Check Jon's latest diginomica blog!

Here's Jon's diginomica blog updates
Read Ultimate SAP User Guide kindle reviews  

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

JonERP.com Podcast Feedback

"I listen to all your SAP podcasts in my car, until my kids get mad at me and make me put on music for them instead. Keep up the good work!"

- Robert Max, 2007 Solution Manager Community of Interest, and Systems Management Special Interest Group Chair for the Americas' SAP Users Group -

JonERP.com Visitor Feedback

"Jon, let me congratulate you on building a site which exclusively caters to SAP skills and careers and answers a lot of doubts young and senior SAP consultants have about what skills to have and get trained on."

More JonERP.com Site Feedback

"I have been reading your SAP newsletters for over a decade now... It's remarkable that you have now embraced the Web 2.0 delivery methods - Podcasts, Twitter etc - without sacrificing the in-depth nature of your analyses!" - Dave Sen, SAP Enterprise Architect -

JonERP.com Reader Feedback

"I visit JonERP.com almost everyday to check out whether there is something new and what the future trends hold for SAP skills and careers."

More JonERP.com Site Feedback

"I was struggling with career direction a few years ago and you provided me with some extremely valuable advise. I've been very satisfied with my career direction which was influenced in large part by your coaching. Thanks again!" - Keith

New JonERP Feedback

"You have always been there with a prompt reply when it matters the most. You have really been a mentor in true sense."

- Hussain Sehorewala -


mySAP Career Interview Classics

Starting in 2000, Jon created the online content for mySAPcareers.com. This was a time of great transition in the SAP market - the beginnings of the applications that are now called the SAP Business Suite, the emergence of the EAI market that is now heading in the web services/eSOA direction.

For mySAPcareers.com, Jon conducted a series of in-depth, landmark interviews with senior-level consultants across the SAP product line. Now, on JonERP.com, we're pleased to present the best of this content, which is available only on JonERP.com. Jon will be adding updated introductions to all the articles in this section to frame them further in today's market. Enjoy!
The Convergence of the EAI and ERP Markets Print E-mail
Article Index
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3

A Look Back on EAI Consulting in an ERP World with B2B Workforce's Brian Trout

 

EAI Consulting in an ERP World:
An Historical View of the EAI Marketplace with Brian Trout of B2B Workforce

Part One

October 11, 2001

Prepare yourself: the "Web-Integrated EAI" consulting market is here, and it's creating opportunities for consultants with a range of backgrounds in ERP, supply chain, executive information systems, and Java/web development. To mark the launch of EAIcareers.com, we sat down with mySAPCareers' EAI Staffing Director Brian Trout and spoke with him in detail about this promising new consulting arena.

During this EAI launch interview, we ask Brian to define the new EAI market and to make a case for the importance of EAI skills as companies extend their ERP systems online. Through the course of our discussion, we break down the differences between "traditional" EAI and web-driven EAI, and pinpoint the kinds of consulting opportunities that are going to be available on the EAI projects of the future. We also ask Brian to explain the significance of the "real-time" computing model that is driving many of these EAI projects. As Brian tells us, real-time computing is a vision for the future of IT that will allow companies to finally convert on all the dollars and time invested in ERP systems, linking them via EAI into strategic, "real-time" e-business applications.

In part one of our interview, Brian gives us an overview of where the EAI market stands today. He tells us about the impending demand for EAI consultants in a web-driven, e-business world, and what inspired him to launch EAIcareers.com.

Reed: Brian, what's a good starting point for someone who's trying to get a handle on the EAI market?

Brian Trout: The articles in our first EAI Week in Review do a good job of breaking down today's EAI issues. A couple of the articles outline the current efforts to create a universal XML standard, and the need to integrate EDI and XML transactions using the same EAI toolkit. There's also a great article on the differences between EAI and B2B projects. It's important to understand that there's a major difference between "traditional" EAI projects and web-driven efforts to integrate customers and suppliers into your e-business infrastructure. Many of the major EAI vendors are involved in both kinds of projects, but it's important to understand that different kinds of projects rely on different technologies. The EAI and B2B article we selected ("The Ins and Outs of Integration") does a great job of charting the differences.

Reed: Brian, can you give us a working definition of "Enterprise Application Integration?"

Trout: When you talk about EAI, it's such a broad term with such different uses that it's often a bit unclear as to what you're really talking about. In layman's terms, when we use the term "EAI" today, we're talking about taking the back-end ERP systems, or legacy and order management systems, and plugging them into the e-business systems of the future. The big challenge is developing the right integration strategy and translation protocols. The B2B exchanges in the e-commerce world of the future are going to center around these developing cXML and ebXML document standards, neither of which openly communicate with ERP systems. A collaborative bi-directional flow of information between these systems requires data transformation tools.

