The Integration Consortium (IC) announced its predictions for the integration market for 2005. Four key areas of focus for the year ahead feature in this forecast - service-oriented architecture (SOA), the battle for enterprise service bus (ESB) market share, the package vendors' struggle with their integration strategies, and the drawing together of business intelligence and business integration.

Trend 1 - The move of SOA from concept to reality. SOAs demonstrate a method of building software infrastructures where IT components are gathered into "loosely-coupled" business services that can be invoked without knowledge of where they will run or on what technology base. The value of an SOA stems from the fact that it enables reuse and introduces the ability to combine services together to underpin new business processes. The result is that business operations can be changed faster, more cheaply and with less risk. 2005 will see an increasing number of SOA deployments, as more and more companies start to comprehend an SOA's impressive advantage. SOAs are not new   the basic concepts have been around for ten years. However a combination of technologies has added considerable momentum to SOAs, namely Web services and the enterprise service bus (ESB).

Trend 2 - 2005 will see package vendors struggling over their integration strategies. Web services was seen by many end users as the ideal interface to services offered by application packages, increasing the leverage from the investment in the package in question. There was a hope that package vendors would offer Web service interfaces to all their processes, but this did not meet with overwhelming approval from the package vendor community. 2005 should see a lot more clarification in this area as key vendors announce their intentions.

Trend 3 - The struggle between vendors of ESBs and those of traditional enterprise application integration. The ESB concept has been widely accepted over this past year, with new ESB providers gaining traction within the industry. The battle will now take place between incumbent vendors in the space who will not give up any part of their market shares without a fight, and as a result the majority of these companies have now introduced their own ESB offerings. The outcome is an increase in market conflict, which will become increasingly aggressive in 2005. Market churn may result, with some of the smaller members being acquired, but in the final analysis it is likely to be excellent news for integration software buyers ESBs are typically cheaper than traditional EAI implementations and this will have the effect of bringing down prices in the industry.

Steve Craggs, European Vice Chair of the Consortium, speaking on Trend 4, said, "We envisage 2005 as being the year when the worlds of business integration and business intelligence draw much closer together. Already the concept of BAM (business activity management) allows key performance indicators to be set within integrated environments to give management some business performance-based control of operations, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. The market is now realizing that by combining the sophisticated techniques of the business intelligence market with business process integration, it should become possible to build a new generation of 'smart' business services that become increasingly able to automatically and iteratively change the way that they operate based on business intelligence information. Vendors are working to bring these technologies together, and 2005 should see the emergence of early projects where this combination dramatically improves business agility and effectiveness against competition."

Michael Kuhbock, founder and co-chairman of the IC adds, "Key areas that will influence the integration industry in 2005 include; a clearer understanding of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and how integration facilitates compliance, a broader adoption and the refinement of RFID technology, the evolution of business/IT alignment as it relates to enterprise integration strategy and communication, the continued development of global integration standards, and the advancement of the Global Integration Framework (GIF)."


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