Standards are essential to the foundation of any digital connection. But when it comes to integration of internal and external systems in the enterprise there can be too much of a good thing industry insiders say.
Recently, however, a number of industry groups announced they will link up to make better sense of the growing list of standards.
The problem is there are too many enterprise application integration standards, according to John Schmidt, president of the EAI Integration Consortium, a 100-member group stacked with end users, software vendors like Oracle Corp., IBM and BEA Systems Inc., consulting firms and education sites.
The Integration Consortium is working to drive standards and discipline in the practice of integration, Schmidt said. To that end, the group is taking the best-of-breed integration standards, procedures and methodologies to develop a GIF (Global Integration Framework. This collection of elements will provide users with an architectural framework when doing large-scale integration projects.
The Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based group is also seeking outside help to accomplish its goals.
Earlier this week two leading integration standards bodies, The Open Group and the Object Management Group Inc. announced that they would work with the Integration Consortium to develop the Global Framework. The two groups, nudged by commercial and private sectors struggling to implement IT architectures to work together, have agreed to submit their expertise to the effort.
The Open Group develops TOGAF (The Open Group Architectural Framework), a means for designing integration architecture, while OMG defines formal data standards and models for integration, including MOF (Meta-Object Facility), XMI (XML Metadata Interchange), CWM (Common Warehouse Metamodel) and UML (Unified Modeling Language), as well as some related standards.
"TOGAF is focused on the front-end problem of understanding what an infrastructure looks like, and OMG is focused on translating that…using MDA to implement on a real, changing system," said Richard Soley, CEO of OMG, in Needham, Ma.
The overall goal of the combined group is to bridge the gap between the creation of an IT architecture and the generation of code to actually implement the architectural plan. In practical terms that means unifying various dimensions of integration as a discipline that includes terminology, methodology, a software framework and an architectural framework.
The group plans for a series of reference implementations to drive its efforts, and in November, it will hold its first workshop in Washington to help federal agencies and companies designing an architecture figure out how to do integration better.
"The IG is going forward with a great goal to improve the formal mechanisms for actually doing large-scale integration projects," said Terry Blevins, CIO at TOG, in San Francisco. "We all know that most large-scale, enterprise-wide integration projects have a pretty horrendous failure rate. So what were trying to focus on is creating the right kind of discipline to do large integration projects."
Part of that discipline is to create an IT architecture and model of business processes for actual implementation—which is where TOG and OMG come in.
"There is one key purpose to making an architecture," said Blevins. "And thats making decisions. An architecture is all about making decisions."