IBM, Sun to Smooth System Integrations

New developer tools will fuse internal business processes with applications across the enterprise and beyond the firewall.

IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. are each readying tools that will enable customers to more easily integrate internal business processes with applications across the enterprise and beyond the firewall.

IBMs development tools, which will fall under the WebSphere umbrella, will let developers integrate applications and Web services using a drag-and-drop scheme based on underlying integration technology, according to officials in Armonk, N.Y.

Sun this week will unveil a software strategy that includes a new version of its Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) application server and a product called Sun ONE Connector Builder, both of which will smooth the integration of applications and systems, company officials said.

Bill Benjamin, vice president of business development at Lansa Inc., an Oak Brook, Ill., application developer, said the industry needs more automated tools for integration.

"It is the biggest initiative happening in the IT market today," Benjamin said. "Businesses are focused on cost reduction and automating the integration of data and transactions internally and with partners and customers."

IBMs forthcoming tools, which will be rolled out over the next six to 10 months, will feature wizards and a simple user interface, said Ambuj Goyal, general manager of solutions and strategy at the IBM Software Group.

The suite of tools will also leverage the open-source Eclipse framework IBM announced last week and continue to support a closed-loop process—from modeling through monitoring, officials said. The tools are targeted at business process application developers and business analysts.

"The tools will be available so that you could think in terms of business re-engineering at the business modeling level, and then we can work that into process-level integration at the software level," Goyal said.

The primary early use of Web services will be for integration, according to analysts. Mike Gilpin, an analyst with Giga Information Group Inc., in Cambridge, Mass., said vendors will continue to merge integration solutions with development tools.

"Integration is everything and is the second-largest consumer of IT budgets, next to support and administration, which are typically the result of poor integration," said Todd Williams, vice president of technology at Genuitec LLC, a Plano, Texas, application development and software training company.

The key to Suns integration strategy will be the Connector Builder tool, which will enable easy generation of Java 2 Enterprise Edition Connector Architecture connectors, said David Hearn, product manager for business integration at Sun, of Palo Alto, Calif.

In August, Sun will release the first in a series of automated integration tools to help make the process easier for users.

The technology will augment Sun offerings such as the Sun ONE Message Queue product, which is bundled with Solaris 9; Sun ONE Application Server 7.0; Integration Server-EAI; and Integration Server-B2B.

Joe Marcus, a Java developer and program architect at TransCanada PipeLines Ltd., in Calgary, Alberta, said that he is attempting to develop a service-based architecture and that a resource such as Sun ONE Integration Server will be essential.

Marcus said, however, that additional tools are needed to free developers of dependence on adapters, particularly for integration between back-end systems and outbound applications and Web services.

Too many times, "you still need developer intervention," Marcus said.

Even with the progress of tool vendors, developers must code somewhere along the way. "It depends on what battles you want to pick," Marcus said.

Related stories:

  • IBM Unveils New Integration Software
  • Web Services Pushed Toward Integration