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Few in IT will mourn the passing of 2002. This has been one of the longest and hardest recessions to hit the IT industry. IT talent in high demand and short supply just a couple of years ago is now on unemployment lines. Foreign workers on special IT visas have been sent home. Integration companies have seen their stock prices fall from lofty triple digits to lowly single digits and some are teetering on being de-listed. In 2002 survival was the key strategy of most companies.

Despite the economic doom and gloom, a recent Morgan Stanley survey of 225 CIOs listed integration as their number one priority. So even as the economy crawls its way to recovery in 2003, ebizQ remains bullish on integration. In short, integration is and will remain a requirement for doing business in the new worldwide e-Business economy.

In this column we take a look back on the developments of 2002, and venture some predictions and recommendations for the year ahead.

Looking Back at 2002

In lean times, survival drives strategy. For integration companies, survival strategies included providing lower-cost tactical integration solutions, providing pre-built industry solutions, and hyping new technologies.

The prolonged recession has followed Darwin's law of survival of the fittest ("e-Business Meets Darwin"). Integration fitness includes consolidation of the integration stack, including application development, integration, and B2B integration. Most vendors have done this through mergers and acquisitions. However, in some cases this means the integration technologies are not fully integrated across the vendors' offerings. The B2B solution may use a different integration engine and different adapters than the application integration server, which may be a different platform than the business process integration server.

Many of the vendors, including IBM, SeeBeyond, SoftwareAG, and TIBCO began offering low cost tactical integration solutions. After these same vendors scrambled to fill out the full integration platform, they found IT budgets more available for tactical integration projects than for enterprise infrastructure platforms. In some cases these lower cost solutions are just limited licenses. In contrast, some vendors stuck to a tactical strategy. SoftwareAG focuses on XML integration solutions. iWay has become the adapter company, offering a wide range of application connectivity solutions. DataJunction offers low cost solutions for the small to medium size business market. DataMirror offers data integration and resiliency solutions.


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