Is Data Integration the Achilles' Heel for SOA and BPM?


When it comes to SOA and BPM, data integration is the elephant in the room: Everybody knows it's an issue, but people seldom address it directly. Occasionally, sure, it comes up, at least among SOA experts-but then the topic will just disappear.


Mostly, I think that's because there isn't an easy fix for this problem.


But the thing about elephants in the room is-there's no place for them to go. They just stand around, making a mess until somebody says, "Hey! There's an elephant, standing in the living room and making a mess!" and then actually takes steps to remove said elephant.


Apparently that's as true in IT systems as it is with family dysfunction. And the folks at ebizQ are pretty busy calling out the big data integration elephant.


Last week, IT consultant Ronan Bradley broached the topic after reading an October report, available only to Ovum subscribers, by Ovum principal analyst Madan Sheina, "Realizing the promise of SOA and BPM."


Bradley quotes Sheina as saying SOA and BPM projects "cannot effectively deliver on their promise" if they don't address data problems, including inaccuracies, semantic issues and inconsistencies. The effect is that SOA and BPM are often restricted to what Sheina calls "secondary business areas," such as HR and operations, where the data is simple and static and the processes are well-defined.


If you'd like to hear more about this topic from Sheina himself, you might want to pack a sack lunch tomorrow, because she's doing a free ebizQ webinar at 12 PM Eastern time that talks about the importance of process-driven data integration in successful BPM and SOA projects. Informatica's Ash Parikh will join in. You can get a preview of Parikh's take on the problem by reading this November blog post.


Officially, the event is titled, "Guaranteeing Agility in SOA and BPM with Process-Driven Data Integration." Preregistering is a good idea.


In other integration news:


Web Services as a Cost Saving Measure. I recently interviewed Stephen Dubois, CEO of Xignite, which offers Web services for financial services companies. Dubois contends that Web services can help companies cut costs. For the most part, he's looking at how the SaaS model can save you money by eliminating infrastructure investments, but we also discussed how internal Web services could lead to long-term costs savings. Dubois also gave a pitch for his company's new platform, Splice, which includes a drag-and-drop interface for creating your own custom Web services using Xignite's financial data.


Operational Business Intelligence and Data Integration. Dr. Fern Halper, a partner with Hurwitz & Associates, recently did a write-up on Knowledge Relay at IT Analysis. Knowledge Relay specializes in operational business intelligence, but its Data Integrator product looks like another data integration tool to me. It does ETL, and comes with 250 connectors out of the box. The second half of the platform is Information Visualizer, which handles the presentation layer. If you're curious, Halper evaluated the product and included some nice screen shots. She also explains the significance of operational BI.