Integrators catch the wave

In what could be a harbinger of future systems integrator deals, KPMG Consulting Inc. has partnered with Iona Technologies PLC in a deal designed to leverage Web services to ease EAI (enterprise application integration) woes.

Under the agreement, KPMG will use Iona’s Orbix E2A Web Services Integration and Application Server platforms to deliver many of the integration components that are defined in KPMG’s Strategic Integration Architecture Framework.

KPMG’s framework leverages Orbix E2A along with other integration service components to enable seamless integration of custom and packaged software applications, existing mainframe systems, and other data sources, according to company officials.

“Iona and KPMG are going to market to expose enterprises as Web services,” said Robert Sandie, vice-president of global alliances at Waltham, Mass.-based Iona. “Whatever standards they have invested in, we are going to embrace them and expose them as Web services.”

The move comes as systems integrators prepare to open practices that target Web services and integration issues, according to analysts.

“Web services have caught the attention of users and [systems integrators] want to be seen as experts in this new technology,” said Shawn Willett, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Va. “Often they will need the imprimatur of a Web services-oriented technology to help them get there.”

Because Web services have been touted as less complicated and less costly methods for integration, systems integrators may soon begin to try to nip this emerging threat to their business in the bud, said Dwight Davis, an analyst at Summit Strategies Inc. in Kirkland, Wash.

“KPMG is taking the route that if that business is going to be commoditized, you may as well be the one to commoditize it,” Davis added.

Still, it has yet to be determined whether offering special integration services based on Iona’s technology will give KPMG an advantage over other companies that have not forged such alliances, Willett said.

“That depends on the depth of KPMG’s Iona practice,” Willett said. “In some cases, a company will devote hundreds or thousands of engineers to, for example, an Oracle practice or SAP practice. In some cases, they build their own technology. It remains to be seen if their Iona practice will be that deep.”

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