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As we look at the current business climate, stiff competition and the demand for near real-time access to the state of the business is now driving the need to map software solutions across a complex maze of enterprise systems. The challenge, however, is to link these islands of data, in a mission critical manner that avoids breakage through customization or changes.

As we all know, a large-scale swap of legacy systems for new systems is not a viable option. So, the real choice is to extend what is in place by applying new technologies that can provide the benefits of a modular system.

As we look at some of the emerging technologies, there are several likely candidates that will help ease this transition. It will not be one technology, but the application of several new technologies—taken together—to create an environment that is more flexible. Among the core ones are Web services, XML and a growing list of interop standards from IBM, Microsoft, BEA and others.

But, there is another piece of the puzzle, the ESB, which looks to provide needed manageability and visibility to these service-driven integrations.

In simple terms, the ESB provides the management layer to tie all of these services together in a standard way. The resulting marriage of ESB, Web services, XML and WS standards now provides the ability to leverage the various Web services, talking to our legacy systems and former islands of data, and expose them in a way that allows aggregation and roll-up of information that can then be delivered inside a management console.

Tacking Strategic Integration with Web services, ESBs

Why is this marriage of technology so strategic or important to the business? It is the aggregation of this information from those Web services that make it strategic.

For example, poor sales in North America could be exposed through a management dashboard where the sales manager could then drill down and see that the volume of PCs is low due to price competition. With this new dashboard, the manager can now run a model on what it would mean to lower the price slightly below the competition to see what the impact would be to the bottom line. From the ad hoc query he sees that he can maintain her margin while still pricing below his competitors. He commits the change and the information is updated across their CRM, ERP systems all exposed as Web services talking to each other through the bus.


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