Revisiting an SAP Integration Solution: Cast Iron's Appliance

Loraine Lawson

This weekend, Computer Technology Review published a piece purporting to compare three means of integrating SAP with other applications:

  1. Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) tools - which, in this article, includes BPM, BAM and ETL
  2. Custom coding
  3. Buying integration appliances

Given that the link at the end of the article is to Cast Iron Systems, which sells SAP integration appliances, it's no surprise that the piece picks apart the first two options while heavily promoting the last option.

The article's main case against options 1 and 2 is that they're overkill for the job at hand. But take that with a grain of salt: Cast Iron's competition isn't other appliances. It's the EAI software from companies such as BEA Systems, Tibco Software, IBM and webMethods.

So, it's not exactly a well-rounded article.

That said, there are some cases where an appliance may be the best option. And this piece does do a good job of explaining why an appliance is a workable, time- and cost-effective option for application integration, particularly with SAP which, the piece argues, is difficult and slow to integrate because it is so darn complex.

The article identifies four major benefits to using an integration appliance for SAP. In short, those are:

  1. Fast Delivery. Obviously, an appliance can save time over the other two options.
  2. Low total cost of ownership. The article states that an appliance can save you between 40 and 80 percent compared to the TCO of custom coding.
  3. No programmers needed with appliances.
  4. Simpler operations, since appliances usually ship with their own monitoring and diagnostics dashboards.

The article goes on to explain how the appliance simplifies SAP integration and how it works.


Application integration could become more of an issue. Gartner predicts software-as-a-service (SaaS) application adoption will increase the number of integration projects over the next few years. That could significantly increase IT costs, given that one out of every three IT dollars already is spent on integration projects, according to the article.


How can you determine if Cast Iron's appliance would be the best option for you?


Google SAP application integration appliance and you'll find a slew of articles, mostly older, and all about Cast Iron.


Start with this piece from InfoWorld. It evaluates the CastIron iA3000 v3.5, which it calls "an EAI system and server packaged as an appliance." Ultimately, the reviewer determines that the appliance option is "best suited for midsize companies with a business need to integrate their applications and limited IT developer resources with which to do so."


For an update on the company's new offerings, check out this article on the new Cast Iron SAP-integration appliances.


To help define what an application integration application can and can't do, read our own interview, "Application Integration Appliances," with the senior vice president for integration strategy at Cast Iron Systems.


Finally, this article at Baseline examines how Cast Iron's appliance functions in a real-world application.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 27, 2007 8:37 AM koushik roy koushik roy  says:
great article.articles like this are of great help to sap consultants like us for whom sap integration is a big issue Reply

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