Companies across the world are employing lean enterprise practices to eliminate "wasteful" activities, i.e. activities that are not adding value. However, one is often left with a number of indispensable, rote tasks that consume staff resources but do not easily lend themselves to further optimizations. Should enterprise managers be satisfied with this? No — with any kind of repetitive task we should be looking for a way to automate it.
The ability to see reality as it actually is...and not as it might be...and then respond swiftly in an appropriate manner has elevated the importance of enterprise application integration (EAI) initiatives for businesses today. Organizations in financial services, healthcare, manufacturing – even government – are all wrestling today with how to capture transactions and other business critical data in real-time, correlate information across applications to establish a clear vision of how current developments are affecting the enterprise, and then take action that exploits market opportunities and deflects competitive threats.
IT architects and managers are thus being asked to address these urgent requirements of visibility and agility while managing layer upon layer of legacy systems that may or may not interoperate with any degree of simplicity. For many EAI is providing an important part of the answer. Changes and additions of features to existing systems over successive generations of system development have introduced greater complexity to enterprise systems. This has also contributed to greater costs and increased risks of failure for many organizations. That is why we are seeing so much intense interest in enterprise application integration.
So, if EAI is a solution, what kind of magic is it? It is at its fundation, a response to decades of creating distributed, monolithic, single-purpose applications leveraging a hodgepodge of platforms and development aproaches. The demand of the Enterprise is to share data and processes without having to make sweeping changes to teh applications or data structures. Only by creating a method of accomplishing this integration can EAI be both functional and cost effective. EAI is the solution for the unanticipated outcome of generations of development undertaken without a centeral vision or strategy.
EAI (enterprise application integration) is a business computing term for the plans, methods, and tools aimed at modernizing, consolidating, and coordinating the computer applications in an enterprise. Typically, an enterprise has existing legacy applications and databases and wants to continue to use them while adding or migrating to a new set of applications that exploit the Internet, e-commerce, extranet, and other new technologies. EAI may involve developing a new total view of an enterprise's business and its applications, seeing how existing applications fit into the new view, and then devising ways to efficiently reuse what already exists while adding new applications and data. EAI encompasses methodologies such as:
- Object-oriented programming.
- Distributed, cross-platform program communication using message brokers with Common Object Request Broker Architecture and COM+.
- Modification of enterprise resource planning (ERP) to fit new objectives.
- Enterprise-wide content and data distribution using common databases and data standards implemented with the Extensible Markup Language (XML).
- Middleware, message queueing, and other approaches.
At the beginning, there we attempts to solve the problem with traditional middleware. Using message queueing or remote procedure calls (RPCs) only provides point-to-point limited solution, and any attempt to link additional systems quickly becomes a complex triangle where middleware nightmare begins.To a address the problem of architectural foresight, many organization have created the role of the enterprise architects, responsible for overseeing a centralized architecture and making sure that technology and solutions selected for teh enterprise are functionally able to interact well with one another.
When contemplation EAI in an organization, enterprise architects must understand the sum and content of the business processes and data in the organization. IT also needs to understand how these business functions processes are automated and the importance of business processes - in brief both business and data. They must select processes and data elements that require integration at different levels, including:
- Data Level
- Application Interface Level
- Method Level
- User Interface Level
Successful EAI deployments often start small with an initial pilot project. But problems in scaling that success to an enterprise-wide transformation can cause a stumble. Experience has shown that a critical success factor for large-scale EAI deployment is to put thoughtful focus on IT architecture. Accordingly, an assessment of architectural health, design and capacity, along with a look at technology, performance, and security can forestall growing pains. Other best practices include strengthening governance, IT skills, and culture.
But when these key factors are managed effectively enterprise application integration delivers significant business benefits by leveraging the investment in IT that directly improves the bottom line. Implementing an EAI solution reduces complexity—giving enterprises more time, people, and resources to focus on core business processes and innovation. Enterprise leaders can harness EAI's ability to affect even greater control over business processes to precisely adjust overall enterprise performance. UltraVista experts have been implementing the Integration projects using the following products:
- IBM Business Integration Suite
- WebSphere MQ
- WebSphere Message Broker (WMB or WBI-MB)
- WebSphere Process Server (WPS)
- WebSphere BI - Server Foundation (WBI-SF)
- WebSphere BI - Interchange Server (WBI-ICS)
- WebSphere Partner Gateway
- SeeBeyond (Sun JCAPS)
- webMethods (Now Software AG)
- SAP Netweaver/XI
- Oracle Fusion & WebLogic Integration
- Microsoft BizTalk Server