Repository to Ease Application Integration for Supply Chain

The Integration Consortium is producing software interface specifications for the software supply chain that IT departments can leverage to ease development of enterprise integration architectures.

The Integration Consortium is developing a repository of software interface specifications that IT departments can tap into to ease development of enterprise integration architectures.

The ICs GIF (Global Integration Framework) Repository will contribute to the groups goal of improving formal mechanisms for large-scale application integration projects, said IC officials. IC, formed in 2001, includes Oracle Corp., IBM and dozens of major IT customers.

The GIF Repository, modeled on the Uniform Code Council Inc.s UCCnet repository of attributes for manufactured goods, will let software vendors enter application attributes and users to extract those attributes for integration projects. Attributes include such things as what request/reply format is supported.

"[The repository] is for anyone in the software supply chain," said John Schmidt, president of the IC and IS director at Best Buy Co. Inc., a consortium member, in Richfield, Minn. "Software packages [have] dozens, sometimes hundreds, of [attributes] that all describe interfaces in different ways. One of the challenges is having a [common] way of describing these interfaces."

The repository, due in May, will be available for the ICs 100 members; the group is determining if it will charge nonmembers to access the information.

"It is a tantalizing thing to think you could have a repository of shareable, usable services," said Marcy Zweerink, senior director of enterprise architecture at Merck & Co. Inc., a consortium member. "But it is going to require a lot of thought to pull something like that off. And it might even be something that individual companies want to do internally."

Zweerink is part of an ongoing project at Merck, of Whitehouse Station, N.J., to develop a new enterprise architecture to align the companys IT architecture with its business strategy. The IC, which has headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, also is seeking outside help. Last week, two leading integration standards bodies, The Open Group and the Object Management Group, announced that they will work with the IC in the development of the broader integration framework.

The San Francisco-based Open Group develops TOGAF (The Open Group Architectural Framework), a means for designing an integration architecture, while the OMG (Object Management Group), of Needham, Mass., defines formal data standards and models for integration, such as the UML (Unified Modeling Language).

The groups plan a series of reference implementations and in November will hold their first workshop, in Washington, to help federal agencies and companies designing integration architectures figure out how to do a better job.


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