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Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

7 Ways to scare EAI experts (part I)

Category : Architecture

Enterprise Application Integration. Sometimes, you just can’t help associating it with a absurdist theatre play. Two EAI experts are sitting on a bench, somewhere in a deserted place. They are awaiting the arrival of someone named Godot. But Godot never shows up and the EAI experts seem to have forgotten why they are waiting in the first place. At the end, nothing has happened and nothing has changed. One expert says to the other “shall we go?“ and the other one responds “yes, let’s go”. Nobody moves. It used to be an art, or at least a scarce design skill, integrating all these different, heterogeneous systems, let alone knowing the ins and outs of an abundance of EAI tools and platforms. Professionals used the title ‘EAI Expert’ with pride on their business cards and established a firm street credibility among IT peers. But every now and then, some of them seem to think that their very mission in life has become integration, forgetting about both the original business rationale and the evolution of technology, systems and strategy. They desperately need to unfreeze. And in order to achieve that, they may need to be scared a bit first. Let me introduce you to 7 opening lines to achieve that, based on many engagements with EAI experts (and suppliers of EAI tools for that matter) across many different organizations: 1. Integrating is bad 2. It’s all Open Source now 3. You forgot about the data 4. It comes with SAP 5. Just put it in the server rack 6. Amazon does it for you 7. Only vertical matters There is sort of an ascending order to it, possibly increasing the shock effect. It all depends on how long one is already waiting for Godot. Let’s see if the first three already work for you: 1. Integrating is bad There is one real way of being more effective in producing code: write less code (generate it instead, using models, domain specific languages and frameworks). Likewise, a real effective EAI expert should try to decrease the number of heterogeneous systems that need to be integrated, before even considering the first integration project. Consolidating multiple versions of applications, getting rid of systems that really do the same in just a slightly different way or replacing systems by standard packages, can all do the job. Reducing complexity is not about implementing one single, multi-talented integration broker, it’s about avoiding the need for one in the first place. Yes: integrating is bad for you. 2. It’s all Open Source now There are probably not many organisations any longer that maintain their own, homebrewed operating system or database. But definitely more than one are still struggling with custom-made, outdated and proprietary integration middleware. Have a look at what is available in Open Source: there are many excellent integration brokers available, all based on public standards, using the latest in technology and of a mission-critical robustness. Or simply replace your own middleware by a commercial, industry-strength product. It will at least save you valuable times and resources. Indeed, integrating is bad but making integrating possible is even worse. 3. You forgot about the data Before you start to link up all sorts of different systems, you first may want to consider what data will be travelling on that fancy Enterprise Service Bus. The immense interest in service-oriented systems has even further downplayed the importance of a well-structured, solid data household. Which is really a fatal mistake: there is no point in connecting services to each other if they don’t have a common understanding of what information they are exchanging. This is why Master Data Management (MDM) is so high on the development priorities of major suppliers such as IBM, SAP and Oracle. Think about it, you might even have ‘MDM expert’ on your business card and be credible for it. I hope these first three opening lines will already help you to unfreeze some of your own EAI experts. If not, it’s time for further measures. More on that in my next item. In the meantime, don’t wait for anybody: if you have suggestions of your own, we are eager to learn.

About the author

Ron Tolido

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