Technologies for eBusiness Application Integration
Application integration is here to stay. However, a bewildering array of technologies promise to solve the very real problems that are associated with integration. With products offering very different classes of capabilities, comparisons and technology selections are complex and error-prone. This article examines integration technology in a way that removes the mystery and allows fair comparisons to be made.
The heavy downward pressure on technology stock prices in the early part of the year 2000 made some commentators begin to question the very notion of the New Economy. Regardless of whether you consider the application of technology to new business models revolutionary, there is little doubt that the availability of a pervasive network is changing the nature of commercial relationships. Never before has it been so easy for new companies to access markets in ways that challenge established corporations. Never before has it been possible to build supply chains so quickly. And never before has it been so important to integrate applications to support commercial activities.
The advantages of doing business electronically have been recognized for decades. In recent years, advances in technology have lowered the barriers to market entry and have reduced the time taken to build a business. Internet startup companies can quickly become a source of real competition for established companies. The more traditional companies have little option but to compete with the startups by creating their own Internet-based delivery channels. They have to move rapidly, of course. Invariably they are faced with the challenge of implementing new services quickly by exploiting the systems that already run their business. To do this, they must integrate new technologies with their existing applications. And this is why eBusiness Application Integration (eAI) has recently become so important.
Of course, there are other reasons why many companies focus on application integration. Merger and acquisition activity, or the need to forge new relationships with business partners, can often drive application integration for established companies.
Whatever the driver, the desire to integrate existing applications and new technologies brings with it a range of challenging decisions—not least of which is choosing the appropriate integration technology. A major issue is the bewildering array of alternative approaches from several different vendors. In this article, we'll look at a way of classifying integration technologies that allows comparison of their various characteristics.