IT channel takeaway: Many companies are running their businesses on disparate enterprise software applications. Find out why and how you could be helping them package those apps for better efficiency.
With Warren Utt, CEO of Impress Software, a company specializing in packaged, i.e. non-customized, integration solutions.
Question: Your company is involved in a relatively new concept called "packaged integration." Could you give our readers a brief overview of what that means? Is it halfway between "build" and "buy?"
Utt: Over the past decade, companies have been busy implementing enterprise applications to manage and automate business processes. Now, in order to get the most value from their massive investments, those same companies are investing huge sums of money in custom development projects that attempt to tie those disparate systems together. These are one-off projects largely carried out by internal IT departments or external consultants, and budget and schedule overruns are common. So the question is this: Now that companies have standardized on a discrete set of enterprise software applications to run their businesses, could the integration of these systems also be packaged?
Essentially, packaged integration identifies complex but regular processes where there are numerous interactions through several touch points between disparate applications. Packaging these common integration processes enables flexible, efficient data synchronization between enterprise applications while lowering the IT group's reliance on custom integration services, which can be expensive. A packaged solution to a critical pain point requires less people, less time, less money and produces better information.
Question: You're on the front line of helping real companies do real integration projects. Is there anything that companies should have been doing in the past that would make your job easier now?
Utt: Impress replaces the need for custom integration development by productizing the common business processes that cross enterprise applications. Our applications leverage the standard functionality delivered by the systems we integrate, such as SAP, Microsoft Project, Primavera, or ESRI's ArcGIS. The closer companies have kept to the standard functionality of these applications, the easier it is for them to leverage the standard integration processes we deliver. Our solutions are extendable to support customizations, but like enterprise applications, custom extensions do not benefit from standard product upgrades.
Question: One analyst has summarized the difference between Oracle's and SAP's middleware offerings like this: "Oracle sells middleware. SAP sells applications that are interoperable with other applications." Is that a fair characterization?
Utt: Not exactly. Oracle and SAP are the clear leaders in enterprise applications, and both are battling for a leadership position in the middleware market. Oracle has more experience as an independent middleware vendor, while SAP has made great strides in advancing their NetWeaver strategy. Their relative success may depend largely on their migration to a service-oriented architecture.
This 3 Questions originally appeared in a weekly report from IT Business Edge.