The mind certainly is stubborn. Something about re-directing those synapses to another mindset is astoundingly challenging. Just like the synapses connect "sphere" and "bounce" to the concept of "ball," "enterprise integration" is only recognizable as "integration" if it looks like a heavy, time-consuming, difficult, expensive endeavor. So what if a cubical ball could actually bounce even better than a spherical one? Even if I see it, I can't make the "connection." Well, I don't know much about synapses, but I sure have had lots of experience trying to initiate the plasticity to reformulate the way people think about integration!
Recently we presented a bit about our technology to a handful of people who are extremely well-informed about the integration space. We planned to hit a few points that we are pretty sure can't be done with other products. We zeroed in on one specific point we thought would amaze anyone who really knows the current state of integration and what is possible and what is not. This is a capability that is a natural fall-out of our new paradigm: we showed how to create virtual relationships across totally different systems even faster than you would define a relationship across tables in a single database.
In ten seconds we showed creating a virtual relationship between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and a SQL database. In that ten seconds, all the run time components were generated behind the scenes, so we ran it. This scenario happened to be sending data to an out-of-box SharePoint 2010 web part; it could have gone to any other application, dashboard, web service, or pumped to a messaging system .
We showed how an end user, from a single SharePoint web part (screen), can see live data from multiple applications, aligned and transformed as appropriate for their usage. As if that weren't enough, we showed updating a couple of fields in SharePoint, and the backend systems were immediately updated!
No staging of the data, no copy made at all, anywhere. The data was accessed, aligned, displayed, changed, and updated back in the backend systems. Our product, Enterprise Enabler, eliminates a HUGE amount of time, manpower, and cost by eliminating the need for a staging database any time you need data merged from two or more disparate systems. The systems could be SAP, Salesforce, XML, spreadsheets… it doesn't matter. So, no one needs to design a database model that is everything to everybody. No one needs to build the database, and no one needs to maintain it.
A response came from our audience that many enterprise integration platforms can do this! I would love to do a "side-by-side" bake-off with the cited competitors, Websphere or Tibco, any day. I am extremely confident that we would probably have to go home before their years of work are done. If they even can do it.
In the end I have to write the response off to the discipline's persistent twenty-plus year track record that has forced consistent synapses dancing around in the same circle, convincing everyone that there is just no other way integration can possibly be done. If Websphere, Tibco, Informatica, and others can't do it, we'll just pretend they can!