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I’d like to point you to a brief but useful article by Loraine Lawson I found on ITBusinessEdge which discusses cost saving on integration projects. Loraine gives three tips for ensuring your integration project delivers value and isn’t pumped up with hype. Vendors are aggressive in their sales tactics as the prize is high, and particularly with integration, their products target the heart of the business and soon becomed entrenched. No matter how much ‘standards-based’ arguments are made, the fact is that IT organizations build specific capabilities and assets to optimize with their chosen integration technologies, often creating Competency Centers to drive the adoption of best-practice…. and that is best-practice according to the vendor, more often than not.
I particularly liked the comment:
Make sure the person in charge of the integration project understands your business processes and is familiar with data formats, mapping and data conversion before you bring in vendors or consultants.
This is a similar story to how SOA initiatives should be approached. Too often, IT leaders and other Execs are enticed by vendors before techies are able to get under the hood in a feasibility study, or indeed staffed by the right kind of leader to take the organization through the initiative.
In both the cases of SOA and integration (which often go together), buyers need to be aware and beware of the hype and get on the front foot before Execs are seduced by it. Organizations, like Loraine says, should start with a pilot before committing stacks of $cash and learn from the exercise, not just technically, but organizationally, and not be afraid to make serious adjustments on the back of it.