Consolidate THEN Integrate

SOA is seen by many as a strategic approach to solve the application integration problem.

Organisations need to integrate for one of two reasons. They either want to share data or they want to synchronise data between disparate systems.

Sharing data is a worthwhile pursuit. For example, when we talk about things like ‘single customer view’ we are talking about collating everything we know about a customer from all the systems we have. Having an enterprise-wide view of critical information, rather than an application-centric view, allows for better decision making.

Synchronising data on the other hand is generally a waste of time. The need to synchronise come about because an enterprise has many different systems to do the same job. For example, the sales department might have one CRM system to manage prospects and the customer service department has a different CRM system to manage customers. Now it doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out that there will be some overlap between these two systems. So what’s the solution here? The truly ‘strategic’ decision would be to consolidate the two systems into one. Integrating the two systems is a tactical solution. It’s important to remember that just because a plan of action is long-term doesn’t necessarily make it strategic.

As part of any SOA strategy, you should look to consolidate systems first and then integrate whatever is left.

Footnote: SOA folk will know that in order to enable ‘sharing’ you will need some degree of ‘synchronisation’, but in this case synchronisation is an enabler – a means to a worthwhile end – rather than an end in itself.

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2 Responses to Consolidate THEN Integrate

  1. E.A. Anon says:

    ‘The need to synchronise come about because an enterprise has many different systems to do the same job.’

    Thats overly simplistic. Oftentimes the multiple systems might be doing very different jobs, but each has a customer information module, therefore the need for synchronization. Also, calling it a ‘waste of time’ is a bit much. The bigger problem with SOA is that it’s about 90% hype, with the rest being Computing 101.

  2. Stew Welbourne says:

    The reality I see in large scale enterprise transformation is that the introduction of the new wave of strategic applications upon which we would look to consolidate our disparate stack can never be deployed and cut-over in a big-bang. A phased migration of operational processes and data is the most achievable and justifiable course of action – and as such that in itself generates the need to deal with data synchronisation. In that capacity it becomes a pattern serving as an enabler for strategic change.

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