InterSystems has unveiled Ensemble, the only integration platform to incorporate the functionality of an integration server, application server, high-performance object database and a unified development and management environment in a single, architecturally consistent product.
Ensemble takes application integration to the next level by enabling organisations to rapidly implement new business solutions that enhance the value of existing applications, orchestrate new business processes and integrate data across the enterprise.
"InterSystems recognises that high costs and protracted implementations are formidable barriers to the success of integration projects," says Henry Adams, country manager for InterSystems South Africa. "With Ensemble, we are delivering a comprehensive architecturally consistent product that enables extremely fast integration and eliminates the excessive complexity and services costs typical of the 'technology assembly' approach of integration projects."
Henry Adams, country manager, InterSystems South Africa
Ensemble is an addition to InterSystems' software product line, which includes the high-performance post-relational CACHÉ database.
"For more than two decades, InterSystems has delivered high-performance, extremely scalable, enterprise-level infrastructure software that supports rapid application development and deployment," says Trevor Matz, InterSystems MD of Enterprise Application Integration.
"Our software has been successfully deployed on more than 100 000 systems worldwide. Building on that proven expertise, Ensemble provides the performance, rapid implementation and ease of management that are the hallmarks of InterSystems' technology.
"Ensemble's architecture provides the power required to integrate the most complex systems quickly and efficiently, overcoming the barriers associated with integration projects today."
Partnership-centric business model
Committed to helping Ensemble users maximise rapid realisation of Ensemble benefits, InterSystems is partnering with professional services organisations to fulfil the requirements for implementation services typical of most major integration projects.
"InterSystems has always focused on creating innovative software, while not competing with partners who build comprehensive solutions with our technology. Continuing this 25-year partnership-centric business model, our approach is to leverage the implementation expertise of services specialists and focus our implementation involvement on project architecture and on fulfilling our commitment to the overall success of every Ensemble project," Matz says.
Fusion of technologies
Ensemble excels at enabling rapid creation of composite applications - new strategic business solutions that integrate the functionality of existing applications, new business process logic, and data from across the enterprise. It is a comprehensive platform that delivers the capabilities required for the rapid implementation of complex enterprise application integration initiatives.
* Full-spectrum integration and development: A unified graphical, XML and code-based development environment accelerates modelling and automating business processes for business analysts and developers and supports rapid, service-oriented development of composite applications that leverage existing data and functionality.
* Universal service architecture: Consistent, efficient object representation of disparate programming models and data formats enables use of current development tools and technologies to access legacy data and functionality as reusable .NET or J2EE components, Web Services or XML. The risk of being locked into J2EE- or .NET-specific products is eliminated, and flexibility is maximised.
* Persistent object engine: A distributed, high-performance, ultra-scalable, SQL-compliant object database manages and stores all metadata, messages and process state information, without the costs and overhead typical of relational databases. Organisations receive all the benefits of object technology, as well as realtime access to both live and previously processed messages for auditing and business activity monitoring (BAM), and high reliability and recoverability for long-running business processes.
* Customisable end-to-end management: Easily customisable, extensible and seamlessly integrated management and monitoring facilities support rapid problem diagnosis and debugging, making it possible to optimise service levels and minimise staff burdens by automatically monitoring critical resources and generating alerts specific to any company. As a result, operating expenses are reduced, and the potential for problems associated with using multiple tools from diverse vendors disappears.
Rapid integration and proven results
Excessively complex integration products typically require years of implementation effort and are, all too often, expensive failures. In contrast, Ensemble provides a fusion of power and ease. As a result, business objectives can be fulfilled in tight time frames - a competitive differentiator key to the success of early Ensemble projects.
"In just 90 days, we could prototype a composite application that integrates information from five systems, all of which use different database structures and connectivity approaches," says Ben Harris, deputy secretary operations and information technology for the Florida Department of Children and Families.
"After examining other products, it was clear that Ensemble's ability to combine all of the integration technologies we needed in a single, seamless solution would result in less complexity and a significant decrease in time and cost than other approaches," Harris continues.
