Promise of EAI
Plug and Play business application system integration is the goal of investment
in EAI technology. Buyers have a number of applications from various suppliers
and a number of external trading partners with whom they want to exchange
business transactions. EAI suppliers promote products that connect to
a diverse set of applications (Adapters) transform data format, structure
and content (Transformation Capabilities), move data among applications
predictably and with assured content integrity (Transport), and create
new transaction interconnections with assured process integrity (Workflow).
a full complement of Adapters, the appropriate set of Transformation Capabilities,
versatile communications Transport and flexible Workflow capabilities,
heterogeneous applications, platforms and network configurations cease
to be impediments. EAI tools promise seamless and flexible interconnection
with low overhead.
Capabilities versus Vital Capabilities
TEC has examined a number of recent EAI acquisitions to refine its Selection
Model and Knowledge-based Procurement Process. Of particular interest
is the difference that we noticed when we compared selection criteria
to success criteria. It is clear that a number of selections did not sufficiently
address long-term cost of ownership and operation capabilities. Several
of those capabilities are described in the following table.
column titled Apparent Capability lists a number of EAI features and functions
that customers included in their Request for Proposal (RFP). The Discovered
Requirement provides examples of additional capabilities that at least
one customer discovered should have been included as a requirement in
its RFP. The third column, entitled Implications, captures important considerations
for buyers based on actual discovery during implementation and use.
supports multiple instances operating on multiple servers and demonstrates
linear performance increase characteristics.
supports linearly scaleable performance and Quality of Service controls
to manage available resources.
the selected product did demonstrate performance improvements commensurate
with increased resource availabilty, it was necessary to reconfigure
transport flows to avoid "resource hogging" by a relatively small
number of large and/or complex messages.
has features to assure 24 X 7 operational status.
has features to assure 24 X 7 operational status and full environment
backup without operational downtime.
failure recovery testing, it was found that all message services must
be quiesced (shut down) in order to assure recovery from a backup
supports transport server direction through named services and dynamic
location (like Domain Name Services).
supports server access through named services and supports access
through multiple paths with assigned selection priority.
the product provided dynamic load balancing, it was not capable of
employing all available network paths between servers.
provides multi-tiered promotion of workflow configurations (e.g.,
Development to Quality Assurance to Productive).
workflow configuration promotion supports coexistence of multiple
versions of the product operating simultaneously on different platforms.
version was upgraded to fix a bug and promotion transport services
on another server refused to interact with the "incompatible" version.
employs a repository of all metadata and an intuitive graphical user
interface for configuration programming.
provides a graphical user interface for configuration programming
and to assist with message flow tracing during debug actions.
discovered that ease of configuration was not complemented with a
similar facility for tracing and (single-stepping) messages through
installs and verifies the operational status of the product.
also assures failure recovery and provides backup, recovery and upgrade
backup and recovery systems were left to the customer (who did not
have a full understanding) as was all process documentation. Lack
of full understanding was discovered at an inopportune time.
provides product training and implementation assistance.
also provided proficiency assessments with training as a follow-up
found that poor programming practices had become the norm and had
to recode a number of message configurations to obtain desired levels
of reliability and performance.
provided "native" connectivity to the applications and data storage
provides non-invasive connectivity for execution of the transactions
Adapters were found to be "starter kits" with a limited number of
transactions and an even more limited set transaction features.
provides documentation and training for the development of custom
adapters can be incorporated into the repository and they can be readily
validated and carried forward through sytem upgrades.
adapters required "special handling" for use and their functionality
was unknown to the metadata repository.
provides secured access to configuration tools.
levels of tool access are provided to assure configuration integrity,
promotion control and administrative access without configuration
could not be distributed without risking system integrity.
is compatible with "Firewall Product" assuring network transparency
all firewalls that the product has been operated through with references
to parties who configured them.
firewall was improperly configured to allow message flows resulting
in a security risk
has the capability to employ user credentials and certificates.
credentials can be associated with users who are authenticated only
once or for each transaction.
authentication models were found to be necessary only after implementation.
allows business rules to be configured into the repository and reused.
applications of business rules can be configured into "macros or super-processes"
that span multiple business rules and process flows.
for improved reuse were discovered during system design and configuration.
provides workflow capabilities beyond message routing.
workflow features interoperate with the products listed.
could have benefitted from integration with Oracle Corporation's Workflow.
supports publish/subscribe and request/reply communications models.
interoperates transparently with the Message Oriented Middleware (MOM)
aqcuired businesses already owned and operated MOM from a different
supplier and wanted to maintain integrated messaging.
for an EAI Initiative
Comprehensive preparation maximizes chances for success by establishing
clear goals and identifying risks.
- Create a clear picture of how the product will be applied to business
process automation tasks.
a clear picture of how the product will be operated, administered and
a clear picture of how the product will be deployed including:
- Server platforms and operating systems
(Application Systems, Relational Data Bases, Special File Structures)
that will be interconnected.
partners that will be interconnected including their interconnection
systems (Hewlett Packard's Openview, Computer Associates' TNG) that
will be employed.
measurement and management processes and reporting.
monitoring, response and escalation
- Establish capacity, performance and availability requirements for
the system that will be built using the technology.
an implementation timeline linked to business system deployments.
a selection team with clear roles and responsibilities.
the Business Case
Identify the potential time and cost savings of the future model. Include
anticipated maintenance and product application extensions.
a Future System
Create a concise picture of how the information technology staff and
business leaders will employ the technology and how it will perform
after it has been assimilated into mainstream operation.
a Call to Action
Build a coalition of lead users and executives around the business value
that can be derived from the technology.
and Select Suppliers
Using the Business Case and Future System Design to establish selection
criteria and a model for the ideal product, map contending solutions
to the model and select a product configuration and supplier(s). Include
Application Service Providers as well as product vendors and systems
integrators to maximize the leverage of resources and to minimize project
the Project and Risk
The gap between the idealized system and the one that will result from
the selection process will impact investment return. The gap between
existing technology capabilities and those required to deliver the solution
contribute to project risk. EAI deployments derive most of their risk
from change imposed on design and implementation techniques i.e., the
skills and practices that are employed by the technical staff. When
all of these are factored into the scope / risk equation, a final check
of return on investment can be made and a decision to move forward and
on what can be made.