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1.6 The Challenges of Integration

Business drivers and potential benefits are compelling. Integration is essential for moving towards real-time business. Surveys show that companies are focusing IT investment on integration. Morgan Stanley's survey of 225 CIOs consistently ranks integration as either the number one priority in IT spending, or in the top three (Phillips and Rathman 2002). Gartner puts application development and middleware in the top three for annual growth rates (Correia 2002). Companies are increasingly recognizing the need for enterprise integration.

Unfortunately, integration is inherently a complex problem. Providing integration, visibility, and management across hardware platforms, operating systems, programming languages, database structures, applications, and business entities is probably one of the most complex tasks in IT. Integration doesn't come in a box. You can't just install and configure it. There are multiple technologies involved, and different technologies are most appropriate for different types of business requirements. What companies need to avoid is the necessity of integrating the integration solutions.

Enterprise integration is really more of a journey than a solution. Companies will need to continually evolve and optimize their infrastructures to provide better response time to their customers and changes in business conditions. This process involves many decisions along the way.

  • Defining the business drivers, requirements, and metrics driving integration. What is the business initiative launching the integration project? What are the business requirements? What are the business metrics that will measure the success of the solution?

  • Determining the purpose and scope of the integration. Is it enterprise-wide or linked to a strategic business initiative, or both? Or is it tactical, such as implementing a new application or Web service?

  • Deciding whether to make an enterprise commitment to a service-oriented architecture.

  • Choosing the type of integration. Integration scenarios include application integration, data integration, process integration, legacy integration or extension, B2B integration, and portals.

  • Identifying the technologies necessary for the type of integration. This could include one, some, or all of the following: messaging, data mapping, translation and transformation, intelligent routing, business process management, Web services, XML, B2B integration, and portals.

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