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Article by Mohan Babu


Capitalising on the business of integrating systems

Mergers and acquisitions during the boom years had brought together disparate IT systems of different companies. MOHAN BABU writes how EAI vendors can capitalise on the business of integrating systems, even in adverse market conditions

The hi-tech industry is in a big flux, even though there are signs that Western economies are showing signs of looking up. The thawing of an economy does not mean an automatic shift to an increase in IT spending. In spite of the continued downturn (or maybe because of it), companies are starting to take a closer look at their technical infrastructure and are examining ways to optimise the resources. The quest for IT infrastructure optimisation— Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)—is receiving a renewed focus as organisations look for ways to integrate their existing systems with minimal risks and disruption. I have been talking to people in the industry and get the feeling that even in this economy, organisations will be quick to look for any benefits they can get from their technology investments, and want to focus on this topic in this column.

The reason for a renewed focus on EAI is simple. During the boom years in the past decade, companies were being acquired, merged or assimilated into other organisations, resulting in huge conglomerates with disparate IT systems, built on different architectures thrown together in a patchwork. The ideal solution, from a business and technical standpoint, would be to scrap older systems and port them to newer, scalable systems. But, in the real world, businesses do not have the luxury of merging older systems into newer ones, especially since the ideology is to not fix what’s not broken. Therefore, the solution is to integrate existing systems by providing seamless connectivity between legacy applications and provide users with a uniform and logical view of the system as a whole.

What is EAI? The Butler Group, in its management guide, defines application integration as, “the requirement to integrate into new business processes the functional behaviour, or business rules of disparate systems, or components of them, as well as, but not just, the data that underlies them”. The report goes on to add, “Some developers are puzzled by this sudden focus on application integration. They argue that they have not delivered new ‘green field’ applications for many years and that integration with existing sources of information has been a common feature for some time.... Like many things, application integration is part of the natural evolution of application delivery that includes improved software componentisation and the increasing acquisition of packaged software. However, the focus in the past has been more on integration of in-house developed applications and components, which is easier when all of their source code is available and controlled within the project or same information system (IS) department, and can be changed to enable integration. Integration was then just seen as part of the application development process.”

EAI, which started with the use of homegrown tool-sets and a patchwork of disparate systems, is slowly growing into an industry segment with most large consultancies setting up their own practices. A number of vendors have also started offering EAI tool-sets bundled with their suite of applications. Some offer solutions as specialised tools. Most industrial grade EAI applications are being wrapped around a robust messaging architecture underlying the product. Many of the applications also come bundled with APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and adapters to hook into the

underlying messaging architecture. Software systems and ERP packages are the building blocks used by developers to “integrate” systems.

Who are the big players in the EAI industry? Although there are hundreds of tools and flavours of tool-sets offered by numerous vendors, a few “leaders” stand out from the pack. Some of them include:

* IBM’s WebSphere MQ family of products

* TIBCO suite of applications

* SeeBeyond—eBusiness integration solutions

* IONA—End 2 Anywhere

* Vitria Technology—Business-level solution

* Software Technologies—eGate

The respective vendors trademark the products mentioned here. A more extensive list of vendors can also be found on the EAI Journal website at

With all the buzz being generated about enterprise integration, can Indians and Indian companies be far behind? Of course not! A number of big players have jumped onto the EAI bandwagon, some claiming to be EAI experts and others bidding for large projects to capitalise on the economies of the outsourcing model. Interestingly, some of the EAI vendors mentioned above are also founded and/or are headed by charismatic Indian leaders with Vivek Ranadivé, Tibco chairman and CEO, leading the pack. As the tech sector starts getting a renewed focus from business leaders, perhaps the first thing to jump up will be the synergies that can be achieved from enterprise-wide integration. We need to be prepared to capitalise on the turnaround. Any takers?




About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
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    For FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America, visit the Ask-A-Desi section

    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


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