Keeping It Real with Old-School Integration Tools

Loraine Lawson

It's hard to resist the allure of new technology and new tech ideas. After all, most people are familiar with the older technology so, as a writer, it's a guessing game to decide what's news and what's not for readers in that regard. The new and shiny tends to win out, because you're pretty sure it's news to the largest group of readers.


But sometimes, the old stuff works just fine. You might argue that's why it has staying power -- it's tested, tried and reliable -- or at least as reliable as any technology can be. Still, it's hard to find something new about old-school integration technologies.


This week, however, I ran across two worthwhile items, both of which offer a fresh perspective on older tools.


The first I found right here at home on IT Business Edge, where blogger Dennis Byron wrote last week about EDI Enterprise Software.


For you young whippersnappers out there, the Electronic Data Interchange standard was first developed in the 1970s and it's used for business-to-business data exchange. If you're not at all familiar with EDI, I found a nice EDI FAQ on Canadian Pacific's site. Apparently, the transport company uses EDI with its suppliers.


EDI may be old, but it's still widely used. And, as Byron shares, it's still evolving. During a recent chat with the director of Retail Industry Marketing for EDI provider, Sterling Commerce, Byron found out Y2K and the need for software upgrades has created a need for an EDI translator.


Enterprise architect Sethuraj Nair is also revisiting older integration technology in his new blog, "Enterprise Architecture Demystified." Nair doesn't give much in the way of a bio on his site, but you can tell he's spent a lot of time thinking through what he's written and, as a result, his posts are very thorough.


He, too, recently wrote about EDI -- though he meant the more updated definition of the acronym, Enterprise Data Integration. In a post late last week, he looked at the history of EDI and Enterprise Application Integration, including the ongoing debate over whether EDI is a subset of EAI or vice versa. He intends to follow up with a post on their convergence, but this first post is an excellent overview of what both EDI and EAI offer.


Maybe it's because I write about integration non-stop, but I was also partial to his opening line: "Integration is pretty much what IT architecture is all about." I'm sure that will generate some disagreement, but I liked it.


It's an excellent and easy read for those who aren't intimately familiar with integration technologies. The post also includes a particularly useful chart defining the various types of integration technologies, including the integration needs each best addresses.

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