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Centrally controlled and designed integration solutions have irrefutable benefits, but their implementation across fragmented management and technical infrastructures can be problematical.

During the ebizQ webinar Your Enterprise Nervous System: Irresistible Force Meets Immovable Object, part of the Oracle -sponsored Creating an Integrated Enterprise series, Gartner Vice President and Research Fellow Roy Schulte looked at software architectures, management strategies and vendors that can help companies overcome those problems through “enterprise nervous systems.”

Schulte described how “irresistible forces” such as straight-through processing, service-oriented and event-driven architectures, and composite applications require more functionality than can be provided by simple network communication protocols such as TCP/IP, HTTP, FTP and SMTP.

Message-oriented middleware, business process management systems, integration brokers and Web services implementations add value by incorporating business semantics into the network. But they also raise the risk of creating expensive (via higher training costs, licensing and support fees, and longer development times) “spaghetti tangles” of middleware, Schulte noted.

“The human body does not have ten brains and ten spinal cords. The human body has one brain, and one spinal cord,” Schulte said. “We'd like to not have dozens of copies of information about the common business objects we have in the enterprise. We don't want to have dozens of different databases with the same information about customers, about products, about employees, and so forth. What we'd like to do is reduce the number of versions of data that we have, reduce the redundant data, reduce the redundant code, and reuse them.”

Shortsighted business decisions contribute to immovable-object construction. Schulte outlined how IT professionals -- under pressure to produce quick and cheap business solutions and with no incentive to create company-wide integration solutions – consistently create minimally integrated “archipelagos of applications” whose data, process and object models differ from those used by other business units.

“So what they will do is locally optimize, and it can turn out that by doing local optimization, they are globally sub-optimizing the entire company. Unfortunately, the way most companies are run, that really just doesn't (seem to) matter.”


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