On-Demand Integration

Loraine Lawson

One of the integration ideas popping up more frequently is the concept of integration as a service. Maybe I'm dating myself, but it's a bit difficult to wrap my head around a company subscribing to integration from a service provider in the same way companies now subscribe to applications. Somehow, integration just seems a bit "personal" for that.

This Webinar goes a long way in explaining the idea of integration as a service. The problem with Webcasts, of course, is that they're long - this one's a good 43 minutes - but often, presenters are much more plain-spoken on presentations than they are in print. And in this case, you get a two-for-one deal: two integration solutions covered for the investment of one Webinar.

How Workday Conquered SaaS Integration Challenges with On-Demand Integration features Stan Sweete, the CTO of Workday, and Annrai O'Toole, the CEO of Cape Clear, an ESB. Workday is a relatively new company - 2005 - founded by PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield and bills itself as a next-generation ERP solution that offers on-demand business services.

Sweete opens the presentation by explaining Workday and how it came to use Cape Clear as its enterprise service bus. One of Workday's five key principles - or strategic differentiators, really - is that integration should be simple. So, Workday was built with integration as a goal, rather than an afterthought, which is how Sweete contends current ERP systems approach integration. What does that mean? Workday has taken the following steps to simplify integration with its product:

  • Third-party solutions have equal access to its UI servers and browser
  • Uses and generates XML "conversations" for integration and uses an embedded ESB when integrating with third-party solutions
  • Takes the same security approach to third-party solutions as its own services
  • Offers "productized" integration, which basically means Workday already integrates with certain certified Workday partners, such as Salesforce.com, Kronos, Ceridian and others

And of course, all of this is built based on SOA.


It's interesting to learn the whole philosophy behind on-demand ERP and how Workday's on-demand ERP can help with integration. But the second half, with O'Toole, is where it gets really good.


O'Toole of Cape Clear outlines the the difference between enterprise application integration and on-demand integration, which is actually a great way to define on-demand integration. For instance, whereas EAI focused on integrating on-premise applications - so integration had to be done on-premise - on-demand integration focuses on integrating hosted applications - so it can provide hosted integration.


O'Toole is quite a character and I've only covered a few top talking points here. At one point, he basically says the business model of some big vendors today is to make SOA complicated so you have to buy their solution. He's also very opinionated about why ESB is THE platform for on-demand integration.


O'Toole contends that within a few years, we won't be talking about SOA or ESB, just as today we don't talk about object-oriented programming. Instead, it will just be "how software's done." He also believes that this is the solution to all integration problems.


And I must say, after this Webinar, I can at least understand why he thinks so.

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