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Over the years, a lot of focus has (naturally) been placed on the data exchange aspect of integration. Having a system of record automatically update a secondary system when something changes. Propagating an update across multiple systems or partners. Coordinating a multiple step update with a legacy system. Given the high-value nature of automating transactions, simplifying data transfer, and reducing errors, it’s natural that transactionally-oriented integration projects are often considered first.

But there’s another side to the integration story some customers and software providers are starting to explore—the automated creation of composite documents via XML and Web services. There’s more to businesses than transactions, and some organizations are beginning to consider how to better unify corporate information through a combination of integration and content management. Think of the volume of information in most companies—everything from databases and applications, down to the huge variety of unstructured data sources. In most organizations, documents are key part of daily life. But how can they be handled in an integration context—how can they become resources (or data sources) for integration solutions, and how can the integration solutions generate composite documents (and not just transactions) to increase communication and information sharing?

How can you really leverage information across departments? Especially data that’s not in a nicely structured format inside an Oracle or DB2 database, but that’s everywhere in a company—email messages, content inside content management systems, voice mail, etc.? Organizations need ways to recognize the data they have and how it can be re-used.

Clearly, integration technologies are a key to helping do that, but not necessarily traditional EAI solutions. Consider the main requirements of any solution that’s attempting to address this challenge:
- Needs to leverage existing assets—not just applications or databases, but the broader scope of corporate data sources
- Should provide interoperability between enterprise applications and desktop sources/users
- Provides some structure for corporate metadata—an overall context for how information is structured, where it is, and how to access it
- Practical implementation scope. With too many “big science”/re-invent the world corporate repository failures, businesses are certainly not keen on creating a single bottleneck for corporate information


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