Move Over, EAI

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-11-22

Move Over, EAI

Web services continue making headway in the enterprise, particularly as integration solutions, where many believe Web services will lead to cost savings and efficiencies over older, more established technologies such as EAI.

An Evans Data Corp. survey released earlier this month reported that 40 percent of the developers surveyed said they believe Web services will reduce the need for enterprise application integration. Sixty percent said they believe Web services can significantly or somewhat lower the costs of EAI systems, said the Santa Cruz, Calif., companys survey.

The trend isnt stopping such companies as Iona Technologies Inc., of Waltham, Mass., one of the last traditional EAI vendors. It recently signed a deal with Deutsche Post AG on what is said to be one of the largest integration projects in the world.

Deutsche Post, over the past two years, acquired DHL International Ltd. and Airborne Express Inc. and must integrate the companies IT systems. It is building an SOA (service-oriented architecture) using Ionas Artix ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) as the core. Iona officials said traditional EAI is not the only solution for integration projects, but the company is preserving its EAI roots.

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Eric Newcomer, Ionas chief technology officer, said the traditional EAI is moving to SOAs. "I would add that the ability to deploy and manage integration capacity at the endpoints, rather than within the hub, is a big reason why," Newcomer said.

Deutsche Posts SOP (Service Oriented Platform) Group has teamed with Iona to build Artix into the organizations Service BackBone, which is the latest version of Deutsche Posts 5-year-old SOA program, said officials for the Bonn, Germany, company.

Michael Herr, senior director of IT and the head of SOP at Deutsche Post, said his group evaluated more pure Web services solutions, but they would not have fit the companys needs as well as Artix.

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"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

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