Enterprise architect and blogger Todd Biske tackled an issue this week that affects many, but often gets left out of integration discussions: How do vendor consolidations and partnerships affect integration for the rest of us?
You would hope that these deals would lead to more integrated products -- and that's often what the press releases announcing them claim. But, in reality, that isn't necessarily the case. As Biske pointed out, sometimes all you get is a vendor that can do a better job offering consulting services so you don't have to hire a third-party systems integrator.
Tongue-in-cheek, he wrote that there's basically one thing you can count on:
"It does mean that the customer has a 'single throat to choke,' but I don't know about you, I'd much rather have it all work and not have to choke anyone. ... Does it mean that we as end users get a more integrated product? I think the answer is a firm maybe."
He discussed the best-of-breed versus best-of-fit issue, but for my money, the last two paragraphs are the real meat, where Biske lets loose with his advice about facing these vendor integration challenges head on. You can read the post for his full recommendations, but the main point is that you must take responsibility for your own architecture. It's not enough to ask if a product integrates with a particular system. According to Biske:
"You need to know the specifics of where and how you want these systems to integrate, and then compare that to what the vendors have to say, whether it's all within their own suite of branded products or involves partners and OEM agreements. The more specifics you have the better."