individual’s personal profile and information, business information, and land management information, and other similar data).  Most often, there were small differences in the data elements each agency developed and maintained, resulting in either corrupt or conflicting data.

The ESB helps identify a method of connecting applications and users to common data elements, allowing the sharing of both application format and in many cases database data sets.  This allows not only efficiency in software/applications development, but also a much higher level of standardization an common data sharing.

While this may be uncomfortable for some agencies, most likely those which do not want to share their data with the central government, or use applications that are standardized with the rest of government, this also does support a very high level of government transparency.  A controversial, but essential goal of all developing (and developed) governments.

As governments continue to focus on data center consolidation and the great economical, environmental, and enabling qualities of virtualization and on-demand compute resources, integration of the ESBaaS makes a lot of sense. 

There are some very nice articles related to ESBs on the net, including:

Which may help you better understand the concept, or give some additional ideas.

Let us know your opinion or ideas on ESBaaS

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