Integration is the watchword in today's business organizations. Customer relationship management (CRM) applications strive to consolidate customer information from multiple IT systems, business intelligence (BI) applications strive to present cohesive views of entire organizations across IT platforms and supply chain management applications strive to integrate systems between IT environments within numerous disparate organizations. Web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA) are seeing rapid adoption in large part due to their ability to free business logic from bondage to specific back-end sources of data and transaction processing.

Enabling this "urge to merge" and helping to spur it on are application program interfaces (APIs) based on widely used industry standards such as ODBC, JDBC and ADO.NET. Nothing will toss a monkey wrench into an integration effort as completely as will the use of proprietary APIs. Business organizations running applications that use proprietary APIs typically take one of two approaches: they either undertake major development expenditures to effect integration or else they target those particular irksome applications for replacement with more standardized applications. Either solution is bad news for the bottom line.

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