Customer Traps

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-11-22 Print this article Print

"In the current situation, Web services do not cover the necessary functionality which is necessary for our business," Herr said. "Web service standards are helpful, but there are more open issues than finalized standards. One example, WS-I [Web Services-Interoperability Organization] Basic Profiles. Therefore, Web services for us is only a subset of our Enterprise Services. We support Web services based on WS-I Basic Profiles."

Pure EAI was not the answer, either, Herr said. "EAI was not and is not an all-in-one device suitable for every purpose. Most of the EAI vendors create only typical customer traps—vendor lock-in."

Other companies such as IBM tend to agree. "We are seeing a dramatic uptake in customers using Web services to create a flexible architecture that can address a wider range of business problems at a faster clip than proprietary EAI technologies," said Michael Liebow, vice president of Web services at IBM Global Services, in Armonk, N.Y. "The traditional proprietary EAI model as we know it is dead and is giving way to service-oriented architectures—leveraging Web services and other open standards—that help customers create a more flexible IT system that maps more closely with business processes and adapts to rapidly changing business conditions. We are at the beginning of this shift, and it will take some time to complete, but we have definitely started the transition."

Andy Astor, vice president of Standards and Platform Strategies at WebMethods Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., said, "It is misleading to think that the need for enterprise application integration is lesser today than in the past. After all, companies today are larger than ever, have more systems than ever and more data than ever, and all of that needs to be integrated.

"The insight of the Evans Data study can be expressed with two major points: First, Web services (which are simply the standards associated with EAI) are increasingly being employed for EAI functions instead of proprietary solutions. Second, while traditional EAI functions, such as routing and transformation, are being accomplished with Web services, innovative companies ... are raising the bar for the definition of a full-featured integration solution."

For some vendors, EAI still reigns. "Web services will, over time, substantially reduce the need for the adapters and wrappers that are often acquired from EAI vendors," said Ross Altman, CTO of SeeBeyond Technology Corp., in Monrovia, Calif. "However, given their current levels of functional maturity, Web services still are not capable of meeting the broad array of interoperability requirements that are addressed by EAI."

Web services vs. EAI
40% of Web services developers said that Web services will absolutely reduce the need for EAI
60% of Web services developers said Web services can significantly lower costs to implement EAI systems
10% of Web services developers said they think Web services do not reduce the need for EAI
20% of Web services developers said integrating with legacy code is the biggest barrier to Web services implementations
17% of Web services developers use third-party consulting to help with Web services projects
Source: Evans Data

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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