This month's column was contributed by Michael Kuhbock, chairman and founder of the Integration Consortium.

The integration 10 commandments (plus one) are being developed today by end users of integration technology and services. They are a manifestation of the challenges and issues that have plagued the technical community over the last 50 years.

A Simple Definition of Integration

To put the commandments into perspective let's start with a broad and simple definition of integration without detail technical rhetoric so that everyone can be unified on what integration means from a business and technical perspective:

Integration: A combination of parts or objects that work well together.
Communication: The exchange of information.

Integration is the successful communication between data, applications, processes, people and enterprises.

There are more personalized and technical definitions that exist depending upon the author, his or her company views and solution suites he or she is peddling, but as a broad definition that can be understood by everyone, the above is a definition which humanizes the meaning of integration.

The Empty Sale Versus a Community Built Solution

"Are you a leader or a follower?"

Regardless of which acronym an organization is evangelizing or vending, a question every end user who has a salesperson in their office should be asking is: Are you a member of an industry body that is leading positive change in the integration industry? If the salesperson's answer is no, then ask why he or she would bother wasting your time. They do not support or participate in a global thought leadership platform for integration, and any solution they have developed is potentially a standalone non-standards-based platform that would not be sustainable within your environment. This is the reason so much shelfware exists today in end user IT departments.

Regardless of the bells and whistles that any product espouses and the usual oratory of how the software and services will save the day and integrate your problems away, if the software vendor or professional services company is not actively participating in an industry body that is moving the integration industry forward, what value is there in the solution they are selling?

Becoming actively involved in the integration industry and our respective bodies of leadership applies to the vendors and end users, and also to all sizes of organizations. As the integration industry matures, we need to assist the IBMs, Microsofts, Oracles and SAPs of the world in shaping the direction of the integration space. They are all talented organizations, but left unchecked they will convincingly run in a direction according to their specific business agendas.

The smaller best-of-breed solution providers also need to unite within a global platform so that the wealth of knowledge they bring to the global table is actually heard and plays a part in the direction of the industry - a "strength in numbers" cry.
Apathy is the greatest challenge facing all of us that have a vested interest in the integration industry, regardless if you are from business or technology, a vendor or end user, or from the academic industry communities.

To help the vendors properly understand the needs of the end-user integration community we propose the following 10 plus one enterprise integration commandments:

And the end users spoke all these words, saying: "I am your customer your reason for existence ..."

One: "You shall have no motives other than empowering my business and creating shareholder value for me."

Two: "You shall not make existing applications, software or systems obsolete, unnecessary and insignificant for your customer in your quest for our business."

Three: "You shall not take the name of business integration in vain."

Four: "Remember education; keep it sacred."

Five: "Honor your customers and partners by being accountable for all of your marketing, sales and post-sales activities."

Six: "You shall not vend."

Seven: "You shall not commit to a new standard without keeping the best interests of the business value for the creation of the standard in mind."

Eight: "You shall not create a new TLA (three letter acronym)."

Nine: "You shall not bear false witness against your competitors and peers."

Ten: "You shall not covet your customer's time, nor your customer's resources, nor his best practices, nor his technical ignorance, nor his intellectual property, nor his budget, nor anything that is your customer's other than what adds value to his business and to the empowerment of the global integration community."

Eleven: "Remember that integration is an enterprise-wide, mission-critical, business-based strategy and not a technological project event."

Remember, leadership can't be bought but has to be earned.

Michael Kuhbock founded the Integration Consortium (formerly the Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) Industry Consortium) in July 2001 after having identified as a business priority the requirement to ensure industry trends were communicated with reliability and dependability. Since that time in his position as chairman, Kuhbock has led the organization to expand internationally and has established the IC as a key industry influencer. The Integration Consortium now has more than 200 members, partners and alliances including the most influential technology industry leaders, academics and end users. Through his efforts, the Consortium has grown from a vision into a leading global integration community.

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