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how do I fully integrate the internal and external systems of my e-business?
enterprise communication integration: how the network connects the enterprise's assets
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An e-Business doesn't operate in a vacuum. It is often an amalgam of internal company networks and external systems such as application service providers. To date, e-Businesses have been quick to adopt enterprise application integration (EAI) in order to connect disparate internal and external systems. This function focuses on interpreting and transforming content among applications in heterogeneous environments.

But ensuring content consistency is not enough. In the following white paper, the META Group explains that for an e-Business enterprise to be fully integrated, it should adopt enterprise communication integration (ECI) solutions.

The process of ECI goes to the heart of user experience. It is meant to address issues such as high availability, interoperability, response time, and scalability. Although EAI products are good for basic interoperability, they won't keep up with trends like multi-channel integration (Web, call center, mobile, data). EAI without ECI will have limited success.

  • ECI delivers unified access to communications services across e-Business applications.
  • ECI relies on existing network infrastructure (switches, VPNs, firewalls) as well as new network services (caching, load balancing) to ensure quality of service and security.
  • ECI uses the same business workflow as EAI
  • ECI centers on personalized communication among systems or people.
  • Telecom software providers like Cisco, Lucent, Nortel, and Nokia will be dominant ECI players.
While you will be able to choose more than one ECI platform, you should implement just one platform per application type. One option is used internally in the back office. The other is a portal version that exists mostly in the front office. Although some EAI vendors may try their hand at ECI solutions, no platform is likely to adequately combine the two. Because ECI is mostly at the infrastructure level, networking vendors will have an advantage in their ECI solutions. You should clearly segment enterprise functions between EAI and ECI platforms and employ the best solution for both.

Click here to read the entire white paper, "Enterprise Communication Integration: How the Network Connects the Enterprise's Assets."

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