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What are EAI tools? How are they used to build a middleware?

What are EAI tools? How are they used to build a middleware?

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part One: What are EAI Tools?
Part Two: What is middleware?

If EAI articulates the problem, then traditional middleware has sought to articulate the solution. Traditional middleware addresses the EAI problem in a limited manner. The primary limitation is that middleware, which uses message queuing or remote procedure calls (RPCs), only provides point-to-point solutions-linkage between system A and system B. Unfortunately, any attempt to link additional systems quickly becomes a complex tangle of middleware links. Worse still, traditional middleware demands significant alterations to the source and target systems, embedding the middleware layer into the application or data store.

An additional complication to this scenario is that IT managers must perform integration projects inside fluid environments using rapidly advancing technology. In seeking to integrate links, the manager may also encounter additional problems such as:

  • A variety of legacy systems that contain mission-critical applications
  • Several packaged applications with both proprietary and open frameworks
  • A hodgepodge of hardware and operating system platforms
  • A hodgepodge of communication protocols and networking equipment
  • Geographically disbursed applications and databases

In addition to these structural limitations, the economics of traditional middleware products has placed EAI tools out of reach for most IT organizations. Even a simple dual-application linking is financially daunting, running as high as $10 million according to the Aberdeen Group.

Given these significant limitations, it follows that EAI represents a very different method of application integration than using traditional middleware. EAI tools provide a set of integration-level application semantics, and creates a common way for both business processes and data to speak to one another across applications. More importantly, we approach this old problem with a new set of technologies designed specifically for EAI. Keeping this information in mind, we can focus on the following differences between traditional approaches and the vision of EAI:

  • EAI focuses on the integration of both business-level processes and data, whereas the traditional middleware approach is data oriented.
  • EAI includes the notion of reuse as well as distribution of business processes and data.
  • EAI tools allow users who understand very little about the details of the applications to integrate the applications.


 

This was first published in November 2002

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