Tools for Integration

By Timothy Dyck  |  Posted 2002-09-23 Print this article Print

Tools for Integration

Whatever the integration demands, it staffers need to balance two approaches to integration: integration through consolidation and integration through distributed systems. Consolidation generally offers the best results but takes longer to do, while heterogeneous systems can be brittle and difficult to administer but are quick to deploy.

Integration projects also will generally fall into either database- or application-centric efforts, depending on the complexity of the business logic that manipulates this data. Bypassing applications to directly manipulate base tables is fine if the user applications that manipulate this data are simple and data integrity rules well-understood.

When applications grow complex (and ERP systems are the classic example), application-level APIs need to be used to ensure the application always has a consistent view of the data.

Although application-level integration is often the best approach, its also very expensive, because every interface is proprietary.

A core group of EAI vendors offers help here: Mercator Software Inc., SeeBeyond Technology Corp., TIBCO Software Inc., Vitria Technology Inc., WebMethods and, to an extent, IBM, as it integrates its CrossWorlds Software Inc. acquisition into its product line. All provide large sets of custom adapters, data transformation and routing tools, and reliable messaging.

These are big-budget enterprise plays, offering long-term returns for enterprise-level commitments. Building more ad hoc solutions has a place in smaller projects or shorter-term development efforts. Data Junction Corp.s Data Junction, Microsoft Corp.s BizTalk Server, Sonic Software Corp.s SonicXQ and Sterling Commerce Inc.s Gentran product line are all lower in cost and require less corporate investment than all-encompassing EAI products, although they dont reach as far.

Timothy Dyck is a Senior Analyst with eWEEK Labs. He has been testing and reviewing application server, database and middleware products and technologies for eWEEK since 1996. Prior to joining eWEEK, he worked at the LAN and WAN network operations center for a large telecommunications firm, in operating systems and development tools technical marketing for a large software company and in the IT department at a government agency. He has an honors bachelors degree of mathematics in computer science from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and a masters of arts degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.

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