Based on the success of the pilot, the agency is now involved in a state-wide Web rollout of the Ensemble-based composite application that will eventually integrate information from 59 systems.
Fernando Vogt, director of system integrator Interconnections, says: "Our client, Petrobras, is the largest company in Latin America with revenues of about $30 billion. They were extremely impressed that Ensemble enabled us to go live with a project that involved integrating a multitude of heterogeneous applications and databases in less than four months. The speed of this project was particularly impressive because it was so complex, consisting of many different databases, plus new and legacy applications, from SAP, Vantive, and IBM among others.
"BR Distributor, a fuel distribution subsidiary of Petrobras, is now running an Ensemble-based composite application to integrate business data via Web services with its main customer, Usiminas, one of the most important steel companies in Brazil. This project allows Petrobras to invoice Usiminas electronically, which has brought significant benefits in performance and security."
Ensemble is available immediately on the HP Alpha OpenVMS, HP Alpha Tru64, Unix, HP-UX, IBM AIX, Linux, SunSolaris and Microsoft Windows operating platforms.
The business case for application integration
Driving the growing demand for integration are business needs that are widespread and complex. High on the list are requirements to:
* Leverage existing assets
In every industry sector, the Web has led customers to expect organisations to have a consolidated view of accounts, transactions and any other related information - regardless of where that information is located. Market success and survival means that organisations must provide improved data and application availability to internal users and external customers. Extensive enterprise application deployments have not replaced existing legacy applications and typically complement or extend those already in place.
There is a critical demand to leverage the investment in existing applications by integrating them with new systems designed to enable changing, innovative business strategies.
* Improve efficiency and streamline internal processes
For decades, organisations have been building islands of information designed to serve specific departments, divisions and groups. The result is large numbers of distinct, critical applications containing information and functionality unavailable to other organisational entities. To compete effectively, increase productivity, cut costs, shorten time to market, and improve customer service, executives at the highest levels are demanding the ability to access these operational systems across the entire enterprise.
* Ensure competitive success
Markets are changing more rapidly than ever. To stay competitive and build market share, it is essential for companies to find new ways to be more responsive to changing market trends and new customer requirements. They need to find better ways to obtain and use up-to-date information to remove delays in managing and executing their business processes and strategies.
The application integration market
Despite the fact that technology companies have been working to meet the rapidly growing demand for integration, vendor competition in that market can still be fairly characterised as wide open. Infoworld, for example, describes the market as highly fragmented with first-generation leaders faltering. More than half of respondents to a reader survey, Infoworld reports, could not specifically name any integration software vendor.
Yet, the market demand is evident. In a report based on 2001 data, META Group projects the 2004 market for EAI (enterprise application integration) software to be $9 billion, reflecting a compound annual growth rate of 78% since 1999. Projections for EAI-related services in this market are even higher for 2004, according to Gartner, which estimates them at $20 billion. In the same report, IBM is cited as the market leader, with a share of just 15%.
Failure of any vendor to take over the market thus far is a clear indication that rapid evolution of needs and technologies is still the primary market characteristic. Examination of the approaches to integration offered thus far goes a long way towards explaining why this is so.
Vendors now addressing the integration market typically fall into three categories:
* Best-of-breed component vendors such as Actional and Pegasystems that address just one requirement - adapters or business process management, for example - but fail to provide a single, comprehensive solution.
* Integration suite vendors including Tibco, Vitria and WebMethods that provide a strong integration approach and have their roots in messaging, but lack key components such as a tightly integrated application server, unified development environment and high-performance database. As a result, these vendors must create ever-growing assemblies of formerly independent technologies, introducing excessive complexity, redundancy and the potential for huge service fees.
* Application platform suite vendors - IBM, BEA and SeeBeyond, for example - that typically include a tightly integrated application server, but lack components such as a high-performance object database, transactional message warehouse and end-to-end management as well as functionality such as easier system diagnostics, rapid development and optimised resource utilisation.
Again, their solution is to add independent technologies to fill the gap, resulting in complexity, redundancy and excessive cost issues.