App integration battle tactics

When it comes to application integration, enterprises would do well adopting the “Five P’s” as laid out by the venerable British Army: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Indeed, the mission of application integration and middleware (AIM), while not an impossible one, is an undertaking that must keep pace with increasing business demands for enterprise agility.

But forging an integration battle plan doesn’t have to be an exercise in futility. Armed with the right knowledge, enterprises can emerge triumphant.

Before undertaking an enterprise integration project, best practices dictate that the most important thing is consistency, according to Warren Shiau, an independent software analyst based in Toronto. A well-disciplined integration methodology ensures that projects can be reviewed and replicated so enterprises are not rebuilding the same integration project over and over again, Shiau noted.

Compared to the U.S., Canadian companies tend to have a higher rate of custom application usage, Shiau said. In that sort of environment there tend to be more issues around integration. “And even if it’s not all custom, you also tend to have environments (like health care) where there are a lot of proprietary systems built out…with their own logic.

They are application islands and they need to be integrated.” One of the largest integration pain points that enterprises encounter is the general lack of understanding of their own business processes, Shiau said. “They don’t know which applications map to which back-end resources. And if you don’t know that, you really can’t have a strong integration project if during the middle you’re trying to figure out what’s mapping to what. This is the starting point that, unfortunately, is missing in a lot of cases.”

According to James Governor, a software analyst with Bath, Me.-based IT research firm RedMonk, Web services are making integration easier.

“Services-oriented architecture (SOA) is the

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