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Integration is not simply integration. In previous columns, Iíve explored how a variety of related tasks and capabilities, such as building an effective team, identifying and analyzing ad-hoc business processes, application development, or business activity monitoring can affect the success, failure or business value of an enterprise integration solution. But letís look a little more closely at an important component of an integration solution thatís too often overlooked and even left out of many organizationsí projects.

A few years ago, most companies might have used an enterprise application integration solution to simply (well, perhaps not always so simply) connect one application to another, or perhaps a few applications together. The vast proliferation of packaged applications such as SAP and Seibel created an increased need to automate the exchange of information. The proliferation of new e-commerce applications and Web applications often created the need to retrieve (and update) information from legacy applications, while the emergence of portals required additional connectivity to back-end resources. Since integration platforms were new, the number of applications being connected was often limited, and development and deployment of integration solutions were tightly controlled and thoroughly engineered.

But times have changed. More and more companies are using integration platforms to connect a larger number of databases and applications in different deployment scenarios. Itís also becoming increasingly important to ensure that an integration solution can quickly adapt to new business needs and changes in business processes without missing a beat. Market and economic pressures are dictating that organizations not only make better use of existing resources (often by automating data exchange or linking those resources via integration solutions) but that they also streamline business processes to reduce the required completion time. For example, Intel Corporation has used e-business integration technologies to reduce the amount of time it takes to confirm orders from selected customers from days down to hours.

Any while integration products have evolved to meet these types of needs, often through the addition of capabilities such as business process modeling, business activity monitoring, more flexible adapter models, better abstraction capabilities and increased commitments to industry standards, thereís another important component of an integration solution that organization must think about in advance: testing.


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