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Van den Bosch - A Selection-Method for Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) Solutions

Van den Bosch - A Selection-Method for Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) Solutions

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Published by Marcel van den B
With new developments such as cloud computing and SOA,
integrating different applications is becoming increasingly important. We
observed that many organizations have difficulties in the selection of a suitable
application-integration solution. In this paper we present a method for the
selection of enterprise application integration solutions. This method supports
organizations in choosing solutions that consist of both technological and
organizational measures. We used an assembly-based method engineering
approach to construct the method. We validated the method using a case study
and expert reviews.
With new developments such as cloud computing and SOA,
integrating different applications is becoming increasingly important. We
observed that many organizations have difficulties in the selection of a suitable
application-integration solution. In this paper we present a method for the
selection of enterprise application integration solutions. This method supports
organizations in choosing solutions that consist of both technological and
organizational measures. We used an assembly-based method engineering
approach to construct the method. We validated the method using a case study
and expert reviews.

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Published by: Marcel van den B on Apr 08, 2011
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11/07/2012

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P. Forbrig and H. Günther (Eds.): BIR 2010, LNBIP 64, pp. 176–187, 2010.© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010
A Selection-Method for Enterprise ApplicationIntegration Solutions
Marcel A.P.M. van den Bosch
1
, Marlies E. van Steenbergen
2
,Marcel Lamaitre
3
, and Rik Bos
1
 
1
Institute of Information and Computer Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
{mapmbosc,rik}@cs.uu.nl
2
Sogeti Nederland B.V., The Netherlands
marlies.van.steenbergen@sogeti.nl
3
UWV, The Netherlands
marcel.lamaitre@uwv.nl
 
Abstract.
With new developments such as cloud computing and SOA,integrating different applications is becoming increasingly important. Weobserved that many organizations have difficulties in the selection of a suitableapplication-integration solution. In this paper we present a method for theselection of enterprise application integration solutions. This method supportsorganizations in choosing solutions that consist of both technological andorganizational measures. We used an assembly-based method engineeringapproach to construct the method. We validated the method using a case studyand expert reviews.
Keywords:
EAI, enterprise application integration, method engineering,software selection.
1 Introduction
As organizations are becoming increasingly dependent on information technology, theneed for integrating applications is growing [1]. For example, developments likeservice-oriented architecture (SOA) make use of the best practices, which aredeveloped in the field of enterprise application integration (EAI). [2]. But alsodevelopments in relation to cloud-computing and cloud integration, will furtherleverage the emergence of EAI technologies [3].The EAI Consortium states that approximately 70% of all EAI projects fail in someway, where failure is rated as missing deadlines, blowing budgets or failing to deliverthe service that the business was expecting [4]. The most common trap for these EAIproject failures, as identified by the EAI Consortium, could be classified asmanagement issues.We believe that many of these management issues can be avoided whenorganizations know how to approach such application-integration problems properly.This idea is supported by the factors that influence EAI adoption, as proposed byThemistocleous [5]. In his work, he states that an evaluation framework, which assists
 