In SAP's case, using the SAP Business Connector, those documents are converted into IDOC format, which is SAP's communication format for those kinds of systems. Every SAP installation I've talked to has told me that they're going to be doing development projects of this type in the future. EAI consulting is an area that mySAPCareers plans to be heavily involved in. But you have to start thinking outside the box away from SAP a little bit, because all the big ERP customers are going to be involved in EAI integration projects. PeopleSoft, Oracle, JD Edwards - all of these customers have the same brokering architecture issues and they're all looking for the same type of EAI consultant.

Reed: What inspired you to conceive of an EAI Career Center at mySAPCareers?

Trout: The goal behind EAIcareers.com is to create a cutting edge resource center for consultants in an area that is going to constitute a major portion of IT budgets going forward. The EAI project of the future is going to be less package-specific than ERP projects - it will be more of an across-the-board type of undertaking for organizations that have a big IT infrastructure where multiple segments of an organization can realize value and optimize their ROI. Some of the people that are now working through mySAPCareers on these types of EAI projects tell us that their project managers are calling these initiatives "Extended ERP projects."

We expect to see an increasing amount of these kinds of extended ERP projects out there. It may take a while for these new EAI ventures to establish momentum. We have to keep in mind that we're still subject to the same IT issues we already have on the table: the economy needs to strengthen before more organizations commit to their online strategies, and XML standards need to mature. But EAI technology is right at the cornerstone of any kind of extended reach that you want to get out your ERP applications.

Reed: What are your goals for the web site?

Trout: Our goal with EAIcareers.com is to provide a cutting edge resource for consultants from a variety of backgrounds - including SAP, Ariba, and Siebel, as well as Java programmers and those already working on EAI projects. Our aim is to help folks position themselves to take advantage of these emerging opportunities. EAIcareers.com will be a place where people can go and learn about how other consultants are finding opportunities on EAI and "extended ERP" projects. And of course we'll feature our own direct project opportunities in these areas so that people can take a look at the kinds of positions that clients are really filling right now. There's no better way to get a handle on a new field than by seeing the positions that clients are hiring for now.

Maybe the best thing about EAICareers.com is that it will provide a backbone that links all of our existing career resources. Our current subscribers in B2B, CRM, and SAP will all find relevant career information on EAIcareers.com. Just like EAI links applications together on project sites, EAIcareers will provide a conceptual link between the different e-business career areas we are currently dedicated to.

Reed: Brian, tell us more about how the definition of EAI is evolving and what today's EAI projects are all about.

Trout: As I alluded to earlier, whenever you use the term "EAI," the first thing you need to do is to delineate between traditional EAI integration versus B2B integration. A project manager of a classic EAI project would describe it this way: "I've got an ERP system, and I've got three or four other kinds of internal systems that have their own protocol, languages, and communication sets. I want these systems to talk to each other, and I want to be able to pass information around these systems in a realistic, time-dependent way that allows me to support an internal business process." EAI provides tools to do that. And that type of EAI work is where many of today's leading EAI vendors really got their foundation.

But now, coupled with the continuation of those types of initiatives, you now have companies saying, "We want to have an online portal where people can come to our web site, check out our products online, and order products over the web using CRM e-sales applications. We want to be hooked up with our suppliers online, so that when we need raw materials it's all done through web-enabled XML exchanges instead of traditional EDI exchange protocols." So the question is, how do you make that kind of project happen?

Fifteen years ago, all you could say was, "OK, we have a bunch of legacy systems and we don't have any clue how to tie them all together." But now most major companies have a moving target that we fondly refer to as an ERP system. They have all this data from back-end systems captured inside an ERP system such as SAP. But in order to make their online e-business projects a reality, those online applications have to be able to talk to SAP and access data from the SAP system, and SAP doesn't readily do that.

So to solve those problems, here comes "Web Integration EAI," which I believe will be a much bigger piece of the EAI pie in the long term. When you look at the sophisticated, high-end companies that are allocating IT budget dollars right now, they're allocating their money to "Web Integration EAI" initiatives. Of course, not all companies are ready for that. A lot of companies in the ERP space are not at an acceptable level, in their mind, on the back end, where they are ready to start looking at integration with the front end. But others are ready. It is an interesting time in the EAI consulting space, because the big wave of opportunity hasn't hit yet. But it's coming, there's no doubt about that. The only question is "When?"

