Vendors Key On Infrastructure Integration
The 'integration' buzzword can mean a lot of things. Vendors are integrating more capabilities into management tools of various sorts. Other products are trying to bridge the gap between technology and business processes. For customers, the best approach is to do some planning before taking the plunge, particularly when extensive systems changes may be involved.
As the long deflated dot com bubble fades even further into history, organizations are taking a sharper look at the bottom line. Vendors like IBM, Unisys, and Xerox are now responding with new tools aimed at letting companies do more with the hardware and software systems they've already bought. Along the way, "integration" is becoming a bigger part of the lexicon for network managers and other administrators.
"Integration is a very hot topic these days. Just about every organization has some sort of integration project going on," says Eric Austvold, research director for the Enabling Technologies Service at AMR Research.
In a recent study by Gartner Group, CIOs rated "application integration/middleware/messaging" as their number two technology priority for 2003. Only "security enhancement tools" ranked higher, according to Bart Stanco, Gartner's senior VP for corporate development.
The other priorities, in descending order of importance, included enterprise portal deployment, network infrastructure/management tools, internal e-enabling infrastructure, Web design/development/content management tools, storage management deployment, customer relationship management (CRM), Web services, and deploying XML-based processes/messaging.
Emphasis Shifts from 'Buying More Stuff'
Among IBM's customers, the emphasis is shifting from purchasing "more and more stuff," to "moving more efficiently," reported Steve Mills, senior VP and group executive, IBM Software, during a recent press event in New York City.
Organizations are telling IBM that they need to bring together disparate "silos of information," so they can be more "flexible and adaptable, [to] take advantage of opportunities and threats," according to Mills.
A lot of server hardware purchased during the dot com boom remains underutilized, says Steve Wojtowecz, director of strategy for IBM Tivoli, while other products, ranging from router hardware to CRM software, are just "sitting in the closet."