IBM on integration

Vendors have come a long way in the evolution of integration technology. Get a brief history of integration technology and, specifically, steps taken by IBM.

IT channel takeaway: IBM has been part of the business integration space for 10 years, beginning with WebSphere. Find out you can expect to see from them nowadays.

With Dan Kloud, marketing manager for WebSphere Business Integration at IBM.

Question: It seems that the tide has turned, and the idea that enterprises are going to have multiple systems and vendors forever has been accepted. Do you agree? And if you do, what do you think the barriers are to integration initiatives among IBM, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and all the others?

Kloud: I think we would agree with your analysis of the environment. It's been a reality for IBM for many years that we deal in a world of heterogeneity and we understand and actually support customers who have diverse environments. We know a customer's probably going to have some SAP as well as IBM as well as Oracle as well as Microsoft.

I think traditionally the barriers to integrating those systems have had a lot to do with the lack of standards for integration. That's one of the reasons you're seeing the rise of enterprise service bus architectures. That's really been the last step we've seen in the evolution of integration technology over the years. IBM has obviously been playing in the integration space for well over 10 years. We have a robust, long-lived product in WebSphere MQ that was really one of the forerunners of integration technology. That was the first step. The second step was the introduction of brokering technology, not only enabling information to get from one system to another but actually acting on that information as you're integrating between different systems. And the latest step has been having broadly adopted standards for interfaces such as Web services.

Question: You mentioned enterprise service buses. Sonic Systems says ESBs are a product while IBM says they're an environment, sort of a technology. Could you comment?

Kloud: I think that's probably a mischaracterization. IBM believes that each company is unique and has to implement its own individual enterprise service bus architecture. That's why, for years, we've been promoting the idea that before you buy an off-the-shelf product, make sure you know what your integration requirements are. But as customers go to build out their enterprise service bus, they are going to buy products. And two products particularly that IBM steers customers to are our newly announced product WebSphere ESB as well as what's termed an "advanced" enterprise service bus in our long-lived WebSphere Message Broker.

Question: Some analysts have told me that open source implementations present more integration problems than anything else. IBM is championing open source, complete with beautiful TV commercials. What's the IBM take on open source and integration difficulties?

Kloud: IBM actively contributes and keeps abreast of open source technology. One of the benefits we see in open source is encouraging the broad use of integration technology. And it's not only the broad adoption. It's also getting the benefits of community review and peer process that open source provides. So, one of the things IBM wants to do is not only contribute to the open source community but also benefit from it.

This 3 Questions originally appeared in a weekly report from IT Business Edge.

This was last published in September 2006

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