Integrating Web Apps: Pain and Horror

Just when you thought it was safe-when there would be no more ERP implementation debacles in your future because, well, big ERP projects are history-along comes Web-based application integration.

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Just when you thought it was safe—when there would be no more ERP implementation debacles in your future because, well, big ERP projects are history—along comes Web-based application integration. I mean, were talking a major nightmare of ERP-like proportions. Youd think it was a software industry conspiracy to keep all programmers and, especially, all consultants and integrators employed—and all IT managers needing psychiatric help for the foreseeable future. Maybe the shrinks are in on it, when you consider how many of us are going to become regular clients as a result of all this.

Heres all I want. Start with native XML data integration. Give me wizard-based data mapping between remote systems. Then Ill need complete TCP/IP-based socket management to move XML documents among systems. Oh, and a product with a non-ERP project scope and non-ERP pricing.

It turns out that I can get all of this, or most of it, but theres no avoiding an ERP-size project with ERP-like pricing. This, at a time when e-businesses are expected to return a profit sometime before the earth crashes into the sun.

The single package that in my view is the closest approximation to this is something called WebMethods Enterprise. Good product and strategy—but ERP-costly and complex.

Meanwhile, the agonized cries of me and my fellow IT execs have reached Redmond, but all that the greatest software company in the world has come up with is (yikes!) BizTalk, which is vaporous beyond description. Talk about throwing a brick to a drowning man!

Even if you give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt and count on at least some of BizTalk shipping in the next three years, where does that leave me?

With no clear-cut remedies to my dilemma presenting themselves, I have decided to tread lightly with a new product called Integrator from a small company called Synaro, which has most of what I need but is very rough around the edges. Because it has mainly been used only to support Synaros own order management products, its missing some bells and whistles. This approach has high risk but, I hope, high reward.

Given time, it should keep me out of the shrinks office.