Vendors Key On Infrastructure Integration - Page 4

 By Jacqueline Emigh
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Vertical Markets Another Direction

Next month, IBM plans to release the latest in its series of Business Integration Adapters for connecting WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Business Integration servers with outside applications. The new adapters will include offerings specific to the healthcare, automotive/electronics, and energy/utility vertical markets.

Earlier this month, Unisys unveiled a BPI strategy known as "Business Blueprinting." Under the initiative, Unisys is opening a new consultancy that revolves around solutions for matching business processes with servers, middleware, and other IT componentry.

During the Business Blueprinting launch in New York City, George Colony, founder and CEO of Forrester Research, pointed to a "lack of alignment between business and IT" as a key cause of overspending during the dot com boom.

The first set of "blueprints" from Unisys are for applications that include enterprise payments, multimedia messaging, integrated trade replenishment, banking and mortgage, publishing, airline reservations, risk management, health and human services, health claim management, registry and ID, justice and public safety, cargo security, property and casualty insurance, and life insurance and pension plan administration.

Like IBM and Xerox, Unisys is also pulling other vendors into its integration vision. The Web services-based blueprints utilize Microsoft products such as Windows Server, BizTalk Server, and .NET development tools, as well as IBM software such as WebSphere middleware and Rational development tools.

A 'Holistic Approach'

Some, but not all, organizations' current integration projects will succeed, analysts predict. "About 80 percent of the market is still doing integration the old-fashioned way. They're looking at integration on a project-by-project basis," Austvold said.

On that basis, it can become cost prohibitive to purchase outside integration products. "Companies who buy into IBM's integration strategies are better off if they take a more holistic approach. You really can't expect to achieve ROI in a one- or three-month project."

Unisys' new Business Blueprinting offering is particularly far reaching, since it attempts to base IT integration projects on a company's business goals, according to Lance Travis, VP of outsourcing strategies at AMR.

Are Service Costs a Factor?

Sometimes, as with Business Blueprinting, costs of services must also be factored into the equation. "Companies can definitely use Business Blueprinting to achieve ROI, though, if their business goals are on target," maintains Travis.

On the other hand, according to Austvold, many customers of IBM's integration products are going it alone. "IBM Global Services plays in a lot of spaces, but systems integration isn't necessarily always one of them," the analyst adds.

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.

» See All Articles by Columnist Jacqueline Emigh

This article was originally published on Jun 25, 2003
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