EAI Consulting in an ERP World:
An Historical View of the EAI Marketplace with Brian Trout of B2B Workforce
Part Two
December 10, 2001

In part two of our interview, we get right into the "meat" of the EAI consulting market and find out what skills are going to be in demand on these projects. Brian tells us about the kinds of EAI projects he is seeing and the kinds of skills companies are asking for. We ask Brian to break down the different kinds of opportunities that are emerging and to give us a sense of how people are moving into EAI '96 from ERP, from Java/XML, best-of-breed vendors, etc. We learn about the first EAI requirements Brian ran into, and our discussion provides so insight into the "wave of integration" work that is going to hit most ERP implementations in the coming years.

Jon Reed: Brian, you're making a good case for the impending need for EAI consultants. But what kinds of skills will be needed on these projects?

Brian Trout: In terms of specific EAI consulting needs, there's going to be huge demand for a range of EAI talent. Consultants who have development skills using the EAI suites of the leading vendors are seeing their rates rise by the month. And that positive outlook extends to the vendors themselves: Tibco, webMethods, Vitria - that whole web-driven EAI space - I believe that the stocks of many of these major players will be among the quickest to rebound.

This might give readers a better sense of the kind of EAI skills we're talking about: We recently got a phone call from a B2B software vendor that's going to focus on helping clients leverage their ERP systems into an e-business framework utilizing EAI technology. So they're going to be looking for consultants with EAI-related capabilities to help install and support their product line on client sites. They're a growing company in real need of consultants with Java and XML skills. They are also going to need consultants with implementation experience using EAI interpreter tools and adapters like webMethods, Tibco, and Vitria ‘96 those types of applications.

The major ERP vendors will have their own proprietary EAI toolkits as well, and you're going to need consultants who have expertise with those products. SAP has what they call a "Business Connector," which is basically an XML receptor that is their entry point into third party e-business systems. For example, a client we've been staffing on the SAP side wants to be part of an exchange called Elemica, which is a digital market/trading exchange for the chemicals industry. Using Elemica, partners can trade chemicals at low cost, conduct auctions, reverse auctions, etc. The majority of the exchange participants are running SAP on the back end as their ERP system. But to do business with an exchange like that, you need SAP to talk real-time to the exchange - but the exchange is using an ebXML messaging format - thus the need for an EAI toolset.

In our client's case, they're going to use webMethods for that. webMethods seems to be the product of choice for a lot of companies right now. The bill rates and the consultant demand is high, and these EAI initiatives, are, for the most part, long term projects - three to six months at least for most of these engineering efforts. And this new market seems to have a broader entry point for consultants. You don't have to be a five year SAP guy to get into these kinds of projects. In fact, anybody with a Java background who has solid experience using XML and EAI technologies, and has also used one of these integration tools such as webMethods, can all of a sudden go from being a $60 an hour resource to a $90 - $125 an hour + resource, and the demand is across the board.


 

JonERP Feature Interview

 
Browse Jon's YouTube SAP Videos
Read Ultimate SAP User Guide Reviews

What is Jon Up to Now?

Track Jon in real-time on Twitter
See his latest diginomica blogs

Get Jon's SAP Blog + Videocast Feed (or Email Notifications)

Jon's "Get All My SAP Content" RSS Feed

or Subscribe to the Feed by Email
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

The Latest JonERP Feedback

"I have referenced your articles on JonERP.com for my internal Fujitsu colleagues on how the functional skill set is changing. It's not just theory, but real life change and the need for new SAP skills."

- Ranjan Baghel, Associate Director, Fujitsu America -

JonERP.com Site Feedback

"I can't imagine any SAP professional who is serious about their career not utilizing the JonERP.com website. I know I used it frequently when I did SAP consulting. I use it even more now and I know my colleagues go there quite frequently to increase their knowledge of the SAP market, it is a source of great information."

- David Dawson, SAP Direct Hire Consultant, Acsys -

More JonERP.com Site Feedback

"Jon, you are definitely spot on with your analysis of the SAP market. I've been using your websites for over five years now. Instead of buying all the SAP books, I use your stuff to catch up with what's new in the ever-increasing SAP market." - Mark

JonERP.com Reader Feedback

"I've kept up with your JonERP.com site for a long time and your articles via SearchSAP.com and elsewhere. I just realized a few months ago that you were also the author of the first SAP Consulting book that I read when I decided to take the leap from working at a Utility company to becoming an SAP Consultant. The SAP Consultant Handbook is a staple for any SAP consultant, new or experienced. I just wanted to thank you for the quality work."

- J. Michael Peace, Independent SAP Consultant -