The value of integration or: How to benefit from SOA concepts for your enterprise management tool landscape

Enterprise management tool vendors in the enterprise architecture (EA), business process analysis (BPA) or application lifecycle management (ALM) domains offer built-in integrations for standard formats such as XPDL or Microsoft® Visio®. The reason for these features is that vendors are compelled to have “tick-the-box” integration capabilities in order to smoothly align their offerings with schematic requests for information (RFI) or quotation (RFQ) from prospects.

Tool vendors are more concerned about adding domain-specific functionalities to their products to be one-up with their competitors. For instance it is a must-have to offer Visio® integration. But how well does it really work? Moreover, everyone likes to “take” – but who likes to give away and open treasures of information without the risk of being easily replaced?

Stories about BPMN integration using XPDL show that vendors may even fail to re-import their own data exports. Import of Visio® is not a simple thing because the tool vendor permit no real control over having different symbols to express the same object or connectors not properly glued to shapes – only to mention two very common issues which inhibit a successful import. So, smarter algorithms are needed to detect objects with different shapes but highly similar semantics or to automatically glue connectors to shapes or even categorize the connector type by knowing which shapes get connected.

In service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects the value of integration is delivered by state-of-the-art concepts like best-of-breed, loosely coupled services, hub-and-spoke architectures and enterprise service busses. In this way web services can be applied to the level of enterprise tool management, that is the level of tools with the mission to orchestrate the SOA of an organization itself.

In large organizations different tools are used for different domains: EA, BPA, ALM or GRC (governance, risk and compliance) and others. And in a certain sense each of these tools represents an “information silo” with its own meta-model, its own ontology and a huge mutual semantic information overlap.

If applied to operational IT landscapes, the SOA concepts help building a more agile IT with smarter transitions of applications and leveraging existing services for several business process subscribers: This is SOA on the level of the enterprise management tool landscape.

  • Continue with the best-of-breed approach: use the tools best fitting the mission they are planned for to benefit from deeper functionality, minimized functional gaps and not being locked into a single vendor.
  • Reuse existing assets: migrate model data from existing tools and consolidate existing data to leverage investments made for faster project startup.
  • Share knowledge: build a generic federation repository to link existing information into a single point-of-truth for faster and well-funded decisions.
  • Collaborate with stakeholders: use web and mobile technology to incorporate business lines and deciders for early commitment of your project initiatives.

At BPM-X we support these concepts with an integration layer and a neutral repository to achieve increased ability and agility of IT departments, to decouple dependencies for smarter transitions and to orchestrate configurations at a central place instead of programming point-to-point connections with costly maintenance.

At the end of the day this approach…

  • …saves IT investments by the re-use of existing data for information subscribers.
  • …means lower integration costs by using COTS software and configuration instead of painful legacy development.
  • … avoids suffering because of poor built-in tool integration functionalities.
  • …increases the capability to flexibly leverage and change the tool landscape for more agility in your projects.

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