A few months ago we ran a series of columns dedicated to defining each of the major disciplines of data integration: extract, transformation and load (ETL); enterprise application interchange (EAI); and enterprise information integration (EII). We also asked for input as to which method or methods of integration are in use, or planned to be used, in your organizations. We received quite a few responses to this query; however, most of the responses raised more questions and they provided insight into current trends. The e-mails sent to our mailbox ranged from questions such as, "Why does the industry need differing methods of integration?" and "When should each method be used?" We also received several comments that point to a general misunderstanding or distrust in the "new kid on the block" - EII. Therefore, let's delve a little deeper into today's integration environment and talk a bit about E3.

META Group has recently coined the terms "E3" and the "E3 technologies." E3 is the idea that ETL, EAI and EII all play vital and complimentary roles within the integration landscapes we are sowing in today's corporate IT organizations. While it is true, it is very easy to state that no one of these technologies is the "right" way to build your integration practices. It is also true that the costs of deploying all three of these techniques into your organizations is a very expensive proposition and is, therefore, not right for all organizations. This month, we will take a very high level look at the three "Es" and define the roles at which they are best suited.

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