A Selection-Method for Enterprise Application Integration Solutions 177
organizations in the evaluation of (technical) solutions and tooling, and support (i.e.specific knowledge about EAI from vendors or consultants), can positively influencethe adoption of EAI within the organization.Based on our own field observations, we observed that many organizations havedifficulties in the selection of a suitable application-integration solution. Existingliterature primarily focuses on the implementation of (technical) EAI solutions.Recently we observed that EAI lost some of its luster in both literature andpractice, focus is being directed at smaller and a more localized use of integrationtechnology, like ‘application mashups’ [6] [7].This form of integration can be considered less invasive than enterprise-wideintegration, while delivering direct value for the organization. This more localizedfocus of EAI still has to deal with the same issues (e.g. semantic differences) astraditional EAI. Embedding it in a broader vision on EAI can prevent suboptimalsolutions. The need for a well-founded method for selecting application-integrationsolutions, that takes both technical and organizational factors into account, remains.In this paper we propose a method for selecting application-integration solutions,which can support organizations in choosing a suitable EAI solution and thereforepositively influence the level of EAI adoption. Ultimately, it may help organizationsavoid some of the pitfalls that are common to EAI projects.In the next section we present the definition of EAI solutions, as used in thecontext of this research. After that, the research design is described in section 3. Themethod is described in section 4. Then, in section 5 the case study validation andexpert review validation are described. In section 6, conclusions are drawn and theresults and findings are discussed.
2 Defining EAI Solutions
A multitude of confusing terms (e.g. system integration, value chain integration,supply chain integration) are used in literature to define the information systemintegration area [8]. In their work Themistocleous & Irani [9] provide a definition for(enterprise) application-integration. However, their definition focuses too much onspecific technologies and applications (e.g. middleware, object oriented technology,e-commerce applications), which would imply the limitation of EAI to these specificareas. The other terms encountered in literature vary on focus (i.e. technology orbusiness), or scope (i.e. within/between enterprises or between applications).Most of the existing approaches to implement EAI solutions address both thetechnical and organizational aspects [10] [11] [12]. In addition, the factors thatinfluence EAI adoption [5] also consist of both technological and non-technologicalfactors.Linthicum indicates that EAI is about sharing information between enterpriseapplications [10]. We believe this to be a key characteristic of EAI. Therefore, weadapted the definition of Linthicum [10] in order to include the non-technologicalfactors. EAI and EAI solutions in the context of this research are defined as:
The unrestricted sharing of information between two or more enterprise applications.A set of technologies that allows the movement and exchange of information between
 
178 M.A.P.M. van den Bosch et al.
different applications and business processes within and between organizations.When applied as a solution, an EAI solution can consists of both technology and organizational measures.
3 Research Design
In relation to the problem statement, as described in the introduction of this paper, weaim at addressing the gap of knowledge regarding application-integration selectionthat exists in science and at organizations. In this paper we describe a method forselecting application-integration solutions.Based on the above goal, we formulate the following research question:
How should a method be constructed for the selection of enterprise application-integration solutions?
In order to answer the research question above, we constructed a new method forselecting application-integration solutions. To construct the proposed selection-method for EAI solutions, we adapted the method assembly process outlined byWeerd et al. [13]:1.
 
Analyze the situation and identify method needs;2.
 
Select candidate methods that meet one or more of the identified needs;3.
 
Analyze candidate methods and store relevant method fragments in a methodbase;4.
 
Select useful methods by using route map configuration to obtain situationalmethods;To ensure the effectiveness of our research, we applied the guidelines for designscience research proposed by Hevner et al. [14] in our research.March & Smith [15] states that methods, created in design research projects,should be validated on operationality, efficiency, generality and ease of use.Operationality in the context of this research project, can be interpreted as the abilityto perform the intended task or ability of humans to effectively use the method, if it isnot an algorithmic [15].Furthermore, Brinkkemper et al. [16] states that the following quality criteria for(situational) methods should be taken into consideration: 1) Completeness, 2)Consistency, 3) Efficiency, 4) Reliability, and 5) Applicability. We have focused ourvalidation efforts on the criteria described by March & Smith [15] and Brinkkemperet al. [16].When designing the case study validation, the following design-tests suggested byYin [17] are taken into account: Construct validity, Internal Validity, ExternalValidity, and Reliability. Besides testing the proposed method in a case study, we alsoused an expert review validation as an additional validation. During the expert review,emphasis has been put on the external validity of the method.The expert panel consists of integration experts from different organizations. Aqualitative expert review is used to assess the validity of the scientific artifact. Inaddition, the experts were also allowed to suggest new ideas and possible improvements.For setting-up and conducting the expert review, the process outline described byBeecham et al. [18] was used as a guideline.

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