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Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) � Sharing logic and data

SearchCRM Site Editor, Carol Smalley, recently spoke with David Linthicum, CEO of SAGA Software and author of the book "Enterprise Application Integration." Carol was interested in learning about EIA and what it can do for today's enterprises.

SearchCRM: Let's start at the beginning. What exactly is Enterprise Application Integration?

Linthicum: The approaches, techniques, and technologies behind the integration of enterprise applications so they interact seamlessly within an enterprise, sharing both logic and data.

SearchCRM: Why does a company need to concern itself with EAI?

Linthicum: In order to get maximum value from existing applications they need to share information with other applications. For instance, the sales system obviously needs to talk to the inventory system, and the inventory system needs to talk to the shipping system.

SearchCRM: What is the driving force to implement EAI?

Linthicum: Two things: First the popularity of packaged applications has caused many to think about how they integrate with existing enterprise systems. Second, the interest in e-business has driven many to integrate their existing systems with their new e-business systems.

SearchCRM: In your book, you describe the current data situation as being in a state of chaos. Can you explain what you mean by that?

Linthicum: Most enterprises have no control of their metadata, and most is localized to particular applications. This is clearly the case with packaged applications. There is little notion of a common, enterprise-wide metadata layer, where all information can be found, documented and leveraged within any enterprise system. It's clearly chaotic in its current state.

SearchCRM: Where does one begin to evaluate its company's needs for integration? Is there a way to divide and tackle?

Linthicum: In my book, I talk about a step-by-step approach to EAI, a macro-methodology of sorts. You need to consider many things, including business objectives, existing applications, metadata, integration design patterns, performance, future demands on the EAI infrastructure, etc.

SearchCRM: In your experience, are there case studies that we can emulate? What companies are doing EAI well? What can we learn from them?

Linthicum: There are many success stories, including the University of Toronto's EAI solution using Sagavista to integrate their existing SAP system. Miami Dade Community College is another example, and there are many others. These are folks that thought through their issues, created a plan, and selected the right technology. You will learn that the secret is in the planning and selecting the correct technology to solve the problem.

SearchCRM: Thanks, David. I'll be looking forward to hearing you speak more on this topic at our live chat later this week.

David Linthicum will be a Live Expert Q&A guest with on Thursday, October 19, 2000 at 12 noon (Eastern). You can participate in this live event by entering the auditorium His latest book, "Enterprise Application Integratio," can be purchased through at

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