Opinion: A fighting chance for business integration

With big money being committed to the acute problem of disconnected business systems, integration technology is becoming more specialized, allowing enterprises to tackle business process issues more directly.

This evolution, combined with the convergence around a few key technologies – namely XML, Webservices, and Java standards such as the Java Connector Architecture – will give IT execs a fighting chance at building a sustainable integration architecture.

When EAI (enterprise application integration) vendors broke onto the scene about five years ago, they were quick to say the connectors that link disparate systems will become a commodity. Higher-level tools that map business processes and a scalable architecture would win out over lower-level data connectivity.

With emerging standards that make base-level connectivity much easier and an increasingly crowded marketplace, this focus on business process integration is coming to the fore.

As the dedicated integration vendors are acquired, systems vendors such as IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc. are making application servers the hub for all this business logic and data connectivity. In many cases, this centralization makes sense, but dedicated integration servers – and internal experts around integration – should remain a feature of IT groups and with more and more content being distributed to the edge, decentralization makes sense.

Also, true business process integration, particularly in a B2B scenario, is far more complex than simply linking business objects with a modeling tool. As our lead news story points out, companies need savvy IT executives to find a way to make the integration happen on both a technical and business level.

What is your biggest integration headache? Write to martin_lamonica@infoworld.com.