Consultant Calls Out Vendors For Blurring Lines Between Integration Tools

Loraine Lawson

I love "The Daily Show." I'm a former newspaper journalist, and maybe I've developed a touch of Grumpy Old Fart Syndrome, but it seems to me most of what passes for journalism these days is ... well, not journalism. Jon Stewart's right: Nobody's asking the hard questions these days, except for the comedians.


Of course, it's not an easy job to figure out when you're being lied to, particularly if you're covering the private sector, which does not have to follow sunshine laws. It's not always clear when you're being mislead. In fact, sometimes those doing the misleading really believe what they're saying is true. And, unfortunately, there are few Deep Throats willing to reveal the real dirt.

This isn't just a problem in the financial sector. It's a huge problem in covering technology-or in buying technology. It's really hard to separate the marketing hype from what's really going on, whether you're a CIO or IT manager trying to find the right integration solution, or if you're a journalist, trying to write about it.

And it can happen in places you'd never expect it. For instance, I really thought the difference between application- and data-integration tools would be pretty cut and dried. But as Mark Madsen pointed out in this Intelligent Enterprise blog post, vendors are blurring the lines between the two in the business intelligence and operational environments:

The problems come when vendors obscure the differences between data and application integration to broaden the appeal of their tools. You'll find EAI and messaging vendors tout their tools for DI, and ETL vendors talk about operational DI. When evaluating tools, it's important that you realize that data integration and application integration are not the same thing.

It'll be interesting to see how the vendors respond to that one.

Madsen is the president of Third Nature, a consulting and research firm specializing in business intelligence, data integration and data management. He explains in some depth the difference between application and data integration, which, as you'll probably guess, has to do with how each treats the data.

His full post explains why enterprise application-integration solutions aren't interchangeable with data-integration tools. He's even included a slide show with further details. But, if you're short on time, the nutshell version is that EAI treats data as a byproduct, while data integration works at a higher level to standardize the data and, ideally, ensure data quality.


Kudos to Madsen for pointing this out. His post may save you trouble in the future, and, maybe, it'll keep Jon Stewart out of technology journalism and focused on financial journalism where he's apparently most needed.

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Mar 26, 2009 12:47 PM Rob Eamon Rob Eamon  says:

Spot on with the differing levels of integration (though EAI is used by many as an umbrella term, which includes DI).

Just as integration treats data as a by-product (data is key, just not the focus) so too should SO regard integration. SO treats integration as a by-product--key but not the focus.

While it is easy (and sometimes fun) to bash vendors, they shouldn't shoulder all the blame for the blurring of lines. Given the debates over the meaning of virtually every term and technology, it is a wonder we communicate at all.

Mar 27, 2009 6:34 PM Francis Carden Francis Carden  says:

Data is rarely meaningful in the Enterprise without some business process, set of rules, or business logic (code) to describe the relevant (and many) transactions that need to interact with that DATA.

Application Integration, to me, tends to imply that one or all of the above has been applied to the Data already.

I think Data and Application integration differences are black and white and I've been doing application development and integration for 27+ years so should know! It's almost like there's a need to make something complex in order to confuse a buyer enough to prevent sensible questions. Maybe I'm being cynical but that's how I see it.

Now Twittering (eek) at www.twitter.comFrancisCarden


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