Although EAI (enterprise application integration) as a technology remains essentially the same, vendors are shifting to accommodate new e-business uses for it.
Primarily for this reason, two vendors, Sybase Inc. and WRQ Inc., added EAI to their bailiwicks last week.
Sybase acquired struggling EAI vendor New Era of Networks Inc. (NEON) last week for US$370 million.
Sybase CEO John Chen said that the company plans to use NEON as the foundation for a new e-business division responsible for integrating NEON and elements of its product lines with Sybase's Enterprise Portal.
Chen said that Sybase hopes to make the EAI market a two-horse race between itself and BEA Systems, essentially leaving IBM, an ally of NEON, out of the picture. "With this acquisition we'll start right behind BEA," he added.
Craig Roth, an analyst at Meta Group, challenged Chen's claim, particularly because IBM and NEON have partnered in the past.
"I don't think, by any stretch, one can say that Sybase [has] bypassed IBM," Roth said.
Other analysts agree, furthering the sentiment by saying that if Sybase is to make anything of the acquisition, it needs to turn the stumbling NEON around quickly.
Whereas Sybase acquired an EAI technology company to fill out its e-business offerings, WRQ built its EAI solution on experience in Web-to-host integration.
"We want to be able to enable companies in moving forward to adapt their infrastructures to e-business," said Rebecca Johnson, WRQ's product marketing manager for Verastream, the integration suite WRQ announced last week.
IT departments can use Verastream to hook legacy data systems into a Web front end, Johnson said.
Analysts said that as e-business initiatives progress, the need to support multiple data sources as well as points of integration and interaction becomes critical, and that EAI itself will change as business needs demand it.
Recent data from Meta Group, in fact, states that 70 percent of corporate information resides on mainframes.
Other aspects of e-business such as business-to-business integration and portals to the Web will also affect the future of EAI's usage, analysts said. "What's become apparent in the last three months is a convergence of the portal market and the EAI market," Meta's Roth added.
"EAI is a wide-open area where the current implementations are really just providing a small subset of the capability that will be needed," said Greg Blatnik, an analyst at Zona Research.