CEO: Cloud Integration Appeals to Those Disillusioned over EAI

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The State of Cloud Computing Adoption

End users and IT services companies are closely aligned on what they hope to get from the cloud.

Bob Renner, CEO of Liaison, makes a case for a convergence trend between those that provide B2B integration and application-to-application integration infrastructures in a recent on-demand webinar sponsored by Liaison. That's mildly interesting, but when you consider two other trends at play-cloud computing and a frustration with the cost of enterprise application integration-well, that's when things get interesting.


Renner says that companies are continuing to invest in software and hardware upgrades for EAI-but they're starting to question whether those investments are delivering. And many suspect the answer is no. In fact, he argues that most companies are going through the seven stages of grief with EAI, and that they're currently in the bargaining or depression stages. They're trying to justify the on-going investment, he contends:

You have a lot of EAI infrastructures where there's a justification phase going on that says we just need to put more traffic through it. So architecturally, we've seen situations where large volumes, up to 50-60 percent of the traffic that's being routed to an EAI infrastructure, is destined for a B2B provider and so these messages are being double-handed really when they can go directly from an ERP system in a native format to a more capable B2B provider and the real reason why it's routing through an EAI infrastructure is in part to justify the use of that EAI infrastructure.

Companies also say they need EAI and ESBs for business process management metrics, but he thinks that's more justification, since many of those metrics could be drawn from enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.


Meanwhile, it turns out, many B2B integration providers have beefed up their infrastructures, and are capable of handling more application-to-application integration-a convergence Renner says analysts are starting to notice. In fact, last year, a Liaison press release quoted Gartner on this very trend:

The primary focus of this Magic Quadrant is on integration services applied to B2B integration projects. However, as the barriers between internal application-to-application (A2A) and B2B integration projects quickly fade, we are seeing more interest from IT users in - and more service offerings from IT providers that address - both A2A and B2B integration projects these developments are harbingers of a future in which service providers more regularly address IT projects that combine A2A and B2B integration.

So you've got EAI/ESB investments that are underused, plus more robust capabilities from B2B providers. Now add in the appeal of a low-cost cloud solution and more acceptance of external systems and data-what do you get? A situation where companies may consider ditching EAI for a cloud-based solution, often provided by B2B vendors, argues Renner.


"We're in an era where I think lean EAI infrastructures are going to get a close look," he said.


Keep in mind that Liaison sells both managed services, including B2B integration, in the cloud and on premise. So, there's a vested interested in convincing you that this is a trend-but, that also puts Renner in a position to know the market.


The webinar also includes a testimony from Paul Stamas, who is the CIO and VP of information technology at Mohawk Fine Paper. Stamas shares his experience with moving to the cloud-you can also read some of that discussion in this October article. He also discusses how service-oriented architecture plays into this, which will no doubt appeal more to the techies out there.


Cloud-based integration is an appealing proposition for a lot of reasons, including cost-but I must say, I'd never read or considered how it might create savings on EAI and possibly even ESB investments.


In a similar vein, David Linthicum recently wrote a piece for Pervasive Software-which also offers integration via the cloud and B2B services-about some other under-discussed value propositions for cloud-based integration. Specifically, he looks at how cloud integration can help with:

  • Self-provisioning, which he calls a "core benefit of leveraging the cloud."
  • Elasticity, by which he means the ability to scale your integration solution up or down as business needs change.
  • Self-healing, an unusual value proposition. He points out this means you don't have to worry about upgrades, updates and fixes and their impact on your operations.
  • Agility, which of course goes back, again, to responding quickly to business requirements. "The value of agility far surpasses any tactical value of integration technology in the cloud, which I'm finding consistently as I'm doing analysis after analysis for clients," Linthicum contends.


Linthicum's piece includes a look at Pervasive's Data Integrator version 10, Cloud Edition. Since it's on Pervasive's site, you probably won't be surprised that the first half of the article focuses on Pervasive's cloud solution, while the second part covers the driving forces behind cloud integration.