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Integration Hubs

Center to any web-based system are the integration hubs that function as a crossway among client/server enterprise applications, legacy systems (usually in COBOL), database systems (usually relational), data warehousing, e-commerce, and web services within an enterprise and between enterprises. Comprising enterprise applications are Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP), Dynamic Relationship Management (DRM), and Supply Chain Management (SCM)—all aiming at communicating with one another in some fashion.

Driving the hubs are middleware technologies, application programming interfaces (API), industry-wide standards, business processes, and, most important of all, the people who indirectly or directly determine or contribute to the impact of the hubs on organizational change management, as technologies change or emerge in response to dynamic market demands. People's perceptions and expectations of an enterprise project must be addressed: If expectations are pessimistic or overoptimistic, the project will most likely fail. To change expectations to a more optimistic tone, an enterprise should consider open communication, open-industry standards, teamwork, and training to supplement or enhance current skill sets.

Integration hubs don't always ensure that all applications and systems can fully interoperate on any platform. Though they may appear to interoperate via XML and other standard efforts of transmitting business information among diverse platforms, some features of one application running on one platform may not be resident in a similar application on another platform. In addition, some features of the same application may run on one platform but not on another due to differences in the way that standards (such as SOAP) are interpreted and implemented.

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