Opinion: Web services will move slowly to ERP

Integration consistently tops IT executives’ list of priorities, and with the focus on wringing value out of existing systems, there’s no sign of that changing. The integration point that is perhaps most painful is ERP (enterprise resource planning). Although ERP vendors made their name on moving the same data across multiple applications, cracking data out of those suites requires more than a little heavy lifting.

Having invested so much in ERP, enterprises want to view that suite of business processes as a backbone on which to graft new applications and, most importantly, to collaborate with business partners.

One of the biggest impediments to B2B (business-to-business), however, has been integration itself. The idea of exchanges or extended supply chains is wonderful if you’re the hub company; smaller players serving many masters don’t have the resources to plug in to every business partner.

Baseline Web services protocols around XML make that exchange of information via the Internet a lot more attainable, which is why ERP vendors are eyeing Web services.

Despite the flurry of activity detailed in an earlier story by Eugene Grygo, don’t expect your ERP vendor to blaze a trail into Web services and sing a new song of modularity and interoperability.

Despite the lip service around componentization and best of breed, ERP vendors favour a tightly wound suite, which allows them to sell new and admittedly integrated applications into their installed base. ERP vendors are also occupied redesigning their wares around J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition)-based applications servers; at this point, XML Web services are a bolt on. Finally, portals are the most likely delivery mechanism for Web services to third parties, which may cut out ERP vendors.

Are you looking to get more value from your ERP investments? Write martin_lamonica@infoworld.com.